Festivals for New Musicals

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.

NYC

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. 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. See Nymf.org

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/

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. This year’s festival will be held on April 2, 2019 at 7pm at Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center. See www.tnny.org/soundbites/

Outside NYC

Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival in Western New York

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. To be involved, you need to develop a relationship with a Washington, D.C. area theatre and become known there. 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/

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

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

Other USA

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. 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

Seattle, WA

Five new musicals are presented in staged reading—rehearsed, fully sung presentations of new work, performed and directed by the region’s foremost theatre artists and guest artists from across the country—for audiences of Village Originals members and theatre professionals. Meet the Author and Meet the Artists events, receptions, and opening and closing celebrations encourage and enable interaction among actors, directors, writers, Village Originals members, and guest artists and administrators from other institutions. VillageTheatre.org

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. 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! See Shortandsweet.org

Articles on Festivals

Musical Theater Festivals in Manhattan: A 2020 Update

Musical Theater Festivals in Manhattan: A 2020 Update

Musical writers can take advantage of the crowd power and use festivals as a relatively economical way to reach an audience while preparing for the next stage of development. The gathering of artists also makes festival participation helpful for building a network for future projects.

Village Theatre – Seattle

Village Theatre – Seattle

The Village Theatre Festival of New Musicals presents staged readings of new works performed and directed by the region’s foremost theatre artists.

Inside NYMF (New York Musical Theatre Festival) and Other Festivals, Part 1

Inside NYMF (New York Musical Theatre Festival) and Other Festivals, Part 1

Once a musical is ready to be heard, many writers consider submitting their show to a theater festival such as NYMF (The New York Musical Theatre Festival) or various Fringe festivals. In Part 1 of of this series, we hear from Matthew Gurren along with Jared and Jessica Field about their experiences in NYMF and the Fresh Fruit Festival.

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