By Roger Costa
Presenting more than 20 brand new Musical productions and readings, concerts and other events, The New York Musical Festival celebrates a new trend in Musicals history and style, showcasing fresh talents, vibrant, naturally inspired and promising professionals. These artists have already gained buzz and appreciation from audiences and critics as they presented their composing, dancing, singing, comic and dramatic skills in other recent productions. Running since July 10th and continuing this week thru August 6th with a Closing Night Ceremony Award, the Festival has established a trademark in New York culture since its creation in 2004, discovering exciting artists and revealing new styles that will permeate the future of Musical productions. Among the stellar selection, here are 5 amazing examples of this factor:
A group of teens explore themes of first love, sex, betrayal, ambition, friendship and family values in this funny yet tragic remarkable work written by Julie Soto and Will Finan and Directed by Ryan Warren. They are enjoying the pleasures of High School and learning important lessons of respect, tolerance and acceptance, but also dealing with the tragic loss of a boy who committed suicide. The narrative brilliantly goes back and forth in time creating a sense of mystery. The entire cast gives fabulously energized performances, with efficient doses of comedy and drama, young talents such as Milo Manheim as the leading boy and Anabella Ronson-Benenati as his mentor-friend Harper. Phenomenal!
MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY VS THE DEVIL
Written by Emilie Landmann, Jonathan Quesenberry, Carrie Morgan and directed by Thomas Caruso this highly irreverent satire about fame, success, lust, luxury and Hollywood will make you laugh from start to end, with effervescent musical numbers performed with total comic control by names as Wayne Wilcox as Matthew, Max Crumm as Woody, Jennifer Blood as the star’s agent Penny, and the irresistibly devilish and hilarious Lesli Margherita as a seductive figure sent from darkness.
TEMPLE OF THE SOULS
In this mystical romantic fable a young girl defies prejudice, family standards and society in order to fight for her forbidden love affair with an Indian. Set in the marvelous land of Puerto Rico during the Spanish colonization era, this richly enchanting, seductive and adventurous production directed by Lorca Peress, and written by Peress along with Anita Velez-Mitchell, Anika Paris and Dean Landon, is filled with exciting moments of action and romance as well as precious performances by Noellia Hernandez as our heroine, Amada, Andres Quintero as the Indian Guario and Jacob Gutierrez as the debaucherous womanizer Nemesio.
THE TIME MACHINE
An over the top period production with elegant costumes, inventive set designs and impressive lighting techniques, this adventurous comedy follows the journey of inventor Thomas trying to prove his latest machine is worth his community’s support. Directed by Justin Baldridge, written by David Mauk & Brenda Mandabach with Music & Lyrics by David Mauk, it delivers outstanding musical numbers with competent elegance by Michael Hunsaker as Thomas, renowned actor Randal Keith as Professor Dash, and Bligh Voth as Wenissa the love interest he meets during his time traveling amazing journey.
A WALL APART
Energized, fast paced, contagiously vibrant, this rock musical is set during the Berlin divided-city period, stirring up themes such as immigration, equality, racism, humanitarain values and violence. Written by Lord Graham Russell, Sam Goldstein & Draig Clyde, with direction by Keith Andrews, it’s a lovely and attractive production that will leave you rocking on your seat, as well as emotionally involved with the youngsters dilemmas facing the prohibition of freedom. It also presents impressive and stylish choreography (created by Andrews) performed with vitality by the beautiful cast especially the exuberant Maddie Shea Baldwin as leading lady Esther. Glorious!