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Musical Writerzine #19 - Spring 2012

Newsletter for Writers of New Musicals - intro

Carol de GiereFrom Carol de Giere

Welcome to Spring! Check out the events list below for the latest programs related to new musicals.

In this issue's "Growing Stages" column, William Squier profiles Timothy Jerome who has been a mover and shaker in the world of new musicals for many years. The article introduces a forthcoming festival of new musicals. That's in "MAINSTREET MUSICALS: COMING TO A STREET CORNER NEAR YOU!" below.

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

Seminars and Workshops

The Biz of the Musical Theatre Biz - Los Angeles - July 20-22

This three-day annual conference, now it its 4th year, is put on by the Academy for New Musical Theatre. It features discussions of the business side of writing musicals, with comments by producers, agents, Broadway writers, attorneys, and other musical theatre luminaries. Learn about getting your shows mounted, publicized, and monetized. ANMT will be posting details about the 2012 conference some time in May, so check then at www.anmt.org/conference.asp

Online Classes for Musical Writers

Did you know that the Academy for New Musical Theatre offers online classes for musical writers? We've added their link to our career page at www.musicalwriters.com/production/career.htm - see the Training section at the top of the page.

Davenport Theatrical NYC: Seminars and 10-minute Play Contest

Selected entries for the 10-Minute Play Contest will be presented June 28, 2012 in NYC. Can you isolate a small idea from a prospective show to create a 10-minute musical? If so, you might win $500. AND your little show will be reviewed by a "panel of industry professionals" who will decide who wins. Submission deadline is May 18th and winners announced June 1st! See Davenporttheatrical.com/ten-minute-play-contest

10 minute playsHow do you write a 10-minute musical?

You might get ideas from this book on 10-minute plays. A More Perfect Ten: Writing and Producing the Ten-Minute Play

Ken Davenport's "Get Your Show Off the Ground" seminars are scheduled for May 19th, August 18th, and November 17th. All are on Saturdays from 2 PM to 5 PM in NYC. See Davenport's tips seminar - Get Your Show Off the Ground

Check for their next round of musical theatre classes at Davenporttheatrical.com/seminars.html

Musical Theatre Festivals and Special Events

NYMF (New York Musical Theatre Festival)

It's too late to submit a show to NYMF this year but you might want to attend. It's July 9 - 29. Come www.nymf.org

LA Festival of New American Musicals

This festival is for musicals not previously produced in Southern California LA Festival. They are looking for young musical writers 13 - 25 year olds for their 10-minute musical national search to be judged by a celebrity panel. 10-minute musicals - LA

UK - EUROPE

York New Musical Festival (22nd – 28th July 2012). YNMF is inviting writers to bring in their works in progress. They provide performing space. www.ynmf.co.uk/

CAP 21 WRITERS CO-OP, ETC.

CAP21 offers a variety of developmental processes for new musicals (as well as new plays). Their offerings are tailored to each individual project but may include meetings with artistic staff, in house readings, stage readings, and even productions. Their "co-op" is a two-week space residency for writers offered times a year. During the residency, 8-15 writers and/or writing teams who have been chosen from submissions are provided with studio space and a piano to work on new material. See Cap21 site for basics and Cap21 - guidelines for Submission guidelines.

NEW BOOK ABOUT BROADWAY

Mr. BroadwayCatch up on your Broadway history with Mr. Broadway. Mr. Broadway: The Inside Story of the Shuberts, the Shows, and the Stars - About the author: Gerald Schoenfeld, chairman of the Shubert Organization for more than 35 years, was one of the most influential people in commercial theater. He is credited with being a catalyst for the revival of Broadway and the theater district/Times Square in New York City.

"Growing Stages" by William Squier

Timothy Jerome - Main Street MusicalsMAINSTREET MUSICALS:

COMING TO A STREET CORNER NEAR YOU!

If all goes as planned, in the next eighteen months Tim Jerome, President and CEO of Mainstreet Musicals (pictured here), will realize a dream that he has harbored for about three decades. Within a year and a half Jerome is optimistic that he will launch the first of a series of festivals that Mainstreet will oversee. This festival will introduce regional theaters and their audiences to promising new works of musical theater.

Loving New Musicals

"When I started in the business, I almost immediately got involved with the development of new work," Jerome explains. "My first was The Rothschilds." The musical The Rothschilds was the last collaboration between Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (best known for writing the score for Fiddler on the Roof) which opened on Broadway in 1970 and ran for 507 performances, winning Tony Awards for actors Hal Linden and Keene Curtis. In the show, Jerome created the role of Amschel, one of Mayer Rothschild's five sons. [Hear Timothy Jerome The Rothschilds: A Musical (1970 Original Broadway Cast)]

"It was wonderful!" he continues. "The pinnacle of an actor's experience. And I realized that there was a responsibility and a pleasure quotient that was very profound." Jerome went on to create roles in the original productions of the musicals Grand Hotel, Disney's Tarzan and the American premiere of Me and My Girl, as well as joining the Broadway casts of the long-running hits Beauty and the Beast, Cats, Phantom of the Opera and Man of La Mancha, among others. Along the way, he began to wonder if there was something more that he could do as an artist to help foster new works of musical theater.

"What got me radicalized was the economic downturn that we experienced in the late seventies and early eighties," Jerome reports. "I began to see, first hand, the cessation of activities around the development of new work. Producers were walking away. And I thought, 'What happens to the writers? We will lose them to our world if we don't give them encouragement."

"In 1982 I realized that there was something that I could do," Jerome continues. "I could organize volunteer directors into a committee that would read and evaluate new work and then give as much information back to the creative teams as we could. I thought that as long as the creators knew that directors were interested in seeing and responding to their work that it would help to maintain their commitment to writing to the form."

Promoting New Musicals Projects

As the Founding President of the National Music Theater Network, Jerome began to make good on his intentions within a year and, since then, well over 350 directors, music directors and choreographers have participated in the evaluations. This was eventually expanded into a process that singled out three deserving shows each year to receive NMTN's Director's Choice Award, with the final selections made by a celebrated director like Graciela Daniele, Walter Bobbie, Kathleen Marshall, John Rando, among others.

Jerome also created several successful showcases that were used by NMTN to promote their recommended works, including The Songbook Series, that was presented monthly at NYC's Donnell Library for 13 years, The Broadway Dozen, which mounted monthly public readings of full musicals in Manhattan for two seasons, and BroadwayUSA!, a program of regional new works festivals. Then in 2004, Jerome collaborated with a host of other theater artists to inaugurate the New York Musical Theatre Festival.

In 2008, however, Jerome felt that the time had come to begin to do regionally what NYMF had so successfully done for new musicals in Manhattan. "I didn't think that New York could accommodate all of the new works," he explains. So, he stepped down from that organization and spent a year planning his next move.

Decentralizing Development and Starting Mainstreet Musicals

But, Jerome points out that he'd actually been thinking about decentralized development since the nineties. "I was up in Toronto doing Ragtime when occurred to me that we should be doing these shows in the regions," Jerome recalls. Out of that revelation was born, first, the Broadway USA! program and then, as an evolution of that series, Mainstreet Musicals.

Like NMTN, Mainstreet Musicals takes an artist-driven, grassroots approach to fostering new musicals by mobilizing working directors, musical directors and actors to identify promising scripts and talented new writers. Jerome has, however, added several other constituencies to the mix. "Mainstreet is really a cooperative," he points out. "Everyone that's involved in the development of new musicals sits on the board. No one group is excluded. It has seven delegations: creators, directors, actors, producers, affiliates (who run local operations), educators, patrons and partners (support organizations such as funders, beneficiaries of benefits, publicists, etc…)."

Mainstreet Musicals first went public with their activities on November 8, 2010 at the New York Society for Ethical Culture when they presented Making Waves, a concert that featured a host of theater stars singing the songs that they introduced to Broadway audiences. Mainstreet followed that event with other benefits that were mounted in Sarasota and St. Petersburg, FL, in 2010 and then Akron, OH, and New Orleans, LA, in 2011.

The subsequent evenings, however, were built around a concert reading of the musical Shine! (Music by Roger Anderson, Lyrics by Lee Goldsmith and Book by Richard Seff.) with casts drawn from local acting pools and headed by guest artist Hal Linden. The objective of these evenings was threefold: to raise money for a charity, provide another performance outlet for regional musical theater actors and, most importantly, test a relationship with a local affiliate.

An affiliate of Mainstreet Musicals is an actor or director who is willing to take on the responsibility of coordinating the organization's regional events. "A very important component is that it be artist driven," Jerome emphasizes. "I would like to see artist owned and controlled delivery systems in towns around the country, so that musical theater on this level can continue to grow and flourish. Even in a down economy."

At this point, Jerome reports that he has established affiliates in Akron, New Orleans and Sarasota, and is in discussions with a potential affiliate in Atlanta, GA. He says that it is likely that New Orleans will be the home of the first Mainstreet festival. Like Broadway USA!, the new musicals that will be showcased in the festival will be culled from work submitted for evaluation and winnowed to three pieces by a Guest Artistic Director. So, Jerome says that his next step will be to resume the evaluation process, which he predicts will happen by midsummer.

Details for Submissions and Shows are in the Works

"The writers will be able to fill out the submission forms on our website and attach any material that they might have," he explains. "Then, they'll hit the "submit" button and their submission will go winging its way to our office." Jerome says that the submission guidelines will be much the same as they were for the NMTN's evaluation program.

See Mainstreet evaluations and Submissions

Jerome adds that Mainstreet's benefit performances and festivals are only the beginning of the organization's plans for supporting the development of new work. They are also at work on programs that will make the organization's archive of 25+ recommended musicals available to college theater departments for productions or use in scene study classes. Jerome would also like to make it possible for the show's creators and a professional director experienced at staging new works to take part in any campus productions. And he intends to offer songbooks comprised of musical numbers from original scores to high school choirs free of charge. "I want young people to really understand the writing and the styles of the individual creators that are coming up," he emphasizes. "To not be afraid of new material."

"This has been my passion," Jerome concedes. "I never thought that I would get possessed. That it would actually take over a lot of my life as much as wanting to be a successful actor. We've got to find a way to do new work, even if we're performing them for nickels on the street corner." And if Tim Jerome has anything so say about it, it'll be a street corner near you!

To stay abreast of Mainstreet Musicals upcoming plans, remember to visit www.mainstreetmusicals.org.

FOR MORE IDEAS ABOUT MAKING MUSICALS, PLEASE SEE OUR BOOKS SECTION

Books for making musicals

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