MainStreet Festivals

Main Street Musicals

Main Street Musicals

MainStreet is proud to partner with HumanStage.

MainStreet Festivals

A History Of The MainStreet Festivals Project

MainStreet Festivals grew out of an original idea that began to form thirty years ago:

I was - and am - a “working actor.”  Back in the early 80s, while temporarily without paying work, I donated enormous amounts of time and creative energy to readings, backers’ auditions, and workshops of new musicals (and a play or two).  You might get “reimbursement of expenses” – sometimes, not even that – but, like my fellow artists, I considered these efforts and most of the shows themselves, to be worthy projects.  Sadly, in the case of the 12 shows I worked on in 1982-83, our collective attempts to get these new shows into some production track were unsuccessful.

In those days, at the end of Broadway’s Golden Era, the country was in the midst of a business cycle "downturn." The American economy was discouraging risk.  And with active producers in short supply, creators got very little help. The unions and the colleges provided a few artist services. But organizations focusing on the development of new musicals were few and far between.

The most distressing part was that - while we in the business knew the truth: that there were plenty of good new musicals floating around - the major papers, typically uninformed, were screaming that THERE WEREN’T ANY NEW ONES BEING WRITTEN. That did not help the situation.

Then, one evening during the summer of 1982, alone in my house, I experienced an epiphany -- a marvelous vision that excited me greatly.  It occurred to me that the plight of writers, and by extension the rest of the theatre community, might be relieved by the insertion into the professional development process of two additional interlocking programs: one to provide writers with, professional comprehensive constructive feedback – “evaluation.”  And “promotion” - public showings of the most worthy of the works submitted for evaluation.

In spite of what I realized were enormous obstacles, I resolved to make it happen. Looking back, that evening changed my life significantly in every way.

These ideas evolved into the two original core programs of the National Music Theater Network, Inc. (NMTN), the 501c3 that I founded with two partners, Maggie Harrer and Jeffrey Kittay, in October of 1983 and for 25 years, NMTN’s Evaluation Program has provided helpful editorial advice to creators of new works and has identified the most promising submissions annually.

NMTN has presented - mostly in New York City - thousands of public performances featuring new works: beginning with excerpts - scenes, and songs, graduating to full-length readings in 1991.  Ultimately, in 2004, NMTN launched the New York Musical Theatre Festival.

In 1996, NMTN began developing a program to increase its impact on the regional community.  First, a competition was added to the Evaluation Program.  Launched in 1997 - BroadwayUSA! presented three winning shows (Directors’ Choice Award-winners) annually.  The program was successfully tested outside of New York through the cooperation of regionally-based affiliates who produced the series in their local communities. Financial and structural problems prevented the regional program from taking root and growing in its early form.

In 2003, despite warnings that launching a festival featuring in excess of 10 shows – especially performed in “showcase” format involving costumes, sets and memorization - would incur excessive risk, NMTN, guided by the vision of its then Executive Director Kris Stewart, began preparations for the 2004 debut of The New York Musical Theatre Festival and scheduled over thirty shows.

To everyone’s surprise, NYMF instantly became the darling of the New York musical theatre scene with attendance figures at 88% across the entire festival. The three Directors Choice Award-winners were presented during each NYMF season until 2008. At that point, some major changes were made that affected NMTN and my own involvement with these programs.

Launching the Regional Program

Increasingly, NMTN was becoming a New York centered organization revolving around NYMF; there didn't seem to be any energy remaining for a regional expansion based on the original programs.  I decided to resign and, after taking some time to dream and plan, I started the new organization: MAINSTREET MUSICALS.

In our first year, 2010, we presented a Benefit Concert in New York and regional Events in Sarasota and St. Petersburg - concert readings of a single DCA work, SHINE, by Richard Seff, Roger Anderson, and Lee Goldsmith.  In 2011 we presented SHINE in Akron and New Orleans.  In 2012 we presented A COUNTRY CHRISTMAS CAROL by Ron Kaehler and Albert Evans in Bowling Green State University (Ohio), Seattle, St. Louis, and Montreal.

This brings us to the present and our current plans to launch regional MainStreet Festivals in cities around the country and around the world.  The company is growing very quickly and promises to accomplish its goals - goals that were envisioned 30 years ago.