Goodspeed Musicals/Johnny Mercer Foundation Present Writers Colony for Musical Theatre

Goodspeed Musicals/Johnny Mercer Foundation Present Writers Colony for Musical Theatre

Goodspeed Musicals begins its 50th Anniversary Season with the announcement of a major new four-week residency program for musical theatre writers. The Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals is the first of its kind in the country as it is dedicated solely to the creation of new musicals. In partnership with the Johnny Mercer Foundation, Goodspeed will proudly offer established and emerging writers the unique opportunity to research, develop, and create new musicals. Michael Price, Executive Director of Goodspeed Musicals, says of the ground-breaking initiative, "Goodspeed Musicals' unique focus is musical theatre so it is fitting that we are finally able to realize the long-held dream of establishing a home for the creators of new musicals. Thanks in part to our expanded campus and our good fortune in finding such a perfect partner in the Johnny Mercer Foundation to help fund it, this safe haven for artists will launch in 2013."

The Writers Colony is a unique, long term residency program devoted exclusively to musical theatre writing. It will provide a sanctuary for composers, lyricists, and librettists to embark on new musical theatre work or to devote a substantial amount of time to a work-in-progress in an environment rich with creative energy. For four weeks each year, 14 to 20 writers will be immersed in this stimulating environment with the singular purpose of allowing the writers to write.

At Goodspeed Musicals, writers will find the freedom to work without the distractions of daily life, while receiving the support and encouragement needed to develop their works in progress. Each project will be assigned a creative mentor drawn from the highest levels of musical theatre professionals. The Writers Colony will afford the artists unlimited access to research materials in the Scherer Library of Musical Theatre, one of the most extensive musical theatre libraries in the U.S.; composition time in Goodspeed's music studios; and collaborative exchange with their peers through a series of informal salons for presenting and sharing their work. Throughout the residency, members of Goodspeed's artistic staff and professionals from the Johnny Mercer Foundation will be on site to offer guidance and support for the writers. Each year, writers will be invited by Goodspeed's panel of industry leaders to participate in this prestigious program. A select group of participants have been invited for the inaugural residency and will be announced at a later date.

John D. Marshall. Jr., Chairman of The Johnny Mercer Foundation, notes that "The Johnny Mercer Foundation is very excited to be a partner with Goodspeed, because we share a common bond. Johnny Mercer mentored many aspiring writers and performers and had a great fondness for musical theatre. Goodspeed has a long tradition of being an incubator of new musical Theater Productions, and our partnership with them in this new endeavor validates part of our mission "to support the discipline of songwriting."

Goodspeed Musicals is fortunate to be the most recent collaborator to unite with The Johnny Mercer Foundation, which has also joined forces with several outstanding institutions to facilitate their goals. Johnny Mercer Foundation Vice President and Producing Writer in Residence at the colony, Jonathan Brielle, says, "The Johnny Mercer Foundation's educational program at Kaufman Center for 4th graders, middle school program at New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and college level program at Northwestern University make this residency for the working professional in theater the natural culmination of our mentorship programs by collaborating with Goodspeed Musicals, the premiere regional theater in the country. It is quite an honor to help Michael Price and the outstanding Goodspeed artistic staff create this unique experience for the working theater writer."

With the establishment of the Writers Colony, Goodspeed Musicals cements its position as the center for the American Musical, which it supports through producing new and valued musicals from our nation's history; the comprehensive collection and services of the Scherer Library of Musical Theatre; and the educational and outreach activities of its Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre.

The mission of the Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF) is to support the discipline of songwriting in the tradition of the Great American Songbook as exemplified by the life and work of Johnny Mercer: the most prolific lyricist, composer, performer, collaborator, and producer of the 20th Century. The Foundation continues Johnny's legacy by partnering with individuals and organizations dedicated to celebrating and nourishing the disciplines he mastered, and the causes he and Ginger Mercer championed.

JMF partners with several institutions including: LyricNOTES™ with the Kaufman Center in New York City; The Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project with Northwestern University (The American Music Theatre Project) to nurture and encourage young talent in the field of songwriting and The Johnny Mercer Collection at Georgia State University, where Johnny's many works and memorabilia are housed. They also support Georgia State University in a fellowship-type program to facilitate music education through the development of an elementary and middle school curriculum that focuses on, but is not limited to, songwriting and the Great American Songbook.

Dedicated to the preservation and advancement of musical theatre, Goodspeed Musicals produces three musicals each season at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn., and additional works at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn., which was opened in 1984 for the development of new musicals. The first regional theatre to receive two Tony Awards (for outstanding achievement), Goodspeed celebrates another milestone, its 50th Anniversary, in 2013. In addition to the two theatres and production facilities, Goodspeed maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre. Goodspeed gratefully acknowledges the support of the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism.

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