TRU Beginnings | How to Write a Musical That Works
Description

Upcoming workshop (part 1) will be November 19, 2017.
All slots are filled for participants. Observers may attend.
Next workshop (part 2) will be late February/March.
Check back here for the upcoming workshop

A 3-part workshop for writers, directors and producers exploring the traditional structure and dynamic interplay of an effective libretto and score. 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. Past panelists have included Ken Cerniglia and Jane Abramson of Disney Theatricals; Ryan Bogner of RKO Stage; producers Michael Alden (Bat Boy, Grey Gardens, The King's Speech on stage), Doug Denoff (Nice Work If You Can Get It, upcoming Peggy Sue Got Married, Just Believe), and Tom Polum (The Toxic Avenger, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, All Shook Up); dramaturg Nancy Golladay of the BMI Workshop; composer/lyricist Skip Kennon (Herringbone, Don Juan DeMarco, Time and Again), former Artistic Coordinator of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and teacher for two decades; and legendary Tony-winning lyricist Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof, Fiorello, She Loves Me). Facilitated by TRU literary manager Cate Cammarata and executive director Bob Ost.

Each workshop will accept up to 10 writing teams and/or producers who will share works in progress and get feedback from the panel. Cost is $100 total for non-members, $85 for TRU members. Audience members will also have a chance to offer their observations, participate in discussions and network sessions and enjoy refreshments. The cost for non-participants to attend for the full day, to observe the presentations and be part of the discussions, is $55 ($35 for TRU members).

Click here for quotes about this workshop. 

FEEDBACK WORKSHOP #1:
THE WORLD AND THE WANT
November 19, 2017

Submit up to the first 20 pages of your script in which you introduce the world of your show, and the main characters and their wants – plus MP3s of the songs within only those pages. We will focus on two main aspects: 1) the opening number (or any number that invites the audience into the world of the show); and 2) the songs and scenes in which you introduce your characters. We will discuss "I want" songs, "I am" songs and "I feel" songs, and the function of each, with special attention to the way they move the action.

FEEDBACK WORKSHOP #2:
CONFLICT AND OBSTACLES
February 2018 date TBA 

Submit the section of your show in which conflict and obstacles arise – the plot complications – plus MP3s of the songs within only those pages. Also send a concise synopsis of the opening in which you introduce the world of your show, and the want of your characters and how it prepares us for the conflict in the section presented. We will focus on three main aspects: 1) songs that express differing points of view, or conflict; 2) "Turnaround Songs" in which a character changes his course of action; 3) the climactic moment (sometimes the first act finale) that drives us forward into the resolution (note: "resolution" is in workshop #3).

FEEDBACK WORKSHOP #3:
RECKONING AND RESOLUTION
July 2018 date TBA

Submit the section of your show in which we head towards the summing up and conclusion of the plot and the resolution of the characters' wants– plus MP3s of the songs within only those pages. Also send a concise synopsis of the preceding action of the show, and how it leads to the resolution in the section presented. We will focus on three main aspects: 1) songs that express the resolution of a character's "want," or the overcoming of obstacles, and how it leads to a final choice; 2) "eleven o'clock numbers," the big dramatic show stopper that sums up the (usually) main character's journey; 3) the finale, an effective and emotionally satisfying way of concluding your story and leaving the audience satisfied.


WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT THE WORKSHOP

I just wanted to take a moment to say how grateful we are for the opportunity to perform an excerpt from Oswald for you again. The feedback we received was truly invaluable and we are so very thankful to everyone on the panel who took the time to offer their expertise and insights. Our experience with TRU continues to be amazing and we thank you all so much. ~Tony LePage and Josh Sassanella
 
I LOVED working with TRU.  Numbers Nerds was accepted into NYMF. Thanks to you and all the other panelists for your very helpful feedback in the fall,  our show is in much better shape.  ~Larry Little, writer 
 
Just wanted to thank you all once again for convening the [Reckoning and] Resolutions workshop on Saturday. It's a huge amount of work to coordinate something like that and it was much appreciated. I met a few folks I hope to stay in touch with, and most important, the experience was VERY useful to me on a creative level.  ~Liz Schiller, writer
 
Thank you for hosting such a helpful event.  Between you, Cate and the panel there was a lot of wisdom , valuable input and considered judgment.  I believe suggestions I received can be incorporated in straightforward fashion to strengthen the finale so thanks once again. ~Don Nolan, writer
 
Just want to say a word of thanks for your allowing me to be a presenter at this workshop.  I really appreciate your work at organizing and running this event.  I appreciate your work and kindnesses to me.  I learned a lot  and really enjoyed the experience.  ~Louise Epperson, writer

Faculty
  • JANE ABRAMSON

    is a theatre producer based in New York City. By day, she is the Senior Manager of Creative Development for Disney Theatrical Productions, where she has worked on multiple Broadway musicals, including Aladdin, Newsies, The Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins and The Lion King as well as the regional premieres of The Jungle Book and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Outside of office hours, Jane is the co-founder and Managing Director of Two Turns Theatre Company (TTTC), which produces intimate play revivals in unique settings with historical resonance. This Fall, TTTC will present Doug Wright's I Am My Own Wife at RePOP Vintage Furnishings in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In addition, Jane has produced many Off- and Off-off Broadway plays and musicals that have been featured at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, the New York International Fringe Festival, the Summer Play Festival, Raw Impressions Musical Theatre, 8Minute Musicals and the LARK Play Development Center. Jane is an adjunct member of The Broadway League and served on the Gala Committee for Prospect Theater Company last season. She is an active member of the Musical Theatre Factory and Theater Resources Unlimited. Originally from Dallas, Jane now lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.

  • RYAN BOGNER

    serves as VP of Creative Development for Stageworks Media. Previously he was the Director of Creative Development and Production at RKO Stage Productions, where he was responsible for the theatrical development of titles taken from the RKO Pictures film library and other acquired properties, as well as management of the company’s business and producing operations. Bogner began producing theater in the Independent and not-for-profit New York scene. He has produced shows at Williamstown Theater Festival, The Ohio Theater, 42West, The Zipper Factory, The Julia Miles Theater, Dixon Place, The New York Musical Theater Festival and The New York International Fringe Festival as well as countless developmental workshops, readings and concerts. Notable productions include: Here Lies Love (Williamstown), The Orion Experience, Yeast Nation: The Triumph of Life, Hurricane. Prior to beginning his producing career, Bogner worked in the executive and theater operations departments at Jujamcyn Theaters, and in the professional licensing department at Theatrical Rights Worldwide, managing licenses of such shows as Spamalot and The Color Purple for major professional theaters domestically and internationally. Bogner is a graduate of the CTI 14 week program, holds a B.F.A. in Musical Theater and Directing from The Boston Conservatory, and an M.F.A. in Theater Management and Producing from Columbia University. He has been a guest lecturer at Pace University and is a member of the Musical Theater Factory where he co-created and adjudicates the 4x15 workshop series.

  • CATE CAMMARATA

    is a New York-based producer, director and dramaturg. She most recently presented a workshop production of My Life Is a Musical at The Duke on 42nd Street, and directed a musical reading of Your Name On My Lips at Emerging Artists Theater; she also co-directed a multimedia devised performance of Antigone with her students at SUNY Stony Brook. She dramaturged the world premiere performance of Harold I Hate You at the HERE Arts Center for CakeFace Performance Company last December, and is currently the US Representative for Hamilton Dramaturgy. Cate's other credits include Famous: The Musical for the TRU Musical Reading Series 2011 (producer),Robeson a new play about the legendary Paul Robeson for Stony Brook Mainstage (director), Body Language for The Active Theater (dramaturg), among others. Cate is a graduate of the Commercial Theater Institute's 16 week Producing course, the CTI-O'Neill Summer Workshop, a member of TRU's Producer Mentorship Development Program and has worked with the HERE Arts Center as Associate Dramaturg and with the Broadway producers Jana Robbins and R. Erin Craig as Producing Associate. She holds an MFA in Dramaturgy from SUNY Stony Brook and a BFA in Acting/Directing from Syracuse University, and is currently the Literary Manager for TRU and an Adjunct Professor for SUNY Stony Brook Theatre Arts.

  • KEN CERNIGLIA

    is dramaturg and literary manager for Disney Theatrical Group, where since 2003 he has developed over fifty shows for professional, amateur, and school productions, including Freaky Friday, Aladdin, The Hunchback of Notre DamePeter and the StarcatcherNewsiesHigh School MusicalTarzan, and The Little Mermaid. Recent freelance projects include Hadestown (New York Theatre Workshop, Edmonton’s Citadel), Bud, Not Buddy (Kennedy Center), Passion Trilogy (LMU/Fisher Ensemble), and Bridges  (Berkeley Playhouse). Ken holds a Ph.D. in theater history and criticism from the University of Washington and is president of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA).

  • NANCY GOLLADAY

    has served as a literary consultant with the New York Shakespeare Festival, Paul Sills, the O'Neill Playwrights Conference, Ellis Rabb, Warner Brothers Films, Punch Productions, the Nederlander Organization, Tenterfield Productions, the La Jolla Playhouse, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and Davenport Theatrical. Nancy was actively involved in the founding of the U.K.'s Book, Music, and Lyrics (BML) Workshop, an evolving group focused on the development of musical theatre writers and choreographers. She was an invited speaker at Mercury Musical Developments writers' conference in London, and appeared on the original Dramatists Guild "Art of the Synopsis" panel in New York. Nancy has worked for many years on the Drama League, Drama Desk, and Tony-honored BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop as a member of the faculty and Advisory Committee. As Moderator of the Librettists Workshop, she has recently created a popular program of in-house table readings of its members' new projects.

  • SHELDON HARNICK

    began writing music while still in Carl Schurz High School in Chicago. Around 1956, Harnick met Jerry Bock, forming "what is arguably the most important musical partnership of the '60s." Their first musical was The Body Beautiful, running for only 60 performances in 1958, but Fiorello! (1959) ran for 795 performances and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Musical. Fiddler on the Roof (1964) "became one of the most cherished of all Broadway musicals" and went on to win the Tony Award for Best Musical as well as Best Composer & Lyricist. Among his other beloved musicals are She Loves Me, Tenderloin, The Apple Tree and The Rothschilds. Harnick wrote the libretto for the opera Coyote Tales, with music by Henry Mollicone, which received its world premiere at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City in March 1998. He wrote the book, music and lyrics to the musical Dragons, which was performed in 2003 at the Luna Stage in Montclair, New Jersey. He wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the book with Norton Juster for the musical The Phantom Tollbooth, based on the book by Juster. The musical premiered at the Kennedy Center in 2007. He recently was given a 2016 Lifetime Achievement Tony Award.

  • SKIP KENNON

    was the overall Artistic Coordinator of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and the teacher of the first year there for two decades. He wrote the music for the one-man musical Herringbone (Playwrights Horizons - starring David Rounds, Hartford Stage - starring Joel Grey, Edinburgh Festival, Philadelphia's Prince Music Theater, Chicago's St. Nicholas Theater, 2007 season opener at Williamstown Theater Festival - starring B.D. Wong), the music for Here's Our Girl (workshopped at the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater), and the music and lyrics for the musical version of The Last Starfighter (Storm Theatre, Village Theatre Festival of New Musicals - summer 2006, New York Musical Theatre Festival readings - fall 2006), Blanco (Goodspeed Opera House at Chester, National Alliance for Musical Theatre, National Music Theater Network), Feathertop (WPA Theater, Pennsylvania Stage Co.), and Time and Again (Manhattan Theatre Club, San Diego's Old Globe Theater, Eugene O'Neill Center National Music Theater Conference). Kennon also wrote the music and lyrics for the one-act musical Plaisir d'Amour (book by Terrence McNally), which was produced at New York's Triangle Theater and seen in workshop at Circle Rep, as well as the music for the one-act musical Afternoon Tea (book & lyrics by Eduardo Machado), which was performed at Theater Row Theaters in 2005 by Ed Harris and Amy Madigan. He was a classical music critic at the Hollywood Reporter for five years.

  • BARBARA PASTERNACK

    Artistic Director of Theatreworks USA whose mission is to create, produce, and provide access to professional theatre for young and family audiences nationwide, including disadvantaged youth and under-served communities. Since their founding in 1961, they have presented more than 90 million children and their families with opportunities to enjoy theatrical productions in 49 states and Canada. TheatreworksUSA is also one of the most honored theatres of our kind. We are the only children's theatre to receive both a Drama Desk and a Lucille Lortel Award. In addition, Theatreworks USA was the recipient of a 2001 Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award, and in May 2000, The Actors Fund of American bestowed its Medal of Honor upon our founders, Jay Harnick and Charles Hull.

  • TOM POLUM

    produced the Houston production of The Toxic Avenger, following the off-Broadway New York premiere of The Toxic Avenger, a musical comedy about the first superhero from New Jersey by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) and David Bryan (keyboardist and founding member of Bon Jovi) and directed by Tony Award-winner John Rando. He also co-produced Last Call, a musical documentary by Broadway director Christopher Ashley (Xanadu, Rocky Horror Show, All Shook Up) and is developing the musical comedies Mambo Italiano (based on the Canadian film starring Paul Sorvino) and Zombie Honeymoon, as well as other musicals, including Heloise and Abelard, The Toxic Avenger Christmas Chaos and Finding Frida Kahlo. Past credits include the tour of Broadway’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Tony nomination for Best Musical).

Events
  • How to Write a Musical workshop
    November 19, 2017
    10:00 am

Sunday November 19th, 10am to 6pm Nola Studios, 244 W. 54th Street, 10th floor This workshop is dedicated to fostering a conversation about musical theater structure not only for writers but also for producers, directors and everyone involved in the creation and production of new works. Each workshop will accept up to 10 writing teams and/or […]

  • How to Write a Musical... submit now!
    July 16, 2017
    10:00 am - 6:00 pm

PART 3: RECKONING AND RESOLUTION NOLA Rehearsal Studio 244 W. 54th St.,  11th Floor Sunday, July 16th, 10am to 5:30pm EXTENDED Submission deadline: Wednesday July 5th (Download application: TRUBeginnings-HWM3-app) This 3-part workshop is dedicated to fostering a conversation about musical theater structure not only for writers but also for producers, directors and everyone involved in the creation […]

  • Feedback workshop: Conflict & Obstacles
    February 19, 2017
    10:00 am - 11:50 pm

NOLA Rehearsal Studio250 W. 54th St.,  11th Floor This workshop is dedicated to fostering a conversation about musical theater structure not only for writers but also for producers, directors and everyone involved in the creation and production of new works. The cost for non-participants to attend for the full day, to observe the presentations and […]

  • October 16, 2016
    10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Sunday October 16th, 10am to 6pmNola Studios, 244 W. 54th Street, 11th floor This workshop is dedicated to fostering a conversation about musical theater structure not only for writers but also for producers, directors and everyone involved in the creation and production of new works. Each workshop will accept up to 10 writing teams and/or producers […]

  • How to Write a Musical... submit now!
    July 16, 2016
    10:00 am - 6:00 pm

NOLA Rehearsal Studio250 W. 54th St.,  11th FloorSaturday, July 16th, 10am to 5:30pmSubmission deadline: Friday July 8th (extended), noon This 3-part workshop is dedicated to fostering a conversation about musical theater structure not only for writers but also for producers, directors and everyone involved in the creation and production of new works. “Part 3: Reckoning and Resolution” will focus […]

  • February 28, 2016
    10:00 am - 3:30 pm

NOLA Rehearsal Studio250 W. 54th St.,  11th Floor This workshop is dedicated to fostering a conversation about musical theater structure not only for writers but also for producers, directors and everyone involved in the creation and production of new works. The cost for non-participants to attend for the full day, to observe the presentations and […]

  • December 15, 2015
    10:00 am - 5:30 pm
NOLA Studios 250 W. 54th St., 11th Fl., NYC, NY

Each workshop will accept up to 10 writing teams and/or producers who will share works in progress and get feedback from a panel of expert evaluators. Audience members will also have a chance to offer their observations, participate in discussions and network sessions and enjoy refreshments. Click for application as a writable PDF or Go to […]