BEAUTIFUL POISON at the NAMT Festival + Manhattans in Manhattan

It is indeed a wonderful life.

It is indeed a wonderful life.

Oh this wonderful, odd, rock-star-mom-musical-theatre-writer life. I am a lucky woman.

I just got back from showcasing our new musical BEAUTIFUL POISON at the Festival of New Musicals put on by NAMT (the National Alliance for Musical Theatre). The main festival isn’t open to the public, just NAMT members including the top staff from over 200 regional theatres interested in commissioning and presenting new musicals. Every year they choose only 8 musicals to present, out of hundreds of applicants—with a strict limit of only 45 minutes per presentation—and everything happens within a single building at New World Stages in Manhattan. The lovely (and very effective) result is that nearly every festival attendee sees all the presentations—which means that our show is seen by the maximum possible number of people who might be interested in programming our work into their season.

Ian Eisendrath is a badass.

Ian Eisendrath is a badass.

It was a whirlwind, and an amazing experience, all compressed into a very short amount of rehearsal and performance where everyone has to turn their personal amps up to 11 and just go for it. It was the largest cast we’ve ever worked with at NAMT (11 actors, plus a 3-person band), and the most music-heavy, fully-vocally-arranged score we’ve ever presented. So the music rehearsal process was fast and furious, led by the amazing and truly brilliant Ian Eisendrath. (I’ve never seen anyone teach music as efficiently as Ian before—instead of STOPPING to correct a mistake, he somehow keeps the beat going and speaks in rhythm to tell the actors what they need to know, saving several seconds with each correction. Like: “NOPE, 2, 3, it’s on the ONE, like this, breathe, AH!, 2, 3, back to BAR FIFTEEN, and!” It’s an astounding thing to watch.)

Because of NAMT there are now several theatres interested in co-producing BEAUTIFUL POISON with our commissioning theatre (The 5th Avenue). And that’s exactly what we’d hoped for.

Another thing I love about NAMT: getting to share a drink or two with OTHER WRITERS, and to bop around seeing excerpts of THEIR shows. It’s an absolute blast and a rare opportunity to get inspired, compare notes, catch up with old friends and make new ones. It reminds me of some of the music festivals we used to play as GrooveLily—where every 45 minutes or so a new band or singer/songwriter would take the stage, and then we’d all get to meet and hang out and maybe even play some music together later on.  That kind of conviviality with like-minded souls doesn’t happen all that often; when it does it’s pretty awesome. And this week, I was actually celebrating TWO things simultaneously (because juggling many projects at once, as anyone in music OR theatre will tell you, is the only way to survive): 1 – the fun and exhilaration of being back at NAMT, with what I believe is a very exciting, artistically-new-for-us show, and 2 – the thrilling runaway success of the launch of my Kickstarter campaign for my solo live-looping project. (!!)

I MAY have enjoyed more than one particularly strong Manhattan at the happy hour. Don’t tell anyone.

It’s been an extraordinary two weeks, and I am thanking my lucky stars. (For many reasons, including that the many miles of walking I did in NYC seem to have balanced out the sugar-and-carb festival I was apparently ALSO attending. My excellent trainer Ian now has me back on track, and I’m glad not to be surrounded by irresistibly-beckoning pizza slices at every turn.) I’m still writing thank-you notes to each person who has pledged for my Kickstarter; to my delight and surprise, the already-funded campaign blew past my first stretch goal of $50K while I wasn’t looking.

In another week or so I will be back in NYC with ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME for a backer’s audition on November 10. Things will slow down eventually and I will get more sleep, but for now, we are firing on all cylinders in the Valerie Vigoda & Co. headquarters. To all of the actors, musicians, NAMT staff, Kickstarter pledgers, collaborators and well-wishers: thank you for being a part of this wonderful ride I’m on.


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