If you bowl over at the sound of show tunes but would prefer an edgier, more original (and cheaper!) version of a Broadway show, don’t miss the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Now in its eighth year, the festival is a unique opportunity for aspiring playwrights and composers to display their work. It’s hosted by Robert Lopez, the Tony-winning composer and lyricist behind both Avenue Q and raved-about The Book of Mormon. The subject matter and composition of these 30 shows vary wildly, but most of them are a step up in quirkiness and daring compared to the titles currently glittering up Times Square. There’s Cyclops: A Rock Opera, in which Greek mythological creatures are reincarnated as rock stars, Ennio: The Living Paper Cartoon, a performance art piece with intricate costumes made of origami, and Balls . . . the Musical? which you will just have to see for yourself.

Sept. 26-Oct. 16, 2011