This February, the Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre at New York Film Academy (PCMT at NYFA) performed two new plays as part of its New Works Series. The PCMT at NYFA New Works Series is held each winter and summer—this year’s 2020 Winter New Works Series is NYFA’s twelfth to date.
The two plays that debuted in the PCMT at NYFA 2020 Winter New Works Series were Wasp Woman and Victorian Courting & Zombies. Both shows are laugh-out-loud comedies with heart.
Wasp Woman is a musical with book and lyrics by Harris Doran and music by Arthur Lafrentz Bacon, and is based on the Roger Corman cult classic of the same name. The outrageous, sci-fi comedy has a catchy, killer score and was directed by Harris Doran, a native New Yorker who was shortlisted for the Independent Spirit Awards “Someone To Watch” Award for his debut feature film Beauty Mark. Musical direction was by Daniel Lincoln; the alumni assistant was Luiza Francabandiera.
“I am incredibly inspired by the passion and talents of the students I am working with in the New Works Series,” says Harris. “It is a lot even for professionals to do this amount of work in such a small amount of time, and I have been blown away by the students’ professionalism and ability to step up to this challenge with such dedication, skill, and joy.”
Wasp Woman tells the story of an aging model who discovers she is being removed as the face of her own cosmetics company now that she’s in her forties. She becomes the first test patient of a mysterious fountain of youth serum made from queen wasp extract, but fails to anticipate the stinging side effects.
The second play of the series is period musical comedy Victorian Courting & Zombies, with a book by Susan Sassi and music and lyrics by Bryan Blaskie. The musical direction was by PCMT at NYFA music supervisor Anna Ebbesen and the alumni assistant is Rebecca Keenan. The play was directed by Travis Greisler, who recently served as associate director on The Cher Show on Broadway.
Set during the Elizabethan period, Victorian Courting & Zombies is about the hapless and ill-fated Funkbottom sisters, who will be left in a nunnery if they do not marry off Elizabeth to a wealthy suitor by the end of the evening, but no suitor can look past their facial defects, extra limbs, and minuscule dowry and appreciate them for their brains. Their luck may turn around when Mr. Blubberbutt, their ward, introduces them to Mr. Bingsley, an interesting fellow with a limp, a grunt, and an appetite for flesh.
“The New Works at NYFA are such a fantastic opportunity for everyone on both sides of the table,” says Travis Greisler. “For the creatives, it’s a chance to dive into a process and see what your piece needs to hopefully reach its full potential—and for the students it’s a replica of the experience of a professional reading or workshop production. Together we dive into the whirlwind of learning new material and what our show hopes to become—and with the talent and diversity of NYFA’s program, every voice gets heard.”