Investigating Contemporary Writers

This blog is a part of The Directory of Contemporary Musical Theatre Writers, found online at

If you’ve been following along, you know that The Directory of Contemporary Musical Theatre Writers is taking wonderful shape. All the writer’s pages have been created and are currently being finalized. My project assistant Lorene Phillips and I are busy creating the several indexes that will accompany the directory, including a wonderful spreadsheet listing all Broadway and several off-Broadway shows with selection books (including links!) from 2000-2012.

The Top 25 Songs of the directory have been chosen by a panel of wonderful artists, including director Laura Josepher, actor/writer Steve Routman and Lorene, who teaches private voice. The Top 25 Songs will be released at my Poster Paper Presentation at the NATS National Conference in Orlando on Saturday, June 30th. They will later be featured on this blog throughout the summer. It is an incredibly impressive roster of artists and songs, so be sure to check back!

And the next step? After presenting the directory at the conference, I will begin creating an online version so voice teachers and performers can subscribe to the ever-growing resource, which will feature different writers each month. I plan to launch the website ( in early November.

“But until then, what am I supposed to do?” I hear you query. Well, that’s the subject of this post. I’m going to give you suggestions on where to find amazing writers and songs.  This by no means is a complete survey, but it will whet your appetite for contemporary musical theatre until the directory comes out.

The Festival! The Festival?

There are several well-known and respected theatre festivals and workshops around the country that specialize in highlighting and developing new work. It’s always a good idea to check them out and see what their current offerings are. Most times, the festival website will include a synopsis of the shows and song samples or the writer’s website.  Research the writers being featured.  It very well may lead you to some wonderful repertoire. Here are several festivals and workshops you should be familiar with:

Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center (Waterford, CT)
Festival of New American Musicals (Los Angeles, CA) 
National Alliance of Musical Theatre (New York, NY) 
New York Musical Theatre Festival (New York, NY) 
Sundance Theatre Lab (Sundance, UT) 
Theatre Resources Unlimited (TRU)/TRU Voices (New York, NY) 

Theaters on a Mission

Likewise, there are theaters across the country that produce new work. These theaters deserve our support because they are taking great financial risks to bring new works to life at a time when revivals and jukebox musicals are much more attractive to produce. Here are a short list of theaters that deserve your attention:

Guthrie Theatre (Minneapolis, MN) 
Intiman Theatre (Seattle, WA) 
La Jolla Playhouse (La Jolla, CA) 
New York Theatre Workshop (New York, NY) 
Playwrights Horizons (New York, NY) 
Signature Theatre (Arlington, VA) 
TheatreWorks (Paolo Alto, CA) 
Transport Group (New York, NY)  
Village Theatre (Issaquah, WA)  
Vineyard Theatre (New York, NY) 
The York Theatre (New York, NY)

And The Envelope Please…

Every year, several awards celebrate up-and-coming musical theatre writers for their work.  Many of these award winners are already enjoying productions of their shows around the country.

Jerry Bock Award 
Fred Ebb Award 
Kleban Award 
Jonathan Larson Award 
Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theatre 

When I was an undergraduate music student at Syracuse University, I would spend hours at the library listening to composers I had never heard of, picking through the stacks of scores for interesting finds. I found a rare copy of some songs by Paul Creston that I played and sang over and over again. I was so enthralled by Creston’s harmonic gestures. I felt as if I had found hidden treasure – it only made me want to search more.

I hope that we, as teachers, never lose touch with that kind of wide-eyed search for something new. Yes, it takes a lot of time and research, but sometimes we find something that makes it completely worth our while.

As I mentioned, the above is just an appetizer to the entree that’s coming down the pike.  I hope you’ll make good use of these links until the directory is launched. And, as always, report back if you find something else we should all know about.


Please visit for more information on over 150 contemporary musical theatre writers and 360+ songs, all searchable by voice and song type.


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