In the 1950s the economy was booming and so was Broadway. It was also a big time for film and studios, led by head studio MGM. Technicolor was introduced to the public and musicals were transported to the screen. It was considered to be the best time for Broadway with some of the most entertaining shows came out of this decade. Peter Pan, West Side Story, and Flower Drum Song were just a few of the many captivating musicals created in the 1950’s. Below are four of the best shows to come out of those ten years.
Guys and Dolls
Guys and Dolls is a romantic musical comedy that premiered on Broadway in 1950. We are introduced to notorious con man Nathan Detroit. When his crap game home is located by the police he must quickly find a new spot. From there we are introduced to a unique cast of characters that includes a showgirl, a gambler, an evangelist, and a chorus full of talent. With its unique backdrops ranging from NYC to Havana it’s a highly entertaining show. With tunes like “Luck Be a Lady,” “I’ll Know,” “Sit Down,” “You’re Rocking the Boat,” and “A Bushel and A Peck,” you can’t help but feel like you are right in that time period with them. Guys and Dolls was awarded numerous Tony Awards, and has been adored by audiences since its premiere.
The King and I
Set in the 1860s, Anna Leonowens, who is newly widowed, sets sail along with her son to Siam where she takes a role as a schoolteacher. Still grieving, her work provides a good distraction for her. The King of Siam wants to modernize his country and hopes her Western teaching can help. Underneath their disagreements and different ways is a fond understanding and love between them. With a heartwarming story line and enchanting music The King and I is one of the most unique love stories set on stage. This charming show is sure to warm your heart with beautiful songs like “Getting To Know You” and “Shall We Dance.“ This was the talented Rodgers and Hammerstein’s fifth show and it was awarded the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1952. They would continue to collaborate until 1959 with their final show South Pacific. Hammerstein passed away in August of 1960.
Damn Yankees, is theater for the sports lover! Based on the novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, Damn Yankees combines America’s favorite past time, baseball, and a musical all in one neat package. This musical comedy opened on Broadway on May 5th, 1955. Baseball lover Joe Hardy sells his soul to the devil in order to become a great hitter for the Washington Senators in order to beat the Yankees. Not all goes exactly as planned for Joe. Damn Yankees was a musical collaboration by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. With many fun songs in this show the best are “Whatever Lola Wants Lola Gets,” “Goodbye Old Girl,” and “Heart.” For baseball fans, the 1950s represented a transformation in how they viewed the game. Fans could get their fix through the newly introduced television, as well as at the theater and Damn Yankees reflected the increasing ubiquity of baseball as the country’s favorite pastime.
My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady is a lovely musical that explores class, politics, and romance. Based on the novel Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, the show centers around Cockney girl Eliza Doolittle and professor Henry Higgins, who is determined to transform her into a proper lady. Through her transformation Eliza questions if this is the life she actually wants to live. This romantic musical is full of wit and charm, which shines though in the songs “Wouldn’t it be Loverly” and “I Could’ve Danced All Night.” My Fair Lady opened in 1956 and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. It demonstrated that musical theatre can take on issues such as social status and acceptance and tie it all together with humor to make for an entertaining show. In 1964—during a decade in which musical theatre experienced many seismic changes—My Fair Lady was made for the big screen featuring the lovely Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.
Learn more about the School of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy, located in the home of Broadway in New York.
The 1940s marked the start of the Golden Age of American Musical theater. It was a time where Broadway featured hits from Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, and Americans were introduced to the influential and successful collaborations of Rodgers and Hammerstein. The style and unique sound of the Golden Age shows often captured a true sense of Americana. In a time of war, musical theater was an escape from the everyday issues that our country was facing. Here are some of the best Broadway Shows from the 1940’s.
Cue up the title song from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s first collaboration and you’re likely to have a room full of people singing along with its iconic lyrics: “Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain and the waving wheat can sure smell sweet when the wind comes right before the rain.” Oklahoma! opened on March 31st, 1943 at the St. James Theater and it turned out to be a Broadway smash. Set in the West Indian Territory, Oklahoma! is the story of rivalry, love, cowboys, and farmers. The backdrop is the 1906 picturesque Oklahoma territory and the main characters include Curly McLain the handsome cowboy, Laurey the lovely farm girl, Will Parker the cowboy, and his fiancée Ado Annie. We are introduced to these characters as Curly the cowboy looks into the beautiful blue morning sky and encounters Laurey the farm girl where he sings “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.“ Rogers and Hammerstein were praised for their sophistication and creative collaboration. They were awarded a special Pulitzer Award for Oklahoma! in 1944 and the show was considered the first blockbuster Broadway show. If you are looking for a show that is a perfect slice of Americana, this is it.
Recently put on by NYFA’s Musical Theatre department, Carousel is a classic and iconic American Musical that opened in 1945 at the Majestic Theater. This show dives into true human emotions with a beautiful score featuring the songs “If I Loved You,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and “Mister Snow.” This was Rogers and Hammerstein’s second collaboration, following on the success of Oklahoma! . Rogers wrote that Carousel was of his favorite musicals to write. The plot takes place along the New England coastline revolving around a carnival barker named Billy Bigelow and a mill worker named Julie Jordan who fall in love. Their romance cost them both their jobs and we see their lives begin to un-ravel with unfortunate choices and events. Carousel, through its snazzy choreography and catchy songs, touches upon the power of forgiveness and love. This Tony Award winning show captures your heart and leaves you humming the operatic tunes.
Kiss Me Kate
This Tony Award-winning musical featured the songs “So In Love,” “Too Darn Hot,” and “Tom, Dick, or Harry.” Written by Samuel and Bella Spewack with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, it opened at the New Century Theater on December 30th, 1948. Kiss Me Kate was a battle of the sexes that also dealt with romance, conflict, show business, and some gangsters. The show centers around director and leading man Fred Graham and his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi, who also happens to be his leading lady. Although divorced they begin to realize their love has not completely faded away. Being somewhat of a play within a play, Kiss Me Kate is an updated version of Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew. By far the best part of Kiss Me Kate is the fun and dazzling lyrics by the talented Cole Porter. Toss in some heavy dance numbers and you have yourselves a toe-tapping comedic musical.
Annie Get Your Gun
This show is a fictionalized version of the real life of sharpshooter Annie Oakley. Set in the 1800’s, Annie Get Your Gun first opened on Broadway on May 16th, 1946. It follows the story of Annie Oakley and sharpshooter Frank Butler as they compete for who has the best shot. This backwoods lady’s talent for being the best shot in town creates trouble and romance. The always amazing and talented Bernadette Peters starred as Annie in the Broadway revival. With its competitive spirit Annie Get Your Gun boasts an enchanting score with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. It features the songs “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “I Got The Sun in the Morning.” You”ll find yourself rooting for this naive, wild, and vibrant spirited country gal. Annie Get Your Gun is a darn tootin’ fun musical.
Learn more about the School of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy, located in the capital of Broadway in New York City.
American composer Stephen Sondheim was born on March 22nd, 1930 in New York City. He grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan until his parents got divorced, then he moved to a farm in Pennsylvania. It was there, at the age of 10, that he became friends with James Hammerstein, the son of the famous lyricist and playwright Oscar Hammerstein who took Sondheim under his wing and served as a surrogate father to him through that difficult time in his life. During this time Hammerstein had a great influence on Sondheim and helped him to develop his interest in musical theater. While attending the George School, a private preparatory school in Pennsylvania, Sondheim wrote his first musical, based on the school, called By George. Although the show was a success among his peers, Sondheim asked Oscar Hammerstein to provide his feedback. Stepping through Hammerstein’s critiques turned out to be extremely valuable to Sondheim, who said he learned more through that experience than many would learn in a lifetime.
Sondheim attended college at the Williams School in Massachusetts, where he studied music. After graduating in 1950 he moved to New York City where through a friend he got in contact with composer Leonard Bernstein (link to Bernstein write up). They developed a friendship and together they created the Broadway sensation West Side Story. Sondheim went on to make great musical contributions to musical theater. He served as President of the Dramatist Guild from 1973 to 1981, and his talents have been awarded with countless Tony Awards, Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and the Lawrence Olivier Award. In addition to musical theater, in 1990 he won an Academy Award for the song Sooner or Later, which he wrote for the film Dick Tracy. On Broadway, he is such an institution that he even has a popular theater named after him.
It can be a bit challenging to choose, but here are what I consider to be the essential Sondheim Musicals. You are probably familiar with the songs from these shows. You’ve most likely sung one or two before at an audition or belted one out in the shower. There’s no denying that Sondheim wrote some of the finest songs in musical theater history, so if you aren’t already familiar with his work, be sure to check out these four favorites, as well as our best-of articles about Andrew Lloyd Webber and Leonard Bernstein.
1. Assassins (2004)
Sondheim provided the lyrics and music to this fascinating show, which opened on Broadway in 2004 and was based on a book by John Weidman. This humorous musical explores the minds of the men and women who attempted as well as succeeded in killing the American Presidents. The show examines the motivation behind their acts of lunacy and abstract psychology. Assassins is presented in a revue style with various styles of music including the songs “The Ballad of Booth”and “Gun Song.” “The Ballad of Booth”contains the lyric “Every now and then the country goes a little wrong.”Although this sentiment may be true and their actions wrong, we are fascinated by these killers and their stories. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald and Sara Jane Moore are included in this cast of characters both historical and fictional. The show opens with the number “Everybody’s Got the Right to Be Happy“ which gives us an idea of how these men and women think. Sondheim is known for controversial shows and he knew that this musical would likely have some backlash. Assassins is not only bold, but also brilliant and was recognized as such with five Tony Awards in 2004.
This funny musical comedy centers around Bobby and his best friends, who all happen to be either married or engaged. Throughout the show Bobby attends a series of dinners and parties with his married friends, where he tries to make sense of his bachelor ways. He learns that his friends marriages are not exactly what they seem. The relationships reveal infidelities, alcoholism and regret. Along the way he questions whether it’s best to be single…. or not. Company captures honest moments of vulnerability, relationships, and marriage. In a society where we often use film, social media, and theater as an escape from everyday problems, this show puts those problems right back in your face. This modern musical features the songs Company, Marry Me a Little, Side by Side, and The Little Things You Do Together. It debuted on Broadway in 1970, and since then was won seven Tony Awards and five Drama Desk Awards.
3. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979)
The legend of Sweeney Todd was already a story before it was turned into a musical. Dark and humorous, this musical follows the story of Benjamin Barker who arrives home to London after serving a 15 year prison sentence given to him by a corrupt judge who tore his life and family apart. The feeling of revenge overcomes him. Benjamin creates a new alias,Sweeney Todd, so that he can continue working in his barber shop located above Mrs.Lovett’s foul smelling and struggling pie shop. Mrs.Lovett recognizes him immediately as Benjamin Barker and tells him that the judge sexually assaulted his wife and now has his daughter Johanna. The two of them join forces and form a plan to use the bodies of Sweeney’s murdered victims as meat for the pies, which they will sell to unsuspecting customers. While waiting for the judge to visit the shop we are introduced to other interesting characters in London. This dark comedic tail ends with a twist and the song Ballad of Sweeney Todd, which happens to be my personal favorite.
4. Into the Woods (1987)
This 1987 Sondheim musical is a woven web of Brothers Grimm stories and fairy tales. The narrator introduces us to a baker and his wife who wish to start a family, but have unfortunately been cursed by a Witch. In order to remove the curse they go off into the woods and must return with four potion ingredients requested by the Witch. Through this story we are introduced to the other fairy tale characters, including Cinderella, Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, the Wolf, the Prince, and Rapunzel, all of which have wishes. Each of their tales intertwine in the woods and they all discover the consequences that occur as they try to fulfill their wishes. This show is a brilliant mix of desire, deceit, and deception. Into The Woods has many amazing solo songs, but the song that truly stands out is “Children Will Listen,” which is sung by the Witch. It perfectly sums up the feel and message of the show. It also includes the songs “I Know Things Now,” “Giants in the Sky,” and “Stay with Me.” This showcontinues to be a success as it was recently made into a film in 2014. I think the Prince’s line of “Anything can happen in the woods” is a perfect way to describe this adventurous show.
New York City is the mecca for stage entertainment. Big lights, big city and big musicals. Broadway shows attract audiences from near and far year round. From matinees to evening shows, musical theater continues to shine. We buy our tickets online, receive them as gifts, and stand in long lines at TKTS out in the cold to get discounted tickets. The Broadway district includes some of the cities finest theaters and a majority of the shows there are musicals. If you have ever had the pleasure of seeing a Broadway musical you know that it’s an amazing experience. From the moment you walk in these theaters you get a sense of excitement. I personally think the moment before the curtain opens is still one of my favorite parts. So if you’re looking to catch a musical here are some of the theaters along the Great White Way.
1. Gershwin Theater
Located at 222 West 51st Street, this theater was named after composer George Gershwin. It originally opened as the Uris theater in 1972. The renaming occurred in 1983 during theTony Awards. It is one of the biggest venues in NYC with 1,933 seats, which is the largest capacity of any of the other Broadway theaters and it also features the American Theater Hall of Fame in the lobby. The Gershwin has hosted many musicals including The King and I, Show Boat, Oklahoma, and Wicked, which is currently running.
2. Stephen Sondheim Theater
Sitting at 124 West 43rd Street this theater was originally named Henry Miller’s Theater up until 2010. The original theater was closed and its interior demolished in 2004. It was rebuilt and is now located under ground below a bank. It was also re-named to honor the famous composer Stephen Sondheim.The last several years it has hosted shows that included The Pee-wee Herman Show, Anything Goes, and Beautiful: The Carole Kind Musical.
3. Palace Theater
Located at 1564 Broadway the Palace Theater originally gained legendary status amongst vaudeville performers. When the great depression hit, film became popular and vaudeville started to decline. In the 1960’s The Palace was re-opened as a playhouse and has since had notable musical productions like Beauty and the Beast, Legally Blond and West Side Story.
4. Richard Rodgers Theater
Located at 226 West 46th street, it was originally called Chanin’s Theater, then the 46th Street Theater and eventually in 1990 it became the Richard Rodgers Theater named after the legendary composer. This theater has hosted the most Tony Award winning plays as well as Best Musicals. Some of these shows include How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Nine, and In the Heights. The popular and exhilarating musical Hamilton is currently running here.
5. New Amsterdam Theater
New Amsterdam Theater
This New York City landmark is located at 214 West 42nd Street. The New Amsterdam Theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and over the coarse of time has been the home to many amazing shows, including the Ziegfeld Follies way back in the day. During the Great Depression the theater suffered a fair amount of damage and was forced to close. But, after a long rehabilitation and a court battle it finally re-opened in 1997. Since re-opening the theater has hosted many hit musicals including Lion King, Mary Poppins, and Aladdin, which broke the theater’s box office records.
Learn more about the School of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy, located in the capital of Broadway in New York.
Charlie Smalls was born on October 25th, 1943 and passed away due to an emergency appendix surgery in 1987, at the age of 43. As a child, Smalls started playing piano at a very young age, and by the age of five was putting on piano concerts. He went on to study at the prestigious Julliard School and the High School of Performing Arts in New York. After graduating in 1961, he toured as a pianist with the New York Jazz Repertory Company, which included other musicians such as Harry Belafonte, Esther Marrow, and Hugh Masekela, a famous South African trumpeter, singer, and composer, for who Smalls wrote the song “From Me to You.” Smalls biggest career success by far was the musical The Wiz, which he was the composer and lyricist for.
The idea for The Wiz started with producer Ken Harper who reportedly asked writer William F. Brown to create an adaptation from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, butwith black slang and an all black cast. Harper hired Trinidadian Geoffrey Holder as director, who had experience directing, acting, and designing, as well as experience choreographing several pieces for the phenomenal Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Smalls was brought on to be the composer and lyricist for the show. His mix of gospel, soul, and blues influenced music created a fun and winning blend. The Wiz opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theater on January 5th, 1975 to mixed reviews, and it was said that a commercial featuring the cast singing “Ease On Down The Road” helped to market the show and turn it into a success, not to mention that the song itself also became a big hit single on the Billboard Soul Singles Chart. This show helped open the doors for other African-American shows such as Dreamgirls and Sophisticated Ladies.
The Wiz is smart and soulful, and follows the story of Dorothy, an energetic Kansas City girl who is eager to get out to see the rest of the world, when her house is swept up by a tornado and dropped in a magical new place filed with munchkins, and mysterious witches. On her journey along a yellow brick road, Dorothy meets and makes some new friends, a tin man, a scarecrow, and a cowardly lion. As the group continues on their adventure they encounter the Wicked Witch Evillene and make their way towards the Emerald City to see the Wizard where they discover a secret.
This retelling became a Tony Award winning show. It won Best Musical and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music and Lyrics. Geoffrey Holder won the Tony Award for Best Direction in a Musical and Best Costume Design. Since it’s opening the show has won a total of seven Tony Awards. The show includes the songs Ease on Down the Road, You Can’t Win, What Would I Do If I Could Feel, and Brand New Day.
The Wiz was later adapted into a film starring Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and Richard Pryor, and has recently been adapted into a live television musical as part of a series of live musicals NBC has been doing.
The live television debut is this Thursday at 8pm est on NBC, be sure to tune in or set your DVRs so you can sing and dance along to this super fun show. And check out our wish list of other Broadway shows we hope receive the small screen treatment.
Learn more about the School of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy, located in the capital of Broadway in New York.
Andrew Lloyd Webber is considered to be one of the greatest composers of all time. Born in London on March 22nd, 1948 his father was the Director of the London College of Music and his mother was a piano teacher. As a young boy he took piano lessons in London and later french horn and violin classes. He was a prodigy of music.
In 1965 he studied at Westminster School and and began taking a course in history. Like many artists and performers he dropped out to follow his true passion, music. He went on to study at the Royal College of Music where he received a letter from Tim Rice stating that he is “hip” writer and would like to meet up. Tim Rice would soon become an award winning lyricist and work with Webber on numerous musical collaborations.
Webber composed over 15 musicals and here are some of the most notable.
Based on the book Old Possums Book of Practical Cats by T.S Eliot. The show is about a group of cats called the Jellicles. During the course of the evening the cats introduce themselves hoping to be selected and reborn to a new Jellicle life. It included the songs “The Song of The Jellicles,” “Mr. Mistoffelees,” and “Memory.” The show opened in 1981 and is the fourth longest-running show in Broadway history.
Evita is about Eva Peron, an Argentine political leader. It focuses on her life, rise to power, good deeds and death. It originally opened at the London’s West End in 1978 and then on Broadway in 1979. This show featured the notable song “Don’t Cry for me Argentin.” Evita was later made into a film, which starred Madonna as Eva Peron and Antonio Banderas as Che. Evita earned three Tony Awards.
3. Sunset Blvd
Sunset Blvd is based on 1950’s American film noir. The story is about Norma Desmond who is a washed up silent screen star. She comes across a young screenwriter named Joe Gillis and sees him as an opportunity to make a come back in the movie world. The show opened in 1993 in London and later on Broadway in 1994. Norma utters the notable quote “All right Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up.”
4. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
With lyrics by Tim Rice this operetta/musical is based on the story of Joseph “coat of many colors” from the book of genesis in the Bible. The show contains very little dialogue and is mostly sung, including “Any Dream will Do” and “Go,Go,Go Joseph.” In 1968, the show was first presented as a 15 minute cantata at the Colet Court School in London. The Tony-nominated show later opened in 1982 on Broadway.
5. Jesus Christ Superstar
This was the first musical that Webber and Tim Rice produced for the stage. This musical featured pop music in a classical form. It focused on the final days of Jesus’ life with a larger part of the play focusing on the events through the eyes of Judas. It included the songs “Everything’s Alright,” “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” and “Superstar.” The show was condemned by some religious groups for how it depicted the characters. The show first started as a concept album and was later turned into a musical production. Webber was awarded Most Promising Composer for this production by the Drama Desk in 1972.
6. Phantom of the Opera
Based on the novel Le Fantome de l’Opera, it revolves around a disfigured musical genius and his obsession over the Soprano-singing Christine. This Tony and Olivier Award winning musical is the longest running in Broadway history. With music by Webber and lyric by Charles Hart this beautiful show included the songs ” Music of the Night,” “All I Ask of You,” and “Angel of Music”.
Webber has earned numerous awards and honors including an Oscar, Tony’s, Olivier’s, a Kennedy Center Honors Awards, and he was knighted in 1992. He also funded the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, which promotes and encourages the arts and culture for public benefit. The foundation enables individuals to develop their abilities and careers in what they understand can be hard when faced with difficult economic times.
And be sure to check out our recent piece highlighting the best works of Leonard Bernstein
What strikes me is there’s a very fine line between success and failure. Just one ingredient can make the difference – Andrew Lloyd Webber
Learn more about the School of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy, located in the capital of Broadway in New York.
As I begin to write about the talented Leonard Bernstein I can’t help but hum the tune to “Jet Song” from his famous and notable show West Side Story. Each week we will feature a notable musical theatre composer and their achievements. A great way to get motivated is to see how past artists lived their lives. It’s a great inspiration.
Born in 1918 to Russian immigrant parents Leonard Bernstein began to show early interest in music when he started to play the piano at age 10. Even though his father refused to pay for his lessons, Leonard raised the money himself and eventually impressed his father with his natural talent, which led him to buy a baby grand piano for his son. These interests and talents would eventually lead him to become a composer, author, pianist and conductor. While in school he participated in theatre productions such as The Mikado and a unique adaptation of Carmen. His father wanted Leonard to work for the family business which distributed beauty products. However Leonard wanted to pursue his love of music. He first attended Boston Latin School and then went on to study Music Theory at Harvard and eventually the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. While at Harvard he attended the Boston Symphony where he became inspired and influenced by conductor Dmitri Mitropolous. Dmitri invited Leonard to his rehearsals and from then on Leonard centered his life around music.
In 1940 Bernstein was invited to study at the Boston Symphony’s Summer Orchestra Institute. It was there that he met the famous conductor Serge Koussevitzky, who became his mentor. Like many artists and musicians Bernstein found himself out of work for awhile. Then in 1943 he was chosen to work as assistant at the New York Philharmonic. One day, he was asked to fill in for the symphony’s guest conductor who had fallen ill. His debut conducting performance was broadcast on live radio and greatly impressed audiences, turning Bernstein into an overnight sensation. Here is a list of Bernstein’s works.
1. Peter Pan
In 1950, Bernstein wrote the music and lyrics for the musical adaptation of J.M Barrie’s play Peter Pan. This fun and endearing show is about a boy who would never grow up, the lovely Darling Family and the adventures they encounter while in Neverland. It opened on Broadway on April 24th, 1950 and starred Boris Karloff and Jean Arthur. The show included the songs, “Pirate’s Song,” “Build my House,” “Peter Peter,” and “Who am I.” It ran for 321 performances and closed on January 27th, 1951. Bernstein’s musical involvement was considered minimal when compared to the other shows he worked on.
2. On the Town
This show tells the story of three fun loving sailors during World War II who depart their ship to explore NYC for 24 hours. The show was based on the ballet by Jerome Robbins Fancy Free, which Bernstein had written the music for. On the Town greatly integrated dance into the show. It featured some of Bernstein’s greatest songs, especially the popular song “New York, New York.” The show opened in 1944 on Broadway and was later made into a film (a scene from which is above) in 1949.
3. Wonderful Town
This musical was based on the book My Sister Eileen by Joseph A. Fields and Jerome Chodoroy. This fun show was about two sisters who moved from Ohio to the Big Apple to pursue their dreams. One was a writer who struggled to get any attention from men and the other a dancer who couldn’t keep men away. The show opened on Broadway in 1953 and won five Tony awards.
This operetta with music composed by Bernstein was based on the novella by Voltaire. The show opened in 1956 to mixed reviews and was considered the most controversial of Bernstein’s works, which poked fun at religion, especially the Catholic Church. Candide has since been revived several times.
5. West Side Story
West Side Story is considered to be Bernstein’s most famous and notable piece of work and is his greatest compositional achievement. This groundbreaking musical opened in 1957 and was inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The Broadway score included the songs “Maria,” “Jet Song,” “America,” and “Somewhere.” Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics to Bernstein’s West Side Story music, which gained amazing reviews and was later turned into a film that won 10 Academy awards.
Bernstein not only wrote music but enjoyed teaching young musical artists as well. He founded the creative Arts Festival at Brandeis University. He cared about World Peace and held concerts relating to global harmony. He was the Director of the New York Philharmonic from 1958 to 1969. In 1990 he retired due to illness and passed away one week later, leaving behind his wife and three kids. Leonard Bernstein’s awarded career continues to be celebrated, and his legacy lives on through his beautiful and spirited music.
“This will be our reply to violence, to make music much more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” – Leonard Bernstein
Learn more about the School of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy, located in the home of Broadway in New York.
As any professional of the musical theatre will tell you, your career can take you in a variety of different directions—from the theatre to commercials, from film to guest starring on a TV show—all in a single day. In the above video, Jaspal Binning, a graduate of NYFA’s Two-Year Musical Theatre Conservatory Program, talks about how the integrated curriculum and professional faculty of the Musical Theatre School not only taught him how to act, but how to handle himself on a film a set using professional equipment, skills that have come in handy as he pursues his professional goals in New York City. Binning has gone from starring on stage at NYFA to guest starring on The Newsroom and being directed by famed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. But as he is quick to emphasize, succeeding as an actor in New York City takes persistence and, above all, honesty.
Hi, I’m Jaspal Binning and I studied in the New York Film Academy’s Musical Theatre and Acting for Film Two-Year Conservatory. I felt I got an incredibly comprehensive training at the New York Film Academy because of the array of classes offered. And now, specifically using those techniques for my daily life as an actor in New York, going from commercials to TV to film to theatre on the same day was definitely provided by my teachers here. The connections I’ve made at the New York Film Academy have helped me incredibly as I still keep in touch with many of my colleagues and teachers. My teachers are still working as Broadway professionals right now. Deidre Goodwin, for example, just finished a run of Chicago. Michelle Potterf was the Dance Captain for that show and Chad Austin is still dancing at the Met. An incredible array of talent and they’re still working professionally.
The most memorable role I played so far was as Joel in The Newsroom. I was fortunate enough to share the screen with Dev Patel and also Aaron Sorkin was directing us that day and it was an absolutely insane moment of my life that I could have only dreamed of before. The training at the New York Film Academy definitely helped me in terms of producing my own film as I learned at the New York Film Academy not only to act but how to hold a boom correctly, how to set up a light stand well, and how to actually aid the scene. It really informed a lot. And that was just being around the incredible equipment and also incredible film people as well. I’d say the best advice to give to future musical theatre students would be to never give up. I see this all the time, unfortunately, but New York City is a hard place to make it and it definitely will happen, but persistence is definitely the thing you need. The best thing I learned at the New York Film Academy, in terms of being an actor, was honesty. Being honest with yourself, being honest with other people, and definitely being honest in front of the camera or on stage.
Learn more about the School of Musical Theatre at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.
Let’s not sugarcoat it: it isn’t easy to break into the musical theatre industry, and nobody is going to hand you a leading role in a Broadway show on a silver platter…
… but there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
Below you’ll find a breakdown of numerous professional jobs in musical theatre (along with their ballpark salary expectations, career paths and difficulty of attaining paid work). The good news is that many of them lead into one another, creating a multitude of routes into the musical theatre job you’re aiming for.
Some require prior training at musical theatre school while others rely more on on-the-job experience (and a little bit of hustle). Learn more as we explore:
Jobs in Musical Theatre: Work, Salaries & Career Paths
Front of House
We figured it would be sensible to start with front of house roles given that it’s often the starting block for many a good career in musical theatre. It’s often menial work – selling tickets or refreshments and/or showing people to their seats, for instance – but hey, it’s a start.
Front of House Career Path: See a job listing calling for front of house staff, prove you’re capable of serving patrons, and away you go.
Pros: In some cases, you get to see the show for free (or at least get discounted tickets.)
Cons: Doing the same thing, ad infinitum, often without pay.
Front of House Salary: It depends on the theatre (and its location), but the hourly rate can vary from being totally voluntary to $15 or $20 at the top end. A front of house manager earns around $35,000 on salary.
A musical director generally works under the lead director and producer, and acts as a conduit between the upper management and everyone else. However, after the rehearsals are wrapped up and the show’s run begins, the director/producer tend to take a backseat. At this point, the musical director will work with the stage manager (see below) to keep the entire production on track thereafter.
Not to be confused with a theatre director, who runs the venue itself.
Musical Director Career Path: Many musical directors start of as musicians first and foremost such as violinists or pianists, working on small productions before being tasked with leadership roles. Attending musical theatre school can accelerate this, and needless to say music lessons in a chosen instrument (or many) is almost essential.
Pros: If you love mixing creativity with logistics, this is the job for you.
Cons: A lot of responsibility, not a lot of credit.
Musical Director Salary: Between $40,000 and $60,000 dependent on experience and production level.
A broad term to refer to the head honcho who ensures everything that under the remit of the musical director (above) runs smoothly. The checklist of duties can be huge depending on the production: blocking, cues, lighting, scenery, props, and scheduling and reporting to the director and producers are all part and parcel of the job.
Stage Manager Career Path: As with the musical director, a stage manager typically starts small and works up. A deep understanding of everyone’s role on the team is essential, which typically requires formal tuition at musical theatre school.
Pros: The job satisfaction is huge, given that you’re pretty much solely responsible for putting on a good show.
Cons: You don’t know the meaning of the word pressure until you try being a stage manager on a big production.
Stage Manager Salary: Generally paid on a per-weekly basis of anywhere between $0 and $3000, depending on production size.
One of the most nebulous terms in both musical theatre and film, a producer can be expected to wear many hats during the course of a show’s run, but is primarily in charge of raising funds, managing said funds, and sometimes hiring personnel. The producer is usually the one to have discovered the script and initiated the production.
Producer Career Path: Business savvy is arguably more important than performance skills, but having an eye for this is also vital. Being rich helps a lot, too.
Pros: In a nutshell, the payoff can be huge (financially speaking)
Cons: You can also bankrupt yourself and/or your production company really, really easily.
Producer Salary: No reliable averages exist given that earnings are almost always royalty based, so we’re talking about a range of millions to negative millions.
Theatrical Makeup Artist
As you can imagine, being a makeup artist for musical theatre is a slightly different discipline to makeup artistry for models, photoshoots, and other types of beautician work, since it often calls for quite dramatic results under the harshest of lighting conditions.
Theatrical Makeup Artist Career Path: Given the technical knowledge necessary, it’s rare for makeup artists to have no specialist training in this area (though not entirely unheard of). A strong portfolio is also mandatory.
Pros: A lot of opportunity to unleash your creative prowess and work with a varied group of performers.
Cons: The overheads can be quite pricey when you’re starting out and having to purchase a lot of materials on your own dime.
Theatrical Makeup Artist Salary: The average hourly wage reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is pegged at $30, with a mean average annual of $58,000. Obviously, this is just a ballpark figure for those working freelance.
An essential role in bringing a musical theatre production to life, choreographers are responsible for a very important part of the show: working out exactly how the talent should move when on the stage (and that is usually more than just the dance routines). Like makeup artists, choreographers have been a part of the industry since the inception of theatre in Greek antiquity.
Choreographer Career Path: Formal tuition isn’t strictly necessary, but nearly all choreographers are trained dancers and go on to work either on a self-employed basis or via a dance company. Occasionally, the director doubles up as the lead choreographer on a production.
Pros: If dance is in your veins, there’s nothing better than being the person who creates the routines.
Cons: Expect outrageously long, 16 hours work days with a lot of traveling for work. Dance-related injuries are also common.
Choreographer Salary: Averages around $50,000 per year, but with the caveat that earnings can go up or down depending on freelance work available (if not signed with a dance company.)
Dancers, Actors and Singers
Working directly under the choreographer, directors, and stage managers are the main event: the people who the public have paid good money to see. This more generic entry covers a wide swathe of skill sets and different disciplines, with some members being proficient in just one or many.
Career Path: Entirely depends on your chosen field. Naturally, a dancer should seek expert dance tuition and a singer should undergo vocal lessons in order to maximize the chances of being hired. For a well-rounded education in all of the major skills, attend musical theatre school.
Pros: The thrill of performing, of course!
Cons: It’s one of the most competitive fields in entertainment. You could be flying high one moment, then struggling to find work the next. Also, the work itself is a lot more grueling than a lot of people are prepared for.
Talent Salary: Thanks to the Actor’s Equity Association, the minimum you should be paid is $1,754 per week if you’re on Broadway. If you’re off Broadway, this drops to $500 per week. The good news is it’s a growing industry with average wages rising with theatre profits.
As the title suggests, a scenic carpenter’s role is to create sets and structural elements of the production as requested by the production manager. Scenic carpenters typically don’t paint the set pieces themselves (which falls under the scenic artist’s remit), but may be required to also work on rigging in smaller productions which don’t have a budget for two separate professionals.
Scenic Carpenter Career Path: Simply put, proficiency in carpentry is required. Formal qualifications are usually requested given that poor structural work can endanger lives.
Pros: There’s a lot of job satisfaction to be had when you finally get to see the finished set, in action, that you helped create from the ground up.
Cons: Explaining for the hundredth time why that design might look good on paper, but it breaks numerous laws of physics in reality.
Scenic Carpenter Salary: Nearly always paid on a freelance, hourly basis and not much better than other low-grade stagehands at $8-$10 per hour. This can go up to $20-$25 per hour if managing a team.
Very few musicals can operate without a team of wardrobe staff, and costume attendants make up the bulk of this workforce. Tasked with making sure costumes fit the stage talent, keeping them in good condition between shows, and helping actors in and out of them during the show, a costume attendant may also be responsible for choosing the costumes themselves. However, this is usually the duty of the wardrobe supervisor (whom costume attendants report to.)
Costume Attendant Career Path: There isn’t a strict route into gaining work in the costume department of a production, and many who do so came from different stagehand disciplines. Skill with couture is obviously a prerequisite, and formal fashion training can help you climb the career ladder quicker, but otherwise it’s all down to your portfolio.
Pros: Getting to work with pretty much the entire team, from fellow stagehands to the actors, right up to the director. It’s a great job for learning many facets of musical theatre.
Cons: Work can be sporadic at best, but on the days you are requested, expect long hours.
Costume Attendant Salary: The hourly average as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (specifically for theatre) is reported as $26.80, which is only a shade below the same role in motion pictures at $27.02.
Along with scenic carpenters and costume staff, lighting designers fall under the umbrella category of “theatrical technician.” Lighting designers work hand-in-hand with light board operators, the former planning everything out in advance to match the artistic vision of the show, while the latter makes sure that plan is followed on the night.
Lighting Designer Career Path: A highly technical profession, lighting designers either learn from a very basic level in an amateur theatre setting, or undertake full training in electronics or another related field. Working as an associate LD under a lead designer is a good way of cutting your teeth in the industry.
Pros: The skills you’ll learn are highly sellable, even when you’re not working the theatre circuit (think music concerts, photo shoots, etc.).
Cons: It’s an under-appreciated art form.
Lighting Designer Salary: A healthy $50,000 per year on average, but that’s across the whole industry (not just theatre). Light board operators, on the other hand, earn substantially less; only around $10 per hour on a freelance rate, for a national average of $30,000 per year.
The New York Film Academy Union Square is excited to welcome its new neighbor, 39 STEPS! The show is a comedic spoof of the classic 1935 film, with only 4 ‘insanely talented’ actors portraying more than 150 characters, sometimes changing roles in the blink of an eye.
The brilliantly madcap story follows our dashing hero Richard Hannay as he races to solve the mystery of 39 Steps, all the while trying to clear his name! The show’s uproarious fast-paced 100 minutes promises to leave you gasping for breath… in a good way! It’s great fun for everyone from ages 9 to 99.
The Tony® Winning Hit Comedy
4 INSANELY TALENTED ACTORS, 150 ROLES,
100 BREAKNECK MINUTES OF SHEER THEATRICAL FUN
FOR EVERYONE AGES 9 TO 99
“ABSURDLY ENJOYABLE! Theater at its finest!” -Ben Brantley, NY Times.
“INGENIOUS! A DIZZY DELIGHT!” -Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News
“COMEDY OF THE HIGHEST ORDER” -Roma Torre, NY1
“THE MOST ENTERTAINING SHOW ON BROADWAY” -Liz Smith, NY Post
Can’t wait to see it? Here’s how to purchase tickets. Note: NYFA students can purchase tickets for $20.
3 WAYS TO BUY YOUR TICKETS:
1. ONLINE: Ticketmaster.com/THE-39-STEPS-NY-tickets/artist/2089037 then select a performance date & enter code: LSP88
2. PHONE: Call Ticketmaster.com at 877-250-2929 & mention code: LSP88
3. BOX OFFICE: Print & bring to the Union Square Theatre Box Office – 100 East 17th St
Performance Schedule: Mon 7pm, Wed 2 & 8pm, Thurs 8pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2 & 8pm, Sun 3pm
For more information visit: 39stepsny.com Union Square Theatre 100 East 17th St
* $20 student tickets. 2 tickets per valid ID at the box office only, day of performance!
* $49-$59 offer valid for select seats at all performances through 9/30/2015. Limit 8 tickets per order. All prices include a $1.00 facility fee. All sales are final — no refunds or exchanges. Blackout dates may apply. Offer is subject to availability and prior sale. Not valid in combination with any other offers. Offer may be revoked or modified at any time without notice.
If you’ve got a passion for musical theatre and try to attend Broadway shows as often as possible, you’ll be very aware that it can be a costly business – ticket prices have never been higher, having finally surpassed the $100 mark for average admission last Summer.
And to some, $100 would be a bargain; while budget ticketing to off-off-Broadway musicals make the average figure look better, if you’re looking to see a blockbuster on the Great White Way it’s very easy to spend over $300 (at the time of writing, the most expensive Broadway tickets currently listed are $477 for the finest seats at The Book of Mormon and the average for that particular show is around $214).
So why is this the case? Why are Broadway ticket prices at alarming rates despite a comparatively slow-growing national economy?
A few reasons, and here are the main ones:
1) Because People Are Buying Tickets. It’s pretty much as simple as that – ticket pricing is set at the maximum that people are willing to pay, and attendance figures for Broadway shows (both musicals and non-musicals) has only gone up over the years.
2) Tourists. When you’ve traveled across the world to visit the Big Apple, hitting up a top Broadway musical is high up on the to-do list and tourists aren’t particularly price sensitive when it comes to selecting the best seats in the house to maximize the experience. In line with rising theatre attendance statistics, both domestic and international tourism to NYC is on the up.
3) Profit. The cost of putting on a show is exorbitant and rising, averaging around $2,400,000 to produce (give or take) and another $300,000 per week in operating costs. For musical theatre, it’s even higher at $9,700,000 on average per production and a massive $590,000 in weekly running costs… and there are only a finite amount of seats in which to generate revenue, cover costs and hopefully give investors a return.
This point leads on to a pretty good follow on question: how on earth can a Broadway musical burn through so much money?
Broadway Musical Production Costs: A Breakdown
When compared to equivalent productions in London’s West End, the production costs of Broadway musicals are highly inflated (one case example points out how a West End production cost $565,000 to mount and another $105,000 per week to run, whereas it’d have cost $2.8m and $260,000 per week to launch on Broadway.)
But let’s get into where all of that money goes. Let’s assume that a musical’s final production budget is a nice, round $10 million. The costs which contribute to that include:
Physical Production: The cost of creating the set, props, costumes and anything else that is necessary to physically stage the production. Typically around $2m at the lowest level, or a fifth of the budget.
Talent Fees: These can get lofty depending on the celebrity status of those involved, but talent fees cover any upfront charges levied by people not on salary (the directors, writers and set designers usually fall into this category). Can cost as much as $1m, or 10% of the budget.
Advertising/Marketing: One of the biggest costs that any Broadway musical will face, and also the most variable. As a conservative estimate, this will take up 30% of the budget at around $3 million.
Rehearsal Salaries: Although the actors, stagehands and other staff will get paid a salary during the running of the show, they’ll also need paying for rehearsals before the production mounts. This can cost around $250,000 just for the rehearsal time alone given that Broadway actors aren’t cheap – those with an Actors Equity contract get a base pay of $1,700 per week, and this can rise to sky high levels for celebrity talent. Instrumentation is a big expense too; even with a just a skeleton orchestra for rehearsals, getting a few people together who have got a good musical education and violin lessons behind them can cost at least $10,00 per week, per musician.
Rehearsal Space: Renting an area for both auditions and rehearsals can cost another $250,000, so along with the talent, you can expect to blow $500,000 (or 5% of the budget) just on getting the team ready for the big time.
Admin Costs: Anything and everything from legal to insurance fees. Around $1 million, another tenth of the budget, is typically reserved for these.
Sundries: An additional $2.5 million will be put aside to cover any unforeseen expenses, and also to cover actors’ Union Bonds and advances to authors/directors (which will hopefully be recouped early into the show’s run.)
Bearing in mind that this is just the start of the costs and that weekly operating expenses are yet to come, and it’s easy to see why producers and investors nervously jack up ticket prices in order to at least break even. That said, gross profits are in steep ascent and have been for quite some time.
How to Get Cheap Broadway Tickets
If you’re looking to beat the rising prices and pay less for Broadway tickets, there are a few tips to bear in mind:
1. Shop around for the best prices since they’ll vary a lot from site to site, but save yourself some time and avoid eBay. It’s generally only useful for finding tickets to sold-out or hard to get seats, and you’ll pay a high price for them.
2. If you’re really serious about musical theatre, why not join a musical theatre school?Theatre acting schools will not only help you get to see the craft from the other side, but you’ll also make connections and get free tickets to shows (and naturally, you’ll never miss the ones you’ve got a part in!)
3. Another benefit of studying is that you’ll be eligible for student rush tickets: those sold on the day of the performance at the box office at hugely discounted prices. You may have to wait in line for as much as a couple of hours, but the savings are usually more than worth it.
4. Don’t forget Standing Room Only tickets. Though the discomfort of not having a seat isn’t for everyone, it’s a great way to see a lot of shows in any given month for very little money (and there’s a good chance of rubbing shoulders with producers and directors in the standing area, too).
5. Craigslist can be surprisingly good for deals, especially when someone has had to cancel their plans at the last minute and recoup whatever they can for their ticket. You’ll have to dig amongst the silt for the real jewels and be wary of scams, but it’s worth a shot.
As a voice/theatre student in college, I auditioned for many musicals for the university theatre company and for summer stock theatre. I wasn’t as fortunate as students are today. There was no Internet with helpful articles to read. I had to rely on books and instructors to assist me and teach me how to properly audition. I think my best teacher was the audition process itself. Mantra for the day: The More You Audition – The Better You Get!
I will list some helpful hints for auditioning but the most important thing to do IS audition for as many musicals as possible. Don’t worry if you THINK you’re not right for any part. You never know what the director/producers are looking for! Even if you are NOT cast in a show, go to the next audition. Each audition will make you better, more confident and it will be easier to go through the process.
As a producer/choreographer I watched for the confident, well-dressed and best prepared people. THOSE were the ones I chose for call backs. The following suggestions will help you prepare for your audition.
When you call to schedule your audition time, make sure you have nothing else planned for that day. Ask where, when, the exact time, how long is the audition time and what you need to bring to the audition. Find out whether you’ll just be singing or if you need to prepare a monologue, if you will be reading dialogue and if you will be dancing. Generally auditions are two to three minutes long. Make sure you have a monologue that shows your strengths and is a minute in length. Your music piece should be sixteen bars of a piece that shows your range. Dance auditions are usually held separately and later after the individual auditions. If you are required to dance, bring appropriate clothes and shoes.
Acquaint yourself with the musical you’ll be auditioning for – either read the script, watch a movie or video, check the Internet, YouTube or attend the show. If you’re auditioning for summer stock, find out the theatres attending and do some research as to what they’re planning for their summer schedule. Be informed. Your audition will be better if you know what part you want. You will be confident and have a better audition.
Make sure your resume is up to date and have a professional head shot. Your resume should be one page and your head shot should be attached and look professional. That is the first thing a producer/director sees. Make a good impression. If you’re not sure your resume or head shots are correct – do your homework and research it. Prepare your music. No large books. Remember – it should be only 16 measures. Photo copy the piece, tape it together accordion style and make sure it is easy to read for your pianist.
Prepare a musical piece that is in your range and that you feel comfortable with. Do not prepare a piece from the show you are auditioning for unless you are asked to do so. Find something that might be similar.
DAY OF AUDITION:
BE ON TIME!!! DON’T BE LATE!!! I can’t emphasize that enough. Arrive at LEAST 30 minutes before your scheduled audition time especially if it’s an open audition. Check in, know where you are auditioning, ask where the restrooms are and where, if any, is a warm up area/green room.
Dress appropriately. Ladies – don’t dress like you are going to the club. “Ho” dresses, deep cleavage, micro-mini, 7 inch spike heels do not impress. Dress in good taste. Be comfortable in your attire so that your audition exudes confidence. Gentlemen – baggie pants around your behind, old tee shirts with brand names spilled across them and baseball hats are NOT what you should wear even if YOU feel they might be part of the “costume” you will wear for the show! Jeans are acceptable unless they are so TORN you look like you ran through a leaf shredder! Use common sense when dressing for an audition.
Come warmed up. Rise early, sip warm (not hot) water with lemon and honey, stretch, vocalize and breathe. Our bodies are stiff in the morning. Early auditions are a beast but you can conquer them with a good attitude. Avoid caffeine, dairy, energy drinks, soda and heavy foods. Tell yourself you will be great! Positive thoughts. Avoid worry! Arrive EARLY! Find a place you can warm up. Run scales, mouth exercises and other warm up techniques taught by your instructors.
PROFESSIONAL HELP FOR A GREAT AUDITION:
Look and act confident as you walk on the stage. Watch your posture. Slouching and shuffling indicates lack of self confidence. Keep your shoulders back, walk tall, head held high and step confidently on stage. As you take your position center stage, smile, address the producers with “Good Morning (Afternoon)” or “Hello” and announce your name, your musical piece you’ll audition with and/or monologue piece. Indicate to the pianist you’re ready. Take a deep breath just before you sing your first note. Begin! Don’t tap out the beat or snap your fingers for the pianist as you begin to sing. You should’ve gone over your music in the brief moments you had before your audition. Doing that on stage is unprofessional. If for some reason the pianist doesn’t play your music exactly as you indicated or you forget your words, just breeze over it, keep going – finish with a smile and a thank you and leave with confidence. Don’t say “Stop”, berate the pianist or make excuses. That was for high school – leave it there – this is professional theatre.
Do not have gum or a throat lozenge in your mouth. Sing with expression. Don’t overdo hand or arm motions or try to dance. Don’t grab your clothes or play with your fingers or hands. Just SING. Use your technique that you have learned and do the best you can. With the monologue, keep the stage movements simple and unencumbered. Don’t try to stage the entire monologue. The producers/directors want to hear your voice, projection and interpretation of the monologue. Make sure your have TIMED your audition to the required time given. Nothing worse than going OVER the timed limit. It shows unpreparedness and can annoy the auditioners. There are others waiting.
After your audition, smile, nod head in a bow of thanks and/or say “thank you”. Indicate the pianist in a gesture of thanks then walk confidently off stage. Quietly thank the pianist, gather your music and return to the green room to wait for call backs. Present a good attitude. Accept any part you are offered as an opportunity to grow and learn.
Study with a professional voice coach, take acting lessons and “be a sponge” – absorb the world around you and learn from each experience. Have a great audition – hope you get the part!
The 12th edition of the New York Musical Theatre Festival and the Next Link Project announced the 10 musicals and three initial invited productions, which are slated to perform around midtown Manhattan in July. One of them includes a work written by the “American Idol” finalist Jon Peter Lewis and his Midas Whale band mate Ryan Hayes of “The Voice”.
The Next Link Project, one of NYMF’s flagship programs, is open to any writer whether produced or un-produced or is either represented or not by an agency. In the fall, the program accepts hundreds of new musicals from around the world. Many members of the NYMF’s Reading Committee review each and every submission. Shows are submitted “blind”, which means the writers’ names are not on any of the materials the readers review. This makes sure the work is judged on what is written, not who wrote it, giving all works an even playing field. Then a Grand Jury of principal producers and theatre professionals evaluate the scripts and demos. At the end of the review process, 10 shows are granted production places in the Festival.
NYMF’s Executive Director and Producer is Dan Markley. Joining NYMF this year as Director of Programming and Artist Services is Jen Bender. Helping to curate the lineup of musicals for the Festival is a Grand Jury of professionals in the industry.
The 2015 Grand Jury included Tony Award-winning producer Jane Dubin, Isaac Robert Hurwitz (creative director, Fox Stage Productions), Josh Prince – director and choreographer, Joe Machota (CAA agent), Jonathan McCrory (director of theatre arts program at The National Black Theatre), Motown director Charles Randolph-Wright, Tony Award-winning actor Michael Cerveris, Tony Award-winning actor Billy Porter, Award and Drama Desk Award-nominated actor Hunter Foster, Drama Desk Award-winning actress Donna Lynne Champlin, and Tony Award and Drama Desk Award-nominated actor and writer Tony Sheldon.
The Next Link Project participants receive many benefits: subsidized production slot at the Festival which also includes savings in production fees, discounted technical and marketing support, dramaturgical support, seminars and workshops geared toward helping them successfully prepare, access to exclusive industry networking events, a $5,000 production subsidy, casting assistance, and the immense marketing and industry exposure that comes with appearing at NYMF.
On February 28 and March 1, the chosen Next Link Project show teams met for the first time to begin preparing for the upcoming productions. Industry professionals who were interested in working on the NYMF 2015 productions were invited to attend the Networking Party on February 28 at Hurley’s Saloon in mid-town Manhattan through a Facebook invite. This was an opportunity for producers, general managers, directors, designers, choreographers, music directors and others to network face-to-face with the creators of the shows.
Singing, dancing, acting – musical theatre combines all of these nuanced performance disciplines on one stage, and as a single art form has given us some of the most recognizable songs in music history.
The road to musical theatre success is usually an enjoyable one, albeit peppered with challenges and competition along the way. If you have a desire to be on stage and in the spotlight, here are some Twitter accounts which you should be following right now.
The New York Film Academy offers several programs, workshops, and courses at our revered Musical Theatre School, making our Twitter stream a good place to start for news and tips related to musical theatre. Broadway Musical@BroadwayMusical
MAMMA MIA has officially overtaken BEAUTY AND THE BEAST to become the 8th longest running Broadway musical! — broadwaymusical (@BroadwayMusical) January 4, 2015
Want to keep up on the latest news and gossip in the world of musical theatre? Follow Broadway Musical’s stream for links to articles and casting news.
Created in 1930 by theatre operators, The Broadway League is a national trade association for Broadway theatre. You can find announcements, attendance information, theatre news, and more on the League’s Twitter account. Musical Theatre Review@MusicalTheatreR
First published in 1884, Playbill magazine has been informing theatre goers for over a century about Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. The King and I @KingandIBway
Happy 2015 from all of us at #KingAndI! This year, we look forward to our first performance taking place in just 10 weeks. — The King and I (@KingandIBway) January 1, 2015
One of the most famous musicals of all time, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I has been adapted many times. The next Broadway production of The King and I is set for April 2015, and this Twitter account is following the countdown to opening night.
Disney’s movies and intellectual properties are frequently adapted for the stage. Disney Theatrical Group is Disney’s theatrical division and organizes Disney-related live entertainment around the world.
Kristy Cates played Elphaba in the musical Wicked and is also a successful voice actress. A member of NYFA’s musical theatre school faculty, students have the opportunity to learn from her experience. Phantom Of The Opera@PhantomOpera
One of the most famous modern musicals, The Phantom of the Opera has been running on Broadway since 1988. As a result, its official Twitter account is one of the most followed musical theatre twitter accounts on the planet, partly due to it offering the extremely candid look behind the scenes of the production.
99% of the time, that resume and headshot will be the only opportunity you get to land a musical theatre audition. With that in mind, here’s how to get yourself ready for the big time.
1. Obey the 10 Second Rule
Bear in mind that you need to convey what you’re about in no less than 10 seconds – this is the average time a director will glance at your CV.
As such, make sure everything’s easily visible at a glance. You shouldn’t pack things too close together or use a ridiculous amount of words in describing anything. Strong headings to separate areas of your resume are also useful.
2. Education is Everything
This section is paramount to those who don’t have a huge amount of on-stage experience: the name of a reputable musical theatre school and any formal training and/or qualifications can speak volumes, so do list anything applicable here.
This includes instructors who have helped you over the years, since a good recommendation — especially in lieu of experience — is worth its weight in gold.
3. Don’t Forget Understudying
If you performed a role that you understudied, do list that as a credit on your resume with (u/s, perf.) next to the name of the role. It is important to say that you were the understudy, as someone could have seen the production and known you were not the person cast in the role.
Understudy roles are ideally best replaced with full credits if at all possible, though naturally these will come over time.
4. Skills to Pay the Bills
Ah, the special skills section … tantamount to being asked to talk about yourself, many people struggle with this and some even neglect it entirely.
Don’t. This is the one area in which you get to really set yourself aside from the crowd, although you might have to think outside the box and consider that you might have many unrelated skills that are actually relevant to a production.
If you speak other languages, you can say you are intermediate or advanced, anything less is not worth listing. If you have the ability to do physical tricks, list the most difficult that you are completely comfortable with, and always be prepared to do these in the room if asked.
Musical instruments are especially useful, and again should only be categorized as intermediate or advanced.
5. Not Everything is Relevant…
Naturally, you don’t want to put anything on your musical theatre resume on that may hurt you in a casting environment. Numbers are generally bad for resumes; this includes weight, address, and age. You can give an age range that you normally play, but you never have to give your actual age. If you are an adult and asked your age, you can reply with “over 18” and the age range you usually play. As long as you leave a bit of wiggle room, sometimes it’s better to let the people on the other side of the table decide what they think you are.
You also don’t need to list absolutely detail about yourself and every role you’ve ever been. Sometimes, blank space is preferable to black ink…
… and hopefully, with a killer CV, you’ll land some excellent musical theatre auditions and be able to fill the blank spaces with only enviable credits.
Disney has announced that Frozen will be coming to Broadway sometime in the near future, creating quite a buzz. While Idina Menzel can obviously command a stage, she may be too old to pull off Elsa live, which leaves one big question: Who will play Elsa? Here are a few suggestions of actresses that would be capable of pulling off the iconic role.
LEIGH ANN LARKIN
Leigh Ann hasn’t been seen on Broadway since 2011, and it’s time to get her back. Best known for her portrayal of June in Gypsy with Patti LuPone, she is a tiny girl with a huge voice. She’s more than capable of pulling off difficult music, and handled “The Miller’s Son” in A Little Night Music perfectly. She still looks young enough to play the princess, and even has Elsa’s blonde hair.
MacKenzie may not be well known yet, but she will be blowing up after her time as Rapunzel in the Into the Woods movie. She has only technically been on Broadway in the cast of A Tale of Two Cities and in a brief time as standby for the role of Natalie in Next to Normal. Regardless of her lack of Broadway credits, Mauzy has a huge voice with an incredible range. She has spent most of her time on television, but may have the perfect look for Elsa with the added bonus of being a Disney name after the release of Into the Woods.
LAURA BELL BUNDY
Laura has been in many of the biggest Broadway musicals, most notably starring as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. Bell Bundy also spent some time in Wicked as standby for both Kristin Chenoweth and Jennifer Laura Thompson in the role of Glinda. While she has taken a break from Broadway for more roles in television and a career in country music, her talent would be welcomed back with open arms. Elle Woods gave her material of similar difficulty, and she was able to handle carrying the show on her shoulders.
ANNELIESE VAN DER POL
Anneliese may not be a familiar name, but most of the millennial generation would know her better as Chelsea Daniels in Disney’s That’s So Raven. She is no stranger to Disney musicals, and took on the role of Belle in the closing cast of Beauty and the Beast. Her connection to Disney is almost as strong as her incredible voice, more than capable of handling the music in Frozen with ease. She has taken her time away from Broadway doing projects she is passionate about, but her talent deserves to be seen again by a larger audience. She has just the right amount of attitude to pull off the icy queen.
Arguably the most unknown actress on this list, Phillipa is a newcomer to the New York theatre scene. She is most well known for her role as Natasha in the hit off-Broadway show Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. The actress was a hit with all of the major New York critics, and praised for her ability to give such a raw and emotional performance in the small venue created for the show. She is a graduate of Julliard’s school of Drama. At only 23 years old, Soo’s career is ready to take off, and Elsa may be the perfect role to bring her to a Broadway stage.
The obvious choice in looks and talent to follow Idina Menzel, Lea Michele will be singing Let It Go in the opening episode of the next season of Glee. Idina even plays Lea’s mother on the show, and the two actresses have been compared countless times. Lea has been on Broadway here entire life, and has shown her talent in many successful shows. She has a name that is known by almost everyone in the younger generations, and would create even more of a draw to a show that can easily stand on name alone. If Lea is cast in the role, the real question is who could possibly stand up to her as Anna?
These six actresses are just a few of the possible options for the role. Who do you think would be best suited to carry the next Disney hit musical on their shoulders?
For over a century, the Actors’ Equity Association (frequently referred to as simply Equity) has been one of the most prevalent labor unions in the entertainment industry.
With an active membership of over 49,000 stage actors and managers, if you work in theatre and haven’t already joined, you may want to consider signing up. The list of benefits offered by AEA are numerous, and many auditions are closed to non-equity members; however, there are a few factors to consider before becoming a member.
Here’s the low-down on how it all works.
What the Actors’ Equity Association Is
Formed in 1913 by a collective of 112 famous actors, Equity went on to become a defining force in the theatre industry and shaped US production into what it is today.
Notably, the Association has the distinction of being one of the few organizations to oppose the infamous Hollywood Blacklist in the 40s and 50s, and in the spirit of inclusiveness, has never barred anyone from membership based on their political leanings. It was also instrumental in channeling public funding into the arts, despite fierce opposition from Ronald Reagan, the American Family Association and others.
Prior to the formation of the Actors’ Equity Association, there were very few rules governing stage actors’ pay – in fact, very few could expect compensation for rehearsal time or any money should the show get cancelled prior to (or even during) its run. Contracts were even rarer still; according to AEA itself, when Francis Wilson, Equity’s first President, asked a manager when he would start to use the contract, the producer’s reply was very simple: “When you make me.”
These days, the Actors’ Equity Association primarily concerns itself with stipulating basic pay guidelines and establishing a standard work environment for both actors and managers alike.
In addition, AEA strives to improve equal opportunities, particularly in casting, and to greater promote the work of females, seniors, people of color and those with disabilities.
Equity Member Benefits
The number of benefits afforded to members by the Actors’ Equity Association are numerous; so much so, we couldn’t begin to cover them all here. However, a summary of such benefits include:
• Equitable Payment Standards: The primary focus of Equity’s work for 100 years: the fundamental right of fair treatment in terms of minimum salary, compensation for additional duties, overtime, and extra performances.
• Work Rules: With ever-evolving stage technology, Equity monitors and addresses safety issues like raked stages, smoke and haze exposure and sanitary rules, as well as limits on rehearsal hours, media promotion and publicity.
• Guaranteed Paycheck: Equity requires most producers to post a bond to ensure payments. This means that even if a show closes or a producer defaults, you still get paid and you still get home.
• Audition Access: Equity has negotiated required auditions for principal and chorus performers. Audition notices are posted on Equity’s website and on Casting Hotlines in various Liaison cities. Annually, over 1,300 audition calls are held in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, while hundreds more are held in other cities.
• Pension and Health Plans: Since 1960, Equity has required producers to contribute to pension and health trust funds.
Obligations From Members
As with any union, there are some obligations which active members will need to fulfill, though for the most part these are standard practices that any stage actor will want to adhere to, regardless of AEA membership status:
• Agreement to never rehearse or perform without a signed Equity contract.
• Timely payment of dues
• Maintenance of up-to-date contact information
• Endeavor to always give your best performance
• File a copy of your contract with Equity no later than first rehearsal
• Make no unauthorized changes in performance, costume, make-up or hairstyle
• Be on time for rehearsals and the scheduled half-hour
• Notify the Stage Manager before half-hour if you are ill or unable to reach the theater in time
In addition, members are encouraged to engage with the Actors’ Equity Association whenever able; as a democratic union, input and participation is highly appreciated, as is committee membership and activity.
How to Join the Actors’ Equity Association
If all of the above sounds agreeable and you feel you could benefit from membership with Equity, the best thing to do is to head on over to AEA’s official website. There you’ll find additional info on what you can expect from membership, including initiation fees and expected dues once you begin working Equity contracts.
Additional contact information:
NEW YORK CITY – National Headquarters
165 West 46th Street
New York, NY 10036
NYC Audition Hotline:
877-232-1913, ext. 831
557 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60661
Chicago Audition Hotline:
877-232-1913, ext. 815
5636 Tujunga Avenue
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Fax: (323) 978-8081
Los Angeles Audition Hotline:
877-232-1913, ext. 826
Clothing can be a ridiculously stressful thing to deal with before you go in for an audition. You have enough to worry about with trying to give your best performance possible in the room, so your clothes should really be the least of your worries. It’s important that you look good, but musical theatre auditions focus much less on what you’re currently wearing than commercial auditions do. You have some room to be comfortable and feel like you’re able to give a great performance in what you’re wearing. Here are a few tips to take the stress out of finding your audition attire.
Keep It Casual
You don’t need to dress like you’re going in for a corporate interview here. Your clothes shouldn’t be a wrinkled mess, but you also shouldn’t be wearing business attire to an audition. A good pair of jeans can go a long way, and it’s worth investing in a pair for auditions alone. Women can get away with pretty much any clothing option, as long as it isn’t too revealing. This isn’t the place to wear a short skirt or low cut top. Nobody wants to feel nervous that something may be revealed that shouldn’t be, and it distracts from focusing on your talent. Guys, leave the ties at home, they aren’t for auditioning. It is an interview of sorts, but the room is mostly interested in seeing you in clothes that fit to see what your body type is like.
Dress For Yourself
Speaking of body type, dress for it. You are you, so come in as the best version of yourself that you can be. There is no point trying to mask or bring out a feature if it is something that you simply don’t have. If you’re the right type for the role, you’re the right type, and if not there’s not much you can change. This is one of those things that every actor has to deal with, and that will take time. Just remember that while you may not be the right look for one role, there are others who don’t fit the ones you are great for. Make the body you have look as great, and feel confident with the person you are. There’s nothing more obvious in an audition room than someone who is uncomfortable in what they are wearing.
These are important. You don’t want to be too casual, but don’t wear something that looks totally out of place with the rest of what you’re wearing. It’s great if you’re athletic, but the running shoes really shouldn’t be your top choice for the audition room. The same can be said about flip-flops, leave them for the beach. For both men and women, boots can be a solid option that looks nice while giving you the added benefits of physically keeping you grounded in your performance. Be careful that you don’t wear anything too bulky, or anything meant for hiking, just keep it simple with a nice pair of leather boots. Men can also dress down a pair of dress shoes with jeans, which can really bring together an outfit. Heels are sometimes necessary for an audition for women, but not if you aren’t able to remain stable walking and performing in them. An audition will become extremely awkward for people in casting if they are afraid of you falling over. If you don’t feel completely confident, stick to flats and chances are nobody will even notice.
Your hair can either be something nobody notices, or one of the most distracting parts of your audition. You need to make a choice with your hair, whether it’s up or down for women, it needs to be kept out of your face. The same goes for men with long hair when it can become distracting during a performance. You shouldn’t look like you just rolled out of bed, so take the time you need to get yourself ready. It should be something that was handled at home, and not something you are dealing with in the audition. Hairspray is a great tool, and expected to keep you from spending time messing around with keeping things under control.
Really the most important part of all of this is to just feel good in what you’re wearing and be confident. You will give a better performance when you don’t feel uncomfortable or worried about what is on your body. Look good, feel good, and you’ll have a better chance of breaking through your nerves and giving a great performance.
Barbra Streisand’s film adaptation of Gypsy has been rumored for years now, and after recent updates it may actually be happening. She has told several news outlets that she will be both starring in and directing the film, with screenwriter Richard LaGravenese adapting the musical. Beyond the well-known portrayals of the ultimate stage mom by Ethel Merman and Rosalind Russell, many other great actresses have tackled the role on stage and screen. They each bring their own flavor to the role, and Barbra is sure to give us a version like none we have ever previously seen or heard. Before Barbra brings back Rose, here are a few other portrayals that are worth looking at.
1973 London Production – Angela Lansbury
Every millennial knows Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast, but this actress has been holding her own on stage for years. Angela starred in the first West End production of the show after Elaine Stritch was removed from the role. She later took the production to the US where she toured with the role. Her performance has become a sort of legend with fans who saw it, describing the level of energy and intensity she brought to the character. Some B-Role footage does exist, and gives a small taste of her electric Tony award-winning performance. Hearing Mrs. Potts sing “Rose’s Turn” is an experience worth having.
1993 Television Movie – Bette Midler
Slightly controversial with the casting of Bette Midler just three years after Tyne Daly won the Tony for best actress in the role on Broadway. Bette Midler was rumored as an option for the revival, but never got to perform the role. The movie was broadcast by CBS, and featured a screenplay that remained fairly faithful to the original production. The cast featured many Broadway performers including Christine Ebersole and Andrea Martin. The role isn’t a perfect fit for Midler’s voice, but is definitely worth a listen. Also, watch for Lacey Chabert of Mean Girls fame as Baby June, and Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss as Baby Louise.
2003 Broadway Revival – Bernadette Peters
Arguably the most different actress type to play Mama Rose, Ben Brantley’s New York Times review praised her for breaking the mold set by Ethel Merman. Director Sam Mendes described Peters as being an actress who was more like Rose in reality, a tiny woman who was able to charm her way to getting what she wanted. Arthur Laurents also praised her performance for its originality while criticizing the physical production as misconceived. The production featured an extremely minimalist set, which was an upgrade from the previews that featured a stage that was virtually bare. The role was vocally demanding and difficult for Bernadette, and even with all of her praise, she wasn’t able to take home the Tony for Leading Actress in a Musical.
2008 Broadway Revival – Patti LuPone
Patti LuPone’s trip to Broadway with Gypsy was not a short one. Her first portrayal of Rose began as a concert production with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival in 2006. The artistic director of New York City Center Encores contacted book writer Arthur Laurents asking him to direct the production with LuPone for their series. The Encores production was successful, and the show transferred to Broadway in 2008 featuring Laura Benanti as Louise. The production was given a rave review by the New York Times, and went on to win Tony awards for Patti LuPone, Boyd Gaines, and Laura Benanti as leading actress, featured actor, and featured actress in a musical respectively. The production was well-received, but ultimately closed three months early due to low ticket sales, and at a financial loss for its producers.
With “Kinky Boots” taking the Tony Award for Best Score over “Matilda”, and Sting’s new “The Last Ship” heading to Broadway this season, more pop music stars seem to be trying their luck on Broadway. Elton John has comfortably written for musical theatre, while the Tupac inspired “Holler If Ya Hear Me” didn’t seem to work as well with the typical theater-going audience. Who do you think should be showing their musical theatre writing skills, and which pop stars should stay away? Here are a few possibilities:
It’s easy to imagine exactly what a Taylor Swift musical would sound like, and her music tends to have quite a bit of storytelling in it. She would definitely have a hit with the teen fans between her writing skills and her chart-topping hits.
This is already rumored to be happening, and there couldn’t be a better fit! Sara’s music is extremely theatrical (tip for anyone looking for pop songs to add to their book). She’s writing the score for a musical adaptation of the movie “Waitress.” With the right show and role, Sara is one pop star that can carry a show — and we can’t wait to see her acting abilities.
Ed writes a lot of his own music, and would have a totally different sound than most of the other musical theatre we would expect to hear out of a pop star, and the result could be really interesting.
Could a rap musical work? Eminem is one rapper whose musical would definitely create a lot of buzz. An urban musical would give the opportunity for different artists to show off their special skills they bring to the table.
Everything about Katy is theatrical, and spectacle is a huge part of her performance aesthetic.
With the right funding and production team signing onto a show, you never know who might end up popping up on the next Broadway marquee. Some of these pop musicals come and go quickly, like Jimmy Buffett’s “Don’t Stop the Carnival”, while “Kinky Boots” may end up being a musical that people are studying for years to come.