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July 11, 2017
NYMF Interview: David Mauk and Brenda Mandabach on ‘The Time Machine’

The 2017 New York Musical Festival, which runs July 10 through August 6, will bring audiences four full weeks of new musicals, concerts, readings, and panel discussions. We spoke with David Mauk (book, music, lyrics) and Brenda Mandabach (book) about their musical The Time Machine.

Tell us about your show!

The Time Machine is a musical Sci-fi love story with elements of comedy and horror. We hope that we've created a unique and modern theatre experience that everyone can enjoy.

What was the first musical that made you want to make musicals?

Dave: My mother used to play a lot of musical cast recordings, but the first musical that had a big impact on me seeing was the movie version of Oliver! in the theatre when I was very young. I loved musicals ever since, but it was not until Phantom of the Opera that I knew wanted to write a musical.

Describe the sound of your musical, it's like _______ meets _________

It's like Rodgers and Hammerstein meets Nightmare before Christmas.

If you had a time machine, when would you travel to?

Brenda and Dave: 1915. We both love the early years of Broadway and Hollywood, so we think it would be amazing to meet the people and witness the events that shaped both industries.

What drew you to the original source material (H.G. Wells' novel)/made you want to adapt it?

Dave: I've always loved the cliffhanger aspects of the traditional musical plot, and one day I was watching the 1960 movie version of the The Time Machine and when the scene where the protagonist's time machine is stolen. I occurred to me that the scene would make a great ending for the first act of a musical version. Then the wheels began turning, and I knew I was on to something important. That said, our musical is not based on the movie, but on the classic novel with an added subplot.

Why is it important to bring your show to NYMF?

Participating at NYMF gives us the chance to work with a director and a cast to take our story to the next level and gives us the chance to take it off the page and onto the stage. We also wanted to get the feedback from a live audience and be exposed to potential producers and investors.

What's next for the show?

Hopefully we will create enough excitement at NYMF to be able to interest a developing theatre or land a producer. Like every other theatre writer, we eventually hope to be able to present it to audiences on Broadway.

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NYMF Review: The Time Machine

By Erin Kahn

“There are no set endings,” says Thomas, the hero of David Mauk’s and Brenda Mandabach’s musical The Time Machine (directed by Justin Baldridge at The Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row). Based on the novel by H. G. Wells (who coined the term “time machine,” by the way), this NYMF production is delightfully inventive, whimsical, exciting, and touching. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but it does mean it’s a lovely adaptation of Wells’s novel – and an enjoyable experience for theatre-goers who like plays with a little sci-fi, a little steampunk, and a little romance. Broadway-alum Michael Hunsaker is brilliant as the young inventor (Thomas) who constructs the world’s first time machine but faces ridicule and danger when he tries to show it to the 1900 World’s Fair committee. Bright, brave, and refreshingly pure as a character, Hunsaker’s Thomas has an enthusiasm and child-like sense of wonder that renders him immediately endearing. Coupled with Hunsaker’s strong, forte vocals, it’s a recipe for narrative success. As Wenissa, the girl from the future who calls out to Thomas across 9,000 years, Bligh Voth is beautiful and resilient. Her purity of spirit matches that of Hunsaker’s character, …Read more

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