The 2012 Annual NYMF gets bigger and better each year as it brings new shows to the offering, some to eventually reach their target as a Broadway or Off-Broadway full production, or continue to grow in that direction.
Here is an overview of a few of the full scale productions:
Baby Case – with book, music and lyrics by Michael Ogborn, the theme relives the 1927 abduction and tragic death of baby Charles Lindbergh, Jr. The production is good and could probably segue right onto the Broadway stage. However, its eerie, macabre and perverse topic is not exactly something to sing and dance about, but the music and lyrics are just so poignant that one must put it in proper perspective. This horrendous and heartbreaking murder brings out the worst in humanity as the media and populace want blood and someone has to pay, especially when the spotlight falls on the famous hero Charles Lindberg, played by the fine-voiced Will Reynolds, who actually does a better job doubling as the accused Bruno Hauptmann. Lovely soprano Anika Larsen plays the quiet, suffering Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Anna Hauptmann. Payoffs to testify and accuse Hauptmann are obvious as a 3 ring circus surrounds the horror. Did he actually commit this heinous crime?
The fine cast of performers include tough cookie Walter Winchell (Michael Thomas Holmes) who doubles as Phil Donahue; the outstanding Melissa van der Schyff as Violet Sharpe, Mrs. Wilentz, etc; Patricia Noonan as Betty Gow, the sexy secretary, Ginger Rogers, etc.; Tom Riis Farrell as John “Jatsie” Condon, Reilly; Jason Collins as Detective Schiable, Father Couglin, Walter Lyle, David Wilentz; Hannah Elless, as Emily Sharpe, Cecille Barr, others; Matthew Myers as Detective Walsh; Eugene Barry-Hill as Millard Whited, others, Kurt Zischke as Norman Schwarzkopf, W.R. Hearst, Judge.
Flambe Dreams – written by Matthew Hardy (book/lyrics) with music by Randy Klein, a farce of flaming proportions features Joe Christiansen (Jarrod Spector), a young wannabe Maitre d’, walking in the steps of his father, who goes off on a path to find his calling away from Preston, Idaho where he lives with his comedic pill pushing psychiatrist Mom, Elaine, (Tony Nominee Catherine Cox), thinking that Dad met his maker while running a restaurant in Preston that burned to the ground while offering up a parade of flaming Bananas Foster desserts. Well, that wasn’t exactly the case, since Mom never did tell him the truth. But Joe makes his way to New York City hoping to land his dream life of becoming a Maitre d’ at Le Cirque. Along the way he meets Gloria (a great voiced Jillian Louis), a pharmacist, while filling on-going prescriptions for Prozac at Duane Reade that are sent to him by his Mom.
He also meets Desiree who doubles as muse Delicious Dish (a feisty, fun J. Elaine Marcos). As his muse, whom he meets on the internet, she isn’t too interested in him until he actually does become the Maitre d’ (in training) at the famed restaurant. Throughout, Joe keeps searching for Gloria who is really the gal he wants. Love, Prozac, dreams, lies and eventually Le Bistro D’Joe in Hoboken, N.J! There’s a good performance by Kevin B. McGlynn who plays the roles of Joe’s Father, a tea café pothead River, a Japanese restaurant owner Yashinoya and Le Cirque Maitre d’ Emile who mentors Joe in the art of restaurantur-ing.
We’re more familiar with the adorable Jarrod Spector as a Jersey Boy with his pop rock voice than in this kind of portrayal where he needs some seasoning. Catherine Cox is great in her role as Mom and the standout is J. Elaine Marcos as the sexy, sensuous, oft times ditzy Desireee/Delicious Dish.
We think we may know what we want – but not always! The music can be repetitious, but there are some clever lyrical/musical moments in this 2 hour production. Keep working!
Stuck – with music, lyrics, book by Riley Thomas is the musical story of six strangers stuck in a subway car – a homeless African-American man Lloyd (a splendid Mel Johnson, Jr.) who has much to say and offer as he quotes Shakespeare; Ramon (Danny Bolero) trying to get to one of his jobs in his efforts to support his family; Sue (Beth McVey) a teacher who sensibly tries to soothe but is filled with her own pain; young Asian-American Eve (Anita Welch) who believes she’s being stalked by Caleb (Tim Young) who attends the same school she does and African-American Alicia (EJ Zimmerman). True feelings, bigotries, racism, anger and expectations emerge as each one reveals their inner most secrets and thoughts – – who they are in relationship to each other. They’re all stuck in more ways than one, each thinking that if they had what someone else has, life would be much better – the human condition I believe it’s called. There are some real highlights including a frenetic ensemble “The Subway Samba” which is clever, funny and includes a girl who needs to pee, a cork and a bottle and some good staging technique.
The subject matter can be discomforting at times with efforts to go for that tearjerker that doesn’t always work or make a point of hopelessness, the singing sometimes too loud in an effort to put the point across. But there are surely lessons to be learned in this 85 minute production. There are moments of joy, sadness and an eventual message that everyone wants the same thing – happiness, love and a life free from pain.
Stand Tall – book, music and lyrics by Lee Wyatt-Buchan, Sandy & Aldie Chalmers is a rock musical that puts a modernized spin on David and Goliath as they update to the 21st Century dealing with topics of bullying, bad parenting, good vs. evil and, of course, young love, as angry bad-boy Goliath challenges the meek shepherd boy wannabe rock star David to a guitar duel so that David can win the Princess Mia, claim God’s prophecy that he is the Chosen one and rule the Kingdom now overseen by the anything but benevolent King Saul. It all comes down to can David accomplish all this by playing the “Holy Guitar of Destiny!”
This version gives new meaning to the biblical David and Golilath and reduces it to what the teenie bopper crowd would probably relate to best. The cute narrator/guide, a highlight, is the sexy Black Sheep who is adorably played by Trista Dollison as she prances, dances and undulates in her sassiness from one to another trying to keep the peace and is especially hot in the jazzy “Twelve Baa Blues.” This is all a lot of silly fun, with occasional laugh lines thrown into this rock musical. The actors play a lot of tongue-in-cheek and sometimes when not, should be.
Along with some really loud rock guitar, there are some top voices and songs. The cast are winners with Gerard Canonico as Goliath/Guard; Jef Canter as King Saul/and the Dads Jesse and Cassius; Jill Shackner as the sweet pop voiced Mia. David (Bryan Welnicki) is a find. The production is directed by Simon Greiff. Musical director Brent Frederick leads the 3 piece kick-ass band. The show had a successful run in the UK and is billed as a family-friendly rock musical.