The New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMTF), an annual showcase of high quality new musicals by emerging writers, will premiere the Hamptons-set 210 Amlent Avenue on Thursday, July 9. The musical’s book was written by Becky Goldberg, a Stony Brook University writing instructor, and composer Karl Hinze, a Stony Brook Ph.D. candidate in Music Composition, wrote the music and lyrics. The pair has been developing the show for several years. 210 Amlent Avenue had a staged reading at NYMTF in 2014, but this is the first time the show is receiving a full production.
“We were part of the developmental reading program at the NYMF,” says Goldberg. “Based on the experience there and the feedback we got, we wrote and redrafted and resubmitted the show and got selected to do a full production. It’s daunting! We’ve only ever done readings before, where you hand scripts to the cast and hope for the best.”
Hinze adds, “Our team is easily 10 times bigger than it was last year.”
With a professional cast and crew, including direction by Drama League Directing Fellow Samantha Saltzman and musical direction by Off-Broadway musician Andrew Wheeler, Goldberg and Hinze can’t wait to see their project premiere. “Becky and I are continuing to craft the show,” says Hinze. “It’s incredible to see how much more is going into this than last year. It’s a fun challenge.”
A musical drama inspired by the works of Ibsen, Chekov and O’Neill, 210 Amlent Avenue tells the story of an incident that occurs at the titular address one Fourth of July weekend. Mrs. Jordan, a retired actress, is surprised by an unexpected guest, Judah, who has been searching for answers to a long-kept secret that could tear the Jordan family apart. “The show is like a cross between August: Osage County and A Little Night Music,” says Goldberg.
“I’ve always been fascinated with vacation cities,” says Hinze. “The Hamptons is certainly a quintessential destination. After researching the location, it took on this extra significance that I couldn’t have asked for. Many of the characters are artists, and the people who live there and spend time there…there’s a lyric in the show, ‘there is something special in the Hamptons,’ and it’s something that’s I’ve heard often from people.” Goldberg, a Long Island native, marvels at the uniqueness of the Hamptons. “There’s something really bizarre and unique about the fact that one of the most beautiful vacation spots in the world is only two hours out from one of the biggest cities in the world. One of our songs explores which is better, the Hamptons or Manhattan. How does being from one or the other define how you see things?”
For this production, Goldberg and Hinze have altered to the play’s dramatic climax. “The most significant change is that the last 10 pages of the script are completely different. We have the same finale [song] but the events that happen are totally different. This is the first time we’ve changed the ending.” Hinze has added some new songs, as well. “I think the play is about the in-betweens and shiftiness of memory,” he says, “so it feels important to me that the musical styles reflect that. It draws from [traditional] musical theater, pop and classical. It bounces between all different styles in a way that represents each character’s emotions in specific context.”
Both Goldberg and Hinze think audiences will have a one-of-a-kind experience at 210 Amlent Avenue. “It’s not your average musical,” says Hinze. “It’s more a play that happens to have music in it.
“I’m constantly amazed by Karl’s music,” adds Goldberg. “It’s beautiful, and the songs say something.”