Apples and Orange Arts is a non-profit organization dedicated to “taking the starving out of artist” with the creation of their THEatre ACCELERATOR—an immersive musical theatre development program for promising storytellers.

Applying the model that accelerates technology start-ups, THEatre ACCELERATOR treats artists as founders, creating an opportunity to interact with experts in the storytelling, production, financing, distribution and business of show business. The two-week long program is held twice yearly (in the Spring and Fall).

Open to artists from around the globe, THEatre ACCELERATOR unites artists virtually through our partnership with Zoom video and web conferencing.  Past cohorts have included participants from cities as varied as London, Madrid, Los Angeles, New York and everywhere in between.  As Apples and Oranges uses technology to broaden distribution beyond the major markets with their filmed musicals, THEatre ACCELERATOR leverages video conferencing in order to open up development opportunities to writers regardless of location.  As long as writers have the ability to connect to the internet, they can participate.

Beginning with book, music, and lyrics, participants utilize cutting-edge technology and lean development methods to grow their shows in a collaborative environment. Daily mentors, including Deborah Taylor Barrera (Firemused Productions); Van Kaplan (Pittsburgh CLO); Frank Kavanaugh (Fort Ashford Investments); Jonathan Ledden (Private Investor); Shakina Nayfack (Musical Theatre Factory); Tara Smith (Triptyk Studios); Jim Scheinman (Maven Ventures) and Randi Zuckerberg (Zuckerberg Media), among many others, interact with writers and composers, while the THEatre ACCELERATOR team provides frequent feedback throughout the iterative process.

Rather than taking the “if you build it, they will come” approach common with linear development, staff and storytellers consider audience fit and market potential early on to inform, and potentially influence, creative development all while exploring ways to build brand recognition for the shows.  New distribution paths are explored, breaking away from a Broadway-or-bust mentality, to explore what other avenues for exhibition might potentially be available.  Recently, Apples and Oranges produced two filmed stage musicals where new work is captured on video and streamed to audiences world wide as an emerging model for development and distribution that may be right for some of the shows accepted into THEatre ACCELERATOR.  Examples of those projects can be seen at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/emma and www.NoOneCalledAhead.com with several more chosen from recent THEatre ACCELERATOR cohorts in the pipeline.

Mark Govenor, a participant in the Winter 2017 class with his project Possession: The Legend of El Rojo, described Phase I of THEatre ACCELERATOR as “An online interactive intensive that helps you refine your project dramaturgically while focusing on ways to best define your potential audience and market to them effectively.” Kristin Bair, Winter 2019 class composer of Up and Away adds, “It brings you face-to-face (virtually) with industry professionals who are investing in the future of theatre…the program allows you to emerge not only with a better understanding of your show and your potential audience, but also with a sense of where your show might fit within the broader industry trends in theatre investment and production.”

MusicalWriters Festival speakers Macy Schmidt Drew Gasparini

Articles from the 2020 Spring Cohort:
THEatre ACCELERATOR: Clarifying your Why, Market, Brand & Plan
Product Market Fit – Your Musical as a Start-Up Business

Apples and Oranges Arts underwrites all cost for the highly competitive THEatre ACCELERATOR program making it completely free to all participants.  Musical theatre writers, composers and lyricists with material in need of development and potential funding should have at least a completed first draft of script, score and music demos to be considered.  Applications, as well as additional information about the program, can be found at http://nycoc.org/ta/.