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Musical Writerzine #31 - Fall 2015

Newsletter for Writers of New Musicals - Intro

Carol de Giere, author and editor of the Musical Writerzine newsletterFrom Carol de Giere

This Fall 2015 Issue of the Musical Writerzine is filled with ideas for advancing your new musicals. It's a long issue, so be sure to stop back and take it all in. First up are submissions tips and networking opportunities, such as for NYMF Next Link, the 4th Wall Theatre, and others. Then check out workshops and critique options.

You'll find plenty of valuable articles to read, including a transcript of our summer meeting about the pluses and minuses of being in a festival, tips from Steve Cuden, and more. Don't miss our Growing Stages column featuring a report by Matt Gurren about the York Theatre, including submissions information for their developmental reading series.

(Our usual columnist William Squier is also an actor. He snagged a part in the new production of Rear Window at the Hartford Stage that stars Kevin Bacon.)

To read future issues of our Musical Writerzine newsletter, if you have not already subscribed, please fill out the form on Musical Writerzine. To view back issues, see the links to the left.

Defying Gravity bookCarol de Giere is the website publisher for MusicalWriters.com and author of Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked, and The Godspell Experience.

New Musicals Submissions Tips

Here are a few ideas and tips for submitting a show for a reading or full production. For more suggestions, read the back issues (See links on the left hand menu).

4th Wall Theatre

4th Wall Theatre Update: Do you have a musical in progress that has a small cast of 3-8 people that doesn't require historic or other elaborate production values? Then your show may be ideally suited to the Musicals In Development series at the 4th Wall Theatre in Bloomfield, New Jersey. I've recently updated the submissions information for the William Squier's profile of the 4th Wall in Musical Writerzine issue #6.

NYMF 2016

The New York Musical Theatre Festival will return in 2016 with opportunties for musical writers and audiences. NYMF is like an independent film festival but for stage musicals. It combines a grassroots festival model with a professional venue and many levels of support in the heart of the world's largest theatre district. The deadline for the Next Link Project is Nov 1, with other deadlines coming up later. See NYMF.org - submit a show. Be sure to read the article "Inside NYMF and Other Festivals" included in this issue below.

Planet Connections Theatre Festivity 2016

Submissions details will be posted soon for the annual "Planet Connections Theatre Festivity" - an arts festival. One of our Musical Writerzine subscribers won a prize for her show in this fest this past summer.

The festival is held in New York City's East Village each summer and features as many as 150 peformances and readings, some of which are musicals. The deadline is likely to be in mid January. Accepted shows tend to have a green or socially consicous theme. Also the organizers encourage our artists to partner with non-profit organizations to raise awareness for their causes through the work they do. Submissions are reviewed. Check their website soon and/or follow them on social media. planetconnections.org/

NYC Musical Theatre Factory Open Mic etc

If you're in the NYC area, be sure to explore the networking opportunties and events of the Musical Theater Factory - mtf.nyc. This includes an upcoming informal open mic night for new musical theatre songs. From their events page: "Writers and performers are encouraged to showcase their new works from 8:00 pm to midnight. This is a great chance to show the Factory what you've been working on, or just to hear brand new songs from up-and-coming writers."

They also have workshopping opportunties and a new orchestrations program. November 9th is their gala New Orchestrations concert, a sampler of Broadway orchestrators.

For more about MTF, read an interview with their Founding Artist Director in the Musical Writerzine issue 28, Growing Stages column.

LA Networking & Showcase - A Little New Music

A Little New Music program is an hour of the best new or unheard musical theater songs out there. This could be a place to network or submit a piece for future consideration. The next concert is in December. alittlenewmusic.org

Workshops, Development, Networking

Critiques for New Musicals

Are you ready for some one-on-one feedback? Then visit our Critiques page. Note: To help support MusicalWriters.com and the Musical Writerzine newsletter I'm starting my own evaluation service for musical writers. Go to Critiques for new musicals to read about this offer, as well as the evaluation services of Steve Cuden, Anne Hamilton, Ken Davenport, and others.

ASCAP LA and NYC 2016

Many of you are already on the ASCAP musicals mailing list for the Musical Theatre workshops directed by Stephen Schwartz. If not, contact ASCAP.

TRU Workshops NYC

Theatre Resources Unlimited (TRU) is offering a series of 3 workshops in New York City for musical writers beginning October 25 and continuing in 2016. You can come as an audience member or submit materials to be a participant and receive comments from a panel. The website explains, "We will examine successful musicals, discuss basic dramaturgical principals and why they work, and hear presentations of submitted new works and works-in-progress. A panel of producers and writers will evaluate how successful the songs and scenes presented are in fulfilling their purpose." See TRUBeginnings-Musical1.htm for details.

NMI in Los Angeles (Programs available remotely as well)

New Musicals Inc offers several ongoing programs, including their core curriculum program. If you're not in LA you can still participate through remote connections.

Final auditions for this fall are October 24, 2015. Note that the core curriculum program will begin again in the fall of 2016, so if you want to plan ahead, read on. Submissions will be taken in July and August next year.

Here's an update from administrator Scott Guy:

You have one final chance to join this year's musical theatre writers' workshop at New Musicals Inc. The workshop technically started last month, and writers will be presenting work beginning this Saturday October 24.  But if you act right away, you might be able to audition this weekend in time to begin presenting in November; NMI says they have one slot left for bookwriters/lyricists, and two for composers, and you could audition by submitting materials and collaborating on a piece this upcoming month.  The workshop takes place in Los Angeles, but many writers (about half the workshop) participate via live streamcasting.

The workshop meets one weekend a month.  Along with discussions about the craft of writing for musical theatre, composers, lyricists and bookwriters are put together to form collaborative teams for a variety of musical assignments.  The following month, the work is presented and given highly constructive feedback from staff and peers. Then, participants are paired with a different set of collaborators and a new assignment is tackled. Concurrently, each participant completes a craft-specific lab focusing on his or her main area(s) of concentration, i.e.; composing for the musical theatre, lyric writing, or book writing.  The final collaboration is a 15 Minute Musical, which the Academy casts, directs, rehearses and produces for you.

More information and instructions about how to audition are athttp://nmi.org/study/core-curriculum/

Articles for Your Fall Reading - New Musicals Tips

Musicalwriters.com panel 2015

PHOTO: MusicalWriters.com panel "Inside NYMF and Other Festivals" from July 2015. Front row: Jessica and Jared Field; Back row: Eric Sirota, Matt Gurren, Carol de Giere, William Squier.

Musical Writers "Inside NYMF and Other Festivals" Transcript

Have you considered submitting your show to a theater festival? (See our Fesitvals page for a list of popular ones.) There are reasons to be cautious. In order to answer questions about what's worth doing and what are the hidden risks, I invited a panel of writers to speak about their festival experiences. On the final weekend of the 2015 NYMF, twenty people attended this MusicalWriters.com-sponsored event.

I'm providing an edited transcript of the discussion in two segments, Part I in the Fall 2015 issue and Part II in the Winter 2016 issue.

To read Part I, download this PDF or open it online: "Inside NYMF and Other Festivals." In Part I we hear from festival participants Matthew Gurren, the book writer and co-lyricist of What Do Critics Know? along with Jared and Jessica Fields, the writers of Rachel: A New Musical.

Staying on Track

Steve CudenSteve Cuden, author of Beating Broadway, contributes tips for successful musical writing. His latest article for our Musical Musings blog is Keep Your Story on Track. I contacted Steve about an article after seeing a new musical that I thought lost track of where it was heading. Steve writes about the protagonist's throughline.

Orchestrations Make A Difference

A recent article on Theatremania.com explored the work of four different Broadway orchestrators who discussed how orchestrations for a work can make a difference. You Can't Stop that Beat. The article includes comments from Alex Lacamoire (Hamilton, In the Heights), Lynn Shankel (Allegiance), Daryl Waters (Memphis, Shuffle Along), and Larry Hochman (The Book of Mormon, Something Rotten!).

For in-depth material on orchestrations, consider Steven Suskin's book on the topic The Sound of Broadway Music.

The Business of Broadway

The Business of BroadwayThe Business of Broadway: An Insider’s Guide to Working, Producing, and Investing in the World’'s Greatest Theatre Community

This book published in 2015 is not about being an artist. It's about the business side of Broadway show business for those who want to understand the inside structure, who does what, and other nitty gritty topics. Manager/producer Mitch Weiss and actor/writer Perri Gaffney take readers behind the scenes.

When to Do a Reading

Producer Ken Davenport recommends to people with new musicals that they do readings to test the work in progress, starting with a "Pizza Reading." Pizza and other goodies are what you reward your friends and associates with when they come to read through your script.

In a recent article from his Producer's Perspective newsletter, he comments about when not to do a more serious reading. Don't Do a Reading Unless...

Growing Stages - THE YORK THEATRE

Guest columnist Matthew Gurren gives us an inside look at the way new musicals thrive at Manhattan's York Theatre. He provides submissions information for the York's developmental reading series.

Matt Gurren, musical writerTHE YORK THEATRE: WHERE MUSICALS COME TO LIFE
By Matthew Gurren

You've just written a new musical. You've spent months - if not years - working on an intriguing story with lovable characters, a tuneful and well-integrated score and now you ask yourself: "How on earth do I put this on?" The number one challenge for all musical theater writers today is getting the work that's on the page onto a stage. The York Theatre Company may be able to help!

The York Theatre is an award-winning, Off-Broadway theater that has produced new musicals for the past 40 years. In addition to producing full-scale musicals, revivals and workshops, the York presents over 30 staged readings of new musicals in its Developmental Reading Series each year. York Theatre websiteThese readings are rehearsed and semi-staged in the York's 189-seat theater in the heart of Manhattan before a live audience.

I have worked at the York Theatre for three years as their Resident Videographer and Marketing Assistant. I have also been a script reader, involved in a number of York productions, and have presented one of my own musicals, What Do Critics Know?, in the York's Developmental Reading Series in 2014.

A developmental reading is one of the most crucial steps for writers to see how their musical plays before an audience, and a great way to find producers and agents. Let's face it, theater is meant to be seen not read and musicals have to be heard. However, due to the escalating cost and risk of mounting new musicals, few original scripts ever see the light of day. The only way to have your work discovered by producers, literary managers, and theater owners is to have professional presentations and showcases of that work.

While many regional and Off-Broadway theaters only accept agent submissions, many new and emerging writers lack professional representation. The York, on the other hand, has an open submissions policy for their Developmental Reading Series; coinciding with York's mission to promote and cultivate the next generation of musical theater and to be a birthplace for new, literate musicals. The Reading Series also serves as an incubator for shows to be considered for York's Mainstage Series, taking new musicals through the complete development process to full production.

The theater and its respective productions have received a combined total of over 31 nominations of Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, and Callaway Awards. The theater has also received a special Drama Desk Award for its "vital contributions to musical theater for developing and producing new musicals."

Some shows presented as part of York's Reading Series include Avenue Q, Summer of '42, Harold and Maude, Souvenir, and The Musical of Musicals, the Musical! All of these shows have since gone on to enjoy successful full productions on or off Broadway.

HOW TO APPLY:

To submit your musical visit yorktheatre.org - submissions for the full list of guidelines. You will need to send either a hard or electronic copy of a full script to the York Theatre's literary coordinator, Seth Christenfeld, along with a demo CD and brief letter of introduction. The show will then be reviewed and evaluated by two qualified readers to be judged on score, book and overall premise.

The demo CD or Dropbox folder should include MP3 tracks of at least 60% of recorded music from your show. The quality of the demo can vary but should at least have a person singing to a piano or instrumental accompaniment. The recording device on an iPhone should be sufficient. Renting a recording studio for a more professional sounding demo can certainly help. The better your demo, the better chance your show has of wowing our readers and being selected. In this field, a little extra work definitely goes a long way.

The York is interested in musicals of all genres, styles and sizes (although it is recommended that the cast have fewer than 18 actors due to the size of the theater). The York will only consider shows with original scores and does not accept straight plays or jukebox musicals except under special circumstances.

Submissions are accepted year-round, but due to the number of scripts the York receives each year, the review process can take anywhere from 6-12 months. If after that time you still have not heard back, you can always send a friendly follow-up email. While each submission will get a reply, the York is unable to return your materials.

If the show seems like a good fit for our theater, you will be invited to participate in the Developmental Reading Series. You will then meet with York's literary and company manager to schedule a timeslot for your reading. While the York provides the theater space free of charge, it is still your responsibility to hire and pay for actors, the director, musical director, stage manager, script printing costs and a rehearsal space. Fortunately, the York has a special contract with AEA that allows for union actors and directors to be hired at a low cost (NOTE: The actors and creative team do not have to be equity). Given the York's vast network of resources, they may be able to help recommend actors and directors who are well suited for your piece.

The type of reading you present is determined by the number of hours your show has to rehearse. You can opt for either a 29 or 39-hour reading. Your budget will vary depending on the size of your cast, band and the number of hours you choose to rehearse. Most 29-hour readings cost approximately $2,000-$4000.00 (significantly smaller than the budgets required for most theater rentals, festivals, workshops and full productions). Equity readings are also required to have minimal staging and actors must carry the script in hand. It is important to remember that the staged reading is not a production but instead a presentation to show off the quality and craft of your musical.

Once your show is scheduled for a reading, you should try contacting and bringing anyone who might be connected to theaters, including agents, potential producers and backers. While this is not a "backers audition," the York is a reputable and prestigious Off-Broadway theater and many producers and agents can be lured there if they are available and interested in your piece. The most important thing is for the work to be seen. It is also invaluable for you as the author to see your work performed before an audience to glean insight on areas for improvement and further development. Post-performance discussions and talkbacks are also occasionally held and these can be informative. At least one York staff member will also be in attendance of your reading since the theater is always on the lookout for new shows.

So once you've finished honing that script and tweaking that last song, it is time for you to submit to the York Theatre Company's Reading Series.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES OF NEW MUSICALS:

Submissions can be sent electronically to submissions@yorktheatre.org

Or a hard copy can be sent to:

York Theatre Company
DEVELOPMENTAL READING SERIES
The Theatre at Saint Peter's
619 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10022

For more information about the York visit www.yorktheatre.org. If you have further questions, please email our Reading Series Coordinator, Seth Christenfeld at schristenfeld@yorktheatre.org.

For another article on The York see James Morgan interview about the York by Donald Sanborn III

Enjoy one of Matt's videos about the York:

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