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New York Musical Theatre Festival Brings Hot New Musicals to NYC

by Photo of Natalie Sacks

More than 30 new musicals premiere in New York this July. Here are some of our favorites.

New York Musical Theatre Festival Brings Hot New Musicals to NYC

In this article…

The New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) is an annual three-week festival which presents more than thirty new musicals at venues across Midtown Manhattan. Begun in 2004, NYMF continues to present cutting-edge productions, concerts and readings that allow New York audiences to see what may be the next big Broadway hit. To date, there have been three musicals to transfer from NYMF straight to Broadway: [title of show], Next to Normal and Chaplin. This year, any of these shows could be the fourth.

In an age in which most new musicals we see on Broadway are movie adaptations or the vehicle for a Hollywood star, it's exciting and refreshing to see this crop of original musicals on topical issues from the Clintons and Iraq to Frozen and Oprah. We've picked out some of the most exciting productions that we think you should see. From reimagined fairy tales to political satire to heartwarming family-friendly shows, there is something here for everyone.

Clinton the Musical

Clinton the Musical has already proved to be a hit at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Best New Musical nominee) and at the King's Head Theatre in London in 2013, and now it's making its American premiere. After reading his autobiography, brothers Paul and Michael Hodge decided to present two Bills: one wanting instant gratification, the other defined by his empathy.The musical follows Hillary and literally two Bill Clintons on their quest to save their presidency and prove that "politics is show business for ugly people."


The real lived experience of women in the military is not something we often get to see in popular media, let alone on stage. With a soaring pop rock score and set against the epic backdrop of a military base in Baghdad, Jessy Brouillard's Deployed follows Emily's emotional journey as she trains Iraqi women, befriends and feuds with her interpreter Laila and comes realize the enemy she’s fighting is herself. Deployed is about the struggle we all face at some point in our lives--learning to forgive and to let go of our past in order to move on. 


WikiMusical is a new musical satire of the virtual age. It tells the epic tale of two estranged brothers, Peter and Kurt Oglesby, who return to their childhood home for Christmas Eve and, through a series of mysterious events, are magically zapped inside the Internet. Their quest to find their way home involves encounters with Emoticons, cats and coming to terms with their pasts. Creators Frank Ceruzzi, Blake J. Harris and Trent Jeffords cite as their inspiration classics such as Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, updated with the Internet and a pop score for modern times.

Bayonets of Angst

Bayonets of Angst is an original musical comedy set to a bluegrass soundtrack and narrated by the last remaining veterans of the American Civil War, who at 172 years old have some trouble getting all the facts straight. Tony nominee J. Robert Spencer as Abraham Lincoln is joined by a host of other Broadway names, playing important figures like mad General Sherman, an extremely promiscuous General Ulysses S. Grant and the veterans who tell their stories. If history is written by the last ones standing at the end, then Rick Kunzi, Justin Zeppa and Adam Barnosky have rewritten America as we know it with this tale.

The Snow Queen

For many people, The Snow Queen is simply the fairy tale that smash hit Frozen was based off of. But Disney took quite a few liberties, and the creative team behind this musical brings Hans Christian Anderson's coming-of-age adventure to life in a completely new way. This pop rock adaptation received its world premiere last year at San Jose Rep, and is now coming to New York with Broadway alums such as Jane Pfitsch (Cabaret) and Eryn Murman (Spring Awakening). In this version, penned by Kirsten Brandt, Rick Lombardo and Haddon Kime, Gerda embarks on a dangerous and whimsical quest to save her best friend Kai before he is trapped forever in the Snow Queen’s palace.


In 2011, Oprah closed the book on 25 years of dominating global television to focus on building her new empire, the Oprah Winfrey Network. It hasn't been going so well. Now, Oprahfication brings her back with a one-off retrospective episode to celebrate those years and present to you the ultimate interview. Book writer and lyricist Rachel Dunham also plays Oprah, taking the audience on a journey through gospel, mo-town, doo-wop, rock ballads, love ballads, and lullabies penned by Shanon D. Whitelock. The show has played at festivals across Australia, and has now made it to the heart of Oprah's empire to show us why the country fell in love with her in the first place.

If you don't see anything you like here, check out the rest of the offerings at NYMF's website. There are giant dog puppets, zombie strippers, magicians and clones. You may laugh your head off, and you may just learn something new. 

The New York Musical Theatre Festival runs from July 7 to 27 in a variety of off-Broadway Manhattan theater spaces.

Want great tickets but hate paying fees? Check CHARGED.fm to find tickets for less and NO FEES!

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