27 Writers Of 9 New Musicals Announced For Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Founding Executive Director Kathy Evans announced the 27 writers of nine new musicals for Rhinebeck Writers Retreat's summer weeklong residencies. This year's artists include Obie-winner Heather Christian, Kleban-winner Brian Crawley, TV and film writers Bekah Brunstetter (THIS IS US) and Cinco Paul (DESPICABLE ME), inaugural Stephen Schwartz Award winner Oliver Houser, and ASCAP Foundation scholarship winner Khiyon Hursey. The musicals cover a wide range of subjects. Four have LGBTQ themes: a historical look at Florida in the 1950s (IN A SUNSHINE STATE), a Palestinian/Israeli love story (BORDERS), a modern coming of age of a young black man (SEAN'S STORY PART I | THE AWAKENING), and a fantasy queer rock musical celebrating lady love (TL;DR: THELMA LOUISE; DYKE REMIX). Two are darkly comedic historical musicals: one featuring Mary Magdelene (A.D. 16) and the second a WWII plot to foil Hitler (OPERATION MINCEMEAT). Other subjects include the opioid crisis (ALMOST HEAVEN), the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (THE GOLDEN SPIKE), and a mystery involving a woman with a sleep disorder (NARCOLEPSY).
The nine musicals were selected from 160 applications, which were reviewed by 27 readers in the first round and, in the final round, six new musical experts who are members of Rhinebeck Writers Retreat's Sounding Board: Tory Bailey, Executive Director of the Theatre Development Fund; Neil Bartram, Composer; Kent Nicholson, Associate Producer of Musical Theatre, Playwrights Horizons; Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director, TheatreWorks USA; Natasha Sinha, Director of Artistic Programs, Signature Theatre; and Steve Stettler, former Producing Artistic Director, Weston Playhouse.
For nine consecutive weeks beginning June 30, each writing team is awarded a private weeklong residency in the Hudson Valley to focus solely on writing their musical. Writers are provided a home, transportation, food, and a stipend, and all their costs are covered by Rhinebeck Writers Retreat's donors. Major support comes from National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund, The Noël Coward Foundation, and Samuel French, A Concord Theatricals Company.
The writers and musicals selected for this summer and the major supporters underwriting each week are:
· July 14 - July 21: Hunter Bird and Oliver Houser, ALMOST HEAVEN, with Lead Support from Cathy Cabrera and Rick Ungar
· July 21 - July 28: Zoe Roberts, Natasha Hodgson, David Cumming, and Felix Hagan, OPERATION MINCEMEAT, with Lead Support from The Noël Coward Foundation
· August 11 - August 18: Don Nguyen and The Lobbyists - Tony Aidan Vo, Tommy Crawford, Eloïse Eonnet, Alex Grubbs, Will Turner, and Douglas Waterbury-Tieman, THE GOLDEN SPIKE, with Lead Support from Amy and Roger Faxon
Bios and synopses can be found at rhinebeckwriters.org/2019-writers.
Created in 2011, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat provides weeklong residencies for musical theatre writers to focus solely on writing their musicals in the heart of the Hudson Valley. The Triple R program provides one team two readings and a residency for intensive development. Alumni include Kirsten Childs, Adam Gwon, Joe Iconis, Kyle Jarrow, Mike Lew, Rehana Lew Mirza, Zoe Sarnak, Duncan Sheik, Georgia Stitt, Max Vernon, and Sam Willmott. Musicals developed in Rhinebeck had productions at The Public Theater, Barrington Stage, Second Stage Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, The Old Globe, and The Culture Project. All costs are covered by contributions including major individual support from: Liz Armstrong, Cathy Cabrera and Rick Ungar, Amy and Roger Faxon, Liz and Bill Mills, Steve and Paula Reynolds, Peter Risafi and Steven Wheeler, and Jacqui and Lew Rose. www.rhinebeckwriters.org