Monday, July 27, 2015

The 2nd Annual Mikey Awards- NYMF 2015 Edition

For the first time, I was able to catch all the full productions at NYMF! It was a truly exciting experience watching the growth of some potential future hits. While NYMF has their own set of awards, I want to honor some of my picks of the 2015 festival with The Mikey Award! In each category, I have selected one "winner" and four honorable mentions. Some of the choices were obvious and easy. Pairing down some categories was much harder. While The Mikey may not mean much of anything, it's my way of saying congratulations. First, here are the 22 shows that were in the running:

  • 210 Amlent Avenue
  • Acappella
  • Claudio Quest
  • Deep Love
  • Foolerie
  • HeadVoice
  • Held Momentarily
  • Manuel Versus the Statue of Liberty
  • Moses Man
  • Napoleon
  • Passing By
  • Pope! An Epic Musical
  • Real Men, a musical for guys and the women who put up with them
  • Single Wide
  • Songs for the Fallen
  • Spot On the Wall
  • Summer Valley Fair
  • The Calico Buffalo
  • The Cobalteans
  • Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera
  • Wearing Black
  • What Do Critics Know?


Outstanding Musical- Single Wide

Honorable Mentions- Claudio Quest, Songs for the Fallen, Spot on the Wall, Summer Valley Fair

When it comes to musical theater, characters tend to be larger than life. But those rare occurrences where there's a musical about real, truthful people, that's when it gets magical. Single Wide is the full package. An incredible country score. A brilliant book with honest characters. And a company of actors who offered shining performances. There is such promise and hope in this musical that I am excited to see where it goes next.

Outstanding Actor- Ethan Slater (Claudio Quest)

Honorable Mentions- Doug Clemons (Passing By), Oliver Thornton (Moses Man), Robert Hager (Spot On the Wall), Sam Bolen (Pope! An Epic Musical)

When Claudio Quest begins, you're introduced to Luis, aka player number 2, and you think you're watching a great supporting character. Until a twist of fate is thrown in and Luis becomes the hero. Ethan Slater rose to the occasion offering a spectacular performance seamlessly transforming from sidekick to superstar. Slater has a pure vocal talent that will lead him to musical theater glory. Watch out for him.

Outstanding Actress- Sheridan Harbridge (Songs for the Fallen)

Honorable Mentions- Emma Stratton (Single Wide), Madison Stratton (Spot On the Wall), Shakina Nayfack (Manuel Versus the Statue of Liberty), Tracy McDowell (Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera)

Sheridan Harbridge is destined to be a megastar. Harbridge offers a tour de force performance in Songs for the Fallen. The Aussie gives Marie Duplessis a brilliant personality and manages to fascinate from curtain to curtain. Not only has she found her Hedwig, it's vehicle that could make her a legend.

Outstanding Supporting Actor- Jason Edward Cook (Pope! An Epic Musical)

Honorable Mentions- Andre Ward (Claudio Quest), Matthew Miner (Single Wide), Max Wilcox (The Calico Buffalo), Ryan Knowles (What Do Critics Know?)

Being a supporting character in a story rarely gives you the opportunity to be a star but it was Jason Edward Cook who stole the show in Pope! An Epic Musical. As Duncan the geek chic goofy henchman, Cook showed off his incredible comedic chops as well as creating a hilarious character. Put a spotlight on stage and Cook will be sure to find it.

Outstanding Supporting Actress- Jacqueline Petroccia (Single Wide)

Honorable Mentions- Katie Emerson (HeadVoice), Lindsey Brett Carothers (Claudio Quest), Liz McCartney (Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera), Olivia Polci (Foolerie)

As Flossy the floosy bad girl, Jacqueline Petroccia won the day even when she was being a jealous bitch. And it's all thanks to the brilliant performance and radio ready vocals of Peteoccua. Her rich tone is tender when it needs to be and sassy brassy when Flossy puts on a show. It's hard to imagine Single Wide without her. Expect big things in her future.

Outstanding Ensemble- Claudio Quest 

Honorable Mentions- Pope! An Epic Musical, Summer Valley Fair, The Cobalteans, What Do Critics Know?

From top to bottom, the ensemble of Claudio Quest was strong. From the bros to the princess to the ensemble players with the brilliant bits, this was a top notch bunch. Filled with triple threats, these kids turned on the fun. When you have a strong company of actors, it can make any material shine bright.

Outstanding Director- Jeff Whiting (Single Wide)

Honorable Mentions- Charlie Johnson (HeadVoice), Craig J. George (The Calico Buffalo), John Tartaglia (Claudio Quest), Taylor Norton (Summer Valley Fair)

With such prime material, Jeff Whiting made bringing Single Wide to life look easy. Whiting guided his company in capturing these stunning true characters. Whiting allowed the actors to discover that trailer trash isn't a negative connotation, it's just an unfortunate circumstance to live in.

Outstanding Score- Jordan Kamalu (Single Wide)

Honorable Mentions- Drew Fornarola and Marshall Pailet (Claudio Quest), Ethan Andersen (HeadVoice), Kevin Jaeger and Alex Mitchell (Spot On the Wall), Patrick Thompson (Passing By)

NYMF was filled with such extraordinary scores this year that picking just one was hard. But basically what it came down to is being able to remember the music after leaving the theater and the desire to want to listen to the score from top to bottom. Jordan Kamalu's contemporary country score did both.  If Single Wide doesn't receive the life it deserves, Kamalu should send his demos, with Petroccia as lead vocals, to Nashville to write for some country superstars.

Outstanding Book- George D. Nelson (Single Wide)

Honorable Mentions- Dylan Frederick (Summer Valley Fair), Justin Moran (Pope! An Epic Musical), Kevin Jaeger (Spot On the Wall), Sheridan Harbridge (Songs for the Fallen)

This season proved the struggles of writing a strong libretto but it was George D. Nelson's characters that captured the attention. From mothers who want nothing but the best from their children to a man struggling with coping with life post war, these people were rich and filled with promise.

Outstanding Overall Design- Claudio Quest

Honorable Mentions- Foolerie, Pope! An Epic Musical, Songs for the Fallen, The Calico Buffalo

To make this show work, the audience needed to be transported straight into the video game. And this design team did just that! The costumes by Leon Dobkowski were bright and playful. The set and props by Timothy R. Mackabee were loving rip-offs of Mario Bros. But what defined this show was the puppet design by Michael Schupbach and The Puppet Kitchen. The personality they had added extra lives to the show. But one was was most definitely taken away for the waste of Y.

Outstanding Orchestrations- Alan Schmuckler (Single Wide)

Honorable Mentions- Alex Mitchell and Mike Rosengarten (Spot On the Wall), Basil Hogios (Songs for the Fallen), Ben Matthews (Deep Love), Jordan Ross Weinhold (The Cobalteans)

I will make a confession. The first time I heard a song from Single Wide was at New World Plaza where Stacia Fernandez sang Amanda's big number. It was performed using just a keyboard. It was mediocre. But listening to the score in production, the wonders that Alan Schmuckler brought to Jordan Kamalu's is incredible. It's true, you can't do country music without a guitar. And the intricacies Schmuckler brought are astounding. He added flavor to Kamalu's music and made it even stronger.

Outstanding Choreography- Ray Mercer (Deep Love)

Honorable Mentions- Allicia Lawson (Spot On the Wall), Billy Sprague Jr. (The Calico Buffalo), Jeff Whiting (Single Wide), Marc Kimelman (Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera)

Deep Love had its issues in plot but the strongest aspect of the entire production was Ray Mercer's beautiful choreography. Mercy's ghostly company brought a new life to this piece. And he was also gifted with some amazing dancers. What happens next with Deep Love is a mystery but a concert style performance with Mercer's choreographer would be stunning.

Outstanding Artwork- Songs for the Fallen 

Honorable Mentions- Claudio Quest, Napoleon, Passing By, Pope! An Epic Musical

Selling a show is essential for getting butts in the seats. An eye-catching logo is how to physically sell your show. It not only needs to represent it well, it needs to look great. From colors to font to image to complexity, the logo has potential to represent the show forever. Instant recognition. The strongest logo that represented the show best goes to Songs for the Fallen. The pink is flashy. The font marries the periods. And the image is filled with as much intrigue as Marie Duplessis.

Unsung Hero Award- Alex Goley (Claudio Quest)

Honorable Mentions- Anthony Chan (Manuel Versus the Statue of Liberty), Jack Mosbacher (Napoleon), Joanne Borts (Moses Man), Ryan Speakman (Napolean AND Moses Man)

This is an award to honor the best member of the ensemble or chorus. The person who goes all out and stands out in the crowd in all the right ways. To get exit applause as a member of the ensemble takes talent. And Alex Goley expertly did so. Though he played an assortment of roles in Claudio Quest, it was his bits as the ignored instruction-giving Eggplant turned psycho that generated some of the shows largest laughs.

Band Geek Award- Songs for the Fallen

Honorable Mentions- Acappella, Deep Love, Spot On the Wall, Summer Valley Fair

So Basil Hogios wrote some amazing music for Songs for the Fallen but watching him as the one man band harmoniously in sync with Sheridan Harbridge was incredible. From dropping beats on the computer to playing drums and keyboard and accordion, Hogios did it all.

Most Likely Future Audition Song Award: Girls- “Overdue” (Single Wide)

Honorable Mentions- “So Smile” (Spot On the Wall), “Super Fish” (Claudio Quest), “Tickle My Iv’ries” (HeadVoice), “Watch Your Back” (Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera)

Though this wasn't Katy's big number in Single Wide (that number has some lyrical woes currently), Katy's "I Want" song has a universal message and the ability to show off some big notes. Emma Stratton made the number hit home.

Most Likely Future Audition Song: Boys- “Contender” (Manuel Versus the Statue of Liberty)

Honorable Mentions- “Don’t Wait” (Spot On the Wall), “I Won’t Disappear” (Moses Man), “Player Number 2” (Claudio Quest), “Wait a Minute” (Held Momentarily)

"Contender" is certainly a contender for audition and cabaret material. The song is such a wonderful pop number that blends a little hip hop into the fold. And the lyrics are quite powerful. Though not all the notes fit his voice, this song was Gil Perez-Abraham's big moment.

Song of the Festival Award- "Broadway" (What Do Critics Know)

Honorable Mentions- “Get Out of Your Head” (HeadVoice), “The Dream Within” (Napoleon), “The World Revolves Around Me” (Single Wide), “When I Scream” (The Cobalteans)

I approached this award in two ways. First, what songs wouldn't leave my head? And second, if NYMF were to make a promotional video for the festival and could use any song as the backing, what would it be? How could it not be "Broadway" from What Do Critics Know?! The song captures the hearts of every artist. And it happens to be a catchy little number.

Next Stop Broadway Award- Claudio Quest

Honorable Mentions- Pope! An Epic Musical, Single Wide, Songs for the Fallen, What Do Critics Know?

This award is a little different from Outstanding Musical. This is to honor the production that is most marketable for a commercial run. And without a doubt, Claudio Quest tops that list. It is a seat filler show with great numbers, a fun story, and the gamer draw. Expect to see it again soon.

So there it is! Congratulations to everyone involved in this year's NYMF! It's such an exciting time for new work and I'm so glad we get to celebrate it.