Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The 3rd Annual Mikey Awards- NYMF 2016 Edition

I had a dream. To attend all of the NYMF full productions of the 2016 season. Then I hit a very unfortunate scheduling snafu that made me miss one show. So I saw 16 of the 17 full productions. But that's not going to stop me from celebrating the best of NYMF 2016! For the 3rd time, I bring you the "Mikey" Awards, celebrating outstanding achievements of the festival! Sure, the festival hands out their own hardware but who doesn't want some from everyone's favorite critic! (likely only uttered by my mother). Here are the 16 eligible shows!

  • A Scythe of Time
  • Camp Rolling Hills
  • Children of Salt
  • Eh Dah?- Questions for My Father
  • Forest Boy
  • Icon
  • Lisa and Leonardo
  • Ludo's Broken Bride
  • Newton's Cradle
  • Nickel Mines
  • Normativity
  • The First Church of Mary, the Repentant Prostitute's FIFTH ANNUAL!!! Benefit Concert, Revival, and Pot Luck Dinner
  • The Gold
  • The Last Word
  • Tink!
  • Ultimate Man


Outstanding Musical- Forest Boy

Honorable Mentions- A Scythe of Time, Children of Salt, Newton's Cradle, The Last Word

Everyone loves a big, flashy musical. But once in a while, you witness something simple yet evocative. Something stimulating and unique. Something refreshing. This year, that show was a little indie musical from overseas. Forest Boy has a ripped from the headlines story with a folk inspired score and some outstanding movement. The biggest hurdle is selling this show to an audience. Once this team figures that out, Forest Boy will live again on stage. 

Outstanding Actor- Maurico Martinez (Children of Salt)

Honorable Mentions- Josh Davis (The Gold), Michael Glavan (Ultimate Man), Michael Jayne Walker (Ludo's Broken Bride), Will Connolly (Forest Boy)

This was a hard one, yet so easy. Maurico Martinez may not be a household name but he sure the hell should be. The smoldering performer carried an entire show on his shoulders with a powerhouse vocal and charisma like no other. Maurico Martinez epitomizes what a leading man should be. He'll be back gracing our stages once again, you wait and see.

Outstanding Actress- Lesli Margherita (A Scythe of Time)

Honorable Mentions- Charlotte Maltby (Icon), Gabrielle McCliton (Ludo's Broken Bride), Izzy Castaldi (Normativity), Karis Danish (The Gold)

To be completely frank, NYMF 2016 was no the year of the girl role. But it sure was the year of Lesli Margherita. A ridiculous vocalist with impeccable comedic timing, Lesli Margherita stole the show as the woman writing about her brush with death. Margherita was not only game to do whatever the show called for, she did it with ease. Just wait, Lesli Margherita will be a Broadway headliner real soon.

Outstanding Supporting Actor- Travis Kent (The Last Word)

Honorable Mentions- Brian Charles Rooney (Ludo's Broken Bride), Christopher Russo (Forest Boy), Danny Rutigliano (A Scythe of Time), Mitchell Sink (Camp Rolling Hills)

This was probably the hardest category to not only bring down to 5 but pick the "winner." Travis Kent comes out on top for his breakout role as Scrabble expert Neil in The Last Word. Rockin' the 70's geek chic, Kent captured the essence of the character and finding a way to make him the most interesting of the group. And when he had his solo moments to shine, it highlighted some of the promise in the musical. And an extra special kudos for the sideburns and glasses. That's commitment! 

Outstanding Ensemble- Forest Boy

Honorable Mentions- Camp Rolling Hills, Children of Salt, Newton's Cradle, Tink!

When you move as a unit, you work as an ensemble. The intricacies of this musical highlighted the overall flawless company. Every single member of this company had their moment but watching them fade into the background to form the world for the others exposed just how tight this show was. 

Outstanding Director- David Alpert (A Scythe of Time)

Honorable Mentions- Jose Zayas (Children of Salt), Michael Bello (The Last Word), Robert McQueen (Forest Boy), Victoria Clark (Newton's Cradle)

Even though this show didn't have solid continuity in style in tone, director David Alpert united the gothic thriller with the comedy effortlessly. His strong vision allowed A Scythe of Time become a fan favorite. Along with his strong creative team, they managed to make the June Havoc Theater workable for a musical. Alpert knew how to get his audience into this strange world, excited for the twists and turns to come. 

Outstanding Score- Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie (Forest Boy)

Honorable Mentions- Brett Sullivan (The Last Word), Heath Saunders (Newton's Cradle), Jamie Jarrett (Normativity), Mark Alan Swanson (A Scythe of Time)

Combine the theatricality of Once with the sound of Mumford and Sons and you get Forest Boy. With Scott Gilmour's effective lyrics and Claire McKenzie's sweeping music, the duo gave Ray/Robin's story a soul. It was the right sound for this story. Anything else would not have felt natural. In the landscape of the season, Forest Boy was unique enough to stand out in all the right ways.

Outstanding Book- Kim Saunders (Newton's Cradle)

Honorable Mentions- Alan Harris (A Scythe of Time), Brett Sullivan (The Last Word), Lauren Epsenhard (Children of Salt), Scott Gilmour (Forest Boy)

To be fair, writing a libretto is not easy. To be honest, this NYMF season had some trouble in the realm of books. But Kim Saunders' book for Newton's Cradle was something special. It is rich in potential. In the hands of a the proper director, Saunders' style can be realized to its fullest potential. Saunders managed to discuss the important topic of autism in a manner that was informative yet theatrical. We saw how it effected Evan as well as the individuals around him. The vantage points in which Saunders offers propels the musical.

Outstanding Overall Design- Ludo's Broken Bride

Honorable Mentions- A Scythe of Time, Children of Salt, Forest Boy, The Last Word

To be completely honest, Ludo's Broke Bride had some incredibly tragic book problems. But what will be remembered is the product. Ludo's Broken Bride looks good. From scene to scene, word to world, there was at least extraordinary element. Chalk it up to the puppets by Sierra Schoening and the projection design by Pauline Lu to lift this show to the next level. It's not a secret that Ludo's Broken Bride had some woes the carried into the design, but take away the libretto and you get a visually beautiful design.

Outstanding Orchestrations- Dana Levinson (Ludo's Broken Bride)

Honorable Mentions- Geoff Davin and Tyler Summers (The First Church of Mary...), Claire McKenzie (Forest Boy), Conrad Helfrich (The Last Word), Jaime Lozano and Jesus Altamira (Children of Salt)

The ability of bringing a theatrical sound to an established songbook takes great skill. When it comes to the world of jukebox musicals, it takes more than putting the song in a show. If you don't know the canon of Ludo, watching Ludo's Broken Bride will inspire you to. What orchestrator Dana Levinson done is nothing short of amazing. The music was beautifully elevated. It's very possible that Levinson's version of the Ludo music is better than the original.

Outstanding Choreography- EJ Boyle (Forest Boy)

Honorable Mentions- Nick Kenkel (The Last Word), Paul Stancato (Icon), Stephanie Klemons (Children of Salt), Theresa Burns (Camp Rolling Hills)

Though we love flashy dance moves, not all musicals need them. It's not part of their vocabulary. Such is the case in Forest Boy. EJ Boyle established a world through the movement. It was clean, precise, and helped tell the story. It's easy to understand why you'd want to compare Forest Boy to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Outstanding Artwork- Camp Rolling Hills

Honorable Mentions- A Scythe in Time, Forest Boy, Ludo's Broken Bride, Tink!

A show's artwork not only needs to look good, it needs to properly sell the show. This year featured some odd show art but it was Camp Rolling Hills that did the job best. It's fun. It's cute. It's the show.

Unsung Hero Award- Rosemary Fossee (The First Church of Mary...)

Honorable Mentions- Brendan Melafronte (Ludo's Broken Bride), John Krause (Camp Rolling Hills), Joyah Love Spangler (Ultimate Man), Sabina Petra (Forest Boy)

The Unsung Hero Award goes to a person who's mostly in the background yet has the ability to stand out in the front. There were many of those in this year's festival but none did it quite like Rosemary Fossee. The character of Shelly Braithwaite is quite ridiculous. She's a convict who is asked to sing in the gospel trio. It's a funny visual gimmick but Fossee sing circles around everyone. Her voice is unmatchable. Keep an eye on this girl.

Band Geek Award- The First Church of Mary...

Honorable Mentions- Children of Salt, Forest Boy, Ludo's Broken Bride, Nickel Mines

The score of this show was a mix of pop, gospel, with a lot of soul. Bringing those horns into the fold was the best move Geoff Davin made. The sound was glorious. The musicians of this band was comprised of the NYC based band Soul'd Out NYC. In addition to sitting on the side, they occasionally were asked to react to the action since they were technically a part of the show. And they played well.

Most Likely Future Audition Song: Girls- "Soldier On" (The First Church of Mary)

Honorable Mentions- "A Funny Thing" (Children of Salt), "Japan It" (Ludo's Broken Bride), "Take Me There" (Lisa and Leonardo), "Whatever" (Normativity)

There were some great contenders this year but when you have such a musical moment like Megan Murphy Chambers had with "Soldier On", you know it's an amazing song. It was one of Geoff Davin's finer writing moments, but the message alone is a reason for you ladies to put it in your book. It was a rare occasion where I wanted to give a mid-show standing ovation.

Most Likely Future Audition Song: Boys- "Scream Scream Scream" (Ludo's Broken Bride)

Honorable Mentions- "Enough is Enough" (Children of Salt), "Psalm of Samuel" (Nickel Mines), "Where Land Meets Sky" (Forest Boy), "Who Needs Friends Like Mine" (The Last Word)

Ok, so technically this song wasn't written for the show but it sure is a song that fellas will want to put in their books! The Ludo tuner is a great upbeat number that allows a range of emotions to shine through. And Michael Jayne Walker did a mighty fine job with it.

Song of the Festival- "Maybe Tomorrow, But Not Today" (The Last Word)

Honorable Mentions- "I Want My World Back" (Ultimate Man), "I'm in Love and I Want You to Know" (Ultimate Man), "Perfect" (Icon), "These Friends of Mine" (The Last Word)

Firstly, if you'll notice, it was a battle between Ultimate Man and The Last Word but the opening number from The Last Word takes the prize. Why? Repetition and an ear-worm worthy melody. Brett Sullivan certainly knows how to open and close a show. Getting the audience to leave the theater with a tune in their head usually is a sign of success. Sullivan did that. Twice.

Next Stop Broadway Award- Icon

Honorable Mentions- Camp Rolling Hills, Children of Salt, The Last Word, Tink!

This award is for the show that is marketable and right for a commercial audience. Icon is just that. A fascinating story. Old-school charm. There's something for everyone. The show itself needs some finessing but once it does, expect to see a run somewhere.