Wednesday, June 27, 2012
An interview with Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond, writers of the Festival ’11 show Dani Girl, about their show, life since the Festival and other projects they are working on.
Dani Girl is the inspiring and humorous story of a young girl's battle with a life-threatening disease. Far from sitting back and accepting her condition, Dani transforms her struggle into a fantastical adventure. Together with her teddy bear, imaginary guardian angel and movie-obsessed hospital roommate, she battles a personified Cancer across the realms of fantasy and reality as she attempts to get her beloved hair back. Told from a child's perspective, this provocative musical explores the universal themes of life in the face of death, hope in the face of despair and the indomitable power of imagination.
What was the response to your presentation at the Festival?
We got a terrific response. The feedback we received was incredibly encouraging and it's generated some great opportunities for the piece, including the chance to participate in the festival at The Human Race Theatre Co. (Aug. 3-5), which we're thrilled about. Additionally, the Festival has generated several opportunities for us beyond Dani Girl, which have allowed us to begin to develop several new projects. We've also made some terrific new contacts that we hope will lead to new opportunities in the future, which came about as a direct result of NAMT.
Did the Festival process make you go back and revise or refine anything in the show?
Absolutely. The process of preparing the piece for the presentation, trimming it down to 45 minutes, helped us to see some potential cuts to the script that we ended up implementing. We've also gone back and done some work on the very opening of the show, which we think helps to establish the tone of the piece much more clearly right from the get-go.
What are you hoping to work on while at Human Race?
An interview with TheatreWorks’ Director of New Works, Meredith McDonough, about their upcoming developmental production of 2010 NAMT Festival show The Trouble with Doug, by Will Aronson and Daniel Maté, as part of the New Works Festival this August.
The Trouble with Doug is a contemporary comedic reimagining of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Thrust together awkwardly under the same roof, Doug, his family and his fiancée all struggle to understand and respond to Doug's transformation into a giant talking slug.
What drew TheatreWorks to The Trouble with Doug?
When we saw the presentation in the NAMT Festival two years ago, our whole artistic team was crying with laughter. I couldn't wait to read the full script and was so pleased to see how moving the second act is. It's that balance of humor and heart that I am always looking for in new work.
Why are you presenting the show as a developmental production vs. a reading?We had offered them a slot in last summer's New Works Festival, but they had such an exciting opportunity to work on the piece in the United Kingdom with [NAMT member] Royal & Derngate. When I read the new draft following that reading, I could clearly see that the writers were ready to see the piece on its feet and not behind music stands again!
What is the team hoping to work on during the process?
Friday, June 15, 2012
I got one of my favorite kinds of NAMT emails last week, from Sean Kelly at The 5th Avenue Theatre and Kristin Buie and Nena Theis at North Carolina Theatre. At the recent Spring Conference, several members talked about promotions where subscribers' seats were tagged with renewal requests when they attended a show, to engage them while they were actually in the theatre. At The 5th, for renewing early and on the spot, they were given a bottle of wine to take home and free parking. Kristin and Nena thought this was an easy enough project to initiate quickly (not that it didn't require a fair amount of work, identifying subscribers and their seats, for example), and low cost enough (thanks to deals to the theatre on the wine and the parking) to be basically risk-free, so they gave it a shot. I'll let Kristin tell you how it went:
"Our goal was to bring in $100,000 during the ten-day show run (this is how much we brought in during the first ten days of our renewal period last year by doing our standard renewal mailing). Well, we brought in over $100,000 in the first four performances alone...Our grand total was $536,747.50, including donations from brand new supporters and 44 new subscribers. Our patrons really appreciated the personal attention and convenience to take care of it on the spot at the show.”
Where Kristin, Nena and Sean dream of subscription renewals, I dream of stories like this. One of NAMT's main goals with our conferences is to send attendees home with ideas they can use, as quickly as possible. We stress adaptability, so what worked for a $21M organization in Seattle can be scaled for a $3.5M organization in North Carolina, or even further for a $5,000 budget with a volunteer staff of two. And of course that works in both directions, taking a grass-roots idea and growing it into something that will work for a larger organization.
I love that Kristin and Nena got something so concrete out of the Spring Conference so quickly, and I love that they shared their success story with Sean and me. It's proof of the power of this network, and a great reminder of how well risks can pay off, something I'll definitely be keeping in mind as we plan the 2012-2013 conferences (about which more soon! Watch this space!).
Monday, June 4, 2012
Congratulations to the 7 member theatres selected to receive grants from
our National Fund for New Musicals this year. In the last 4 years, the Fund has given out 45 grants totaling $197,000.
Production Grants of $10,000 have been awarded to:
Diversionary Theatre (CA) for Harmony, Kansas by Bill Nelson & Anna K. Jacobs
Playwrights Horizons (NY) for Far From Heaven by Scott Frankel, Richard Greenberg & Michael Korie ('89–Blanco)
TheatreWorks (CA) for Wheelhouse by Gene Lewin, Brendan Milburn ('04–Striking 12, '11–Watt?!?) & Valerie Vigoda ('04–Strking 12).
Project Development Grants between $2,000-$3,000 have been awarded to:
American Musical Theatre Project at Northwestern University (IL) for The Verona Project by Amanda Dehnert.
Center Theatre Group (CA) for a new musical about urban superheroes by Matt Sax.
Dallas Theatre Center (TX) for Stagger Lee by Justin Ellington, Will Power & Daryl Waters.
Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre at University of Oklahoma for Something Wicked This Way Comes by Neil Bartram and Brian Hill (both, '07–The Story of My Life).
A special thanks to all of our National Fund for New Musicals donors including Stacey Mindich Productions, The Alhadeff Family Charitable Foundation, The ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund and everyone who contributed in honor of our former Executive Director Kathy Evans.
If you are interested in contributing to the National Fund, please contact Executive Director Betsy King Militello. Donations of all sizes help grow the Fund and provide more grants to new musicals across the country.
Congratulations to all of the members and artists involved in these exciting projects!
An interview with Terry James, Executive Producer of The Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, IL, about their upcoming world premiere of Hero by Aaron Thielen (’10–The Bowery Boys) and Michael Mahler (’09–How Can You Run With a Shell On Your Back?), playing June 20-August 19. For more information, visit www.marriotttheatre.com.
Hero is a quirky and poignant new musical that explores those extraordinary moments in ordinary life. It’s the story of Hero Batowski, a 28-year-old struggling comic book artist, living anything but a superhero life. After a life-changing event his senior year in high school, Hero still finds himself living at home with his dad, Al, who runs the family comic book shop in Milwaukee. Things start to change for him when he bumps into an old girlfriend, and with the encouragement of his dad and his best friend and cousin, Kirk, Hero finally has a chance to realize his own dream. Hero features a contemporary pop/rock score that is fresh and exciting.
Why is Hero a good fit for your season?
For more than thirty years our subscribers have enthusiastically embraced new works. Hero provided an opportunity to give them something unique. From a business point of view it makes sense—a small cast size and a 5-member pop-rock band is certainly appealing! When long-time Marriott director David H. Bell agreed to come on board, I knew we had a formidable and exciting team in place. Hero has also given us a chance to explore the new world of online marketing by collaborating with website and comic book designer and illustrator Charles Riffenburg of Grab Bag Media. For the comic book aficionado that wants more, Charles and Aaron have created a really exciting website, www.heromusical.com, which accompanies the show. It offers audiences an in-depth look into the creation of the show and the world through Hero's eye, following the entire creative process of bringing this new work to the stage, complete with audio, videos and a blog.
What was the genesis of Hero?