New York Musical Theatre Festival

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New York Musical Festival
LocationNew York City
Type of play(s)Musical

The New York Musical Festival (NYMF) was an annual three-week summer festival that operated from 2004 to 2019. It presented more than 30 new musicals a year in New York City's midtown theater district. More than half were chosen by leading theater artists and producers through an open-submission, double-blind evaluation process. The remaining shows were invited to participate by the Festival's artist staff. The festival premiered over 447 musicals, which featured the work of over 8,000 artists and were attended by more than 300,000 people. More than 100 NYMF shows went on to further productions. By NYMF's count, alumni productions have been produced in all 50 US states and in 27 countries, and have been seen by roughly four million people.[1] Over 20 NYMF shows have had cast albums recorded.


Not only were full productions presented at NYMF, but limitless entertainment opportunities such as readings and concerts of new music, educational seminars, explorations of musicals in TV and film, and unique collaborations intertwining different New-York based art organizations were available to attendees. In 2011, The Festival introduced NYMF meets NYMIF, partnering with the New York Musical Improv Festival in a weekly series in which NYMF performers were paired with performers from the Magnet Theater to create completely improvised musicals.[2]

In 2005, the Festival featured a series of co-productions with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater exploring the nexus of improvisation and musical theater.[1] NYMF has also partnered with The Paley Center each season to present special screenings of Musicals on Television.[3]

Additionally, in 2005 the New York Musical Theatre Festival received the 21st Jujamcyn Theaters Award, a $100,000 prize given to a not-for-profit institution that has made an "outstanding contribution to the development of creative talent for the theatre."[4]

NYMF also featured a Dance Series, celebrating the fusion of musical theatre and dance. Each series included one new musical commissioned by the Festival: Common Grounds (2006), Platforms (2007), Wild About Harry (2008), and Andy Warhol Was Right (2009).[1]

During the off-season, NYMF produced a number of concerts, from large star-studded evenings like "The Unauthorized Musicology of Ben Folds", to intimate events like a salon with composer Duncan Sheik. It also operated a year-round writer service program, The Next Link Project, which provided dramaturgical, professional, entrepreneurial and financial support to help writers bring their musicals to fruition as fully staged productions. The Next Link Project culminated with twelve writing teams each year receiving subsidized productions in NYMF's fall Festival.[5]

On July 17, 2008, the musical title of show became the first show to transfer from the New York Musical Theatre Festival to a commercial Broadway production when it opened at the Lyceum Theatre. The show closed October 12, 2008 after playing 13 previews and 102 performances. It was produced by Kevin McCollum, the producer of Rent and Avenue Q, as well as Roy Miller, producer of Drowsy Chaperone, the Vineyard Theatre, Laura Camien and Kris Stewart, founder emeritus of the New York Musical Theatre Festival.[6]

In 2009, Next To Normal became the second show to transfer from the New York Musical Theatre Festival to a commercial Broadway production. It became a smash hit at the Booth Theatre, winning three Tony Awards, including Best Score and Best Leading Actress In A Musical.[7] "Next To Normal" went on to win the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama,[8] only the ninth musical to be so honored in the history of that award.

Additionally, in 2009, NYMF began a partnership with the Daegu International Musical Theatre Festival (DIMF), which shares its dedication to new musicals and new artists. The partnership includes a production exchange, which began with the hit Korean production of My Scary Girl at NYMF, and continued in the Summer of 2010 with the 2009 NYMF musical Academy at DIMF. NYMF's Korean production of Academy received awards for Best Musical and Best Supporting Actor at the annual Daegu Musical Theater Awards.[9]

In 2013, NYMF won a Special Drama Desk Award "for a decade of creating and nurturing new musical theater, ensuring the future of this essential art form."[10]

Nerds: A Musical Software Satire, from NYMF 2005, was meant to be the fourth Broadway transfer of a NYMF show when it opened at the Longacre Theatre in 2016. However, it lost a major investor a month before its scheduled opening, when the cast was already in rehearsal, and the opening was cancelled.[11]

On January 2, 2020, NYMF abruptly announced that it was shutting down, ceasing operations immediately.[12]

NYMF Awards for Excellence[edit]

At the end of every festival starting in 2006, a jury of Broadway professionals gave out awards for excellence to the deserving productions in that year's festival. There is also a "Best of Fest" award that the public votes for.

Year "Best of Fest" Audience Prize Most Promising New Musical Theater for the American Musical Prize Excellence in Writing (Music) Excellence in Writing (Lyrics) Excellence in Writing (Book) Excellence in Direction Excellence in Choreography Excellence in Overall Design Outstanding Orchestrations Outstanding Ensemble Performance
2019[13] Show: Overture

Concert: The Oldenburg Suite

Reading: Mississippi

Leaving Eden Buried Leaving Eden Buried Till Flying Lessons Leaving Eden Flying Lessons
2018[14] Show: An American Hero

Concert: Fatty Fatty No Friends

Reading: Legacy

Between the Sea and Sky Between the Sea and Sky Interstate Peter, Who? Between the Sea and Sky Emojiland Between the Sea and Sky Sonata 1962 Between the Sea and Sky AND Emojiland
2017[15] Show: Errol and Fidel

Concert: Dorian Gray

Generation Me Freedom Riders Georama Generation Me Georama Errol and Fidel Georama Errol and Fidel Generation Me
2016[16] Show: Children of Salt

Concert: Illa! A Hip Hop Musical

Newton's Cradle Dust Can't Kill Me Newton's Cradle Eh Dah? Questions for my Father Newton's Cradle Nickel Mines A Scythe of Time Dust Can't Kill Me Dust Can't Kill Me
2015[17] The Calico Buffalo Songs for the Fallen The Cobalteans The Cobalteans The Cobalteans Claudio Quest What Do Critics Know? Claudio Quest Acappella Acappella
2014[18] Cloned! Academia Nuts The Gig The Gig Bayonets of Angst Academia Nuts Propaganda! The Musical AND The Mapmaker's Opera (tie) The Snow Queen The Gig Bayonets of Angst
2013[19] Volleygirls Volleygirls Crossing Swords Julian Po Gary Goldfarb: Master Escapist Crossing Swords Crossing Swords Castle Walk The Awakening of Angel DeLuna The Awakening of Angel DeLuna Volleygirls
2012[20] Baby Case A Letter to Harvey Milk Stuck Baby Case Baby Case AND A Letter to Harvey Milk (tie) A Letter to Harvey Milk Baby Case Prison Dancer Le Cabaret Grimm Foreverman Prison Dancer
2011[21] Crazy, Just Like Me Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Kiki Baby Central Avenue Breakdown Date of a Lifetime Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Central Avenue Breakdown Pride and Prejudice Central Avenue Breakdown This One Girl's Story
2010[22] Things As They Are My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding I Got Fired Trails Frog Kiss My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding Petrouchka Shine! Without You[note 1] Fellowship! AND The Most Ridiculous Thing You Ever Hoid (tie)
2009[23] Fat Camp My Scary Girl Under Fire Academy Judas & Me Fucking Up Everything Hurricane Fat Camp Hurricane Academy
2008[24] Idaho! Bonnie & Clyde: A Folktale The Jerusalem Syndrome Bonnie & Clyde College: The Musical Love Jerry Idaho! Ward 9 Idaho! Love Jerry
2007[25] Unlock'd The Boy in the Bathroom Sherlock Holmes (The Early Years) The Yellow Wood Such Good Friends The Boy in the Bathroom Such Good Friends Platforms The Boy in the Bathroom Going Down Swingin'
2006[26] Smoking Bloomberg Kingdom River's End Have a Nice Life Three Sides Desperate Measures AND Gutenberg! The Musical! (tie) Common Grounds[note 2] Journey to the West Have a Nice Life


  1. ^ a b c "New York Musical Festival". Archived from the original on 13 May 2020.
  2. ^ Rosky, Nicole. "CYCLOPS, BIG BANK, et al. Set for 2011 NYMF; Full Line-Up Announced!". Retrieved 2016-06-01.
  3. ^ "Musicals on Television". Paley Center.
  4. ^ Jones, Kenneth (12 February 2007). "Jujamcyn Award Recognizes NYC's Irish Rep; Troupe Gets $100,000 in Green". Playbill. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  5. ^ Hetrick, Adam (1 June 2010). "New York Musical Theatre Festival Announces 2010 Next Link Projects". Playbill. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  6. ^ "[title of show] – Broadway Musical – Original". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  7. ^ "Next To Normal – Broadway Musical – Original". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  8. ^ "Next to Normal, by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey". Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  9. ^ Bacalzo, Dan (8 July 2010). "NYMF's Academy Wins Best Musical Award at South Korea's Daegu International Musical Festival". TheaterMania.
  10. ^ "NYMF wins a Drama Desk Award". New York Musical Theatre Festival. Archived from the original on 21 June 2013.
  11. ^ Cox, Gordon (2016-03-08). "Steve Jobs-Bill Gates Musical 'Nerds' Nixes Broadway Run". Variety. Retrieved 2016-06-16.
  12. ^ Cristi, A.A. "NYMF To Shut Down After Fifteen Seasons". Retrieved 2020-01-03.
  13. ^ Hetrick, Adam (2019-08-06). "Leaving Eden Wins 2019 NYMF Award for Best Musical". Playbill. Retrieved 2020-01-03.
  14. ^ McPhee, Ryan (2018-08-06). "New York Musical Festival Names 2018 Award for Excellence Winners". Playbill. Retrieved 2020-01-03.
  15. ^ "THE NEW YORK MUSICAL FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 2017 WINNERS FOR THE NYMF AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE". August 6, 2017. Archived from the original on August 9, 2017. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  16. ^ Rickwald, Bethany (August 8, 2016). "Lesli Margherita, Victoria Clark, and More Win 2016 New York Musical Festival Awards". TheaterMania. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  17. ^ [1] 2015 Awards
  18. ^ [2] 2014 Awards
  19. ^ [3] 2013 Awards
  20. ^ [4] 2012 Awards
  21. ^ [5] 2011 Awards
  22. ^ [6] 2010 Awards
  23. ^ [7] 2009 Awards
  24. ^ [8] 2008 Awards
  25. ^ [9] 2007 Awards
  26. ^ [10] 2006 Awards


  1. ^ 2010 was the first year to give an award for Outstanding Orchestrations.
  2. ^ In 2006, there was one award given for Excellence in Direction and Choreography.

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