australian balletIn 1999, Kris produced and directed a number of outdoor events – it was during the renovation of the Myer Music Bowl, and a series of major Melbourne events needed to be re-housed. It was quite an interesting challenge to find a way to produce these enormous events for one-night-only in a stylish but practical way.

The Ballet in the Park was a free annual event sponsored by Telstra, and included two dozen member of the Australian Ballet’s ballet corp, plus (as you can see above), inflatable light sculptures created for the night, a string ensemble that played live and a fireworks event. More than 15,000 audience members attended this event.


200px1The Festival of Voices is Tasmania’s leading winter cultural event and Australia’s premier festival celebrating the vocalist and the power of song.

Kris began at the festival in 2011, and oversaw an event which had 54% increase in ticket sales with 90% of performances playing to capacity, as well as a vast increase in attendance (both free and ticketed), marketing impressions and sponsorship, with new partners including Southern Cross TV, the Mercury, the State Cinema, ArtsHub, Limelight magazine, Star Observer and Sauce magazine.

Across dozens of events and for more than 10,000 singers and audience members, The Festival of Voices showcases a range of artistic disciplines, including choir and ensemble singing, spoken word, cabaret, debate, poetry, storytelling and hiphop.

The workshop program offers learning and performance opportunities for singers of all ages, abilities and experience and since it began the Festival has attracted some of  the world’s most loved and respected vocal teachers.  The performance program covers events both intimate (such as solo vocal events) and grand (such as the the Finale Concert at the Federation Concert Hall. We also celebrate community with the Bonfire & Big Sing, with 4,000+ attendees on our heritage waterfront at Salamanca.

festival of voices articles and media:


The Festival of Voices feature from SBS television and sTVudio

Festival of Voices 2011 TVC from Festival of Voices on Vimeo.


MADISONKris’ friend Geoff Cohen was on the board of the National Music Theater Network while Kris was working as their executive director. In addition to being the NMTN treasurer, Geoff had been Executive Producer for Radio City Entertainment for a number of years.

Mr. Cohen was producing A Christmas Carol, which was written by Lynn Ahrens and Alan Menken and directed by Susan Stroman. It has a cast of 80+, and Cohen asked Kris to come in and produce a series of performances that were in the “style” of what Stroman was doing in the show, and these performances would happen in the auditorium or the foyer or suites, etc.

Radio City Entertainment hired more than 20 performers in total, and Kris developed a range of small spontaneous acts that could happen in a number of different environment. It was a bit of silliness, and fun to put together with a whole range of “specialty performers”.


LYGONBefore he left Melbourne, Kris spent 2000 and 2001 as the Producer of the Lygon Street Festa, which is Australia’s largest street event.

Celebrating the rich diversity of Italo-Australian culture, the Festa would take place over eight city blocks, with all traffic diverted and stages at each intersection and in the garden. It is a serious party atmosphere, with over 400,000 attendees, 1500 staff and artists, eight stages, and loads of activity. An enjoyable nightmare to budget, schedule, market, program and produce.



NYMF1“The three-week culture orgy.” – Katie Charles, New York Magazine

As founder and Executive Director of the New York Musical Theatre Festival (, Kris Stewart has overseen 1197 performances of 133 new musicals that he commissioned, developed and/or produced, as well as 349 other events including a slate of readings, workshops, concerts, parties, special events, seminars and master classes. Kris oversees almost 20 venues each year running full-time, with more than 1000 artists, creators and staff working across the event.

“A Festival sets out to make musical theatre hip again … NYMF has something beyond the typical grandstanding: credibility” — David Kornhaber, the Village Voice

NYMF runs the theatrical gamut from hip hop and freestyle rap to dance musicals, from traditional musical comedies to edgy satires to epic dramas and has been the launching pad for more than a dozen commercial productions in its three-year history, generating off-Broadway and international runs for Altar Boyz, The Big Voice: God or Merman?, Captain Louie, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Gutenberg! the Musical!, Nerds:// A Musical Software Satire, Shout! The Mod Musical and [title of show].

“The New York Musical Theatre Festival has more than enough wattage to jolt audiences back up in their seats.  The next three weeks are a show lover’s buffet, crammed with Broadway stars, high-profile writers and buzz heavy new works” — Adam Feldman, Time Out New York

NYMF3Kris has commissioned the creation of a number of new musicals, including Common Grounds and Platforms (two new dance musicals), Wrong Number (a musical created through improvisation, in collaboration with the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater), the Guerilla Musicals Project (spontaneous musicals that would interrupt events across NYC), Web Site Story (a user generated musical, created through online collaboration) and Innovative Leisure (a musical on the rise and fall of Atari, in collaboration with the Ensemble Studio Theatre).

“With so much success coming from one place, producers can’t help but prick up their ears” — Gordon Cox, Variety

NYMF2The Festival has featured premieres by Pulitzer finalists and Tony Award winners alongside the work of new unknown voices, and has featured numerous international co-productions with Australian, Canadian and English companies, and collaborations with the UCBT, ASCAP, EST, the Drama Dept., Ars Nova, BMI, 92nd St Y, Museum of TV and Radio and others.

Heralded by the New York Times as “2004’s rookie of the year in NYC theater” and Time Out New York as “the Sundance for musical theatre”, the New York Musical Theatre Festival plays to more than 90% attendance, with the 2006 festival attendance increasing by more than 65% to 40,000+ attendees.

“Having a show in the New York Musical Theatre Festival is equivalent to getting an independent film into Sundance.” – Rob Kendt, Newsday

NYMF4Kris has built a loyal and young audience base (>50% aged under 40) through an innovative programming and marketing strategy, and though still a young institution, Kris has grown the organization’s income by more than 35% each year, creating a committed donor and sponsor base (including partners such as Cadillac, Virgin, Microsoft, the Village Voice, Time Out NY, Playbill and many, many others) that has guaranteed the future viability of his organization. Kris has delivered a budget surplus for the five years of his management, and has grown the budget from <$250,000, to a core operating budget of $950,000, with additional $650,000 of inkind sponsorships and $600,000 in co-production commitments.

“Musical theater’s big break.” – Joy Goodwin, the New York Sun



  • NYMF 2007 Video Coverage. Includes videos on Austentatious, Bernice Bobs Her Mullet, Gemini, the Family Fiorelli, Emma, The Last Starfighter and more.

  • Online Video – On the Scene: Sneaking a Peek at the NYMF Festival 2005.


Variety magazine

Backstage Magazine

American Theatre Magazine

The Village Voice

  • Singing in the Dark: The New York Musical Theate Festival flirts with politics, violence, and corporate greed.
  • Sonic Youths: A festival sets out to make musical theater hip again

The New York Post

LA Times

Stage Directions Magazine



TSFIn 2010, Kris began as the inaugural Artistic Director of The Sydney Fringe, NSW’s key major event for the alternative and independent arts sector.

Here, he programmed 3000 artists in 700+ performances of more than 250 shows and events in 53 inner city venues, events that were seen by over 100,000 attendees.

The first year of the Fringe included 76 theatre works, 59 music acts, 30 musicals, 25 visual arts exhibitions, 16 full length comedies, 13 digital arts pieces, 11 pieces of burlesque or circus, 8 dance productions, four children’s theatre companies, two film festivals, as well as underground artspace tours, street festivals, alternative fashion parades, masquerade balls and street theatre.

For the first time, iconic Sydney venues such as CarriageWorks, the Seymour Centre, the Enmore Theatre, the Factory and the New Theatre have been all brought together under the curatorship of a single festival.

At The Sydney Fringe, he has reopened The Hub and the Newtown School of Arts, both unused for decades, and made them centres for arts programming, and co-presented the Sydney Underground Film Festival, Lunamorph Alternative Fashion Festival, the Mobile Screenfest 2010 and ST2K Urban Art Festival.

For more on the Sydney Fringe, please check out the media section of this site.


“The next big thing in Sydney … a talented outsider with big ideas … a memorable spectacle in the Inner West to say the very least.” Harriet Alexander (The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday August 19, 2010)

“Cultural smackdown (…) offering audiences ample opportunity to see the next big thing. Their work wouldn’t be seen if it wasn’t for something like this festival.” Alex Lalak (The Daily Telegraph, September 13, 2010)

“The Sydney Fringe will fill a gap in Sydney’s cultural life (…) grown from the ground up here in Newtown, it’s a vibrant part of what makes Sydney unique.” Dennis Chaplot (TimeOut Sydney, August 2010)

“An exciting, high energy, big city fringe (…) this could be one of the largest events ever seen in Sydney.” Katelyn Catanzariti (Bigpond News, Wednesday September 8, 2010)



WATERFRONTAustralia has a vibrant outdoor culture; the greatest meeting place of Australia’s love for the arts and our love for enjoying some of the greatest weather in the world can be seen in our outdoor festivals.

Kris has conceived and produced a number of major outdoor events, including the Waterfront Festival in Geelong (which takes place on its extraordinary Waterfront precinct) and the Williamstown Festival.

Williamstown is an extraordinary oasis only a few minutes outside Melbourne, on the water and investing a great deal in the quality of life of its constituents.  The Geelong Waterfront Festival is a key cultural celebration for regional Victoria, taking place on the $30 million restoration of the Geelong Waterfront.  Kris directed both festivals and managed their production staff, programming with the whole waterfront as a stage, including outdoor concerts and stages, parades, gallery events and a number of other exciting cultural activities.

Festival of Voices 2011

The Festival of Voices increased sales by 28% across the festival, raising the bar for 2012.

Trocadero Returns to the Sydney Festival!

After a sellout season in 2011, the Trocadero Dance Palace returns to the Sydney Festival in 2012, for a two week season at Sydney Town Hall.