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the STAGES musical theatre festival

The STAGES New Musical Theatre Festival

An annual Chicago tradition for 15 years in Chicago, Stages moved to Los Angeles in 2011, becoming a biennial festival.

New Musicals Inc brings together dozens of writers, directors, music directors, and actors to present concert readings of new musicals in various stages of development. These are presented over a jam-packed weekend, and/or streamed live!



The 2019 STAGES Festival took place over the weekend of August 3-5, 2019 in North Hollywood and was also simultaneously LIVE-STREAMED.  The six presentations were:

Across the Street - tells the story of a Jewish boy and an Irish-Catholic girl living across the street from each other in 1939 New York.
Book and lyrics by Dean Alexander, music by Janet Hay

The Max Factor Factor - rival movie studios in the 1930’s are thrown into chaos when their rival leading men fall in love with each other. An “ice-cold reading”, in which we put the scripts of a brand-new-draft in front of actors and singers without any rehearsal whatsoever.
Book by Adrian Bewley, music by Joe Blodgett, lyrics by Chana Wise

Big Noise - In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina a dedicated musician fights to hold on to the two things he loves the most, his wife and his music. A table reading.
Book and lyrics by Joel Bailey, music by Ron Barnett

The Plot to Kill Charlie Chaplin - dramatizing the allegedly true plot to assassinate Charlie Chaplin onboard William Randolph Hearst’s yacht. It’s told in a vaudeville/silent movie style, presented in a concert reading.
Book and lyrics by Scott Guy, music by Kevin Mathie

The Flesh Trade - a 100-proof ragtime horror-comedy infused with cannibalism, greed, and women of ill repute. A surviving member of the Donner Party commissions a young prostitute to scare up meat for his cannibal gang…has she found a way out of the flesh trade, or bitten off more than she can chew? Second-Prize Winner of NMI’s 2019 Search for New Musicals
Book, lyrics, and music by Chris Holoyda

Pickpocket - A young woman makes her way in turn of the century New York. A table reading.
Book and lyrics by Sandy Kasten, music by Billy Wolfe

Got Musical 2019 - The 2019 STAGES weekend ended with a concert of excerpts of new works in development including pieces by the winners of the 2019 New Voices Project, pieces by writer members of New Musicals Inc., and excerpts from all the shows being presented over the weekend. (For the detailed program, check out the GOT MUSICAL ARCHIVES)

Ice Cold Reading of The Max Factor Factor



3 days of LIVE and
STREAMED events!

July 28 - July 30, 2017

The 20th year of the STAGES Festival was a grand experiment in which we streamed a full weekend of live broadcasting concerts, readings, promos, and interviews about new musicals and the process of making them happen.

To check out all the incredible STAGES programming that took place between Friday, July 28th at 7:00pm and Sunday, July 30th at 10:00pm, visit our YOUTUBE CHANNEL.

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FREE LIVE events

The items to the right were the FREE LIVE events that were part of our STAGES Festival.

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of all our events in new musical theatre.


Sunday, July 30 at 7:30pm.

A concert reading of the new musical Spellbound! A F@$&ed-Up Musical Fairytale, by Ben Boecker.


Friday, July 28 at 7:00pm.

A concert of selections from new works by the winners of the 2017 New Voices Project.


Sunday, July 23 at 2:00pm.

A staged reading of the new musical The Bully Problem by Michael Gordon Shapiro, directed by Joshua Finkel.


A interview with Broadway producer Ken Davenport.


NMI members Richard Castle and Matthew Levine talk about the world premiere of their new musical Oklahoma in Wisconsin at the Nothern Sky Theatre.


Vox Lumiere is an explosive mashup of thrilling new music, breathtaking live performances and classic silent film. Part epic rock concert, part interactive movie, part cutting-edge theatre, Vox Lumiere is an outrageously fun, immersive multimedia extravaganza that will blow your mind.


An interview with the Tony nominated co-bookwriter of Broadway’s Sister Act, Cheri Steinkellner.


Composer/lyricist Amy Englehardt discusses her recent Off-Broadway success with the new musical Bastard Jones.


The short musical Thanksgiving in Ithaca by Mitch Glaser and Joseph Blodgett - as featured at the Hollywood Fringe Festival.


An interview with Broadway musical theatre writers Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner (First Date, Secondhand Lions).


A taste of the world premiere of Dorian’s Descent at DOMA Theatre in Los Angeles. 


The short musical The Wedding Night by Jana Hejdukova, Stephen Coleman, and Keith Dale Gordon - as featured at the Hollywood Fringe Festival.


Songs featured at concerts by the Los Angeles cabaret A LITTLE NEW MUSIC.


The Coffee Quintet is a modern musical tale of mistaken identity where an an all-knowing barista tries to help a woman awaiting a job interview, a man waiting for a blind date, a technically-challenged businessman and woman in search of a man all in the course of one caffeinatedly confusing afternoon!


Videos of all twelve of the short musicals that premiered at the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2017 under the umbrella of “1001 Minutes of New Musicals” from New Musicals Inc.


Lyricist, and NMI Core alumni Kellen Blair discusses the on-going success of his Off-Broadway musical Murder For Two.


Michael Rubinoff, head of the Canadian Musical Theatre Project at Sheridan College, discusses the development of the Tony nominated musical Come From Away.


Short videos filled with tips for writing lyrics for the musical theatre (from Scott Guy, author of the Lyric Lab at WritingMusicalTheatre.com).

... and lots more

To check out all the great stuff that was streamed live in 2017, visit our YOUTUBE CHANNEL.



The 2015 Festival took place over the weekends of August 21-23 and 28-30.  The first weekend was at NMI in North Hollywood, and the second weekend was at 3D Theatricals in Anaheim.  The six presentations were:

The Anarchist Girl - An edgy, provocative chamber musical about a young protestor who breaks into a house planning to kidnap a famous author, to make him a spokesperson for her cause, only to find that this former literary giant is now confined to a wheelchair, no longer able to speak. She turns her attention to the author’s shut-in son, and tries to convince him to come with her into the dangerous world to stand up for what he believes in. This is an “existential” musical that will appeal to the audience that loves a challenge!

Book and lyrics by J. Linn Allen, and music by Cris Wo.
Directed by Jon Sparks with musical direction by Ron Barnett.

Bagels! - The almost-true story of the man who invented the automated bagel-making machine; how it almost tore apart a family, and got some union bagel makers pretty upset.  A family comedy, but with some adult moral dilemmas for the young inventor, this show has a charming, witty book and a lovely joyful score.

Book and lyrics by Chana Wise, music by Carl Johnson.
Directed by John Henry Davis, with musical direction by Emily Cohn.

Oklahoma in Wisconsin - It’s 1950, and the Bradley family are in dire financial straits with their Inn in Fish Creek Wisconsin.  Then a Hollywood location scout comes to town - promising to bring prosperity along with the filming of the movie version of Oklahoma!  Will he be able to pull it off?  A funny family show full of glorious harmonies.  A follow-up to our popular “Ice-Cold Reading” at STAGES 2013, this reading was an “Almost-Cold-Reading” with a brave who had the music in advance, but never had a rehearsal.

Book and lyrics by Richard Castle, music by Matthew Levine

Invisible - tells the story of two nerdy high school guys decide to create a potion to make themselves popular, so they can go to prom with the school’s cheerleading twins.  But miraculously, the potion turns one of them invisible!  Things start to sour between the friends when the visible one starts taking advantage of the situation, and doesn’t want to help his one-time-buddy become visible again, leading up to an explosive prom night.  It features a driving, young score with humor that’s edgy and contemporary (but still family friendly!)

Book by David Hollingsworth, lyrics and music by David Orris.
Directed by Elise Dewsberry with musical direction by Bryan Blaskie.

Off the Wall - This musical comedy, loosely inspired by the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, won the 2014 Search for New Musicals.  In this five-character, ninety-minute, original musical, the Mona Lisa is brought to life when a worker in the Louvre kisses her.  Much to worker’s dismay, Mona Lisa immediately starts causing chaos all over Paris.  This fresh, tongue-in-cheek musical may take place in the Belle Epoque, but it whimsically explores contemporary themes, including the glorification of celebrity, the obsession with physical beauty, and the importance of taking a second glance at preconceived notions of love and art.

Book and lyrics by Sarah Rebell, music by Danny Abosch.
Directed by Allison Bibicoff with musical direction by Jan Roper.

The New Voices Project - A concert of songs and musical excerpts written by the winners of the 2015 New Voices Projects - all writers under the age of 26.  This is the third year of this competition, with support from Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment.  Featuring the writers Ben Boecker, Andre Catrini, Samantha Chanse, Jacob Combs, Michael Finke, Bob Kelly, Madeline Myers, Bill Nelson, Mark Sonnenblick, and Joseph Trefler.

Off the Wall


Travis Dixon (as Vincenzo) and Gwen Hollander (as Mona Lisa) in the presentation of SEARCH FOR NEW MUSICALS winner Off the Wall, book and lyrics by Sarah Rebell and music by Danny Abosch.



Mark Anthony Lopez, Emerson Boatwright, and Jeff Scot Carey in the developmental production of Bagels! the musical, with book and lyrics by Chana Wise and music by Carl Johnson.

Stages Musical Theatre Festival features musicals in many different stages of development:  first draft, polished drafts, as well as ready-for-production.

New Voices Project

Music Director Bryan Blaskie discusses a song with performer Daniel Stewart, while composer/lyricist Noah Reece video-conferences from North Carolina.



The 2013 Festival took place over the weekend of August 23-25.  The shows featured at the “First Stage” (at the Lonny Chapman Theatre) were:

Mad Bomber - winner of the 2013 Search for New Musicals - based on the true story of the man who terrorized New York in the 1950s by setting off a series of bombs to get back at Con Edison (written by Charles Monagan and Richard deRosa);

Vlad: a vampire’s love story - a re-envisioning of the classic vampire story, with a 4-person cast, a rock score, and some plot twists you might not be expecting (written by Plácido Domingo, Samantha Domingo, and Scott Guy);

Wanting Miss Julie - a modern re-telling of the Strindberg classic (written by John Sparks, Jake Anthony, and Patricia Zehentmayr); and

Bloodline - the story of a 1920s spinster who finds herself engaged to a vampire with ulterior motives (written by Richard Castle and Clifford Tasner).

The shows featured at the “Very First Stage” (at the Academy for New Musical Theatre) were:

LA Carmen - a futuristic setting for the beloved Carmen set in a time when speaking Spanish is illegal (in development with the Latino Theatre Company; written by Evelina Fernandez, Rosino Serrano, and Richard Castle);

Over the Horizon - a collective project by writers at the University of California at Irvine, about an Iraqi blogger and the son of an American soldier;

The Max Factor Factor - an ice-cold reading of a musical about closeted gay film stars in the 1920’s.

New Voices Project - a final slot filled by a showcase of material from brand new, young writers.



The 2011 Festival took place over the weekend of July 15-17.  The more developed shows in the 16th Annual Stages Musical Theatre Festival were:

Windjammers, the moving tale of a sailor on the Great Lakes in the 19th century, written by Robin Share and Clay Zambo;

In the Mind of Olympians, a powerful revue about the 1948 and 2012 London Olympics, written by a dozen writers in London and Los Angeles;

Powder Puff Pilots, telling the story of female pilots in the 1920’s, written by Marian Partee, Cindy O’Connor and Noelle Donfeld; and

Now and Then a Hero, ten stories of real life common heroes, written by Larry Johnson and Jake Anthony.

The shows at the first draft stage presented at the Academy were:

Ghost(s), a goofy story of a local theatre company who thought they were producing a musical based on the hit movie Ghost, but discover to their horror it’s a terrible musical adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play about syphilis and euthanasia, written by Kincaid Jones, Brian Woodbury and Noelle Donfeld;

Mary Marie, a sweet family musical based on the classic 19th-century novel about a young girl struggling with her parents’ divorce, written by Chana Wise and Carl Johnson;

The Ring, a nasty dark comedy about revenge at a high school reunion, written by Eric Dodson and Alan Fleishman; and

The Angel of Painted Post, a powerful fable about an unlikely vision in an even more unlikely town, written Adrian Bewley, Richard Castle and Matthew Levine.

Now and Then A Hero

The cast of Now and Then a Hero, by Larry Todd Johnson and Jake Anthony, in performance at the Lonny Chapman Theatre.

Writers' Panel

The writers of the shows represented in the festival gather for a public Q & A session.

Wondering how to get YOUR musical into Stages?

We actually consider musicals from anywhere for Stages.  But there isn’t a direct way to submit to the festival, as we already have many musicals every year we would like to champion.  The best way for us to get to know your show is for you to submit it to our annual ‘Search for New Musicals,’ which allows us the opportunity to workshop musicals which have been created outside of our own community. Every musical entered into the Search receives comprehensive feedback, and is automatically considered for further development at NMI, including whether it’s a fit for Stages Musical Theatre.