Monday, January 12, 2015

Check Out Our New Website!

Please note: This is our last post at this address. But don't worry! The NAMT blog -- including all of our archives, plus member news, press clippings and more -- can now be found on our new website at

If you follow us via RSS, the new feed address is

And of course, you can still find us on Twitter and Facebook.

I feel (and some of you may, too) like I’ve been talking about our new website forever. We’ve known for at least two years that our old site was nearing the end of its lifespan, and started making necessary arrangements. Bidding for developers started almost a year ago. The Board approved our plan last spring. The design process began over the summer, then got put on hold because, as you may have heard, we get a little busy in September and October. There was a flurry of intense activity in November and December in which concepts became reality, we learned what did and didn’t work, what changes for change’s sake sounded great but weren’t, the old words and images made their way to the new pages, and our amazing developers, Nick Keenan and his team at NickXD, worked their butts off to say yes to nearly every “what if” and “wouldn’t it be cool?” we threw at him. Then holiday break and another pause. So close! And finally, shiny and new for 2015!

I couldn’t be prouder to share the new with you all. It was designed with our members, Festival alumni and supporters chiefly in mind, as well as our expanding concert series and programs for the theatre-loving public. How can we make it easier for you to find the resources you need? How can we simplify? What information do you need the most? What member benefits were hidden away behind too many menus and clicks, now front and center?

The new site is fully mobile adaptive, resizing itself to any screen size (if you’re on your computer, change the size of your browser window to see it in action—it’s fun!) and working beautifully on your smartphone. Now, instead of a paper Little Black Book, which was typically out of date before we got it back from the printer, you’ll have a complete, always accurate membership directory in the palm of your hand at all times, along with event agendas, attendee lists, maps and more. We’ve made videos of past events and webinars easier to access, and if you ever forget your login information, it’s now just a click away. There’s also an increased focus on our members and alumni, through photo galleries and a brand new blog, so send us your updates!
Plus, it’s really pretty.
Play around and let us know what you think. It’s designed to stay flexible to change and grow with us and our membership, so your feedback will help us very much. We think you’ll like it as much as we do!

Adam Grosswirth
Membership Director

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Work In Progress: DISENCHANTED!

This month, we check in with Don Frantz, Producer and General Manager at Town Square Productions, as he tells us about their brand new, Off Broadway musical, Disenchanted!, by Dennis T. Giacino.
Poisoned apples. Glass slippers. Who needs ‘em?! Not Snow White and her posse of disenchanted princesses in the new musical comedy that’s anything but Grimm. Forget the princesses you think you know. After multiple sold-out runs nationwide, these royal renegades toss off their tiaras to bring their hilariously subversive, not-for-the-kiddies musical to New York Cityand fairy tales will never be the same!

How did Disenchanted find its way to Town Square Productions?   
A great friend and actress, Andrea Canny, called my office in NYC and said, “You have to get to Orlando to see a show. You don’t know the composer or director. It won the Fringe Festival award. Get here now. The last time I told you this was 10 years ago when Menopause started and you didn’t come. This one is even funnier, has original music and I’m in it.” And so I went.

What drew you to this project?   
The actors and creators put on an Actors’ Showcase production after the Fringe Festival in winter 2010-11. I saw it and laughed continuously for 90 minutes. Of course, I had worked for Disney and a lot of the humor was directed at the Orlando market, but I felt that it could play outside of the Disney hometown. As the princesses are universal, the show and the humor were universalI’m not intending to promote another theme park here. I was also thrilled to have discovered this composer whose music was so tuneful, clever and touching and after a career of working the keys deserved a break.There were very, very funny original bits on stage. Everything was low-tech and real. There was a sense of wonderful bravery on stage as the cast was given the allowance to break the fourth wall and respond to the audience and other performers in improvised moments. There was an immediacy in the room; a way to relate to the cast on stage that was so fresh and exciting. The ‘live’ was put back into live theater. 

Festival Show Update: BEATSVILLE

Logo from NAMT Fest '08

Last month, we caught up with alumni Wendy Wilf and Glenn Slater about the development of their 2008 Festival show, Beatsville, and their upcoming production at NYU-Steinhardt this spring.
Greenwich Village, 1959—Playground of bohemians, beatniks and jazzbos. Tragically square Walter Paisley finds that his clay figures, sculpted nudes and papier-mâché busts bring him the acceptance he desperately yearns for. But what if the world discovers that Walter’s body of work consists of actual bodies? A bebop-inflected black comedy/satire.

Beatsville was very well-received after the 2008 Festival so many people would be shocked to hear that it has taken this long for it to finally be seen in the States.  Do you want to talk a bit about why it took a while to get the show off the ground over the last few years? 
We were extremely pleased with Beatsville’s reception at NAMT, but as exciting as the response was, we also knew that we had a lot of work to do before we were ready to move to the next step. Then we hit a unexpected roadblock: a number of Glenn’s other projects all moved towards high-profile productions simultaneously. Every time we began to make real progress on our rewrites, another project demanded his time and attention.  It took a few long and frustrating years before we were able to regain our momentum as a team, but fortunately I was able to keep moving forward on the music and lyrics, writing several new numbers and reworking some of the old ones. When Glenn’s schedule finally eased up, we were able to hit the ground running.

How has the show grown and changed since being at the Festival? 
We loved the version of the show that we brought to NAMT, but as we began our next draft we started running into second-act problems, most of which stemmed from our faithfulness to the source material.  We had to take a big step back and reassess which elements of the original property were integral to our story, and which needed to be rethought and, if possible, improved upon. We also wanted to find ways to heighten the stakesthe story is a sort of whodunit, but since the audience already knows who the murderer is, we realized the tension (and hence the comedy) instead needed to revolve around the mystery of who would catch him, and how. Finally, we had always seen our 1959-set piece as having some satirical points to make about today’s culture, but while our first pass worked as a comedy, we felt the satire wasn’t jelling the way we had hoped. To get to where we wanted to be, we spent a long time looking for ways to make Walter, our main character, feel less passive and to give Carla, our female lead, a strong story arc of her own.  We’ve drawn the supporting characters with much more sharply-etched motivations, and jettisoned a lot of the original source’s second-half story to give our piece a tighter plot and a broader scope. In the process, we’ve also cut a few songs we lovedbut added several new ones that we love even more.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

New Work in Progress: FIELD HOCKEY HOT

Last month, we checked in with Kate Galvin, Associate Producer and General Manager at 11th Hour Theatre Company, as she told us about their brand new musical, Field Hockey Hot.

Field Hockey Hot is a smart and entertaining new satire about a high school girls’ field hockey team, their ambitious coach and America’s favorite pastime…winning! When Applebee Academy’s star goalie is injured two weeks before the championship, Coach Shipley Barnes will stop at nothing to win the North American title. It's a hilarious and zany comedy featuring a pop score inspired by iconic musicians of the 1980s and a world where field hockey rules all!

How did Field Hockey Hot find its way to 11th Hour? 
Writer/Composer Michael Ogborn had come to see our 2008 production of Reefer Madness and it just clicked! Michael has an outrageous sense of humor and he'd been kicking around an idea about field hockey and female athletes (those hot, tough, unapproachable girls from high school) but the show hadn't taken shape for him yet.  When he saw our version of Reefer, the style and performances and musical drive matched what he wanted Field Hockey Hot to be. He knew then that he wanted 11th Hour to produce this show.

What attracted you and the rest of 11th Hour to the show originally?  
We love Michael's work and we also love him. Although he may be unknown to many of the NAMT members, Michael's work is beloved in Philadelphia;  he's been produced by 1812 Productions, the Arden Theatre Company and People's Light and Theater, where he has written many British-style Pantos for the holidays. So we were honored that he wanted to work with us. And we couldn't stop laughing when he pitched us the show! Michael sat down at a piano and talked us through the basic story, playing a little bit of the songs and stepping in to each character. He's a master; we were rolling!

Festival Show Update: THE SANDMAN

Last month, we caught up with alumni Richard Oberacker and Robert Taylor about the development of their 2013 Festival show, The Sandman, with Playing Pretend and their upcoming production in Denmark.
Drawn from the more nightmarish fantasy of E.T.A. Hoffmann, author of The Nutcracker, comes a new and darkly comic musical tale: The Sandman.  When Maria, the wife of an ingenious German clockmaker named Albert Strauss engages a new nanny, Fraulein Kaeseschweiss, to care for the two children, Nathaniel and Theresa, a series of bizarre and unnatural events begins to unfold.  As Theresa falls mysteriously ill, a flamboyant and unconventional physician, Dr. Copelius, is summoned upon the nanny's recommendation. The doctor comes with a young ward in tow, Clara Stahlbaum, recently orphaned after her entire family was incinerated in an inexplicable Christmas tree fire.  And as the Strauss family is thrust ever deeper into chaos, the sinister and Machiavellian forces at play are gradually revealedforces from which only the children may be able to save them.

What was the feedback like after you presented at the Festival?  
The feedback immediately following the presentations was very strong.  This included members approaching us directly after the performances and at the followup "meet the authors" events.  There were certainly a lot of questions about how the story ended, the true "fear factor" and the appropriateness of the material for various age groups.  From our point of view this was a perfect response because it meant we had used the presentation to introduce the material, but not give the whole thing away and to make people curious about whether or not the show was right for their theater.  It seems to us that the best thing an author can do is to present an excerpt that makes the members want to read and listen to the complete work.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Festival Show Update: BLOODSONG OF LOVE

Last month, we caught up with alumnus Joe Iconis as he prepared his 2011 Festival show, Bloodsong of Love, for a new immersive presentation at 54 Below on October 20.  

A wild musical theater interpretation of the Spaghetti Western film genre.   It follows the story of a wandering guitarist, known only as The Musician, on a journey to reclaim his bride from the evil clutches of Lo Cocodrilo.  Raucous, heartfelt and hilarious, Bloodsong is a raging battle cry for those who believe in art and love and sticking together.

What was the response to Bloodsong of Love after the Festival? 
It was really encouraging to hear the positive reactions of audiences and NAMT members. I met a rather large bearded man in the lobby of New World Stages and he said it was pretty good, so that was nice.

What did you learn from the Festival process and what changes have been made to the show since? 
By cutting down the show to a 45-minute preview, it helped us see what the most “important” moments were in a very clear way. When you’ve got to encapsulate an entire musical in a third of its own running time, songs you thought defined your entire piece suddenly seem less essential. It was a great exercise in forcing myself to be un-precious about my own work. I’ve done a ton of script work since then, and I think that’s it’s not only different but better.

The thing that has always been special about the show is that it is versatile in the ways that it can be presented. Was that intentional from its creation or something that evolved with the piece?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Stu for Silverton’s Peter Duchan paints us a portrait of an artist as a (rightfully)
neurotic man as he prepares, worries through, and survives his first rehearsal

First Rehearsal - A Neurotic's Schedule
7:44am. I give up on sleep and climb out of bed. Our first rehearsal for Stu for Silverton is today at 11:00am. I check the clock. Three hours stretch before me. I will do my best fill it with anxiety. But the problem with the first rehearsal is that nothing's actually happened yet. There's nothing concrete to be stressed about. I don’t let this deter me; I can invent something.

8:10am. A watched bagel doesn't toast, so I distract myself with fear fantasies about rehearsal while I wait for breakfast. We've created a forty-five minute cut especially for the NAMT Festival, so today will be my first time hearing this version of the script read aloud. It will be the actors’ first time hearing it aloud as well. What if they don't like it? That's nonsense, Peter: they wouldn't have agreed to be in it if they hated the material. But what if