NYMF Spotlight 2018

It’s once again time for the New York Musical Festival. NYMF’s goal is to support the development of new and diverse works of musical theatre. We asked a mix of artists involved—from performers to directors to writers to designers—to answer some questions about their shows and what inspires them. The shows they’re a part of represent a range of styles and subject matters, and are all at different stages of development.

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An Interview with Camille A. Brown

The past nine months have been full of firsts for choreographer Camille A. Brown. She made her Broadway debut as the choreographer for Once On This Island and then, a few months later, she made her television debut as the choreographer for Jesus Christ Superstar. Her choreography can currently be seen in Atlantic Theatre Company’s production of This Ain’t No Disco. We speak with Camille about her process, reframing dance from the ‘70s, her goal of becoming a director/choreographer, and more.

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A Roundtable with Lileana Blain-Cruz and the Cast of The House That Will Not Stand

The House That Will Not Stand provides a glimpse into a brief moment in 19th century American history, when wealthy women of color had land and power of their own. We speak with director Lileana Blain-Cruz, assistant director Machel Ross, actors Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Juliana Canfield, Harriett D. Foy, Lynda Gravatt, Nedra McClyde, Marie Thomas, and Michelle Wilson about their rehearsal process, what it means to be a “powerful woman,” and more.

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Rinne Groff and Marissa Wolf on Fire in Dreamland

This summer, Rinne Groff’s latest play, Fire in Dreamland, directed by Marissa Wolf, is making its New York debut at The Public Theater. Set in the days immediately following Hurricane Sandy, Fire in Dreamland is a memory play that experiments with, and at times even subverts, the audience’s expectations of a traditional romantic comedy narrative. We speak with Rinne and Marissa about the journey and process of developing Fire in Dreamland, how art can be used to help dismantle social injustice, and more.

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An Interview with Dina Janis of Dorset Theatre Festival

Southern Vermont is currently experiencing a theatrical renaissance, helmed by Dorset Theatre Festival’s Dina Janis. Since becoming Dorset’s Artistic Director eight years ago, Dina has revitalized the community by shifting her theatre company’s focus towards nurturing and highlighting new playwrights, especially female playwrights. We speak with Dina about her goals as an artistic director, why she thinks there is currently a window of opportunity for female directors at regional theatres, and more.

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An Interview with Lena Hall

Lena Hall has optimized her rocker brand and built up a large fan base on social media. The 2014 Tony winner is in the midst of rolling out her monthly Obsessed series, a year-long compilation of EPs and music videos starring and co-produced by Lena herself. We speak with Lena about her experience working on the Obsessed series, the importance of mentorship, why failure is not a bad word, and more.

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Julia Coffey and Liz Wisan on Performing Shakespeare in 2018

Julia Coffey and Liz Wisan are no strangers to Shakespeare. They are currently at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, where Julia is playing the title role in a gender-bending production of Richard II, and Liz is playing the lead role of Katherine in a production of The Taming of the Shrew that seeks to highlight themes of negotiation and companionship instead of inequity or abuse. We speak with Julia and Liz about what it’s like to perform Shakespeare in the context of the #MeToo movement, why they think Queen Elizabeth I may have influenced Shakespeare’s proto-feminism, and how much (or how little) has changed for women in the past four hundred years.

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Antoinette Nwandu on Pass Over

In Pass Over, a new play by Antoinette Nwandu now playing at LCT3 at Lincoln Center, two black men stand on a corner waiting to get out and move on. Inspired by Waiting for Godot and Exodus, through its use of language and metaphor, it’s a play of epic proportions. It also marks Antoinette’s Off-Broadway debut. We speak with Antoinette about her process for writing Pass Over, how spirituality affects her work and life as a writer, how her career has changed, and more.

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Lauren Pritchard on Songbird

In the new musical Songbird, loosely based on Chekhov’s The Seagull, a once well-known country music star returns home to help her son launch his own career, and some major emotional complications ensue—it is based on Chekhov, after all. Songbird has music and lyrics by Lauren Pritchard, who made her Broadway debut as a teenager in the original production of Spring Awakening. We speak with Lauren about adapting Chekhov, her songwriting process, and the ways she feels gender affects opportunities for women.

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An Interview with Set Designer Christine Jones

Set designer Christine Jones has been nominated for a 2018 Tony Award for her imaginative, elegant set, full of secrets and illusions, upon which the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” occurs. We speak with Christine about her approach to designing the set for the well-known and beloved wizarding world, how her kids have impacted and shared in her experience of Harry Potter, her impressions of the ways in which the field of set design has changed for young women who are just starting out, and more.

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Claudia Weill on Directing Theatre, Film, and Television

Claudia Weill’s 1978 film “Girlfriends” was one of the 82 films by women to compete at Cannes. By the mid-80s, Claudia had moved into directing television and theatre. Currently, she is directing the new play BUMP at EST. We recently spoke with her about the differences between directing theatre, film, and TV; the difficulties of being a female director in ‘70s and ‘80s Hollywood; and what she feels people get wrong about that era.

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Susan Brown on Angels in America

2018 Tony Award nominee Susan Brown is a self-described “chameleon” who plays Ethel Rosenberg, Hannah Pitt, and others in the Broadway revival of “Angels in America.” We speak with Susan about why “Angels” is a universal play, her experiences performing it both on Broadway and in London, how she approaches her transformations into her many characters throughout the two plays, and more.

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An Interview with Katrina Lenk

In the last few years, the actress Katrina Lenk has become a growing sensation in the theatre by playing women from other cultures, including in “The Band’s Visit,” for which she received a 2018 Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. We talk to Katrina about how the stories we tell affect our worldview, her process for creating Dina, being a private person, and her dream to one day be a female James Bond.

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An Interview with Ashley Park

Ashley Park has been working non-stop since graduating college. This year, she’s racking up a slew of award nominations and wins for her work in “KPOP” and “Mean Girls,” including a recent Tony Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical. One might say she is one to watch. We recently spoke with Ashley about how she’s managing being in-demand, her approach to Gretchen in “Mean Girls,” ambition, and more.

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An Interview with Kristolyn Lloyd

Kristolyn Lloyd is currently starring in Dominique Morisseau’s “Paradise Blue.” It marks a notable change from her last New York role as one of the teenagers in the Broadway hit “Dear Evan Hansen.” We recently spoke with Kristolyn about her perspective on her character in “Paradise Blue”, how she thinks about her career trajectory, and her future as a director.

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Go Down, Miss Moses: Quiara Alegría Hudes, Erin McKeown, and Lear deBessonet

“Miss You Like Hell” is an ambitions and expansive musical about mothers and daughters. It has book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winner Quiara Alegría Hudes, music by singer-songwriter Erin McKeown, and is directed by Public Works founder Lear deBessonet. We speak to Quiara, Erin, Lear about how they developed the musical, their own spirituality, and moral purity in an imperfect world.

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Lindsey Ferrentino’s Spring Doubleheader: “This Flat Earth” and “Amy and the Orphans”

Less than three years later after making her Off-Broadway debut, playwright Lindsey Ferrentino has two productions running Off-Broadway: “Amy and the Orphans” at the Roundabout and “This Flat Earth” at Playwrights Horizons. We speak to Lindsey about writing “This Flat Earth” and “Amy and the Orphans,” her career trajectory, writing female protagonists, and more.

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Marisa Michelson on “One Thousand Nights and One Day” and More

Marisa Michelson is a composer and vocal philosopher who often adapts myths, folklore, or biblical stories into interdisciplinary, experimental musical works. Her latest piece is “One Thousand Nights and One Day: A Postmodern Musical Fantasia.” We talk with Marisa about “One Thousand Nights and One Day,” her process of composing from the body, why she enjoys crafting non-linear narratives, and more.

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Sharon Washington on “Feeding the Dragon” and Growing Up above the NYPL

For years, people told actress Sharon Washington that she should write about her childhood growing up in an apartment above the St. Agnes branch of the New York Public Library, where her father was a custodian. Now, she finally has. “Feeding the Dragon” is Sharon’s solo show reflecting back on her childhood and her family. We recently went with her to the Main Branch of the NYPL and spoke with her about writing and performing “Feeding the Dragon” and books that have had an impact on her.

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