Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

New Musicals Inc. Names 2015 New Voices Project Finalists

The new kids on the musical theatre block are here! Five really promising (and really young - under the age of 26!) have just won New Musical Inc.'s 2015 New Voices Project.

After carefully reviewing many promising submissions from 18-25 year old writers across the country, the New Voices Project has selected these young writers to be showcased: Jacob Combs & Madeline Myers, Bill Nelson and Joseph Trefler, and Michael Finke. In additional to winning a cash prize, these writers will have selections from their new musicals showcased as part of a three-tiered presentation/feedback trajectory:

  • the works will be presented in concert as part of NMI's annual GOT MUSICAL concert at the Colony Theatre in Burbank on Thursday, June 4, 2015
  • later in June, the works will be presented to and critiqued by a distinguished panel of musical theatre professionals including representatives from Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment, and members of the staff of the Academy for New Musical Theatre (Elise Dewsberry, Artistic Director;
  • after an opportunity for revision based on the critiques, the works will be presented in concert as part of the STAGES Musical Theatre Festival in August

"We are very proud of this program," says NMI's Artistic Producer Elise Dewsberry. "This is one of only a very few opportunities (such as the Festival of New American Musicals' Show Search) specifically designed for young musical theatre writers. These writers are so important to the future of this great American art form - and we are thrilled to be contributing to that future!"

The writing team of Jacob Combs and Madeline Myers says "We believe that stories have an unparalleled power to transport and teach, and we know that musical theater is among the most emotionally resonant of the performing arts." Jacob and Madeline's current musical, Legends & Lore, has been developed at the Fingerlakes Musical Theater Festival, the New York Theatre Barn, and Musical Theatre Factory.

Jacob Combs, an LA based writer and composer/lyricist, attended Brown University, and has since worked in live theatre and in film. He worked as a music assistant on the original Off-Broadway musical The Blue Flower at Second Stage Theatre, and then in the story department of Blue Sky Studios on the development of several feature films, including "Epic" and "Rio 2." As a writer and editor, Jacob has contributed to Indiewire, EqualityOnTrial and the Huffington Post, covering the arts, law and politics.

Madeline Myers, a New York based composer and lyricist, studied composition at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music. Madeline was the first place winner of the 2014 inaugural Ken Davenport Songwriting Competition, and has participated in the New Dramatists Composer-Librettist Studio, the Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project, and the Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals.

"Musical theatre is, for us, hands-down the most thrilling and rewarding way to communicate with people ... " says the writing team of Bill Nelson and Joseph Trefler, co-writers of the musical Men with Money. "In this medium, we're able to combine words, music and movement to create experiences that are greater than the sum of their parts ... and we get to take part in the inspiring act of collaboration, the lightning in a bottle that makes this complex art form possible."

Bill Nelson is a New York-based lyricist, bookwriter and playwright. His musical Harmony, Kansas (with composer Anna K. Jacobs) received four SCENIE Awards and three San Diego Theatre Critics Circle nominations. William Finn conceived and directed a revue of his songs (at Barrington Stage Co.) called Bill Nelson's All-Male Revue. His plays have been seen across the country and his songs have been presented at cabarets around the world, including Finn's Songs by Ridiculously Talented Composers. He received an M.F.A. in Musical Theatre Writing at NYU-Tisch.

Joseph Trefler is a New York based composer-lyricist. He composed the scores for Honey I'm Home!, an interactive film exhibit (Scotiabank Nuit Blanche), and The Music Box, a short dance-film that was shown on Air Canada flights. His 10-minute musical The Bad Ideas of Jack Andrews (with bookwriter-lyricist Seth Christenfeld), was a finalist in the Ken Davenport 10 Minute Play competition. Joseph received his Bachelor of Music from the University of Toronto and MFA from the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, New York University.

"Musical theatre has always felt like a transformative experience." says Michael Finke. "Fusing the different tools of music, text, design, and performance to create a theatrical event can leave me breathless and moved in a rather significant way ... I aspire to join those innovative artists who hope to utilize both the methods discovered before us and the unknown processes of contemporary musical theatre to create that transformative experience."

Michael Finke is a New York based composer, lyricist, and music director who received his B.F.A. from Tisch School of the Arts. He has been an ASCAP and O'Neill Finalist, was selected for the 2013 Johnny Mercer Songwriting Foundation Workshop, and has had songs, concerts, and fully-realized productions of his work performed at 54 Below, The Laurie Beechman Theater, NYU, Don't Tell Mama, Off Broadway at St. Luke's, Joe's Pub, L.A.'s Rockwell: Table & Stage, the Christmas Day telecast on ABC, and many more.

"We received so many outstanding submissions this year," says NMI Executive Producer Scott Guy, "that we have also decided to give out several Merit Awards. These writers will also be included in the late June feedback session and will receive some written notes from the NMI Staff and the WDI Creative Entertainment team."

The Merit Award Receipients are: Mark Sonnenblick, Andre Catrini, Sam Chase and Bob Kelly, and Ben Boecker.

New Musicals Inc. seeks to encourage and enable writers, producers, directors, and dramaturgs to take a more collaborative and strategic approach to the creation of new works right from the start, before the pen even hits the page. This initiative hopes to foster the creation of exceptionally well crafted new musicals, that are intentional and intelligent in design. NMI strives to pave the way for the development of new musical theatre that is imaginative, inspiring, and impactful in today's world.

For information on New Musicals Inc., or the New Voices Project, visit

Related Articles

NOS Dance

More Hot Stories For You