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MUSICAL THEATRE…ONLINE

Welcome to NMI’s virtual theatre.  Here, you’ll find lots of different content. Some are new musicals we WERE going to present live on stage, but we’ve adapted them for the screen.  Some of these are musicals written directly for the internet. But they are all new musicals - so enjoy! Each of the sections below represents a Playlist of videos from a particular category such as:

The Last of Its Kind
NMI’s Annual 15 Minute Musicals Online
Tales from a Darkening Wood with ASL performers
The Learned Ladies
… and more!

$25 a ticket? For you…free.

You’d expect to pay $15, $20 or $25 for an NMI ticket in the theatre.  It has cost us thousands of dollars to bring you these musicals for free.  First time visitors, please consider a donation of $10-$20.  Returning visitors, consider $1 each time you watch one of our shows.  That would help a lot! Thanks.





OR - direct your donation.

Would you prefer that we earmark your donation towards a specific program at New Musicals Inc?  Want to help us reach out to veterans?  Black writers?  Youth?   Online digital programming?. Click through to our DONOR PROGRAMS page for an overview of some of our programs and an opportunity to direct your donation specifically.

THIS WEEK’S FEATURED VIDEO

“The Jester”, from “The Devil’s Dictionary”

In this entry in NMI’s musicalization of Ambrose Bierce’s “The Devil’s Dictionary,” the Devil tells a tale of a Queen who falls in love with a Jester (FAR beneath her), and the radical steps the Pope takes to save her reputation. With music by Jon Kull, and the voice of Nick Fiero as the Devil.

For MORE from this musical webseries, check out the section entitled “The Devil’s Dictionary” on this page.

The Last of Its Kind

This is NMI’s new musical webseries, “The Last of Its Kind,” which explores happy and sad endings. The series ranges from the fantastical to the dramatic; from the silly to the profound.

"LAST OF ITS KIND" EPISODE DESCRIPTIONS

EPISODE #1: The Last Letters from the South Pole. The final hours of Robert Falcon Scott’s doomed expedition to the South Pole in 1912. Featuring Ryland Shelton as the haunted explorer, trying to keep up a stiff upper lip as he writes his final letter to his wife. With music adapted from Ken Neufeld, and words taken directly from Captain Scott’s actual letters.

EPISODE #2: The Echo of My Silence. A young diabetic has to choose between buying food or rationing his insulin. Featuring Michael Jeffrey Lucas, with music adapted from Ken Neufeld.

EPISODE #3: The Last Cat and Dog Fight. A cat and a dog, weary of constant fighting, wonder what on earth made them start feuding in the first place…isn’t there SOME way they could learn to get along, and find some, y’know, UNITY? Featuring Kim Reed and Joshua Finkel; directed and choreographed by Cate Caplin, with music adapted from Ken Neufeld.

EPISODE #4: The Last Laugh. An arthritic circus clown suddenly faces the reality that he can’t bend enough anymore to fit into the clown car…so it’s time to take off the nose. Starring Michael Laurie; featuring music by Kelly M. Ett, and an ambitious digital set created by the NMI staff.

EPISODE #5: The Last Sheep. Oh, the poor sheep — just one more sheep to be counted, and the insomniac guy will be asleep. But no, the guy’s obsessing about all those unanswered emails and other problems of the day. It’s driving the sheep crazy…just count me! Andrew Landecker stars as the sheep (and the guy in the bed). Music and lyrics by Sharon Fencl.

EPISODE #6: The Ninth Life. A smug cat who theatrically recounts how she lost eight or her nine lives is now suddenly sobered when she discovers she’s just like everyone else, and has only one precious life left to live. Starring Kristen Towers-Rowles as the humbled cat; directed Cate Caplin. With music and arrangements by Kylie Michele Briggs. We’re playing around with a rotoscoping post-production filter, giving this episode a cartoonish look.

EPISODE #7: The Last Fish. If you’re a lazy sealion, and you discover you’ve eaten the last fish - what’re you gonna do … fish, or go back to sleep? Featuring music adapted from Ken Neufeld, in an episode written by Lisa Elke. This is another experiment in combining live action backgrounds with animated musical theatre characters.

EPISODE #8: Stone Bird Houses. Kira has invested every last penny of her inheritance in her belief that there is about to be a booming market in stone bird houses (that is, houses for stone birds). Starring Dana Shaw as the overly-aspirational Kira. With music adapted from Ken Neufeld.

EPISODE #9: The Last Code. A computer punch-card realizes the world has moved on, and he’s never going to be wanted again. His language of 0’s and 1’s is surprisingly universal, and speaks to our own individual obsolescence. With music adapted from Ken Neufeld.

To view full list of videos in this playlist, click the hamburger menu on the video below:

15 Minute Musicals 2020

NMI’s annual 15 Minute Musicals have sold out for the past ten years…they’re the hottest ticket in town. “But, NMI, theatres aren’t open right now!” you say? That won’t stop the 15 Minute Musicals. This year, we’re bringing them to you on the small screen.

"15 MINUTE MUSICAL 2020" EPISODE DESCRIPTIONS

RED PROGRAM

The three 15 minute musicals that were part of the RED PROGRAM were shot on-site at NMI - with the actors rehearsing remotely and then coming to NMI for a shoot that was carefully monitored for safety. These were shot in a black-box setting with three cameras - and come to you very similarly to the way they would have been produced in a theatre.

A View from the Moon. Set in a tropical paradise, in which a Covid-stranded couple has run out of money, and an entitled rich woman thinks she can buy their gratitude and the affection of the hotel proprietor. This is a bittersweet, aching romance. Book by Richard Holland, music by Ben Ginsberg, lyrics by Stacey Weingarten.

The Traitor.  Set in a dystopian post-Covid future in which touching has become outlawed and even insurrectionistic. We’re in a prison cell, in which an interrogator is trying to get two of the prisoners to turn on the third…any two…so long as someone’s found guilty. It has a dramatic, almost operatic score. Book and lyrics by Stephen K. Nolly, music by Ron Barnett.

I Need Space. Poor Andrey…he’s scheduled to leave on a flight for Mars in two hours, but fear of germs and sudden lack of toilet paper confines him to a bathroom, to the eternal horror of his roommates who have been trying to get rid of him for months. Can the unscrupulous Toilet Paper Blackmarketeer save the day? Book and music by Sergei Stern, lyrics by Jordan Toopes.

 

BLUE PROGRAM

The three 15 minute musicals that were part of the BLUE PROGRAM were shot completely remotely - using Zoom! The director and actors were all in their own remote locations with their own camera and microphone equipment.

Close (But Not Too Close).  Too nervous to meet that special someone in person just yet? Why not try “CloseButNotTooClose.com” where you can check out the person of your dreams online. But watch out for scammers who may be looking for something other than love! Book by Paloma Sierra, music by Dusty Sanders, lyrics by Julia Koyfman.

Breakout. Siblings Jean and Jake are finding it extremely difficult to move on with their lives when divorced Mom and Dad are still openly feuding. One family Zoom session probably can’t make up for all the lost time, but can it at least help find a path forward? Book by Lalit Sritara, music by Evan Johnson, lyrics by Kellan Meador.

A Perfect Wedding. How can a mother give her daughter the perfect wedding that she never got to have when COVID forces everyone and everything to cancel at the last second? Book by Nicola Scott, music and lyrics by Laura Watkins.

We are delighted to announce that support for this program was provided through the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Arts Development Fee Program.  They really helped us transfer these musicals from the stage to the screen.  Please thank them if you get the chance:  201 N Figueroa St #1400, Los Angeles, CA 90012

To view full list of videos in this playlist, click the hamburger menu on the video below:

The Learned Ladies

“The Learned Ladies” is a new musical internet series featuring stories, songs, poems and essays from obscure women composers and forgotten women authors of the past. In Season One, Award-winning actress Elise Dewsberry plays southern belle Ann Reeves Jarvis as she welcomes us into her pre-Civil-War music room, introducing us to women authors and composers, like an antebellum “Masterpiece Theatre.”

"THE LEARNED LADIES" EPISODE DESCRIPTIONS

“ANITA”. In the first episode, we meet Mary Virginia Terhune, who shocked her friends and family by publishing secretly under a pseudonym. Then we hear Amy Beach’s moving song which tells the story of Anita, jilted by the man she trusted with her life and heart.

THE WESTERN WIND. Antebellum author Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie lost a brother in a shipwreck, and expresses her grief through her writings for the stage. We excerpt one of her monologues in tonight’s episode, and couple it with Amy Beach’s passionate song, “The Western Wind,” a plea for the Sea to deliver a beloved who is far off on a distant sea. This is an episode from our musical webseries, “The Learned Ladies,” Season One of which features forgotten antebellum authoresses.

FORGET ME NOT. This episode features a dramatic, spooky poem by Eleanor Percy Lee about a haunted house, followed by the passionate song “Forget Me Not” about a woman trying to reach the spirits of the dead.

ECSTASY. Excerpts from the intimate diary of Jane Tandy Hardin Cross, who writes about a friend’s heartbreaking loss of a child, and how the women of the time dealt with grief. The episode concludes with Amy Beach’s powerful song, “Ecstasy,” which examines the balance between storm and sunshine.

HASTE O BELOVED. This episode’s story is one of our favorites of the season. It’s an excerpt from a wonderful vampire novel written by Catherine Anne Warfield, who was the daughter of the Mississippi Territory’s Secretary of State, Major Nathaniel Ware. In the excerpt, a young woman is asked by her grandfather to give up some of her blood. That’s followed by Amy Beach’s song, “Haste O Beloved,” which contemplates whether love can cross over the threshold of death (and back again).

EMPRESS OF THE NIGHT. This episode explores, first in poem, then in song, the image of a frightening, dark night sky being penetrated with a pinprick of light from a morning star. It’s an unmistakable analogy of hope against despair, of light against darkness…and by subtle symbolism shared by 19th-century women through literature, the endurability of a woman’s spirit fighting to be illuminated in a society determined to silence it. The poem is by Mary S.B. Schindler; the glorious music is by Amy Beach.

MISERERE OF THE PINES. Join us in a revisitation of Lucy Virginia French’s famous poem, “Miserere of the Pines.” Mrs. French finds echoes of both songs of jubilation and funereal anthems in the “stately, solemn, swelling miserere of the Pines.” In the words of one of Mrs. French’s critics of the time: “[You will] find [y]ourself floating away on a tide of rippling rhyme— forgetful of all but the delicious motion, and the silvery ‘tintinnabulation.'” The companion piece is a multi-layered song by Amy Beach, called “Le Secret,” with French and English lyrics, which also finds deeply hidden meaning in what appears to be a simple love song.

YE BANKS AND BRAES. In an excerpt from “Musings” by Amelia B. Welty, we visit the inspirational but haunted sound of birds singing at twilight, which, of course, serves as a metaphor for our own fleeting time on earth. The song in this episode is the decidedly melancholic “Ye Banks and Braes O’ Bonnie Doon,” in which a jilted lover is tormented by the merry sounds of birds who haven’t a care in the world.

To view full list of videos in this playlist, click the hamburger menu on the video below:

Second Verses

Some of our most beloved tunes have obscure, old-fashioned, or downright offensive second verses. Edna Fervor is happy to sing them for you!

"SECOND VERSES" EPISODE DESCRIPTIONS

WHEN THE CAISSONS GO ROLLING ALONG. Edna Fervor shares with you verses 2, 3, and 4 of “When the Caissons Go Rolling Along.” (Sing along with her: “Men in rags, Men who froze, Still that Army met its foes!”)

O HOLY NIGHT!. Some of our most beloved tunes have obscure, old-fashioned, or downright offensive second verses. For instance, we wince at the slavery reference in one of the later verses of “O Holy Night,” but wonder how many revelers across the nation even notice it? Can you find it? It’s in this Yuletide edition of “Second Verses,” Edna Fervor sings additional verses from “O Holy Night”.

WE THREE KINGS. Edna Fervor sings additional verses from “We Three Kings”. These verses are truly morbid and bizarre. Take a listen as Edna sings these cheery words: “Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom; sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in the stone-cold tomb” in this Yuletide edition of “Second Verses”.

To view full list of videos in this playlist, click the hamburger menu on the video below:

Tales from A Darkening Wood

In this series, we gather at the feet of storytellers in a clearing in a mythical forest.  Many stories are classic tales from fantastical authors such as Ambrose Bierce, Lucy Clifford, Lord Dunsany, but others are original stories. We film this series in front of a greenscreen, and then apply a light cartoon filter to give it an unreal look. Grab a place on the forest floor, as these storytellers spin their tales of faraway lands…and of ones right in your own backyard.

"TALES OF A DARKENING WOOD" EPISODE DESCRIPTIONS

BURNING THE CRADLE. An unsettling, spooky tale about a couple who turns to black magic in order to conceive a child. Featuring Deaf storytellers Krissy Lemon, Jared DeBusk, and Nyeisha Prince.  With the voice-over talents of Taji Coleman, Sherman Rynge, and Elise Dewsberry.

NIGHT WOLF. Featuring Deaf actor Jared DeBusk in an original musical short. Here’s a teaser from the script: “the most frightening were the sightings of his eyes, his red luminous eyes, which we would see peering at us, all of us, through the leaves of shrubs, or between the pickets of our fences, or in a shadow at the end of the lane, peering, watching, warning, threatening.”

BAD OLD WOMAN IN BLACK.features Megan Clancy in a Deaf musical short based on unsettling story by Lord Dunsany. Here’s a teaser from the script: “An ominous feeling of gloom came down on the street of the ox-butchers. And in the gloom grew fears of the worst.”

JOHN MORTONSON’S FUNERAL. Featuring Deaf actor Joshua Castille (Broadway’s Spring Awakening) in a Deaf musical short. Here’s a teaser from the script: “The widow’s eyes sought the face of the dead beneath the glass. She threw up her arms and with a shriek fell backward insensible. The mourners sprang forward to the coffin, the friends followed, and as the clock on the mantel solemnly struck three all were staring down upon the face of John Mortonson, deceased.”

ISLAND OF THE DOLLS. A spooky tale about a young girl who gets stolen by some very creepy mechanical dolls. Based on the classic short story by Lucy Clifford, this special episode of “Tales From a Darkening Wood” features Deaf storyteller Krissy Lemon and voice-over artistry from Erika Schindele. Here’s a teaser from the script: “The doll blinked its eyes, talked very fast, made faces, took Apple-Blossom by the hand, saying, “At last, at last I am wound again; now you are coming with me,” and led her right out of the aunt’s bedroom, down the stairs, and out of the house, and thence away to some strange place, where dolls were stronger and more important than human beings.”

This activity was supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Arts and Disability Center at the University of California Los Angeles.

To view full list of videos in this playlist, click the hamburger menu on the video below:

FRINGE ONLINE 2020

This series contains two 40-minute new musicals we had intended to premiere at the 2020 Hollywood Fringe Festival. When the pandemic shut down LA theatres, we were able to pivot these two shows to online version, shot in very different ways. Check out FLY FLY FLY and UNITED WE TWEET below, as well as some information videos about the “making of”.

"FRINGE ONLINE 2020" EPISODE DESCRIPTIONS

United We Tweet is the story of a clown who holds the Highest Office in the Land (literally…a clown, complete with Bozo wig and red nose). His favorite way to resolve disputes is…rock-paper-scissors…and nothing less than the fate of Texas is at stake. Book and lyrics by B.K. Wells, music by Jane Wong.

Fly Fly Fly is the story of two suddenly emptynesters whose grown-up children “visit” one last time. Book, music, and lyrics by Katie Brady. Shot mid-Covid one-actor-at-a-time, we’ve made it look as though five actors were all in the theatre together at the same time. They weren’t. Come see what we’ve done through the miracle of greenscreening!

To view full list of videos in this playlist, click the hamburger menu on the video below:

THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY

As demonically funny as it was when it first appeared in print, Ambrose Bierce’s “The Devil’s Dictionary” comes to life in NMI’s musical adaptation. The series features an eclectic score by Jon Kull, and the Devil himself (in CG/motion capture).

"DEVIL'S DICTIONARY" EPISODE DESCRIPTIONS

THE JESTER. In this entry, the Devil tells a tale of a Queen who falls in love with a Jester (FAR beneath her), and the radical steps the Pope takes to save her reputation.

ALTAR. In this entry, the Devil takes on the sacred vows of marriage.

BODY SNATCHER. In this entry, the Devil tells the tale of some grave robbers who are met by a demonic hyena.

RIGHT. In this entry, the Devil sings the blues, literally, as he discusses Mankind’s belief in his inherent rights.

CLOCK. In this entry, the Devil mocks mankind’s sense of immortality.

THE NOSE. In this entry the Devil puts on his Broadway strut and tells us about a man who blows his nose SO loudly, he is sued by the town and a whole pack of attorneys.

To view full list of videos in this playlist, click the hamburger menu on the video below:

SLOW TIME ON A PRAIRIE PORCH with the Potato Face Blind Man

Stories and songs from the Midwest prairie. Featuring, yes, the Potato Face Blind Man.

"POTATO FACE BLIND MAN" EPISODE DESCRIPTIONS

PAID HIS WAY” and “WORKERMAN JOE. In this episode, we hear about a man getting old, and in the way…and a song about being a worker all your life.

“IOWA CREED” and “DANVILLE GIRL”. In this episode, Potato Face recites a rousing, old-fashioned patriotic poem about the hard-working men and women of Iowa; and then grows wistful about someone he let go: a girl from Danville, Illinois.

“My Western Land” and “The Beggar”. In this episode, Potato Face recites a magnificent ode to the open spaces which lured him even as a child. He finishes the episode with a moving song about a beggar who is content with his lot in life.

“A Song of Winds” and “Elanoy”. In this episode, Potato Face waxes nostalgic for the glory days of the wind-swept prairies in the powerful “Song of the Winds” by prairie poet Hamlin Garland. The episode concludes with the rousing call for homesteaders in “Elanoy.”

To view full list of videos in this playlist, click the hamburger menu on the video below: