Local Playwright Wins New York Musical Theatre Festival Special Award

Noemi de la Puente

Local playwright Noemi de la Puente and composer David Davila have won the 2015 New York Musical Theatre Festival special award for social relevance and impact for “Manuel vs. The Statue of Liberty“, a musical comedy about illegal immigration.

The musical was also one of five shows nominated for best musical. The show played to sold out audiences.

“It was an exhilarating, challenging experience to write and produce this musical at the New York Musical Theatre Festival,” de la Puente said. “Being in this festival was a huge honor, and I am really proud of the work David and I did on the show.”

De la Puente, who earned her bachelor’s degree from the California Institute of Technology and her master’s degree in engineering from Princeton University in 1986, gave up engineering in 1992 to become an actor and writer.

“Manuel vs. the Statue of Liberty” is based on the life story of Dan-el Padilla Peralta, a 2006 graduate of Princeton University who was selected as salutatorian and won a scholarship to study classics at Oxford University. An undocumented immigrant from the Dominican Republic who once was homeless, his story gained widespread national media attention.

The musical based on his life won a developmental reading award from the New York Musical Theatre Festival last in 2014. The festival is the largest musical theatre event in the United States, and provides an affordable platform for artists to mount professional productions that reach their peers, industry leaders, and musical theatre fans. More than 90 Festival shows have gone on to productions on and off Broadway, and in regional theaters.

De la Puente and Davila will now begin sifting through the lessons learned during the production process and revise the script.

“We’re really grateful for the great reviews, and the support, but we’re not resting on our laurels, ”de la Puente said.

She and Davila are hopeful that with luck, the new and improved version will have a long life off Broadway or in regional theatre.