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DeFrantz musical picked for N.Y. festival

Thomas DeFrantz
Thomas DeFrantz
Photo / Christopher Pierce

A new musical by Thomas DeFrantz, MIT associate professor of theater arts, has been selected for the 2006 New York Musical Theatre Festival, an annual fall event that has spawned hit Off-Broadway musicals such as "Altar Boyz," "Captain Louie" and "Shout."

"The Man in My Head," a one-man rhythm-and-blues-laden tour de force starring Obie Award-winning actor Darius de Haas, was written by DeFrantz (book) with Berklee College of Music Associate Professor Michael Wartofsky (music and lyrics).

The show was one of 14 musicals invited to receive full stagings at the festival, a celebration that introduces the next generation of modern musical entertainment to producers, artists and young adult audiences.

Premiering more than 30 musicals, with more than 100 concerts and special events, 300 performances and 1,000 performers, spanning a range of genres from rock, hip-hop, and avant-garde, the New York Musical Theatre Festival bills itself as the biggest musical theater event in the United States. This year's festival will take place from Sept. 10 through Oct. 1 in sites throughout New York City.

The protagonist of "The Man in My Head," Drew Durango, wants it all: a loving relationship with a rock-steady African-American man, solid friendships with Chelsea party boys and a way to share his world with his Granny in Indianapolis. But after seven years living in New York, he still hasn't quite figured it out, careening in and out of love and entanglements with a handsome but closeted attorney, a Zen-like children's basketball coach, a sister on a mission to find a husband, a hard-partying Harlem Hospital nurse and his nephew from the Midwest.

An earlier version of the show, then called "The Downright Sexy Adventures of Drew Durango," was presented at MIT by de Haas in March 2006. (See

DeFrantz is a librettist, choreographer, director and award-winning author whose research centers on African-American performance. His books include "Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance," and "Revelations: Alvin Ailey's Embodiment of African American Culture."

Performances of "The Man in My Head" will take place Sept. 26, 28 and 30 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 29 at 4:30 p.m. in the 45th Street Theater (354 W. 45th St., New York). Tickets cost $20.

For more information on the 2006 New York Musical Theatre Festival, visit

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