www.musicalwriters.com• For songwriters, bookwriters, theatre/film buffs

Musical Writerzine #20 - Summer 2012

Newsletter for Writers of New Musicals - intro

Carol de GiereFrom Carol de Giere

There's always something to learn when you're working on a new musical, and this issue of the Musical Writerzine will give you plenty of reading material to support your advancement.

First, you'll find links to articles and publications. Then, in his Growing Stages column below, William Squier profiles Amas Musical Theatre, a New York City company that supports the development of new musicals, especially those with ethnic themes.

I've also newly posted William Squier's new article on sheet music. In "DIY Music Publishing: NewMusicalTheatre.com" writer Kait Kerrigan discusses an innovative new music publishing company.

For future issues, if you are not already subscribed, please fill out the form on Musical Writerzine. To view back issues, see the links to the left.

[Carol de Giere is the website publisher for MusicalWriters.com and author of Defying Gravity, a career biography of Stephen Schwartz filled with musical development stories. William Squier has written numerous musicals and articles for a wide variety of publications.]

Musical Theatre Announcements and News

New Musicals Submissions Alert

Pace University's musical theatre program is looking for completed scores and scripts of new musicals to review for their full staged reading at their New York City campus to be held in January of 2013.  The advantage for you is that Pace New Musicals provides a theatre, performers, a stage manager, a light board and light operator, and, if needed, a director and music director -- all at no cost to you.

Please go to our MusicalWriters.com - Academic productions page for full details.

New Book

Loverly: behind-the-scenes book on My Fair LadyLoverly: The Life and Times of My Fair Lady, from Oxford University Press, July 9, 2012.

Enjoy insights from the making of a classic. This latest book about the making of My Fair Lady is not based on Lerner's 1978 memoir. Dominic McHugh presents a different behind-the-scenes look at the five-year creation of the show, including the struggles. The author used newly-uncovered manuscripts that show early versions of songs, as well as cut and unused numbers, as well as more than 500 previously-unpublished letters to chart the show's genesis.

BUY Loverly: The Life and Times of My Fair Lady (Broadway Legacies) (link opens new browser window)

or for further study of this musical, see our My Fair Lady page.

Kennedy Center New Musicals and Plays Festival - from Page to Stage

Musical writers and ethusiasts who live near Washington, D.C. may want to consider attending a free festival featuring readings and open rehearsals of new plays and musicals. It's an annual event with this year's sessions being held at the Kennedy Center from September 1st through 3rd, 2012.

What you'll see is works-in-progress sponsored by D.C. area theatres. That means to submit a new work for future years, you'd need to be working with an area theatre, such as Metro Stage that we profiled in a previous Growing Stages column. See the Metro Stage article in Musical Writerzine newsletter issue 14

Metro Stage's Producing Artistic Director Carolyn Griffin says about the Kennedy Center event, "It is a great opportunity to get a new work on its feet—at least on its feet behind music stands." This year's reading for Metro Stage will be Ladies Swing the Blues--a musical they will later be premiering in a full production Jan. 24-Mar. 17, 2013.

Visit www.kennedy-center.org/ (link opens a new browser window)

For a more complete schedule go to DC.Broadwayworld.com - See two pages of details (link opens a new browser window)

Marvin Hamlisch memoirMarvin Hamlisch: What he did for love

The world of musicals lost a great contributor this summer with the passing of Marvin Hamlisch of A Chorus Line fame. Here are a few comments from some of my favorite tributes:

An LA Times article quotes several colleagues about his jovial spirit. "Kay Cole, who was in the original cast of 'A Chorus Line,' said in an interview that Hamlisch 'could make the toughest environments enjoyable. He always had a joke and he could see the bright side of life.' She recalled that when she rehearsed the song 'At the Ballet' from 'A Chorus Line,' Hamlisch kept asking her to sing her part higher and higher. 'I enjoyed hitting those high notes.'" LA Times on Hamlisch (link opens a new browser window)

Skip following links to other sites and resources to main site navigation

David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle comments, "... Mr. Hamlisch often wrote with great heart and emotion, but the music for "Chorus Line" memorably shows how much more there was to Mr. Hamlisch's music than what we heard on the surface on a first listen: He didn't write songs of hope, love and longing - he wrote human songs, songs about life, not just Broadway or Hollywood's version of life." Read the full article here SF Chronicle - on Hamlisch (link opens a new browser window)

FOR FURTHER READING AND STUDY: Learn from the making of A Chorus Line by reading our A Chorus Line page and any of the books listed there, or by studying the libretto (see link to the libretto provided there).

Results from ANMT's "The Biz of the Musical Theatre Biz" conference

In the last issue we announced annual "The Biz of the Musical Theatre Biz" held in Los Angeles in July. For this issue, we are following up on the successful event, and give you reason to consider attending some future year.

The conference is one of the few that focuses on the business end of developing new musicals. Sessions have names like "Meet the Writers," "Meet the Lawyers," "Meet the Artistic Directors," and "Meet the Producers."

Business of Musical Theatre conference ANMT "Meet the Producers" panel

PHOTO: Meet the Producers panel: Schoen Smith of Venture Hill Entertainment, Gregg Maday of Warner Entertainment, Michael Jung of Disney Imagineering, Brian McDonald of the Rubicon Theatre, Oanh Nguyen of the Chance Theatre Anaheim and Scott Guy of ANMT

You might gleen some ideas from reading the summary articles published after the conference:

Davenport Theatrical events for Musical Writers

FINDING COLLABORATORS: Davenport Theatrical Enterprises is hosting another free Collaborator 'Speed Date' designed to match up musical theatre writers. This event is ideal if you're a musician needing a bookwriter, or a bookwriter or lyricist needing a composer. DATE: Thursday September 6th, 6:30-8:30 pm at the Davenport Studios, 250 West 49th Street, NYC Studio A, Suite 304

They ask you to note in your application what your status and interest, e.g., if you want to meet Bookwriters, RSVP as a Composer/Lyricist. You are encouraged to bring business cards and/or materials about your work. Spots are limited.  http://backtoschoolspeeddate.eventbrite.com/ (link opens a new browser window)

PRODUCTIONS AND MARKETING: The next "Get Your Show Off the Ground seminar is in November 18th, 2012, in Manhattan. These regularly held seminars are conducted by one of the most innovative off-Broadway and Broadway producers around, Ken Davenport. See details at www.davenporttheatrical.com/get-your-show-off-the-ground.html (link opens a new browser window)

Script Evaluation at Main Street Musicals

William Squier profiled Tim Jerome's "Main Street Musicals" in the previous issue (musicalwriters.com/news/writerzine19.htm), and their evaluation program is now open for business. Each submission is read by two Evaluators who each complete a written Evaluation Report. Evaluators also grade the works, and later, they are ranked. From the six top-ranked shows, Mainstreet's Guest Artistic Director will select three winners who will receive a staged reading of their show. Mainstreet Evaluations

Sheet music company founders"DIY Music Publishing: NewMusicalTheatre.com"

We've started a new page on Musicalwriters.com about sheet music. Please stop by our Sheet Music Page to see William Squier's new article about do-it-yourself sheet music publishing by way of NewMusicalTheatre.com, founded by Brian Lowdermilk and Kait Kerrigan

"Growing Stages" by William Squier


Donna Trinkoff of Amas Musical Theatre for Musical Writerzine issue 20"Our audiences love being part of the process," says Donna Trinkoff, Artistic Director of the Amas Musical Theatre. "It's so special to be in a room where people are discovering things. The talent is so amazing. And they're right there! And it doesn't cost a lot of money." It's a formula for developing new works of musical theater that has served Amas well for the last 18 years!

Amas Musical Theatre describes itself as a non-profit theatrical organization grounded in non-traditional, mulit-ethnic production, education and casting. The company is located in New York City where it mounts an ongoing schedule of readings, workshops and productions of new musicals in various rehearsal and performance spaces around Manhattan. "We don't do mainstage musicals as frequently as we once did because of the cost," Trinkoff reports, "We have to partner with other organizations or entities to produce them." So, these days Amas focuses much of its effort on readings and workshops.

The theater was founded as the Amas (which translates from Latin as "you love") Repertory Theatre in 1968 by Rosetta LeNoire, an actress, producer and casting agent best known outside of New York for her regular appearances on the tv sitcoms Family Matters, Amen and Gimme a Break! LeNoire started the company to support the development and production of theater works that centered on non-traditional subject matter and featured interracial casting.

It evolved into the Amas Musical Theatre beginning in 1994 when Donna Trinkoff joined the organization to administrate a youth program. She approached the chairman of the board, Eric Krebs (the director/producer of such shows as King of the Schnorrers, It's Aint Nothin' But the Blues and The Big Bang), to express her interest in revitalizing the musical theater program. It was an interest that Krebs shared. "So we built it back up," says Trinkoff.

The focus of the organization today is on supporting the development of new musicals that embrace ethnic themes, with a special emphasis on those stories that center on underserved members of society or those that are outsiders. And Amas still favors shows that allow for multi-ethnic casting.

Among the many musicals that have come out of Amas are the Broadway productions of Bubbling Brown Sugar, It's So Nice To Be Civilized and Paul Robeson – a one-man play with music that starred Avery Brooks. Trinkoff has overseen Off-Broadway productions of Signs of Life: A Tale of Terezin, Wanda's World, Shout! The Mod Musical, Lone Star Love, Little Ham and Zanna, Don't!

Amas Musical Theatre new musical Signs of Life

Photo: A scene from Signs of Life: A Tale of Terezin

Trinkoff points Zanna, Don't! (Book, Music, and Lyrics by Tim Acito, Additional Book and Lyrics by Alexander DInelaris) as an example of a commercially successful musical that also fit the theater's mission. "It was a terrific show about a world where everybody was gay," she says. "It made it you question your assumptions about what was normal."

Development Opportunties

The greatest number of opportunities for musical theater writers, however, lies in the organization's reading series and workshops. The Six O'Clock Musical Theatre Lab Series is an ongoing program that stages readings of new work, often for the first time. "That was the first thing that I initiated with Eric Krebs," says Trinkoff. "It's an opportunity to get a show in front of an audience, right out of the box." Each musical receives 29 hours of rehearsal and 3 to 4 public performances. (They also do occasional "under the radar" table readings that aren't open to the public.)

Amas Musical Theatre new show Storyville

Photo: The Countess of Storyville at the Six O'Clock Musical Theatre Lab

The next level of development at Amas is the company's Workshop Program. Workshops rehearse for up to 3 weeks.They are cast using a Letter of Agreement contract with Actor's Equity that was specifically developed for the company, and then the show is presented for a short run with minimal production values. "We always sell those out," Trinkoff reports. "because we only do the show a couple of times, so we don't have to worry about the pressure of getting the butts into the seats!"

Since Amas has no theater to call home, the Six O'Clock Musical Theatre Lab, Workshop Program, and Mainstage Productions take place in a variety of locations depending upon what's available when a new musical is ready for public exposure. "We've done readings at the Players (www.theplayerstheatre.com), at Pearl (www.pearlstudiosnyc.com) and Ripley Grier (www.ripleygrier.com)," Trinkoff reports. "It would be wonderful to have our own space – it's always been the dream – but we're gypsies."

Workshop performances are sometimes staged in a theater and sometimes not. "There's always the worry when you're developing a show that, if you're in a theater that people will say, this is it?" Trinkoff explains. "So, we recently did a really wonderful workshop of the new musical, Marry Harry (book by Jennifer Robbins, music by Dan Martin, lyrics by Michael Biello), at the Foxwood Rehearsal Studios (www.foxwoodstheatre.com) with a minimal set and props."

Mainstage productions are housed in an Off-Broadway theater where the show can run for four to six weeks and be reviewed. "The last mainstage show we did was Signs of Life two years ago," Trinkoff recalls. "It was at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater (a 130 seat venue at the Westside YMCA)." When this interview was conducted Trinkoff was about to open Triassic Parq, (book & lyrics by Bryce Norbitz, Marshall Pailet & Steve Wargo, music by M. Pailetat) at the 200 seat Soho Playhouse (www.sohoplayhouse.com).

Submitting New Musicals

Musical theater writers interested in submitting a new work for consideration by the Amas Musical Theatre can do so by mailing their materials directly to the organization's New York address. "We like to have a full script, even if it's a work-in-progress," Trinkoff says. "And as much music as possible on a demo cd. A piano/vocal sample isn't a bad idea." She warns that the turn-around time for a response is approximately 6 months.

"Rosetta's original mission was to develop shows that incorporated multi-ethnic casts," Trinkoff points out. "That's evolved over the years." She points to Triassic Parq as an example of a musical that's a good fit with the company's current needs. "It's about a tribe of female dinosaurs and all about gender identity," she says.

It's also helpful if you're located in the tri-state area within commuting distance of New York. "The Lab isn't heavily funded, so we can't fly people in and house them." Trinkoff notes. "The writers should be thinking about manageable cast sizes, in the range of 8 to 12 actors."

Perhaps the most important thing to consider is whether or not you can enter into the Amas development process with reasonable expectations. "People come and they have great dreams," Trinkoff says. "Dreams are good. But, it's not our responsibility to get them produced. Our responsibility is to help the show find its voice and become the best that it can be. You have to be willing to take the steps--to be open and ready to change."



In case you missed it, William Squier also wrote an aritcle for this issue that is posted our Sheet Music Page. "DIY Music Publishing: NewMusicalTheatre.com"


Subscribe to Musical Writerzine if you haven't already.

Sign up for Musical Writerzine, a quarterly ezine/newsletter from musicalwriters.com. We'll keep you informed of relevant events, production opportunities, new publications, and updates on our site. If you're wondering how to write a musical and get it mounted on stage, you're on a website that can help.

To subscribe please visit our News page and fill out the subscription form. You may unsubscribe at any time.

To send suggestions, comments, or questions write to carol@musicalschwartz.com

Loverly - The Life and Times of My Fair Lady

On the Line - About A Chorus Line


Go behind the scenes for Wicked, Pippin, and more.



Navigation (pages in this section followed by main site navigation)

News / E-Zine Section

Site Information

  1. Site map
  2. About this site
  3. Privacy
  4. Copyright
  5. Contact