The Free Press, Mankato, MN


April 21, 2013

The good, bad and off-Broadway

The good news: Minnesota State University graduate and hobby playwright Phil Darg has been selected by the New York Musical Theatre Festival to produce “Sasquatched! The Musical” in an off-Broadway venue in New York City.

The bad news: The cost of production is in the neighborhood of $40,000.

“We have one of the biggest shows in the festival,” said Darg, adding that $40,000 is a bargain for producing an off-Broadway show. “But even so, our budget is small compared to others. We’re at a disadvantage in this regard, but we’re hoping that some local support can help to bridge the gap.”

Darg was notified earlier this year that his musical was one of 10 selected by the NYMTF’s panel of nine judges — all but one of whom has won or been nominated for a Grammy, Tony or OBIE award.

Each of the 200 submissions was judged blindly with the final 10 earning a chance to participate in NYMTF’s Next Link program. The mission of the program is to “empower emerging musical theatre writing teams ... by providing the training and relationships needed to help them move their musicals from readings to fully-realized productions and to advance their careers by maximizing the exposure they receive in the Festival.”

Each playwright is given the chance to attend a weekend symposium that includes seminars led by industry professionals on fundraising, marketing, industry outreach and self-producing. Participants are also introduced to potential collaborators, supporters and producers, and receive dramaturgical support from professional literary managers and dramaturgs.

Finally, each Next Link show receives financial support in the form of a $5,000 subsidy toward its production. The Festival will be held July 8-28.

For Darg, the selection into the festival represents both an extreme honor and an extreme surprise.

“I’ve been calling it a Cinder-fella story,” said the Maple Grove resident who has written a few stage works in the past but doesn’t consider himself a working professional. “It really is something that came out of nowhere.”

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