New Musical Development Program

Creating New Musicals

The 5th Avenue Theatre is one of the nation’s leading producers and creators of new work, having premiered over 16 original musicals in the past 10 years. A musical cannot be created in a vacuum. Writers need actors, directors, producers, and ultimately an audience to inform their work. A new musical requires dynamic collaboration, time, space, and the freedom to test out radical changes in a safe environment. It can take anywhere from one to more than ten years for a musical to be ready to meet the stage and its first audience because, as Sondheim says, “Musicals aren’t written, they are rewritten.”

The 5th Avenue Theatre New Musical Development Program operates year-round to foster the creation of new musicals. From the smallest kernel of an idea to a main stage production, the New Musical Development Program is committed to creating a positive and safe environment that supports the unique needs of each project.

We are dedicated to process-based development, allowing each project to take a unique development path necessary to its full realization.  At The 5th Avenue Theatre, we craft a specific plan for each project that comes our way, tailored from the following opportunities (or a combination thereof).

Commissions
At The 5th, we believe in supporting work from idea through to completion. To that end, we take every chance we can to fully support the pieces we believe in. We are proud to have multiple works under commission.

Writers Intensive
A Writers Intensive provides writing teams with artistic support, time and space necessary to achieving their specific goals for their new musical.

Table Read
An opportunity to hear work read aloud by a group of actors in order to experience and evaluate a new musical in process.

29-Hour Reading
A rehearsal process that allows 29 hours of collaborative interaction between the writers, creative team and a company of actors, culminating in a read and sing through of the material.

Developmental Lab
An intense developmental process that immerses writing teams in a three-week collaboration with a creative team and company of actors. The Lab provides writers with the time, space and support to take risks and test out significant changes. The process also includes one or more presentations to gather feedback and fuel further work.

 

First Draft: Raise Your Voice

First Draft: Raise Your Voice is designed to introduce and nurture new musical theatre writers from traditionally marginalized populations. Across an 18-month cycle the program will shepherd writing teams representing an intentionally targeted community from a simple concept on a page through the completed draft of a show. Each year submissions will be open to a different targeted group. Our 2018-2019 cycle solicited submissions from teams of womxn, gender non-conforming, and non-binary folx. We will be announcing our next cycle in early 2019.

Questions about the program can be directed to Associate Artistic Director Kelsey Thorgalsen at nwsubs@5thavenue.org.

Four Inaugural First Draft Commissions Announced from The 5th Avenue Theatre’s First Draft: Raise Your Voice

In October 2018, the inaugural cycle of new musical development program completed its first Story Summit with nine participating writing teams representing womxn, gender non-conforming and non-binary folx.

The 5th Avenue Theatre proudly announces that four writing teams representing womxn, gender non-conforming and non-binary voices have been selected to receive a First Draft Commission (a commission that will support writers solely through the development of the first draft of their script) following the inaugural First Draft: Raise Your Voice Story Summit. The commissioned teams will have one year to complete a first draft of their script with the support of The 5th Avenue Theatre. At the end of the cycle, The 5th will produce a one-week reading with a final presentation in New York City, giving the commissioned teams the opportunity to showcase their work to national industry leaders.

The four writing teams include Emily Chiu (she/her) and Lauren Taslitz (she/her); Jasmine Joshua (they/them), Alexei Cifrese (she/her, he/him), and Heather Ragusa (she/her); Kit Yan (he/him, she/her, they/them) and Melissa Li (she/her); and Tidtaya Sinutoke (she/her) and Isabella Dawis (she/her). Over the course of the next year, The 5th will give each team two writer’s retreats, a table read with a professional cast, and one-week reading with a presentation in New York City.

Selected from more than 80 submissions, nine teams participated in a Story Summit that took place at The 5th Avenue Theatre September 24-28, 2018. The teams had one week of intensive writing time at The 5th with the support of three dramaturgs. At the end of the week, each team had ten minutes to pitch their musical to a panel of industry professionals representing both regional non-profit theater and commercial theater. The panel made recommendations to The 5th on the four teams to advance to a full first draft commission.

About the First Draft Commissions

Bha Zhang
Emily Chiu (music & lyrics)
Lauren Taslitz (book & lyrics)

After the death of her Ah Ma (grandmother), Alice (a 25-year-old Taiwanese-American) is determined to make her grandma’s special bha zhang (a glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves) for her mother for Mother’s Day but cannot track down the recipe among her Ah Ma’s family and friends. Desperate for connection both to her Ah Ma and to her own heritage, Alice sets out on a fevered quest to discover the recipe, which forces her to wade into the pool of her own grief.

Here and Their
Jasmine Joshua (book, music, and lyrics)
Alexei Cifrese (book and lyrics)
Heather Ragusa (music and lyrics)
Local writing team

In a small town in Big Sky Country, Sam O’Malley’s grandma has requested a family reunion with everyone there—including Aunt Meredith. In an attempt to get to know this estranged relative through traditional means (Google), Sam discovers that Aunt Meredith is, in fact, ‘80s lesbian punk rock icon, Vicki Vektor. As Sam tumbles down the internet rabbit hole, new and confusing concepts like “your gender isn’t the same as your sex” and “trans umbrella,&rsquot; unearth a lot of personal realizations and questions. Questions that can’t be asked in a conservative Catholic family. But maybe Aunt Meredith can help…

MISS STEP
Kit Yan (book and lyrics)
Melissa Li (book, music, and lyrics)

Pam is an unremarkable transgender woman in her mid-forties living a basic life in a one-bedroom apartment in New Jersey. After her estranged father suddenly passes away, she discovers his secret passion for competitive aerobics. Determined to get closer to the man she never knew, she convinces a ragtag group of trans friends to compete in the regionals with her, but in order to win, she must defeat her high school arch nemesis.

Half the Sky
Tidtaya Sinutoke (music)
Isabella Dawis (book and lyrics)

A Thai American woman sets out to fulfill her dream of summiting Mount Everest. With the company of a precocious teenage Sherpa and other hopeful climbers from around the world, she is constantly tested by the demands of the climb. As she comes face to face with the mountain’s frozen history, the borders between countries and cultures, past and present, and waking and dreaming begin to blur.

About the Story Summit Selection Committee

The Story Summit selection committee was comprised of:

  • Marleen Alhadeff, with her husband Kenny, is a producing partner of The 5th Avenue Theatre and a producer with Junkyard Dog productions, Tony Award®-winning producers of Memphis and Come From Away
  • Erin Craig, producer with La Vie Productions developing and mentoring new artists and projects for over 20 years
  • Ken Davenport, Tony Award®-winning producer of Once On This Island, Spring Awakening, and Kinky Boots
  • Gabrielle Greene, Director of New Play Development at La Jolla Playhouse
  • Rosa Joshi, Seattle-based director and co-founder of upstart crow collective and Chair of the Department of Performing Arts and Arts Leadership at Seattle University
  • Margaret Layne, Director of Casting at ACT – A Contemporary Theatre
  • Karen Lund, Associate Artistic Director of Taproot Theatre Company and Vice President of the Board of Theatre Puget Sound
  • Olivia O’Connor, Manager of New Work Development at Pittsburgh CLO overseeing the SPARK Festival of New Musicals
  • Dr. Beth Porter, long-time 5th Avenue Theatre new musical development supporter and musical theater fan
 

Script Submissions

At this time, we are not accepting unsolicited submissions that are not attached to a producer or agent. If you are a producer or agent, please email script and demo submissions to nwsubs@5thavenue.org.