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Festivals of New Musicals

Compiled by Carol de Giere

What better way to see what's brewing in musical theatre than to attend new musicals festivals where you can see many shows at once?! Some of the festivals listed here accept unsolicited, unagented submissions as well, so librettists and composers who are eager to see their work produced can take advantage of the opportunity.

Be sure to read the fine print, though, and carefully calculate the costs involved. If you're wondering how to get a musical produced, festivals may help. But you also need to market the show. When many new musicals are on display at once, there's more competition for an audience.

To stay informed about festivals and other opportunities to get a musical produced, subscribe to our quarterly newsletter: The Musical Writerizine newsletter - ezine


LA festivalThe Los Angeles Festival of New American Musicals is now the Foundation for New American Musicals. They organize an ongoing concert series that showcases songs from new musicals. They also bring new shows to Southern California, have opportunities for young writers, and more. Find info at lafestival.org/ and on their Facebook page LAFNAM.

Chicago Area

The Chicago Musical Theatre Festival

The Chicago Musical Theatre Festival is a new-works festival produced by Underscore Theatre company and two other groups. This ambitious, juried festival for new musicals is held in the summer with a deadline for submissions the previous winter. Sign up for their mailing list and read more at cmtf.org/

Artemisia Theatre Festival - Chicago

Artemisia Theatre's festival has a submissions window between July 15 and Dec 15. Artemisia produces plays that empower women and they accept musicals that fit within their specific guidelines. Artemisia Theatre festival

New York Festivals for New Musicals

New York Musical Theatre Festival

WHEN: July. See also Nymf.org

In an annual event spanning three-four weeks in July and August, NYMF produces more than thirty new musicals in Manhattan's theatre district, and presents numerous more around New York City. NYMF's programming breaks down into three main areas: full productions, special events, and educational events.

ABOUT NYMF: The New York Musical Festival (NYMF) exists to provide a launching pad for emerging musical theatre writers, composers, lyricists and performers, and to bring a new generation of work to new and diverse audiences. By creating an lower-risk infrastructure based around an "economy of scale," NYMF is able to provide artists with professional and creative resources they would not be able to afford or access "including professionally equipped off-Broadway theaters, full technical and design support, marketing opportunities and press exposure, industry introductions, and more "enabling new musicals to break through the "glass ceiling" between the developmental process and full production.

Since the first festival 2004, more than 350 shows have premiered at NYMF entertaining more than 300,000 audience members. The musicals and artists introduced at NYMF have, in turn, gone on to further successes on and Off-Broadway, across the country, and around the globe – reaching literally millions of theatergoers worldwide. A few examples include ALTAR BOYZ, THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL, SHOUT!, LIKE YOU LIKE IT, THE BIG VOICE: GOD OR MERMAN, [TITLE OF SHOW], and CHAPLIN.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC)


WHEN: August

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America, with more than 200 companies from all over the world performing for 16 days in more than 20 venues "that's a total of more than 1300 performances! FringeNYC generates an atmosphere of extreme excitement, and our energy is contagious! They do include musicals.

Midtown International Theatre Festival

Midtownfestival.org/ (Use the drop down menus on their site to find more details)

WHEN: Summer is their main festival, and they have other events in winter and spring.

The Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF) is the brainchild of John Chatterton, publisher and editor of OOBR ("the off-off-broadway review"). Chatterton started the MITF as a way to present the finest Off-Off-Broadway talent in convenience, comfort, and safety.

We select productions carefully and don't make the Festival any bigger than it needs to be to pay its way. We do everything we can to select projects that are pleasing to us as well as to their audiences. (We also recognize that not all plays appeal to all audiences.) We don't stuff the Festival with zany productions... We encourage diversity because theatre itself is diverse.

National Alliance for Musical Theatres.

NAMT holds one of the most prestigious annual festivals and is frequented by many industry professionals. A limited number of musicals receive a forty-five minute showcase at the fall festival in New York City. Among the many musicals launched by NAMT's annual Festival of New Musicals are Thoroughly Modern Millie, Children of Eden, HONK!, The Drowsy Chaperone, Ruthless!, Songs for a New World, and many others!"

namt.org/ National Alliance for Musical Theatre, according to their website, is committed to serving member organizations, and to pursuing our mission to nurture the creation, development, and recognition of new and classic musical theatre.

"After our commercial producers dropped their option we were left with little prospects. Brian Crawley suggested we apply to NAMT on a hunch that if we got accepted we could put our show back on the map. That is indeed what happened. ....I was extremely satisfied. I feel everything we did was effective in communicating what our show is, is about, and can be."
- Andrew Lippa, A LITTLE PRINCESS (2005)

Planet Connections Theatre Festivity

Held in New York City each summer, Planet Connections is a large socially conscious/eco-friendly theatre, film and music festival that features over 150 performances and readings. The organizers encourage our artists to partner with non-profit organizations to raise awareness for their causes through the work they do. Many of the shows have a green or socially consicous theme. Submissions are reviewed. planetconnections.org/

Sound Bites 10-Minute Musicals Festival

This annual "festival" put on by Theatre Now celebrates new works, either as excerpts or original 10-minute pieces. Multiple musicals can be submitted, with the usual submissions window being the summer months through September 1. The festival is essentially a one-night event in January (and one of the most fun nights you'll experience in a theater). See www.tnny.org/soundbites/ and also check our article about the fest in the Growing Stages column Musical Writerzine issue 24.

Theater for the New City - Dream Up Festival

Theater for the New City hosts an annual summer festival for Drama, Musicals, Improv, Aerial and more at their theater complex at the Theater for New City 155 First Avenue. Contact literary manager Michael Scott-Price. See Personnel list at Theaterforthenewcity.

Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival in Western New York.

We wrote about the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival in the Growing Stages column in Musical Writerzine issue 17, so please see that issue for information on submitting your musical.

This new musicals festival opened to the public in the summer of 2012, with special opportunities to see new shows and enter musicals. There was even a chance for writers to pitch their work and entertain an audience at the same time. The festival is hosted in the three buildings in the beautiful Finger Lakes area of New York state near Ithaca. From their website: "Experience a diverse offering of musical theatre productions, ranging from revivals of the most storied classics to cutting-edge experiments." Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival Fingerlakesmtf.com/

Northwest: The Village Theatre Festival

For a full story on the Village Theatre Festival near Seattle held annually, please see the Growing Stages column SECOND ARTICLE (below the Auburn festival article) at the end of the Musical Writerzine issue #5: Village Theatre Festival submissions info, etc MusicalWriterzine #5 - Note that attendance at the festival is by invitation only.

Washington, D.C. New Musicals Festival

The Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage Festival

The Kennedy Center hosts an annual Page-to-Stage festival with invited material from more than 40 Washington D.C.-area theater companies. One of our Musical Writerzine subscribers wrote about having her show in the festival: A report-from the Kennedy Center Page to Stage Festival-2013.

To be involved, you need to develop a relationship with a Washington, D.C. area theatre and become known there. For example, see our article on Metro Stage in Musical Writerzine newsletter issue 14 although please note that Metro Stage is only interested in small musicals: 5 cast members or fewer.

To attend the event as an audience member is free. It features readings and open rehearsals of new plays and musicals from a variety of playwrights, librettists, and composers, see the theatre events calendar kennedy-center.org/

Williamstown Festival

Set in the scenic Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, this festival develops some new plays and musicals, and accepts agented submissions only. For audiences, it is an opportunity to see professionals perform engaging works. Williamstown Theatre Festival

International: Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the world's largest arts festival. The Festival Fringe Society (commonly known as the Fringe Office) does not produce any of the shows, does not invite anybody to perform and pays no fees to performers. But anyone can bring their performance to the festival by following their guildlines for use of venues, etc. www.edfringe.com/ official site.

Australia, India and elsewhere - Short & Sweet

Short & Sweet has established itself as "the biggest little play festival in the world." The group holds events in various locations. They accept musicals but everything must be performable in 10 minutes or less. See Shortandsweet.org

From the website: Scripts are accepted throughout the year by Short+Sweet, managed by our Literary Manager based in Sydney, Australia, and shortlisted for numerous festivals around the world. There are no limits to the creativity or content of your scripts, only that it can be performed in 10 minutes or under. For a small submission fee of $20/script, there is no limit on plays submitted, and no limit on international Short+Sweet festivals it can be perfomed in. This is a unique opportunity to have your play produced around the world, with special encouragement placed on communication between Writers and Directors, and the opportunity to see your play for free wherever it is performed! 


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