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Goodspeed Sets Starry Group of Writing Teams for 2016 Mercer Writers Colony

By: Nov. 20, 2015
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In what has become an annual ritual, a total of 36 established and emerging composers, lyricists, and librettists will converge on the Goodspeed campus from mid-January through mid-February 2016 to participate in the Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals. The writing teams, representing 19 new musicals, will populate the campus, creating a truly exciting environment for discovery and inspiration. BroadwayWorld is excited to report that Goodspeed has announced its 2016 participants. Scroll down for details!

The Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed is an unparalleled, long-term residency program devoted exclusively to musical theatre writing. It provides 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, starting January 18, the writing teams work in residence in Goodspeed's Artists Village, each team in their own house, with whatever support is needed, from dramaturgical to the Goodspeed's fine music department. In the evenings writers get together in an informal, salon-style environment and share the day's work. This gathering allows the artists an invaluable opportunity to gain insight from their colleagues. The Colony is the ultimate think tank of veteran Broadway and young working professional in theater today.

Over the course of the four week program, composer/lyricist Jonathan Brielle will again serve as Producer/Writer in Residence. Mr. Brielle is a writer, composer and lyricist. He created the first songwriters room in New York City, Uncle LuLu's. His first Broadway show was writing music and lyrics for Foxfire starring theater legends Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy (who won the Tony) and Keith Carradine. Subsequently, he became Composer in Residence of the prestigious Circle Repertory Company in New York, providing scores for some of New York's top playwrights. His recent credits include Himself and Nora (book, music, lyrics), Nightmare Alley (book, music, lyrics), and 40 Naked Women, A Monkey and Me (book, music, lyrics).

Michael Bush will serve as Resident Dramaturge. Mr. Bush directed the Off-Broadway productions of Bikeman, PsychoTherapy, Cactus Flower, and Based On A Totally True Story. Bush served as Director of Artistic Production and Associate Artistic Director for the Manhattan Theatre Club for over 25 years where he helped artistically guide more than 200 new plays and musicals, including the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning Proof and Doubt, and the Tony Award winning Love! Valour! Compassion!. He was instrumental in the rebirth of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's Cabaret & Performance Conference, and served as its artistic director from 2005 to 2012. Bush has developed over 100 new shows, revues, and intimate musicals including Broadway shows [title of show] and The Story of My Life.

Goodspeed's Line Producer Donna Lynn Hilton is guiding Goodspeed Musicals efforts on the JMF Writers Colony. Hunter Bird will be the 2016 Colony Coordinator.

The Writers Colony created a confluence of a long-held mission of fostering new works by both Goodspeed and JMF to nurture the discipline of songwriting. With this wonderful collaboration, Goodspeed continues to be an incubator for the next generation of musical theatre artists and performers, as well as a home of the American Musical.

The outstanding writers who have been invited to participate in the colony have earned tremendous recognition in the industry with honors such as the Fred Ebb Award, Jonathan Larson Award, Kleban Prize, ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Award, ASCAP Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, Ovation Award, Frederick Loewe Award, Lanford Wilson Award, Helen Merrill Award, Pacific/Rim Prize, Dramatists Guild Fellowship, UTAS Stephen Schwartz Songwriting Award, ASCAP Foundation's Lucille and Jack Yellen Award for Lyricists, Sam French Festival Winner, Marcie Bloom Fellowship in Film, Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, the Pratt Prize for Music Theatre, and the Jamie deRoy and Friends ASCAP Award.

We are pleased to announce that the 2016 writing teams include (in alphabetical order) Aaron Albert, Nikko Benson, Meghan Brown, Ty Defoe, Kate Douglas, Tim Drucker, Brian Feinstein, Zina Goldrich, Ben Halstead, Kristin Hanggi, Marcy Heisler, Shayfer James, Jason Kim, Gordon Leary, Mike Lew, Grace McLean, Julia Meinwald, Rehana Lew Mirza, Sean Patrick Monahan, Mary Katheryn Nagle, Alexander Sage Oyen, Kristia Pioppi, Katy Rae, Matthew Lee Robinson, Brett Ryback, Zoe Sarnack, Erica Schmidt, Tidtaya Sintoke, Mark Sonnenblick, Ben Toth, Eric Ulloa, Max Vernon, Sam Willmott, Amanda Yesnowitz, Zak Zadek, and Daniel Zaitchik.

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 the legendary Johnny Mercer: lyricist, composer, performer, collaborator and producer. 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 his wife Ginger Mercer championed.

JMF has created a number of dynamic creative joint ventures with several prestigious institutions to facilitate our goals, including the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals, Accentuate The Positive Programs (New York-Kaufman Music Center, Los Angeles and Miami), The Musical Theater Program at NJPAC, Georgia State University Fellowship Program, Florida International University Fellowship Program, the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project with Northwestern University and the Johnny Mercer Archives at Georgia State University. In addition, JMF also supports various charitable causes including UCLA's Art of The Brain, Children's Hospital Los Angeles (Mark Taper and Johnny Mercer Artists Program), Braille Institute (Johnny Mercer Children and Adult Choirs) and KCET TVs Cinema Series. For more information visit

Under the leadership of Executive Director Michael Gennaro, Goodspeed Musicals is dedicated to the preservation, development, and advancement of musical theatre. Goodspeed produces three musicals each season at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn. and additional musicals 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 maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre.

Who's Who: 2016 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals Participants:

BHANGIN' IT (Sam Willmott, Rehana Lew Mirza, Mike Lew) S. Willmott participated in the inaugural Mercer Colony

REHANA LEW MIRZA's full-length plays include: Soldier X, staged at Ma-Yi Theater in 2015, NYSCA Commission in 2012, and at Lark Development Center Studio Retreat; Lonely Leela, a production at LPAC; work shopped with Magic Theatre, HERE, and New Georges, with a reading at 2G; Barriers, a production at Desipina and Asian American Theater Company, with readings at Rasik Arts, Toronto, and Asian Arts Center, Philadelphia; Princess, which was a Grace Finalist; A Distant Relation with a reading at the Ma-Yi Theater; Particles of Pakistan at the E.S.T. Sloan commission; and if it's sad i don't want to see it, staged reading at Queens Theater in the Park, reading at 2G, O'Neill and Princess Grace semifinalists. Her plays have been published with the Alexander Street Press, indietheaternow, and the New York Theatre Review. Her breakout play Barriers was the first play to address 9-11 from a Muslim perspective and has been included on the curriculum at West Virginia University, Yale University and NYU, as well as being featured in The Cambridge Journal of American Studies' article article, "Staging Diaspora". Rehana and her husband Mike Lew are co-directors of the Ma-Yi Writer's Lab, the largest collective of Asian-American writers in the country. She is the recipient of an NNPN commission with Interact Theater, a Tofte Lake Emerging Writers Residency, IAAC playwright residency with The Lark Development Center, a TCG Future Leader fellowship with New Georges, the NBC DiverseCity ShortCuts Audience Award, a P2 for a Cause Grant, Leopold Schepp fellowship, a 2G residency, the John Golden Award, and an LMCC artist grant. For her advocacy work with the South Asian community, Rehana was nominated for a South Asian Media Award and was featured in publications such as India in New York, DesiTalk, India Abroad, Bibi Magazine, Nirali Magazine, and EGO Magazine, among others. Her short film Modern Day Arranged Marriage was acquired by the LOGO network. Her feature film Hiding Divya exposes the taboo subject of mental illness in the South Asian community, with theatrical releases in SF, Atlanta, New York, NJ and Michigan, followed by a nationwide college showing. She is a member of the Dorothy Strelsin Primary Stages Writers Group and the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, also having served as a co-director from 2011. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University and BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts.

MIKE LEW's plays include Tiger Style! (Alliance, Atlanta, O'Neill and CTG workshops; Juilliard, Huntington, and InterAct readings), Teenage Dick: vaguely from Richard III (Public, Florida Studio Theatre, Lark, and Playwrights Foundation workshops), Bike America (Ma-Yi, NYC; Alliance, Atlanta; Juilliard, Lark, Kennedy Center, and Playwrights Foundation workshops); microcrisis (Ma-Yi, NYC; InterAct, Philly; Next Act, and Milwaukee); Stockton (AracaWorks and EST workshops); People's Park (Victory Gardens workshop); Tenure (24 Hour Plays on Broadway), In Paris You will Find Many Baguettes... (Humana); Roanoke (Humana); and Moustache Guys. His plays are published with Sam French and Playscripts. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council, a Tony voter, and is the recipient of the Lanford Wilson Award, Helen Merrill Award, a NYFA fellowship, the Kendeda and AracaWorks Grad Playwriting Awards, Heideman Award, Pacific/Rim Prize, and is a Sam French Festival Winner. He is co-director of Ma-Yi Writers Lab, the largest collective of Asian-American playwrights in the country, and serves on the Members' Council of Ensemble Studio Theater. He is also a former staff writer for Blue Man Group, Bon Appetit, and PBS Kids' PEG+CAT, and an alumnus of Youngblood and TCG Young Leaders of Color. He is married to fellow playwright Rehana Lew Mirza, who he met in Ma-Yi Lab (read the story here). Mike is a graduate of Yale and Juilliard.

SAM WILLMOTT is beyond thrilled to return to Goodspeed and the Mercer Colony, and is ever grateful for their joint commitment to be the best possible home for new writers and new projects. Sam is a composer, lyricist and librettist whose projects include Bhangin' It , Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol with additional lyrics for the 2014 Actors Fund concert of the Jule Styne / Bob Merrill TV special, Yo, Vikings! with Marcus Stevens, Standardized Testing - The Musical!!!!, and Scarlet Takes a Tumble. He is the recipient of the Kleban Prize for Most Promising Musical Theater Lyricist (2015), a Jonathan Larson Grant (2015), the ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Award for Lyrics (2013) and the Fred Ebb Award (2012). Sam is a proud faculty member with Pace University's Musical Theater BFA candidates and Lincoln Center's Songwriting in Schools program, as well as a staff writer for the Korea-based children's English-language program English Egg. For more information, visit

BY THE NUMBERS (Brian Feinstein, Amanda Yesnowitz)

AMANDA YESNOWITZ, lyricist and writer, has won the Jonathan Larson Award, the Dottie Burman Award, and the Jamie deRoy and Friends ASCAP Award, all for excellence in songwriting. She's a 7-time MAC Award nominee and a Dramatists Guild fellow whose newest musical Somewhere in Time just had its pre-Broadway run at Portland Center Stage having won 7 PAMTA nominations, also placing as a NAMT finalist. Her works include The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Hangar Theatre world premiere); The History of War (NYMF Invited 2010, O'Neill conference finalist); While I Wait, featuring songs: "Other People's Art" (NAMT Showcase), Another Day (debuted by Lea Michele), and Gotta Start Small (recorded by Stephanie Block on This Place I Know); By The Numbers (ASCAP Showcase, No Looking Back performed by Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops). When she isn't creating lyrics, Amanda is teaching at NYU as a Senior Lecturer and a nationally ranked crossword solver: her debut as a puzzle constructor ran in 2012 in the New York Times magazine.

BRIAN FEINSTEIN is an award-winning composer in NYC. His new musical Girlstar will premiere at The Signature Theatre in Washington DC, October, 2015. Off-Broadway: Mimi Le Duck starring the legendary Eartha Kitt. The Top Job (based on the best-selling children's novel). Regional: The Circus is Coming to Town (awarded Best Family Musical in Southern California), Dial M for Murder, As You Like It. The world premiere play Ever So Humble, Bertol Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle, and the The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe (Hangar Theatre, Ithaca). His film credits include original songs for the film musical The Legion of Grads and The Sublet. Brian is the recipient of 6 ASCAP Plus Awards, a Dramatists Guild Fellowship and the Anna Sosenko Musical Theatre Trust Award. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild, ASCAP, and the Tri-State Basset Hound Rescue League.

Co-Op (Max Vernon, Jason Kim)

MAX VERNON is a composer, lyricist, playwright, and performer. Described by the New Yorker as "equal parts bohemia and Broadway," his work has been performed and developed at Ars Nova, Theatreworks Silicon Valley, Theatreworks USA, Naked Angels, New Dramatists, Two River Theater of NJ, Dixon Place, Woodshed Collective, Ma-Yi, LaMaMa, and Pride Films and Plays of Chicago. This past year he received the Jonathan Larson Grant, and was a Dramatist Guild Theatre Fellow, an artist in residence at Rhinebeck Writer's Retreat, a JFund award recipient, and also finished his first commission for Disney Creative Entertainment. He is currently a member of Ars Nova's Uncharted. He has performed over a hundred concerts in New York City, including sold out shows at Joe's Pub (Frisk Me: The Songs of Max Vernon) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Civilians' Let Me Ascertain You). His musicals include The View UpStairs (NYU, Pride Films and Plays) and WIRED (Ars Nova) Developing: Co-Op (Ars Nova, Naked Angels Radio); Aesop's Fables (Theatreworks USA); KPOP (Ars Nova/Ma-Yi); Show & Tell (Jerome Foundation, Civilians R&D Group). Max holds an MFA from the NYU-Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

JASON KIM is a Korean-born dramatist based in Brooklyn, New York. Television: Girls (HBO) and Gracepoint (Fox). Film: Auto (LineXLine Productions), A Wednesday (Downtown Short Film Festival). Plays: New America (Naked Angels), Jason Kim Writes a Play (Ma-Yi Theater Company), Stuck (Serials at the Flea Theater), A Modern Feeling (NSD), History of a Marriage (Gowanus Art + Production), Co-op (Naked Radio), and an upcoming K-Pop Musical in Ars Nova Theater's 2016-2017 season. Opera: An American Man (Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, commissioned by Washington National Opera), Legendary (American Opera Projects, Manhattan School of Music), A Year of Madness (American Opera Projects), and Seeking You (Spoleto Festival). IFP-Marcie Bloom Fellowship in Film, Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, Mark Campbell Chair Librettist Fellow in American Opera Project's Composers & The Voice. Member of Ma-Yi Writers Lab and Ars Nova's Uncharted. BA Columbia University, MFA New School for Drama.

CYRANO (Erica Schmidt)

ERICA SCHMIDT's writing credits include: Humor Abuse (with performer Lorenzo Pisoni, at Manhattan Theatre Club, Humor Abuse won: Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics, Drama Desk and Obie Awards also played Philadelphia Theatre Company, American Conservatory Theatre, Seattle Rep and The Mark Taper); Debbie Does Dallas (wrote the adaptation/book and lyrics- published by Dramatists Play Services - and directed the Off-Broadway production at the Jane Street).

Her directing credits include: Turgenev's A Month In The Country at CSC with Peter Dinklage and Taylor Schilling; Dennis Kelly's Taking Care Of Baby (Manhattan Theatre Club); Jonas Hassen Khemiri's I Call My Brothers and Obie Award winning Invasion! (both for The Play Company); Rent (Tokyo); Moliere's Imaginary Invalid, Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, Gilbert and Sullivan's The Sorcerer and Copland's The Tender Land (all at Bard Summer Scape); Carnival (The Paper Mill Playhouse); Quincy Long's People Be Heard (Playwrights Horizons); Gary Mitchell's Trust (The Play Company, Callaway Award nominee); As You Like It (The Public Theater/NYSF, chashama; New York International Fringe Festival Winner for Best Direction); Spanish Girl (Second Stage Uptown); R&J; Topdog/Underdog;Buried Child and Macbeth (The Juilliard School); Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards (The McCarter's Berlind Theater, Princeton University). Princess Grace Award recipient 2001.


DANIEL ZAITCHIK is a singer-songwriter, playwright-composer, and sometimes-actor. His musical Picnic at Hanging Rock was developed at Lincoln Center Theatre, the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center, and was recently produced at Weber State University and Stoneham Theatre (Young Company.) Other music-theatre projects include Suprema (with playwright Jordan Harrison; commissioned by Ars Nova; developed at Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and New Dramatists), Ula (45th St Theatre) and Darling Grenadine (currently in development with director Kristin Hanggi.) As a singer- songwriter, Daniel has played NYC/LA venues including Joe's Pub, 54 Below, Canal Room, Rockwood Music Hall, Room 5 and The Bootleg Theatre. In 2009 Daniel created the multi- voiced band Blue Bottle Collection, with whom he released the 2011 concept album Summer of the Soda Fountain Girls. In 2013 he released the solo EP Bad Dancer. He is currently working on his next solo album. His songs were recently featured on the web series Submissions Only and "EastSiders." As an actor, Daniel has worked at Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, Cherry Lane, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Barrington Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, the Intiman Theatre, and others. Grants and Awards include The Ester B. Kahn Career Entry Award from Boston University, the Frederick Loewe Award from New Dramatists (for Suprema) and The Georgia Bogarduz Holof Lyricist Award (for Picnic at Hanging Rock.)

DEATHLESS (Zack Zadek)

ZACK ZADEK An award winning composer/lyricist, songwriter, performer, and playwright, Zack Zadek has been named by Playbill as "A Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriter You Should Know" and by Buzzfeed as a writer who "proves why you should give musical theatre another shot". His musicals 6 (dir. Sheryl Kaller), The Crazy Ones (NY Theatre Barn, NYMF 2013), and The Role of a Lifetime (Produced by William Berlind, Lyrics by Randy Blair) have been seen and developed around the world, from New York City to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Zack's songs have been performed by some of Broadway and West End's biggest names in performances across NYC including The Highline Ballroom, Joe's Pub, (le) Poisson Rogue, 54 Below, Contemporary Classics in Seattle, and as a part of In The Valley: The Songs of Zack Zadek at The Laurie Beechman Theatre. Also touring and performing his own music regularly, Zack has been seen banging on pianos with his band in London, Los Angeles, and more.

Winner of the inaugural "Got Musical!" award by Disney Imagineering and NMI, Zack has also actively scored films for emerging filmmakers and directors. As a mainstream songwriter, he has collaborated with Nina Nesbitt (Universal), Mree, LOLO (DCD2) and many other artists.

He attended New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study and has been taught and mentored by Duncan Sheik, Amund Bjørklund (Espionage), Andrew Lippa, Tor Hermansen (Stargate) , Maury Yeston, Nick Blaemire (Glory Days), Charlie Rubin (Seinfeld), Jesse Harris (Norah Jones), Bob Power (D'Angelo), Josh Safran (SMASH), Ira Newborn (Ferris Buller's Day Off), Joe Church (The Lion King), John Sexton, and more. He is currently working on several new projects, including an adaptation of a film, EDM song-cycle, and Deathless, a new indie musical about life, death, and family.

DEVOTION (Mark Sonnenblick)

MARK SONNENBLICK is a composer, lyricist, and scriptwriter, although not always at the same time. Collaborations include: Independents (lyrics, revised book; "Best Production" FringeNYC, "Critics' Pick" New York Times, Huffington Post's Top Ten Shows of 2012), Ship Show (book/lyrics; Yale Institute for Music Theatre, dir. Mark Brokaw), Stompcat In Lawndale (book/lyrics/co-music; Ars Nova), Wheel Of Misfortune (music/co-developer; Denver Center for the Performing Arts), The Dinosaur Hunters (book/lyrics/music; touring children's show), Rodman In North Korea (libretto; Houghton Lyric Theater), Midnight At The Never Get (book/music/lyrics; Don't Tell Mama), Bunkerville (music/lyrics; first student-written Yale DRAMAT musical in 30 years). Larson Grant and Kleban Prize finalist, MAC Award nominee, special merit award winner (New Musicals, Inc.). Composer fellow at the John Duffy Institute (Virginia Arts Festival), member of the Johnny Mercer Songwriting Project, librettist fellow with Composers and the Voice (American Opera Projects), commissioned by the American Opera Initiative (Washington National Opera, Kennedy Center). He lives in Brooklyn with no wonderful family.

HOLLYWOOD ROMANCE (Marcy Heisler, Zina Goldrich, Kristin Hanggi)

MARCY HEISLER is an author and lyricist, is currently at work on a musical adaptation of Ever After, based on the Twentieth Century Fox film. She was the 2012 winner of the Kleban Prize for Outstanding Songwriting, and was a recent Fred Ebb Award winner along with longtime composing partner Zina Goldrich. Her Off-Broadway Credits include Dear Edwina (Drama Desk nom., Best Lyrics) and Junie B Jones(Lucille Lortel nom, Best Musical). Other works include the Kennedy Center's Snow White, Rose Red and Fred (Helen Hayes nom; Best Musical), Goodspeed Musical's The Great American Mousical at The Norma Terris Theatre (Lyrics), and the Ordway Theatre's Adventures in Love (Lyrics). She has published two romantic comedy songbooks, and her compositions have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and others. She has taught/lectured at Carnegie Mellon, University of Miami, Baylor University, and others, and is the co-creator of Spotlight Sessions, an audition workshop for professional actors in New York City. Television and Film credits include Peg Plus Cat (PBS), Pooh's Learning Adventures (Disney) and Disney Education's Safety Smart series. A graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts with High Honors in Dramatic Writing, she also studied Theatre at Northwestern University's School of Speech. While actively working on both coasts, Marcy currently lives in New York City.

ZINA GOLDRICH, Composer, won the 2009 Fred Ebb Award for excellence in songwriting with longtime collaborator, Marcy Heisler. She is currently working on the musical Hollywood Romance, with Heisler,bookwriters Jen Crittenden & Gaby Allan, and director Kristin Hanggi. Her most recent musical, Ever After, completed a successful run at Paper Mill Playhouse this past summer. Goldrich and Heisler's musical, The Great American Mousical, directed by Julie Andrews premiered in 2012 at Goodspeed's The Norma Terris Theatre in Connecticut last Christmas. Their songs have been sung by many Broadway stars including Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth and Allan Cumming. Ms. Goldrich composed music for Dear Edwina (Drama Desk Nomination) and Junie B. Jones (Lucille Lortel Nomination) which ran successfully Off-Broadway. Snow White, Rose Red (and Fred) (Helen Hayes Nomination) was commissioned by the Kennedy Center and is licensed by MTI. On television, she has composed for Wonderpets, Johnny and the Sprites, Pooh's Learning Adventure and the new hit, Peg + Cat, on PBS. She is the recipient of the ASCAP Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, a Larson grant and is a Seldes-Kanin Fellow. She has played keyboards on Broadway for Avenue Q, Bombay Dreams, Oklahoma and Titanic, where she also conducted. She is currently composing the score for a new musical produced by Universal Stage Productions based on one of their classic films.

KRISTIN HANGGI is best known for directing and developing the international smash-hit Rock of Ages, which received five Tony Award nominations, including a nomination for Best Direction of a Musical. She has directed numerous productions of Rock of Ages, including Broadway, the West End, Australia, Toronto, Las Vegas, and two National Tours.

Ms. Hanggi's other stage productions include the developing and directing the acclaimed pop opera bare, which ran to sold-out audiences in Los Angeles and off-Broadway. bare brought Ms. Hanggi numerous accolades including the Ovation Award for Best Musical, LA Weekly Award for Best Musical, and the Robby Award for Best Director. bare has gone on to have over 100 productions all over the world.

Among other exciting upcoming projects, Kristin is currently working alongside Amy Heckerling to develop Ms. Heckerling's hit 1995 film Clueless into a musical for the stage.

Also a film director, Kristin recently directed Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List, an adaption of Rachel Cohn & David Levithan's popular novel of the same name, starring Victoria Justice. She made her feature directorial debut in 2013 with the indie Grantham & Rose starring Jake T. Austin and Marla Gibbs. For television, Ms. Hanggi adapted and directed the hit book series, Dear Dumb Diary into a musical movie, under Executive Producer Jerry Zucker for Walden Media.

Other past stage productions include: the initial production that launched the Pussycat Dolls, Pussycat Dolls Live at the Roxy with stars Christina Applegate, Carmen Electra, and special guests Gwen Stefani,Christina Aguilera, Brittany Murphy, Nikka Costa, and Charlize Theron. And the Curtain Rises at the Signature Theater; the winner of the New York Fringe Festival for best play, Catch the Fish by Jonathan Caren; Brian Crano's Twelfth Premise (LA Times Critic Pick); the Los Angeles premiere of Terrence McNally's Corpus Christi (Ticketholder Awards for Best Production and Best Director; Robby Award for Best Director of a Play); and Timothy McNeil's Crane, Mississippi (LA Times Critic's Choice, Backstage West Critic's Pick.)

Ms. Hanggi graduated with her Masters from USC after receiving her Bachelors from UCLA in Theater. In June of 2013, Kristin returned to her alma mater when she received the UCLA School of Theater, Film, & Television Distinguished Alumni Award.

Kristin has a passion for music, and has directed multiple music videos. She also has a deep love for connecting artists with spiritual tools to develop and sustain their careers; she teaches ongoing workshops in both New York and Los Angeles. To learn more about all of her work, visit

IN THE GREEN (Grace McLean, Tim Drucker)

Grace McLean Called "electrifying" by The Huffington Post and "spectacular" by the New York Times, McLean is a multi-hyphenate actress-singer-writer-teacher on the rise. In addition to performing in Off-Broadway hits like Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Brooklynite, Bedbugs!!! and Sleep No More, Grace also makes time for her acclaimed original music, both as a solo artist and with her bandGrace McLean & Them Apples. With a sound that combines Regina Spektor's quirkiness, Nellie McKay's jazz sensibilities, Fiona Apple's irreverence, Kimbra's sass and Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs' rhythm, McLean adds up to one beautiful weirdo. Manhattan User's Guide writes, "this pop and jazz singer writes seriously infectious melodies with seriously antic lyrics. Her voice can raise the roof, or she can slide off a note and break your heart."

Grace was a headlining performer and instructor at the SingStrong a capella festivals in DC and Chicago in 2014 along with a capella group Ten of NBC's "The Sing Off" and singer/songwriter Blake Lewis, runner up on season six of American Idol. Most recently, Grace McLean & Them Apples opened the Lincoln Center American Songbook series with a sold out concert on January 21, 2015, and have just returned from a US State Department sponsored tour of Pakistan.

Grace's work as a performer and educator has taken her to Jamaica, Scotland, Italy, Croatia, Serbia and Pakistan. In New York, you can find her and her band at Joe's Pub, 54 Below, Rockwood Music Hall, Ars Nova (where she developed the interactive concert experience Grace McLean: Lives in Concert), and the Museum of the American Indian, where she performed as part of a panel discussion on storytelling for The Economist's 2012 Ideas Summit. As a performer Grace has been seen at Lincoln Center, New York City Center, The McKittrick, BAM, the ACE Hotel (where she collaborates monthly with The Dance Cartel's show OnTheFloor) and numerous other venues both uptown and downtown.

McLean's pop opera In The Green (about 12th century German mystic Hildegard von Bingen) is currently in development. Grace released her new EP in May 2015, featuring the single, and her first feature video, Natural Disaster. Make Me Breakfast, the 2012 EP from Grace McLean & Them Apples, is available on iTunes now. Find out more at

MY NAME IS ANNIE KING (Krista Pioppi, Aaron Albert, Katy Rea)

KRISTA PIOPPI (Book) writing credits include My Name is Annie King, Porcelain (music by Brandon Kalm - short film in production). As a performer Pioppi appeared in Spring Awakening (First National Tour),For Tonight (NYMF), Hit Her With The Skates (NYC Reading), A Lasting Impression (NYTW), The Visit (dir. John Doyle), Disney High School Musical (Paper Mill Playhouse). Krista holds a BFA in Musical Theater from Pace University.

AARON ALBERT (Music & Lyrics) has composed music for My Name is Annie King, The Many Selves Of Mia Scott (Pasadena Playhouse), Famille (Joe's Pub.) Aaron has had his music performed at New World Stages, Urban Stages, Joe's Pub, 54 Below, and Sidewalk Cafe. PERFORMING: Dear Evan Hansen (Michael Grief), Backstreet Boys The Musical (Warren Carlyle), 13 (Jason Robert Brown), Merrily We Roll Along (Lonny Price), Nickelodeons' I-Carly, ABC's 10 Things I Hate About You, Disney's I'm in The Band Albert holds a BFA In Musical Theatre From Pace University.

KATY REA (Music & Lyrics) has composed music for My Name is Annie King, The Many Selves Of Mia Scott (Pasadena Playhouse), Famille (Joe's Pub.) Katy has had her music performed at New World Stages, Urban Stages, Joe's Pub, 54 Below, and Sidewalk Cafe. PERFORMING: Factory Girls (54 Below,) Dogfight ( Pace University.) Adam Guettel's, The Invisible Man (Pace University). She currently studies acting at The William Esper Studio, BFA in Musical Theatre from Pace University.

NIKOLA TESLA DROPS THE BEAT (Ben Halstead, Nikko Benson )

BENJAMIN HALSTEAD is the co-writer of Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat with mad-genius, Nikko Benson. Ben studied filmmaking at NYU, but let's be honest: he's a theatre nerd. He wrote/directed a couple musical short films (NYU Film Festival Faculty Commendation for Directing, Art Direction, and Original Music, Wasserman Award Finalist, National Board of Review Student Grant Recipient, Marion Carter Green Award), and then enrolled at NYU again for the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. His songs have been performed at Joe's Pub, 54 Below, Bill Finn's Cabaret, Barrington Stage, Tisch, NYMF, and more. He's a founding member of the Musical Theatre Factory, and participates in the MTF Writer's Group, and is a curator of the Annual MTF Musical Film Festival.

NIKKO BENSON is a writer and performer. Based in New York, he and his songs have been featured at Signature Theater, 54 Below, Joe's Pub, Don't Tell Mama, Sophie's, as well as other international venues. He was the special guest writer of William Finn's Ridiculously Talented concert (2013) at Barrington Stage Company, and recently presented his first solo showcase, In Pursuit of Magic, at the Musical Theater Factory.

With collaborator and cool-dude Benjamin Halstead, Nikko created immersive electronica musical Nikola Tesla Drops The Beat, which has received readings at NYU and the Musical Theater Factory. They also created and premiered short film Zombie Musical at MTF, and curate and produce the semi-annual NYC Short Movie Musical Festivals hosted there. As a solo entity, Nikko is author of Unpacking (The Music Theater Company), Hope-A Tragedy, Who's Waldo-A Comedy, and Going Up (Lawrence University). He also wrote lyrics for When The War Is Done, a translation of Quand La Guerre Sera Finis (Music by Nicholas Skilbeck). He writes on occasion for film and dance, just to switch it up. Nikko is a founding member of the Musical Theater Factory, an alumnus of NYU's Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program, and a proud member of ASCAP and the Dramatists' Guild.

PASSING THROUGH (Brett Ryback, Eric Ulloa) This project was part of in the 2015 Mercer Colony

ERIC ULLOA is the librettist of the musical Passing Through and Molly Sweeney. He is also the author of the play 26 Pebbles, which recently played a sold out benefit evening at Arena Stage in Washington DC. Eric was in the 2013 production of The Most Happy Fella at the Goodspeed Opera House. Eric is also currently performing on Broadway in the musical On Your Feet! ;

BRETT RYBACK is an actor, composer, and playwright based in LA. He originated the role of Marcus Off-Broadway in Murder for Two at Second Stage and New World Stages. Recent TV/Film appearances include: Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, House, and the Coen Brother's upcoming film, Hail, Caesar! Regional theatre credits include work at Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Kirk Douglas, Geffen Playhouse, South Coast Rep, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, La Jolla Playhouse, Milwuakee Rep, and many more. His plays and musicals include: Liberty Inn: The Musical (Ovation nominations Best Book, Best Music/Lyrics); Darling (Weston Playhouse New Musical Award, Featured on NBC's "The Apprentice"); The Tavern Keeper's Daughter (Best Musical, Pasadena Weekly), A Roz By Any Other Name, and Weïrd (Both featured in Best American Short Plays 2007-2008). He was commissioned to write music for Just a Little Critter Musical for First Stage Milwaukee, which will premiere in February 2016, and was invited to participate in the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed to develop his latest project Passing Through.

PREACH (Matthew Robinson)

New York based Australian composer/lyricist Matthew Lee Robinson has won the UTAS Stephen Schwartz Songwriting Award, the Pratt Prize for Music Theatre, the Gilbert Spottiswood Churchill Fellowship and the $100,000 Australia Council Music Fellowship.

His latest musical Atlantis was most recently developed at the 2015 Canadian Music Theatre Project in Toronto and in NYC readings mentored by Stephen Schwartz and representatives from Disney Theatrical Group, Manhattan Theatre Club and Ambassador Theatre Group. His next musical in development, Happy People, has been workshopped by Village Theatre, Washington, and his first musical,Metro Street, received productions in Australia and South Korea, being nominated for five Helpmann Awards (Australia's equivalent to the Tony Awards).

Robinson's other songwriting credits include the Emmy-nominated television series Dance Academy, the musical revue Sing On Through Tomorrow (Original Cast Recording on iTunes) and various songs for the events of Coca-Cola, Nintendo, Nokia, IBM and the Australian Open Tennis Championships. His music has been heard in concert through the Ars Nova Uncharted series, Seattle's New Voices series and his 2015 NYC launch concert G'day Broadway. Robinson's upcoming engagements include Lincoln Center's Broadway's Future Songbook Series and the 2016 iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta.

Reb + VoDKa + Me (Julia Meinwald, Gordon Leary)

GORDON LEARY and JULIA MEINWALD are New York based musical theatre writers from Chagrin Falls, Ohio and Ithaca, New York, respectively. They were 2009-2010, 2013-2014 Uncharted writers at Ars Nova, and are beginning a 2015-2016 residency with The Civilians. Their musicals together include Pregnancy Pact (2012 premiere production, Weston Playhouse; 2011 NAMT Festival; 2011 Yale Institute for Music Theatre), I Love You, Anita Bryant (2015 workshop production, University of the Arts; 2014 OutLoud reading, Ars Nova), Galaxy Comics (2014 United Airlines in-flight programming, 2012 New York Television Festival Award), Disappeared (2009 Lincoln Center Directors Lab; 2008 Prospect Theatre Company), and One Man Show (2010 DanceNow [NYC] at Joe's Pub; 2009 DanceNow [NYC] Festival at Dance Theater Workshop). They also recently collaborated on a short children's musical for New York City Children's Theatre. Their work has been heard at 54 Below, 92Y Tribeca, D-Lounge, Duplex , Goodspeed, Laurie Beechman Theatre, NYMF, New York Theatre Barn, Penn State Nu Musicals, Rockwood Musical Hall, the Triad, Williamstwon Theatre Festival, and the York Theatre Company.

SUNRISE PRAYER (Tidtaya Sinutoke, Mary Kathryn Nagle, Ty Defoe) T. Defoe was a Mercer Colony 2013 participant

MARY KATHRYN NAGLE (Book) was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She is a member of the 2012-2013 Public Theater's Emerging Writers Group, where she developed her play, Manahatta, which the Public Theater workshopped in its in inaugural Public Studio series in May 2014.Her play Sliver of a Full Moon was presented at Yale Law School on March 31, 2015 (directed by Madeline Sayet) . She currently lives in New York where she writes briefs, plays, and posts on Howlround that explore the appropriation and exploitation of Native identity on the American stage.#InsteadofRedface

TY DEFOE (Lyrics) of the Oneida and Ojibwe tribes, received a Grammy Award for his work on Come to Me Great Mystery: Native American Healing Songs. Other work includes: Clouds Are Pillows for the Moon(2014 Yale Institute for Musical Theatre, 2015 ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop, 2015 Kilroys Honorable Mentions List, and 2015 NAMT Songwriters Cabaret with his main collaborator Tidtaya Sinutoke),Tick-Tick (2014 Prospect Theater Company's Musical Theater Lab) and Crossing Borders (2015 CAP 21 Residency), most recently an international puppet tour of Heather Henson's Flight: Crane's Story. Recent highlights include: Rauschenberg Foundation (artist residency), and TCG (Leading the Charge: Diversity and Inclusion Fellow). Ty is a graduate of CalArts, Goddard College, and NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at Tisch. He also collaborated with the Alaskan Cultural Heritage Center, and Indigenous Hawaiian Theatre Project. ASCAP and Dramatists Guild member.

TIDTAYA SINUTOKE (Music) is a NYC-based composer, writer, and musician. Writing credits include: Clouds Are Pillows for the Moon (2014 Yale Institute for Music Theatre, 2015 ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop, 2015 Kilroy's Honorable Mentions List, 2015 NAMT Songwriters Cabaret), Tick-Tick (2014 Prospect Theater Company's Musical Theatre Lab), Crossing Borders (2015 CAP 21 Residency), Untitled: Hart Island Requiem (2015 Civilians R&D Group), and In The Cards (2014 Boston-Contempo International Festival). Originally from Thailand, she has a Bachelor of Music from Berklee College of Music in Boston and Master in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Her music has been featured at venues such as the Signature Theatre, 54 Below, Symphony Space, Joe's Pub, Songbook at Lincoln Center, and Dramatists Guild National Conference in Chicago. She also participated in the 2014 Composer-Librettists Studio at New Dramatists and the 2015 Johnny Mercer Songwriter Projects. Tidtaya is a proud member of ASCAP, and the Dramatists Guild.

THE NINTH HOUR (Kate Douglas, Shayfer James)

KATE DOUGLAS is a New York-based performer, songwriter and theatre artist currently working as Associate Artist at Punchdrunk's Sleep No More and touring with Courtney Love in the opera Kansas City Choir Boy. Since graduating from NYU, Kate has devised numerous original theatre/music hybrid works featuring alternative folk music with roots in bluegrass, country and rock with an emphasis on story, most notably her genre-defying piece The Imaginary Menagerie, which has had incarnations at Joe's Pub and Ars Nova in addition to a year-long residency The McKittrick Hotel that featured different musical artists each month, including PigPen Theatre Co., Shaina Taub, Kiah Victoria and Shayfer James. She has sung with artists such as Todd Almond, Lisa Sokolov and Jonathan Hart-Makwaia and collaborated with companies such as Punchdrunk, Theatre Oobleck and the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Her poetry has been published in Burningwood Literary Journal, Contrary Magazine and Potluck Magazine, among others. Her first EP, The Blue House, was produced by Matthew Marsh (of DEAN) and Ben Wygonik (who has worked with artists such as OK Go and They Might Be Giants) and was mastered by Dan Konopka of OK Go.

SHAYFER JAMES weaves surprisingly genuine musical landscapes that evoke the gauzy, sweaty sexuality of gulf-coast barrooms and the fantastical, narcotic mysticism of a Lewis Carroll- inspired three-ring circus. Mr. James' noir-infused, piano driven music swaggers from dark danceable anthems to harrowing ballads with jazz lilted satire and whiskey-dirt grit. Raised with one foot in the theater and the other in a dingy night club, Shayfer finds inspiration as frequently in Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim as he does in The Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello, The Pogues, and The White Stripes. He has toured the U.S., and has performed at festivals and events like CMJ NYC, Art Basel, Miami, Foburg Festival, New Orleans, CBGBs Festival, NYC, and Hope & Glory, Hong Kong. His songs have been featured by and Filter Magazine online, and his second album, Counterfeit Arcade, was dubbed 'New and Noteworthy' by iTunes. Shayfer has independently released two LPs and one EP