The New York Youth Symphony Musical Theater Songwriting Program Announces 2021/2022 Season

The season will feature Jason Robert Brown, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty and more!

By: Aug. 30, 2021
The New York Youth Symphony Musical Theater Songwriting Program Announces 2021/2022 Season

The New York Youth Symphony Musical Theater Songwriting Program (NYYS) and Director Anna K. Jacobs have announced the 2021/2022 Season. Heading into its fourth season the NYYS Musical Theater Songwriting program is specially designed to lead students through a range of musical theater songwriting processes. The 2021/2022 season will feature guest speakers including composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years, Parade, The Bridges of Madison County, Songs for a New World), composer/lyricist team Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Once on this Island, Anastasia, Seussical), composer Helen Park (KPOP, Over The Moon), composer and orchestrator Jamshied Sharifi (The Band's Visit) director and choreographer Raja Feather Kelly (A Strange Loop, Lempicka), music director Meg Zervoulis (The Prom, Mean Girls, West Side Story), Dramaturg and Associate Artistic Director Natasha Sinha (Playwrights Horizons), and Dramaturg and Artistic Associate Anika Chapin (Goodspeed Musicals), and guest performers Christiani Pitts, (A Bronx Tale, King Kong), Eric William Morris (King Kong, Mamma Mia!), Vishal Vaidya (Groundhog Day), Brian Charles Rooney (The Threepenny Opera). This season also continues the NYYS partnerships with the Harlem School of the Arts, the New York Film Academy, and MAESTRA.

Director Anna K. Jacobs says, "We are thrilled about the guest artists and educational offerings we have in store for our 4th season with the New York Youth Symphony, and I cannot wait to be back in the room with students as they learn and create."

The 2021/2022 Musical Theater Songwriting cohort's original works will be showcased at a final concert at Joe's Pub on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 at 7:00 pm performed by the NYYS students themselves, plus students from the Harlem School of the Arts and the New York Film Academy.

Founded in 1963, the NYYS is internationally recognized for its award-winning and innovative educational programs for talented young musicians. As the premier independent music education organization for ensemble training in the New York metropolitan area, the NYYS has provided over 7,000 music students unparalleled opportunities to perform at world-class venues including Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Joe's Pub, and The Times Center, and to study with world-renowned artists. Beyond the instruction from accomplished musicians, students gain valuable life skills - commitment, discipline, focus, collaboration - and friendships that last a lifetime.


Tickets & Information:


Anna K. Jacobs, Director

Musical Theater Songwriting Showcase 2021

Wednesday, May 26, 2021, at 7:00 PM at Joe's Pub

Featuring original works, performed by NYYS students, and students from the Harlem School of the Arts and

the New York Film Academy



Anna K. Jacobs is a Jonathan Larson and Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award-winning composer, lyricist, and book writer. Her stage works include POP! (Yale Rep, Pittsburgh City Theatre, Studio Theatre; book/lyrics by Maggie-Kate Coleman), Teeth (NAMT, O'Neill; co-book/lyrics by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael R. Jackson), Anytown (George Street Playhouse; book by Jim Jack), Harmony, Kansas (Diversionary Theatre; book/lyrics by Bill Nelson), Echo (Musical Theatre Factory), and Stella and the Moon Man (Sydney Theatre Company/Theatre of Image; play by Richard Tulloch, co-composed by Adrian Kelly). She also penned the screenplay for The Real Gemma Jordan (University of Nebraska-Lincoln; music/lyrics by Rob Rokicki), and music and lyrics for the movie musical Kaya: Taste of paradise (NY Film Academy; screenplay by Jerome A. Parker), and contributed music and lyrics to the multi-composer song cycle, Letters to the President (Cooper Union). Currently, Anna is working on commissioned projects for Barbara Whitman Productions/Grove Entertainment, Disney Cruise Line Entertainment, and California Center for the Arts, Escondido. She is a former Sundance Fellow and Dramatists Guild Fellow, and holds an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU-Tisch. As an educator, she is passionate about helping the next generation of songwriters develop their voices and craft, and has served on the faculties of IAMT, Temple University, Mannes School of Music, and the Dramatists Guild Institute.


Lynn Ahrens + Stephen Flaherty are considered the foremost theatrical writing team of their generation. They won Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for the Broadway hit Ragtime, and were nominated for two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes for Twentieth Century Fox's animated feature film Anastasia.

They also adapted Anastasia for the Broadway stage. Their musical Once On This Island won London's Olivier Award and Broadway's 2018 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Other theatre credits include Seussical (one of the most produced shows in America); Rocky; My Favorite Year; Chita Rivera-The Dancer's Life; Dessa Rose; A Man of No Importance; The Glorious Ones, Lucky Stiff and two upcoming shows, Knoxville and Marie.

They serve on Council for the Dramatists Guild of America and co-founded the DGF Fellows Program for Emerging Writers. They are four-time Grammy nominees, recipients of the Oscar Hammerstein Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2015 Ahrens and Flaherty were inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame.

Jason Robert Brown is the ultimate multi-hyphenate - an equally skilled composer, lyricist, conductor, arranger, orchestrator, director and performer - best known for his dazzling scores to several of the most renowned musicals of our time, including the generation-defining The Last Five Years, his debut song cycle Songs for a New World, and the seminal Parade, for which he won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Score.

He has been hailed as "one of Broadway's smartest and most sophisticated songwriters since Stephen Sondheim" (Philadelphia Inquirer), and his "extraordinary, jubilant theater music" (Chicago Tribune) has been heard all over the world, whether in one of the hundreds of productions of his musicals every year or in his own incendiary live performances.

Anika Chapin is a New York City-based dramaturg and writer. She is currently the Artistic Associate and resident Dramaturg and Goodspeed Musicals, where she scouts and develops new musicals. Formerly the Literary Manager at Two River Theater, where she shepherded works by artists including Joe Iconis, Madeleine George, and Tony Meneses, she was also the executive producer of Encores! Unscripted, a discussion series about topics in theater that was a collaboration between WNYC and City Center Encores! With Michael Fling, she is the creator and host of In The Spotlight, a podcast that dives into musicals - their histories, stories, and what makes them work (or not!). She taught Script and Score Analysis at Pace University, and written pieces for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Playbill, and others. She was named one of the Broadway Women's Fund's '50 Women to Watch'. She thinks about musical theater almost too much.

Helen Park is a three-time Drama Desk nominee and recipient of the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical and the Richard Rodgers Award. Her music has been described as "perversely addictive" (New York Times) and "infectious" (Hollywood Reporter). Park wrote songs for Over the Moon, an Oscar-nominated Netflix Original Animated Feature musical film directed by Academy Award winner Glen Keane. Other notable work includes KPOP, an upcoming Broadway musical for which she wrote Music and Lyrics, Music produced and Orchestrated. The initial Off-Broadway production of the show received a sold-out, extended run at Ars Nova, and was the most nominated show of the 2017-2018 season. Park also wrote music for the one-act musical Baked Goods for which she won the 2018 Samuel French Short Playwriting Contest. Named "the calmest, coolest, chicest, young prodigy in town" (Broadway World). Park has performed in various events in New York City including a sold-out solo concert at Feinstein's/54 Below. Park is an alumnus of NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and the BMI Lehman Engel Advanced Musical Theater Workshop, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

Christiani Pitts is an American actress, singer and dancer. She began her career at age 8 in Montclair, New Jersey before moving to back to Atlanta, Georgia. In 2008 Ms. Pitts began recording her first EP. Along with love for acting and music, she also pursued her career in dance and landed her first dance role in the film Big Momma's House 3: Like Father Like Son. Christiani attended the Florida State University in the prestigious Musical Theatre Program. In 2018 she was cast as Ann Darrow in King Kong on Broadway.

Eric William Morris made his debut in Coram Boy, and went on to play the role of "Sky" in Mamma Mia! on Broadway. He frequently collaborates with composer Joe Iconis, starring in Be More Chill, Things To Ruin and Bloodsong of Love. TV/Film credits include: "Mind Hunter," "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," "Quantico," "Blue Bloods," and the feature film Trust, Greed, Bullets, & Bourbon. Regional/Off- Broadway credits include: Songbird, The Ballad Of Little Jo, The Last Goodbye, Dog & Pony, and Tennessee Williams' Talk to me Like The Rain. Eric is also a Company Member of ANIMUS, and his play Running Interference (written with Ashley Rodbro) won Best Ensemble at the NYC Fringe (2015) and is currently being developed into a feature-length film.

Vishal Vadiya

Theatre Credits: You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, Barrio Grrrl!, A Year with Frog and Toad, Oklahoma!, RENT, Big River, Godspell, The Music Man, The Red Balloon, Jerry Springer: The Opera, Pasquale's Aquarium, Sanyasi 2011

Raja Feather Kelly is a choreographer, a director, and the artistic director of the feath3r theory. He is a three-time Princess Grace Award winner (2017, 2018, 2019), two-time Lucille Lortel Award nominee (2019, 2020), and 2019 Chita Rivera Award nominee. In 2020 he was the Obie Award winner and Outer Critics Circle Award honoree for choreography for the Pulitzer-winning musical A Strange Loop. In 2019, he was an SDCF Joe A. Callaway Award finalist for both A Strange Loop and the Pulitzer-winning play Fairview. Raja is also the 2019-2020 Randjelović/Stryker Resident Commissioned Artist at New York Live Arts, an inaugural Jerome Hill Artist Fellow, and a 2019 Creative Capital award recipient. He is a current fellow of HERE Arts, the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, and a Creative Associate at The Juilliard School. Over the past decade, Kelly has created fifteen evening-length premieres with his company the feath3r theory as well as directing and choreographing extensively for Off-Broadway theatre in New York City. His choreographing has also garnered a 2018 Breakout Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF) and the Solange MacArthur Award for New Choreography (2016), and he was Dance Magazine's inaugural Harkness Promise Award (2018).

In a critically acclaimed performance that Entertainment Weekly magazine said "ignited the stage," Brian Charles Rooney made their Broadway debut as Lucy Brown in "The Threepenny Opera" for The Roundabout Theatre Co., co-starring Alan Cumming, Cyndi Lauper, Jim Dale, Ana Gasteyer, and Nellie McKay.
They were lauded by The New York Times for their performance as Dionne Salon in the hit Off-Broadway musical, "Bedbugs!!!" They won The New York Musical Festival's Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actor Award for their portrayal of Lee/Miss Blanche in the new one-man musical, "Miss Blanche Tells It All," and were featured in the recent concert presentation of the cult-favorite "When Pigs Fly," directed by Mark Waldrop, with costume designs by the legendary Bob Mackie! They appeared as The Witch, to critical acclaim, in the recent immersive Off-Broadway production of "Into the Woods," with Out of the Box Theatrics!

Natasha Sinha is a producer and dramaturg, focusing on new plays and new musical work. Natasha is Associate Artistic Director of Playwrights Horizons. Recently, as Director of Artistic Programs at Signature Theatre, she spearheaded new artistic programs for Signature (including a new holistic residency for early-career playwrights), and she was artistic line producer for select plays and musicals (including Dave Malley's Octet, Fires In The Mirror by Anna Deavere Smith, and Lauren Yee's Cambodian Rock Band). She is the recipient of the 2019 LPTW Lucille Lortel Award. Until 2018, Natasha was Associate Director of LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater which exclusively produces premieres (including Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar, Rude Mechs' Stop Hitting Yourself, Dave Malloy's Preludes, War by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Bull In A China Shop by Bryna Turner, Ghost Light by Third Rail Projects, Martyna Majok's queens, and Antoniette Nwandu's Pass Over). She kicked off the LCT3 Spotlight Series with Shabash!, hosted by Danny Pudi and Parvesh Cheena. Natasha was previously the Associate Producer at Barrington Stage Company. As a freelance dramaturg, she has worked on new plays and new musicals by Dave Harris, Michael R. Jackson, Grace McLean, Shakina Nayfack, Danny Pudi, Heather Raffo, Sam Salmond, and Kit Yan & Melissa Li. Natasha is a co-founder of Beehive Dramaturgy Studio, which works with individual generative artists as well as organizations such as Page 73, Musical Theatre Factory, Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program, and Astoria Performing Arts Center. She is on the Advisory Board of SPACE on Ryder Farm, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, and Musical Theatre Factory (where she co-moderates MTF's POC Roundtable, exclusively for musical artists of color, and advises on various programs, including MTF Makers). She has served as a judge on many award committees, taught classes, written articles, led panels, and created events to center a range of exciting new voices from historically oppressed communities. In her free time, Natasha is one of the three coordinators of Amplifying Activists Together.

Jamshied Sharifi is a New York City-based composer, producer, and keyboardist. He has composed the scores for the feature films Harriet The Spy, Down To Earth, Clockstoppers, and Muppets From Space, as well as contributing music to numerous other films and television shows. As a producer, arranger, and keyboardist, he has recorded and/or performed with Paula Cole, Ray Charles, Dream Theater, Laurie Anderson, Hassan Hakmoun, Snatam Kaur, and many others, and has written orchestrations for the Broadway shows The Last Ship and The Band's Visit (for which he won a Tony Award in 2018).

Meg Zervoulis

Broadway: West Side Story (current revival), The Prom, Mean Girls, Great Comet of 1812.

Off Broadway: The Visitor (upcoming @ The Public), Merrily We Roll Along (Fiasco/Roundabout), Cagney, Rated P.

Other New Works: Breathe (May 14th '21 Album and Streaming Release), Broadway Vacation (Seattle 5th Ave upcoming), Buñuel (Public Theater in development), and Jeannette (Signature Theatre upcoming).

At her home base, Paper Mill Playhouse, her credits include Mary Poppins, Bandstand, and Ever After and their annual New Voices concerts. She also helms Hotel Elefant, a chamber ensemble in NYC, and played keyboard for the Big Apple Circus. Meg has appeared around the country as a pianist/bandleader for Betsy Wolfe, Bryce Pinkham, Gavin Creel, and Will and Anthony Nunziata. She is also on the rosters of Sing for Hope, Sing for Your Seniors and Concerts in Motion (three wonderful service organizations through the arts). Meg has served as music collaborative pianist for the Multiple Woodwinds MM program at New Jersey City University. Meg is also active as a music educator and music therapist and is a proud member of Local 802 and Maestra. Education: Carnegie Mellon University.


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