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

Yesterday, during our two-hours-and-change flight, Lorene and I were “boning up” on songs from the directory in preparation for today’s poster paper presentation.  Honestly, it was like Christmas morning.

“Have you listened to this Jenny Giering song??”  
“Oh, I love that one! How about this Anna Dagmar song? It’s so haunting.”
“Aronson & Nelson’s ‘Han Solo’ is certifiably brilliant!”

Over and over we kept saying, “There’s so much great material in this directory!”  It would be one thing if all the songs were in a similar style, but they’re not.  The songs in this current incarnation of the directory run the gamut from legit to pop/rock, including work that might be considered on the fringe.

So, with all this great material, it almost seems unnecessary to announce the Top 25 Songs from the directory.  But here we are.  And folks, it’s a list of truly astonishing songs.

A little back story.  When I first began the process of putting together all the songs submitted to the directory project, I took copious notes on each and flagged the ones I felt showed extraordinary craft.  Out of the 350+ song submissions, I flagged over 80 songs as being superior.  That is an inordinately high ratio.  I owe this to the fact that most of the writers that submitted to the directory are members of either the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop (where I met my dear collaborator Tom Gualtieri over six years ago), a wonderful breeding ground of new musical theatre talent, or the Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU, which also puts forth some incredibly talented writers.

Still, 80 songs!  I then meticulously went through and chose 50 song recordings for a panel to blindly review (please note: none of the scores or recordings were ever distributed during this process – I honored my bond with each writer not to let the material they generously shared with me out of my sight).  Out of those 50, the panel chose 25 songs that showed outstanding excellence in craft, both lyrically and musically and in writing for the voice.  Even though we all did our selection process on different days, we almost unanimously selected these songs.  I think you’ll be very pleased with the results.

Our panel was a small, but mighty group, which included: New York-based director, Laura Josepher, Broadway actor and lyricist Steve Routman, voice teacher and directory project manager, Lorene Phillips and myself.  For more information about the panel, please read their individual biographies below.

Without further delay, here’s the list of the 2012 Top 25 Songs from the Directory of Contemporary Musical Theatre Writers (composer/lyricist):

All The Possibilities (Michael Wartofsky & Kathleen Cahill)
All There Is To Say (Brad Alexander & Adam Mathias)
Basic Black (Craig Baldwin & Kathy Lombardi)
Blue Horizon (Michael Kooman & Christopher Dimond)
Dirt Road (Jeff Hardy & Tom Stuart)
Fly At Me (Kim Oler & Alison Hubbard)
Han Solo (Will Aronson & Bill Nelson)
He Knew How to Read Me (Ben Schaechter & Dan Kael)
He Needs Me (Robert Maggio & Kristin Maloney)
Hold My Hand (Jeff Blumenkrantz)
I Don’t Think of You (Daniel Maté)
I’m Just Glad (David Gaines & Charlie Sohne)
I’m Sitting Next to Estella (Sam Willmott)
It Just Wasn’t Meant to Happen (Barry Wyner)
Like Donnie (Robert Maggio & Kristin Maloney)
Mediocre Man (Rachel Peters)
My Sky (Adam Overett)
Please, Belize (Nadav Wiesel)
Real Adventure (Sam Willmott & Marcus Stevens)
Saturday Alone (Barry Wyner)
A Sorta Love Song (Paul Loesel & Scott Burkell)
They Fly (Clay Zambo)
Time On My Hands (Katya Stanislavskaya)
To Excess (Michael Kooman & Christopher Dimond)
Why Can’t I Kiss You? (Jeff Blumenkrantz)

So, here they are in all their glory.  Learn these songs and the writer’s names.  They are extraordinary, and are very worthy of your time.  Over the course of the next couple months, we’ll be taking a closer look at each song and writer, so you can really come to know them.  Some songs currently don’t have YouTube or other media links – we’ll be working on that between now and when we interview the writers.  We understand how important it is that this material is consumable.

And as if this isn’t enough, the above list is simply a foretaste of what’s to come when the directory launches in November.  These writers are worth their salt, but there are so many other writers and songs to explore.  With any luck, Christmas will come early this year!


Laura Josepher
– New York based theatre director Laura Josepher has been directing professionally for the past twenty five years.  Most recently she was Scott Schwartz’s Associate Director for BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS, a new musical about Ginger Rogers.  Other recent credits include David Sisco’s BAIT n SWISH at Stage Left Studio, a workshop of Tom Gualtieri and David Sisco’s new musical FALLING TO EARTH at Syracuse University, Garth Wingfield’s DATING GAMES at the Theatre Row Studio Theatre, NY and The Elephant Theatre in L.A., DIRTY BLONDE, THE TURN  OF THE SCREW and I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW  CHANGE at Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston, ANNA CHRISTIE at Gallery Players,  HUGHIE at Provincetown Rep. For Rattlestick Productions: WINNING and the award winning CAR POOL; and the operas LA BOHEME, COSI FAN TUTTE, HANSEL AND GRETEL, DIE FLEDERMAUS,and GIANNI SCHICCHI at Quisisana Resort in Maine. Assistant Director for Laurie Anderson’s SONGS AND STORIES FROM MOBY DICK (co-directed by Ms. Anderson and Anne Bogart). She is an Equity stage manager, a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

Lorene has sung as with Syracuse Opera, Mohawk Valley Opera, Opera Nova, Opera New York and Brooklyn Repertory Opera.  Most recently she premiered the role of Abbess Marie in Susan Stoderl’s Veil of Forgetfulness.  Conducting highlights include her tenure as Director of the Children of the World Choir at Marble Collegiate Church where she performed at Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall with the choir and her work as the conductor of  Scarlatti’s Eraclea (world premiere) with Opera Nova.  Lorene collaborated with composer David Sisco to produce the innovative operatic sketch comedy, Sopranos, with Caprice Opera and the NY Fringe Festival.  Additionally, Lorene is a private voice teacher in NYC with over 12 years of experience in preparing singers for auditions, performances and tours.  She teaches contemporary commercial vocal technique alongside classical pedagogy and her students have performed on Broadway, in national tours and in regional theater.  Lorene sings chorally, does commercial voice over work and teaches pre-school music classes.  She is a graduate of Indiana University and Syracuse University.

Steve Routman NY appearances include Pipe Dream (Encores!); The Shaggs (Playwrights Horizons); La Bete; The Fanasticks (The Snapple Center); Harold and Maude, The Game of Love  (York Theater Mufti); Broadway (directed by the legendary George Abbott);  Much Ado About Nothing and Love’s Labor’s Lost  (NYSF);  The Glass Blowers  (NYCO); Lingoland (York);  In the Matter of J Robert Oppenheimer  and The Conscientious Objector (Keen Company).  Steve received a Helen Hayes nomination for his portrayal of Louis Howe in Eleanor (Ford’s) and a Kevin Kline nomination for Dogberry in Much Ado (STL Shakespeare).  TV/Film includes Boardwalk Empire; Inside Llewyn Davis; The Bourne Legacy; The Good Wife; Occupant; Every Day; Remember WENN ; L&O/SVU/CI;  Arthur and the War of Two Worlds; Welcome to New York  and ED.  Regionally he has performed in Shakespeare, Chekhov, Feydeau, Odets, Guare, Stoppard, Coward and numerous musicals.  He has helped to develop new musicals with John Weidman, Alfred Uhry, Joseph Thalken, Tom Jones, John Kander, Fred Ebb, Douglas Cohen, Alison Hubbard and Kim Oler.   He is a proud graduate of Northwestern and a lyricist in the BMI workshop with composer Joy Son (Harrington Award).

David Sisco is a multi-faceted artist whose life work centers around exploring music, drama, writing and teaching.  A member of the Dramatist’s Guild and the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop (Advanced), David is the author of Here I Am: A Musical Personal Ad, Variations on a Theme of You, Sopranos, BAIT n’ SWISH and The Catbird Seat.  David is currently collaborating with bookwriter/lyricist Tom Gualtieri on two musicals: Falling to Earth, and I’m Afraid, You’re Afraid: 448 Things to Fear And Why. Sisco is also a prolific art song composer.  A winner of the 2010 NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) Composition Award, David’s songs have been heard at concerts produced by Friends & Enemies of New Music, New Music New York, Joy in Singing, Lyricfest and Songfest. As a singer, David feels at home as a recitalist, musical theater performer and chorister.  He has been a proud member of the sanctuary choir at Marble Collegiate Church for over twelve years. David has served on the faculties at Northeastern and Suffolk University, and currently teaches voice at Marymount Manhattan College.  He also maintains a private studio in New York, and leads masterclasses around the country on preparing contemporary art song.


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