American Musicals Festival Vol. 1
© UnsungMusicalsCo. 
Website by Simma Park. Photo of Teal Wicks by Kevin Yatarola.

A Message from the Creator

Welcome to what is surely shaping up to be an unforgettable theatrical event.

American Musicals Festival (AMF) is a singular and comprehensive survey of the American musical theatre canon, celebrating the expansive catalogues of its legendary artists as well as the obscure but artistically sound works of its lesser-known craftsmen. Uniquely designed as a live-action, long-form documentary entertainment, AMF is an unprecedented musical theatre event giving new voice to more than 165 individual song and book writers who have shaped this iconic art. Comprised of 30 concerts, 12 readings, and 9 conversations, the entire celebration will culminate with an all-new musical revue to be written by a new generation of young and emerging writers.

With a robust, distinct, and carefully crafted construct, AMF will provide a significant, vibrant window on the rich landscape of the American musical theatre canon, shedding new light on the extraordinarily diverse places we've been, where we are going, and how the past speaks directly to the works and artists of today and tomorrow.

American Musicals Festival will be author-centric in nature, with the concerts focusing on the catalogues and collaborations of specific songwriters; the readings concentrating on the work(s) – in some cases, unproduced – of individual librettists; and the conversations engaging established contemporary musical theatre writers in a discussion of their process, influences, and future projects.

My aim is to be as thorough as possible in my coverage of the canon, examining in great detail the work of both prolific and lesser-known writers with a special interest in highlighting the artists and repertoire emblematic of distinct trends in the evolution of the form. As such, I have spent the last year, and will likely spend the next two, doing extensive research.

The Festival itself will take place over the course of several months, with the exact timeframe of the rollout still to be determined. That said, the overall structure has been established and the individual entries have already been identified.

Please stay tuned for further developments, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates and adventures. I am very much looking forward to bringing this unique and exciting event to fruition.

BEN WEST
November 2015
New York City

About the Festival

American Musicals Festival (AMF) is a singular and comprehensive survey of the American musical theatre canon, celebrating the expansive catalogues of its legendary artists as well as the obscure but artistically sound works of its lesser-known craftsmen. Uniquely designed as a live-action, long-form documentary entertainment, AMF is an unprecedented musical theatre event giving new voice to more than 165 individual song and book writers who have shaped this iconic art. Comprised of 30 concerts, 12 readings, and 9 conversations, the entire celebration will culminate with an all-new musical revue to be written by a new generation of young and emerging writers.

American Musicals Festival is currently in development. For project updates and the latest news, please join our newsletter, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Read a message from American Musicals Festival creator Ben West.

American Musicals Festival is being developed by Ben West for UnsungMusicalsCo. Founded by West in 2009, UnsungMusicalsCo.’s recent projects include Unsung Carolyn Leigh, a sold-out, critically acclaimed concert for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook; critically acclaimed, newly conceived productions of Make Mine Manhattan by Arnold B. Horwitt and Richard Lewine, and The Fig Leaves Are Falling by Allan Sherman and Albert Hague; a concert production of At Home Abroad by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz; and a critically acclaimed world premiere concert of Gatsby written circa 1969 by Hugh Wheeler, Lee Pockriss, and Carolyn Leigh. Devoted also to researching, assembling, and ultimately preserving rare musical material for future generations, UnsungMusicalsCo. is honored to be receiving its own collection in the Billy Rose Theatre Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, where the company’s developmental reading series was also in residence at the Bruno Walter Auditorium.

Unsung Musicals Past Projects

Unsung Carolyn Leigh unearths lost gems and reveals charm of a Gatsby musical with a crackling, passionate Jazz Age score! Gatsby is first-rate! These songs are tough and cynical, with a strain of sadness under their wisecracking surface! The style of Ms. Leigh's lyrics might be described as a brassy hybrid of Cole Porter and Dorothy Parker! The Lincoln Center American Songbook program Unsung Carolyn Leigh focused on the little-known lyrics of the brassy, tart-tongued lyricist. In addition to Gatsby, two other unproduced shows, Caesar's Wife and Juliet, both yielded significant songs!”

—Stephen Holden, The New York Times

Critics’ Pick! Unsung Jimmy Van Heusen

Time Out New York

“Dimpled and full-skirted, this sweet little revue has soft-shoed its way into the Connelly Theater! Make Mine Manhattan is charming and peppy with clever lyrics and cheery music! A vintage skyline filled with valentines and air kisses, today's production is what you might expect a small golden-age Broadway revue to look like: gauzy white gloves, fedoras, apple-cheeked!”

—Catherine Rampell, The New York Times

“Presented as a tale told on a 1960s variety show, The Fig Leaves Are Falling is a crisp production with exceptional singing and smart, smooth choreography!”

—Daniel M. Gold, The New York Times

“The reimagined production of The Fig Leaves Are Falling has a talented cast, nifty choreography, and some ‘Mad Men’-era kitsch appeal!”

—Michael Musto, The Village Voice

Gatsby shines! Lee Pockriss and Carolyn Leigh's songs spread a beguiling carpet of melancholy beneath all that Jazz Age revelry!”

—David Rooney, The New York Times

“This tasteful revival aims for an unapologetic sophistication! Carolyn Leigh’s dynamite lyrics beautifully complement Elmer Bernstein’s frothy score. While it’s hard to imagine a show less in keeping with the times than How Now, Dow Jones, that’s exactly why you should see it!”

—Jason Zinoman, The New York Times

How Now, Dow Jones is a good dose of goofy, over-the-top fun with a catchy soundtrack! The whole shebang comes off with the tongue-in-cheek humor and self-conscious raciness of a '70s sitcom!”

—Billie Cohen, Time Out New York

Staff & Advisors

Creator & Director

Ben West
bw@unsungmusicals.org

Artistic Advisors

Nina Auerbach, Brook Babcock, Ken Bloom, Jeff Bowen, Jason Buell, Donna Bullock, Ted Chapin, Susan Chodorov, Rachel de Benedet, Peter Filichia, Sean Patrick Flahaven, Aaron Gandy, Derek Gregor, Deena R. Harburg, Larry Hart, Michael Kerker, Brad Lohrenz, Karen Mason, Annette Niemtzow, Christine Pedi, Noah Racey, Doug Reside, Megan Sikora, Joseph Weiss

General Inquiries

American Musicals Festival
c/o UnsungMusicalsCo.
P.O. Box 722
New York, NY 10159
info@unsungmusicals.org

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30 concerts

12 readings

9 conversations

1 extraordinary event

BEN WEST

Creator & Director

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