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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?!

Looking for an audience for your show? Most of the festivals accept unsolicited, unagented submissions of new works. Be sure to read the fine print, though, and carefully calculate the costs involved.

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

California

Foundation for New American Musicals

The focus of the Foundation for New American Musicals is high school and college-age writers. The Foundation organizes 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.

Hollywood Fringe Festival

The annual, uncensored Hollywood Fringe Festival is gathering momentum. The festival gives 100% of box office revenue back to participating artists and venues. Here's what their website explains: "Each June during the Hollywood Fringe, the arts infiltrate the Hollywood neighborhood: fully equipped theaters, parks, clubs, churches, restaurants and other unexpected places host hundreds of productions by local, national, and international arts companies and independent performers...." Hollywoodfringe.org

Short and Sweet Hollywood

"Short and Sweet" is a festival of 10-minute shows that has been running internationally for many years. They have started a Hollywood fest. See Shortandsweet.org - Hollywood

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. For information on this juried festival for new musicals go to cmtf.org

Artemisia Theatre Festival - Chicago

Artemisia Theatre's festival has a submissions window between July 1 and Dec 15. Artemisia produces plays that empower women and they accept musicals that fit within their specific guidelines. Artemisia Theatre festival

New York City Festivals for New Musicals

Fresh Fruit Festival

"Fresh Fruit Festival" is a summer festival of LGBT arts, at The WILD Project Theater, 193 East 3rd Street. It offers two weeks of theatre, dance, musicals, cabaret, and art. For those shows that are accepted, they provide performance venues & insurance, marketing & publicity assistance, ticketing services, professional theater staff, repertory lighting plot & sound system, networking events & more! Freshfruit (If you don't find submissions info, try again in the winter.)

New York Musical Festival or NYMF

The annual summer New York Musical Festival is the largest festival that focuses exclusively on musicals. It is a juried event that accepts submissions, helps writers with some aspects of production, and provides exposure in the heart of the New York City theater world. See Nymf.org and if you are considering submitting a show, we recommend our in-depth articles:

Inside NYMF part I and Inside NYMF part II

MORE 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.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC)

The almost annual summer 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. FringeNYC generates an atmosphere of extreme excitement, and our energy is contagious! They do include musicals. Fringenyc.org

Midtown International Theatre Festival

The Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF) takes place several times a year with the main one being summer. It is the brainchild of John Chatterton, publisher and editor of OOBR ("the off-off-broadway review").

"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." Midtownfestival.org

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. Editor's note: This festival plays in inexpensive venues, usually on the Lower East Side or the East Village. These venues are not always ideal for musicals in terms of accoustics, and are not really suited for inviting producers. But for a first test of a show in front of a small audience, it could work.

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 beginning September 1. The festival is essentially a one-night event in the spring. See www.tnny.org/soundbites/ and also check our article about the fest in the Growing Stages column Musical Writerzine issue 24.

East - Outside of NYC

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/

Powerhouse Theater in Poughkeepsie, New York

Although not labeled a festival, this summer program has a festival feel and is a good place to see works by contemporary writers. Vassar and New York Stage and Film partner to create this event. "For six weeks every summer the Powerhouse Season brings fully-produced plays, musical workshops, and readings of works-in-progress to the college campus. In all, more than 200 professional artists come to Powerhouse each season and bring to life 20-25 new works." They do not accept open submissions. Powerhouse at Vassar

Williamstown Theatre 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

DC: 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/

South and Southwest

Phoenix, AZ

The Phoenix Theatre is receptive to new musicals for their annual new works festival. There is a late summer submissions deadline for the festival held the following spring. See our detailed article in the "Growing Stages" column of Musical Writerzine issue 38, and also on their festival website page: Phoenix Theatre New American Theatre Festival

Miami, Short Plays Festival

Want an excuse to travel to Miami? Consider the City Theatre Short Plays festival, that now includes musicals. Each evening is packed with 10-minute plays and musicals drawn from over 500 submissions. The next submissions window is August 30 to September 30, 2017. City Theatre - Miami describes itself as "The only theater in the U.S. solely dedicated to the creation and production of ten-minute plays year-round for all ages." Visit Citytheatre.com or Citytheatre-submissions

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.

International

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Looking for a real summer adventure? The famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival is considered the world's largest arts festivalr. Held each August in Scotland, as many as 250 different types of performaces are staged. "Be part of the world's greatest platform for creative freedom..." says their website. Bring your own show some year - everyone is allowed. (Deadlines are in the spring.) Official site: edfringe.com. Note that the Fringe Office does not produce any of the shows, does not invite anybody to perform and pays no fees to performers.

Page to Stage - UK

From Page to Stage is a three week summer festival of new international musical theatre. Submissions window for previously unproduced work seems to be December to February. The event is held at The Other Palace.

Toronto Fringe Festival

People come from around the world to enjoy live theatre, music, and art at the Toronto Fringe Festiva. Many events are free and it does include some musicals. The festival's main site is Fringetoronto, with details of the annual July festival. Also check under the "Year-Round" tab to find other opportunities for Canadian writers.

Australia, India... Short and 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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