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

Musical Writerzine #4

Summer 2007

Carol de GiereCarol de Giere, Editor.

This summer 2007 issue includes summer workshop announcements, William Squier's feature on The Human Race theatre, and more. If you have not yet subscribed, please send an email to carol@musicalschwartz.com with WRITERZINE in the subject heading. That way you can be informed about future issues.

[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.]

On this page:

Workshop News

The Johnny Mercer Foundation
in association with
The American Music Theatre Project
at Northwestern University
Presents The Power of the American Popular Song
August 12- 18 2007

Following the success of last year's program, the Johnny Mercer "Power of the American Popular Song" returns to Northwestern for its second exciting year!

This weeklong program will feature some of America's most prominent songwriters and singers working in the tradition of the legendary Johnny Mercer. These guest artists will serve as faculty for a weeklong educational program including: Master Classes and Workshops with Amanda McBroom, Craig Carnelia, and Andrew Lippa

* COMPOSER'S STAGE PROJECT
For emerging composer/lyricists and composer/lyricist teams

August 27 - September 2, 2007 - Steamboat Springs Colorado

Master Teacher: Craig Carnelia
Music Director: Andrew Levine

Led by Master Teachers, our professional workshops are designed to give working artists an opportunity to pursue excellence in training with some of today's finest Master Teachers while experiencing the beautiful environment at Perry-Mansfield's campus. If you are looking for a Master Workshop to enhance your career, please join us in our beautiful mountain setting this summer.

Perry-Mansfield's New Works Festival, a collection of invitational workshops, is another of our professional programs, now in it's fifth year. Designed as a collaborative forum, invited artists are afforded the rare opportunity of professional-grade workshops being lead and performed by our nation's leading artisans in composition, writing and dance. http://www.perry-mansfield.org/adult.html

Festivals

Check our Festivals page from time to time for updates. There's a new mini festivals section. Festivals

Recent Musical Theatre Publications

WickedOn my Blog, I've included a podcast with Stephen Schwartz. He talks about how he began the process of adapting Wicked the novel to stage. You'll find out what he had to go through to get the rights. http://www.theschwartzscene.com/blog/2007/05/07 - The full transcript of the podcast is also posted there.

How Sondheim Found His SoundHow Sondheim Found His Sound - A new edition was released in May. This book is not a quick and easy read, yet it could be very valuable for songwriters for seeing how Mr. Sondheim drew influences from various other composers.

We've listed Musicals on DVD that include "Making of" the musicals sections.

Marc Shaiman, Hairspray composer, is in the news. The LA Times provides a feature: Marc Shaiman's musical vision for 'Hairspray' really took hold

A songwriter has created a Podcast Nascent Voices Contemporary Musical Theatre featuring songwriters' works. Maybe he'd feature you.

Find out more about one of the hottest shows on Broadway: Spring Awakening. The cast album was recently released Spring Awakening (2006 Original Broadway Cast)

Also, don't miss the resources list on this site, complete with book reviews and more. Essential Books

GROWING STAGES

In this issue Bill Squier takes a look at Dayton, Ohio's The Human Race Theatre, which brings live professional theatre to Dayton and southwestern Ohio. The theatre accepts new musicals to its musical theatre workshop. Photo is of artistic director Marsha Hannah and Executive Director Kevin Moore.

“JOIN THE HUMAN RACE” by William Squier

UPDATE 2017: This theatre continues to have a strong new works program but is not accepting unsolicited submissions. Instead, "You may send an introductory letter with a short description of your show. If we are interested, you will then be contacted. If you are contacted by us, please be prepared to send a full script (both plays and musicals), a CD recording of the music (preferably studio recording with a minimum of 6 songs from the show) and any pertinent information about the show, its history, previous readings or productions, and biographies of the writers." Human Race Theatre - Submissions

Original 2007 article:

Human Race Theatre Directors"I was in the right place at the right time," says Kevin Moore of his twenty years as Executive Director of The Human Race Theater - twenty years that just happen to coincide with the two successful decades that the Dayton, Ohio, theater has been in business. Moore's modest assessment of his tenure also describes how the Human Race has ended up presenting some of the most interesting new and / or "rarely produced" musical theater works around: "right place, right time."

Though musicals typically fill only one or two of the production slots in the Human Race's season, adventurous titles have often been a part of the theater's programming. As far back as the early 1990's, they produced SIX WOMEN WITH BRAIN DEATH, FALSETTOLAND and THE GOOD TIMES ARE KILLING ME. QUILTERS, ZOMBIES FROM BEYOND and WAS followed in more recent years. And just this past March, they presented Tom Jones and Joseph Thalken's musical adaptation of the film HAROLD AND MAUDE.

After larger scale mountings of HAROLD AND MAUDE at New Jersey's Papermill Playhouse and Theatreworks in Palo Alto, California, Moore reports that the five character musical seemed particularly at home in the 219-seat Loft Theater that serves as the Human Race's main stage. "I think that Tom and Joe learned more about their show," he says of the intimate production. "To see it in our space really changed the way they looked at it."

Despite the appearance of such challenging work on the main stage, even greater excitement is generated by the Human Race's Musical Theater Workshop series. Moore began the series began in 2000 as a means of acquainting local audiences with unfamiliar titles, such as WEIRD ROMANCE and GOBLIN MARKET, without the risk of a full production. He also used the MTW series to present works-in-progress by such notables as Ricky Ian Gordon, Barry Kleinbort and Michael John LaChiusa. And, as often as not, the series has provided relative unknowns with an opportunity for Regional or World Premieres of their musicals.

"The workshop process has helped us to cultivate new works and develop relationships with writers," Moore explains. "It's two weeks of really working the piece with professional actors and a director; seeing what works, what doesn't; putting this number in, taking that number out; and then, putting it in front of an audience."

"We typically do two nights of staged readings," he continues. "And I always offer the writer the opportunity to do a talkback. I guide the conversation and try to keep it as constructive as possible. There are surveys that audience can fill out. They can also mail comments to my email address. I collect all of that and share it...with a grain of salt!"

Moore looks for new musicals that are beyond the table reading stage and are ready to be put on their feet. Though many of the shows that he has presented have been small to moderate in cast size, larger musicals - such at NEFERTITI - have been mounted in association with the theater department at nearby Wright State University.

"We select musicals that really make us look at ourselves," Moore explains. "I like pieces that affect me intellectually or emotionally - that make me think about the human condition."

Moore discovered several of the writers that have been featured in the Workshop through the Human Race's membership in the National Alliance for Musical Theater. The most recent beneficiaries are Kim Sherman and Darrah Cloud (Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla honorees and the creative team behind O PIONEERS! and HEARTLAND).

Sherman and Cloud have partnered with Moore to work on their newest musical theater project, MAKEOVER, during a two-week residency. MAKEOVER tells the story of a woman - much like Estee Lauder, Mary Kay or Brownie Wise, the inventor of the Tupperware Party -- who transforms herself from a lost housewife to a famous and wealthy entrepreneur.

"We are at the very beginning of the writing," reports composer Kim Sherman. "We're hoping to use the time to get a solid draft finished." Librettist Darrah Cloud shares her collaborator's optimism. "Kim and I can write well and fast when put in a room together," she explains. "Ideas bounce off the walls and we live what we're working on."

Sherman and Cloud's residency in Dayton is being underwritten by a 2007 Producer-Writer Initiative from the NAMT. "It pairs the writers with a producer to develop a working process," Moore explains. "We bring them here, give them a place to stay and the studio. I'm going to go a step further and say "here are some actresses that are quick studies, if you want to try out some material."

New Musical Submission Info for The Human Race Theatre

The following is from the original version of the article when they were accepting submissions:

As you prepare your submission, you should bear the following suggestions from Kevin Moore in mind:

"Keep It Current"

Make sure the draft that you send out is up-to-date and that the lyrics in the libretto match those on your demo recording. "My favorite pet peeve is getting a recording and a script that don't match," states Moore. And, whenever possible, update your demo to reflect any cuts or rewrites that have been made.

"Keep It Clear"

Try to avoid submitting live recordings of the score. Though Moore prefers studio recordings, yours doesn't have to be created in a professional setting. A well-miked piano vocal performance of the songs recorded in a quiet setting will usually do the trick.

"Keep It Concise"

At many small to medium size theaters the folks who read new works are also the ones who'll have the job of putting them onstage. "As a director, you want to have your own vision of where this might go," notes Moore. "Stage directions that are lengthy make me go "Whoa!" So, pare your stage directions down to those pieces of staging that are essential to the telling of your story.

Their website is http://www.humanracetheatre.org/

About Growing Stages

In this column, William Squier offers a glimpse behind the scenes at up and coming theaters and other venues that specialize in developing and producing new musicals.

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