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Musical Writerzine #39 - Fall 2017

Newsletter for Writers of New Musicals - Intro

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

Let your fall season be about making connections. The business of making musicals is a collaborative one, so associating with talented individuals and theater companies may help you move forward with your theatrical art. In this issue you'll find some suggestions here for workshops, meetings, and conferences to attend where you can bring your business card.

In the "Growing Stages" column below, William Squier profiles a theatre that welcomes submissions: the 11th Hour Theatre Company of Philadelphia. You'll also find other submissions opportunities for new musicals in this issue.

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.

Carol 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.

Making Connections

The Producer's Perspective Super Conference, November 11th & 12th - NYC

From Ken Davenport's office: Theatre is a multi-faceted industry built on collaboration, creativity and commitment. If you write and self-produce for the theatre, it's essential to know how each facet of our business works together to put on a production. At The Producer's Perspective Super Conference, a 2-Day event held in new York City, we'll be gathering dozens of heavy-hitters in the Broadway community to discuss a range of topics from what non-profits look for in scripts, to how to get your show licensed. Learn from the best in the business including Lynn Ahrens, Steve Cuden, Glenn Slater and more. Super Conference for musical writers and producers

Theatre Resources Unlimited - NYC Fall 2018

TRU will sponsor several upcoming events, include their "Writer-Producer Speed Date" and a panel discuss. The panel is "Women Producers: What They Uniquely Bring to the Table" and is presented in association with Women in the Arts & Media Coalition (WAMC). Speakers will include at least four women producers for Broadway and other venues. The helpful "TRU Beginnings" workshop series will continue on November 19th, with another expert panel commenting on short segments of new musicals that writers submit. See truonline.org

Dramatist Guild - NYC and Regional

Plan ahead! The next Dramatists Guild National Conference (held every two years) will be in New York City July 26-29, 2018. It's a perfect time to come to the Broadway theatre district to learn, network, and savor shows. The conferences include valuable workshops from leaders in the field as well as networking opportunities. Dramatists Guild members can also take part in regional programs in their locations. Check the national website for a regional leader near you. If haven't enjoyed the 1 ½ minute video on the "Why Should I Join?" page, you might want to. It includes comments from Stephen Sondheim, Adam Guettel, and several others.

Several opportunities are also associated with the Guild, such as the Dramatists Guild Fund that supports various efforts, and Dramatists Guild Fellows (Fellows) for which applications will be open in the winter 2018.

Thanks to the support of composer Carol Hall (Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) and The Grisham Foundation, " The Music Hall" provides free space for writers to create and present their work in the Manhattan theatre district area. Info is at the end of the page at Dramatists Guild Fund. After the first two years, writers created a thank you video that shows off the space and how using it has helped them. Youtube - DGF Music Hall

The Off-Broadway Alliance - NYC

The Off-Broadway Alliance sometimes holds workshops on how to get a musical produced and topics like that, and they hold regular meetings. You can join their mailing list by visiting their website. Off-Broadway Alliance The Alliance "is an organization of Off-Broadway producers, general managers, venue owners, press agents and marketing personnel dedicated to promoting and supporting Off-Broadway theater, encouraging and assisting new producers, and making live theater increasingly accessible to new and diverse audiences."

"THEatre ACCELERATOR" - Online and Florida

Writers whose works are accepted to the "THEatre ACCELERATOR" will have the benefit of focused attention by experts from various aspect of the musical making field, like producers, marketing, and technology specialists. They will examine the prospects of your show and make recommendations. From their website: "Any writer or writing team with a completed draft of a full-length musical (including book, music, and lyrics where applicable) is eligible to apply for THEatre ACCELERATOR. Writers must have originated, and/or control, the underlying rights to their project and no attachments (such as a commercial producer or director) may exist. Projects may have been produced previously, but preference will be given to completely new works." For information visit THEatre ACCELERATOR and also see the interview with founders Tim and Pamela Kashani of Apples and Oranges Studios, conducted by NMI's Elise Dewsberry: YouTube interview - Kashani

NMI - Los Angeles

Speaking of NMI and accelerating, Los Angeles area writers have a great resource in NMI and the associated cabaret A Little New Music. Be sure to check their website for "incubator" development support, research resources, events, and more. NMI.org. The next concert of "A Little New Music" will be in the late fall. Sign up for updates A Little New Music.

Finding Consultants

Making a connection with someone who critiques new musicals can be helpful to a show's development. Please visit our newly updated consultant page (and note that our columnist William Squier, as well as our blog contributor Steve Cuden, are among those available). Critiques - Feedback page here at MusicalWriters.com. The first three listed there offer a range of support, from evaluating your initial story "treatment" to helping you prepare for readings. Others are "story doctors," and others are experienced writers who evaluate music as well as book and lyrics.


I haven't started a Facebook group or page for the Musical Writerzine yet. Many subscribers are already connected on the Facebook Show Off Your New Musical group.

Submissions Opportunities for New Musicals and Writers

Richard Rodgers Award

The Richard Rodgers Awards subsidize full productions, studio productions, and staged readings by nonprofit theaters in New York City of works by composers and writers who are not already established in this field. Deadline is November 1 for this award. Richard Rodgers award.


The submissions window for NYC's only festival devoted to full-length works by female writers is October 1 to November 1. They charge a fee to cover many of the festival's expenses. You'll find some details on their FAQ page SHENYC. SHENYC.

NAMT Festival - NYC

Submissions will open in the late fall for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Festival for 2018, so check in November at NAMT and see the two articles on our blog if you missed it from the Summer issue.
1) About submissions and benefits of NAMT
2) About attending a NAMT festival. This year it will be October 19 and 20.

NYMF Next Link - NYC

Submissions are being accepted for NYMF (New York Musical Festival) through November 1st NYMF - Next Link. It's usually possible to submit for concerts later, but this is the main submissions time for full productions and developmental readings at one of the world's most prestigious all-musical festivals.

Sound Bites 5.0 for 2018 - NYC

Submissions are open September 1 2017 through February 1st, 2018 for the next festival of 10-minute musicals (or 10-minute excerpts). The tentative performance date is Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, 2018. The one-night event usually sells out and is a great place to either discover talent for future reference or to show off your own. See links at the top of the page at Soundbites.tnny for guidelines, timeline, and submission details.

Summer 2018 Residency at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center - Connecticut

The submissions window for new musicals for the 2018 National Music Theater Conference is October 23 - November 10, 2017. Those few accepted to this annual program receive time in residence with artistic and administrative support from a staff of directors, musicians, and Equity performers. A script-in-hand public reading is usually presented and rewrite time allowed. "Each work also receives a dream orchestration of one selected song, which is designed by a leading professional in the field and presented at the end of the artists' residency." The O'Neill - Summer 2018

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park - Ohio

The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park has a history of staging new works. They accept submissions for full-length plays, musicals and adaptations in any genre, although full scripts are not reviewed for non-agented submissions. Writers who are not represented by an agent may send a letter of inquiry, playwright bio, character breakdown, brief synopsis, and 10 consecutive pages of sample dialogue. Script Submissions - Cincinnati

New Musicals with College Students (Updated 10/9/17)

According to some university theater departments, it can be mutually beneficial for their students and the writers of new musicals to work together. Check out this blog post about two annual programs that take fall submissions of new musicals.

Musical Musings blog post: New Musicals Go to College

Other Submission Ideas

See Growing Stages below! And if you're new to the Musical Writerzine, be sure to check the back issues as well (see links on the left) and our Theaters page more theaters.

The Dramatists Guild Resource Directory for 2017 includes submissions ideas. If you're in NYC, you can pick up the printed version at the Drama Book Shop. It's also listed on the Samuel French site. For an online view, see Dramatists Guild Resource Directory

"Growing Stages" by William Squier

Bill Squier

LEADING THE CHARGE! 11th Hour Theatre Company


Michael Philip O'Brien, his younger sister, Megan Nicole O'Brien, and his college friend, Steve Pacek, all grew up in towns north of Philadelphia. But, little did they suspect that the lives they envisioned for themselves in the theater would play out in The City of Brotherly Love. Yet, after training for stage careers and beginning to work professionally, they returned to Philadelphia to start the 11th Hour Theatre Company – a producing entity that, at the time of its founding in 2003, was the municipality's only theater solely dedicated to the presentation of musicals. 14 years later, their theater's focus remains much the same and includes a commitment to the development of new works. "Philly is a town where, every season, there are multiple world premieres of plays, but very, very few premieres of musicals," says Producing Artistic Director, Michael O'Brien. "So, we feel like we're in a unique position to lead that charge."

The O'Briens are from the blue-collar town of Horsham, PA. Michael O'Brien was introduced to the performing arts at the age of 5 when his mother enrolled him in a dance class to dissuade him from getting involved in martial arts. "It was not my favorite thing," O'Brien jokes. "But, then I really started to enjoy it." At age 10, his grandfather treated him to voice lessons and, before long, he was auditioning for his first show: a dinner theater production of The Music Man. "It was a very bad experience," he remembers. "I forgot all of my lyrics. So, I started to cry." Nevertheless, he was cast and eventually took over the role of Winthrop. "From then on, I never looked back," O'Brien says.

O'Brien began his professional training in the musical theater program at Ithaca College, where he met Steve Pacek, before transferring to NYU's Tisch School of the Arts to complete his studies. Megan O'Brien followed suit with a degree from Philadelphia's University of the Arts where she studied directing. Pacek completed his degree at I.C. and joined O'Brien in New York where the two young actors began to pound the pavement. "Steve and I kept getting work back in Philadelphia," O'Brien recalls. "We happened to be home for the summer of 2003. I had just produced a concert version of The Who's Tommy at a little Off-Broadway theater in New York. It was a one-weekend event that sold out, but was so expensive that we lost money."

Undaunted O'Brien and Pacek decided to take another stab at self-production. So, they got together with Megan O'Brien in the town of Lansdale, PA, where Pacek had been raised, and put together a cabaret that they performed at the Montgomery Theater in nearby Souderton. "It was the opposite of New York," O'Brien says. "We made money! And that was the beginning of 11th Hour – the idea that we could actually create our own work." We recently chatted with Michael O'Brien to learn about what happened next.

Musical Writerzine: I understand that 11th Hour's emphasis has been on performing new or lesser-known musicals, from 2005, when you presented Jonathan Larsen's tick, tick…BOOM! and an original ten-minute musical titled Angst, to today. Was that decision economic or artistic or a little of both?

Michael O'Brien: "A little of both. From the beginning, we've all believed that an intimate musical theater experience was very different from the spectacle driven shows that people are used to. You can challenge your audience if you're up close and personal in ways that you can't if you're thirty rows back in the balcony. So, we needed to perform small venues to get that intimacy, where the acting is the most important part of telling the story. That allows us to showcase the kind of musical theater that we want to with subtly and realism. And it makes a lot of economic sense."

MW: You've mounted readings of a lot of new musicals – like Austentatious, Rooms: A Rock Romance, Dani Girl, Factory Girls -- and fully produced shows like Field Hockey Hot, Lizzie and, this past May, Big Red Sun. Were these properties that were pitched to you or did you go out and find them?

O'BRIEN: "At first, it was about us looking for them. Nobody knew who we were. So, we were connected to new shows through friends, etc… But, in the last five or six years, we've gotten a reputation regionally and in New York. So, now we get a lot of pitches -- between ten and fifteen shows a year. But, the type of work we do is do is very specific and we only produce one full-scale show per season. So, the majority of the work that we've done has been Philadelphia premieres – regional, if not national or world premieres. That's something that we're all extremely passionate about."

MW: At this point 11th Hour doesn't have a permanent home. Where are your performances held?

O'BRIEN: "We rent space throughout the city. This season, all of our Next Step Concert Series is at the new Drake Theater (Interact Theatre) run by the Interact Theatre Company. They have two performing spaces in the old Drake Hotel. All three concerts will be there. The main stage show will be at Christ Church Neighborhood House (neighborhood-house.com), which is right next to the Arden Theatre Company. We love that space because it's a black box. So, we can reconfigure the audience. And our Spotlight Series is in a cabaret setting at World Café Live (worldcafelive.com).

11th Hour readingMW: Let's talk about the Next Step Concert Series. It consists of of Equity Approved 29-hour readings, with 20 hours of rehearsal and 3 performances?

PHOTO: New musical reading of Lizzie at the Next Step Concert Series with Rachel Brennan, Cara Noel Antosca, Alex Keiper and Meredith Beck

O'BRIEN: "Exactly. A lot of writers are looking for their first production. And, a lot of the time, we're not able to commit to that unless we've been involved in the development process. Therefore, we introduce our audience to a new work either in concert form or invited readings. And those are the kinds of shows that we're able to see all the way to the end. In the Next Step Concert Series, all the actors work from scripts on music stands. But, what we do to make it more theatrical is to have a lighting design and a full band. That enhances the piece, so that it's not like other staged readings. Most of the time we try to avoid reading staged directions. We started with Equity contracts right off the bat, because we always wanted to be able to cast the best people. So, our shows have always been a hybrid of Equity and non-equity."

MW: Are you open to submissions for the Next Step Concert Series?

O'BRIEN: "Absolutely! We're trying to make a name for ourselves and build an audience for new works. The concert series has been a great way for us to encourage them to see shows that are unfamiliar. They're a theater savvy audience. But, you're out of the spotlight of New York City. Two of the four Next Step concerts that we've done in the last two years were new works. And this season our main stage show is a World Premiere of Big Red Sun."

MW: Are there things that writers should consider before submitting – such cast size or subject matter?

O'BRIEN: "For the concerts casts can range up to 10 or 12 people. However, the largest show that we've fully produced was 10. And we try to keep it 6 to 8 at the most. As for subject matter or style, if it's not right for us and we feel it's a piece that's unique we'll try to pass it along. There was a musical that came our way through a friend. It wasn't an 11th Hour show. So, I reached out to people I know at the Walnut Theater and sent it around to them. We have a lot of connections. The musicals that set themselves apart are the ones that have a unique perspective, even if the script and the score need a lot of work. So, the question that we always ask writers is: what makes your show unique? You need to figure out what makes your voice different from the thirty other shows out there that are similar."

If you wish your work to be considered for the Next Step Concert Series, 11th Hour prefers that submissions be sent electronically to info@11thhourtheatrecompany.org. At minimum, you should include a synopsis, a short sample of the libretto, samples of the piano / vocal score and demo recordings of songs from the score. However, you are welcome to include additional materials, such as the full libretto, bios and a development history. "Whatever they want to submit, we will happily accept," O'Brien says. The turnaround time for a response to your submission is typically between three and six months. "If you don't hear back from us right away, do not be discouraged," O'Brien adds. "We will let you know either way."

11th Hour production

PHOTO: New musical production: Avenue X with Kevin Duffin, Craig Patrick O'Brien, Carl Clemons Hopkins, Forrest McClendon, Lee Edward Colston II and Michael Philip O'Brien

Passing the Hat

Passing the Hat message: Many thanks to the person who responded to my first "pass the hat" message. My volunteer effort on these newsletters takes a lot of time and there are some expenses. If anyone wants to support the work with small contributions, please send them by mail: Scene 1 Arts, LLC, PO Box 909, Bethel, CT 06801-0909; or by Paypal, send money: carolmusical@gmail.com


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