With the too-broad Fringe fest long gone, and everyone hooked on musicals again thanks to Glee, the New York Musical Theatre (NYMF), which opened on Monday, is looking unusually enticing this year. The six-years-old festival, taking over Midtown theaters through October 17, features some 27 full production musicals this year (and several development series), some of which, it seems likely, might show up later in this season or the next on or off Broadway—NYMF alum Next to Normal won a Pulitzer for drama this year. Here’s what seems promising.
Fellowship (pictured): A musical version of J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, obviously. It’ll be just like Beowulf, except without all the moral complexity. Perfectly Julie Taymor-aesthetic-compatible Broadway cross-over fodder. Also, nerdy, irreverent and delightful.
Shine!: Not based on the concert hall exploits of a mentally unstable pianist, but rather the musical version of several stories about bootblacks by prolific mid- to late-19th century writer Horatio Alger. Has obvious appeal for fans of period porn, and people who like to watch cute little boys dance—in the Billy Elliot sense, not the other sense.
The Great Unknown: Another bit of transporting 19th century Americana, this time following a one-armed Civil War vet as he leads a ragtage bunch of veterans down the Colorado River towards the Grand Canyon. It sounds like Deliverance shot through with a musical history lesson.
I Got Fired: True, recession-times musicals haven’t fared terribly well in New York, likely because of the dreaded “too soon” syndrome, but writer and composer Keith Varney’s epic account of how his six year stint as an office temp came to an abrupt end sounds more like The Office than “>Enron.
Jay Alan Zimmerman’s Incredibly Deaf Musical: About and by the young composer of the title’s struggle to hold onto the music despite his progressively worsening hearing. Yes, there will be songs rendered in sign language.