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Midwest New Musicals Announces 2011-12 Workshops

Midwest New Musicals is an ongoing forum where lyricists, composers and book writers create and discuss their work. Divided into three levels, workshop members meet 10 times per year for intensive weekend sessions led by Workshop Director John Sparks, and Associate Artist Larry Todd Johnson. Sessions will take place on Chicago's North Shore. In addition there are interactive online Labs for the individual disciplines of book writing, lyric writing and composing for musicals.

The study and writing process leads to a Mini-Musicals Project where participants create short musicals for a pre-selected ensemble and production team. The project culminates in a formal public presentation.

Fees for the Midwest New Musicals Core Curriculum are $645 per term, or $1,200 if enrolling for two terms in advance.The fall term is a pre-requisite for the winter/spring term.The winter/spring term includes the Mini-Musicals Project. One Lab is included in two-term fee. Additional Labs: $495 each.Application Fee (non-refundable):$25.

The culminating exercise of first-year workshop writers is the Mini-Musicals Project. Participating authors create short musicals for a pre-selected ensemble and production team. The 2011 Mini-Musicals Project is Spring Rains and Labor Pains and is comprised of four pieces: Life Has its Ups and Downs by Gail Sonkin & Laura Toffenetti, Real Life by Scott Free & John David Nelson, Surrogates by David Charles Goyette, Mike O'Mara & Jean Vanier and Another Life by J. Linn Allen & Leo Schwartz. The stage director is Allan Chambers, the music director is Jessica Hunt, and the performers areKelllie Cundiff, Kevin Grubb, Amy Malcom, Mark LeBeau and Amanda Marcheschi.

Spring Rains and Labor Pains, the 2011 Mini-Musical Project takes place on Sunday, July 17, 6:30 PM at the McGaw YMCA Children's Center Auditorium at 1420 Maple (at Lake) in Evanston Tickets for the general public are $10 at the door.

Since 2009, Midwest New Musicals, has been a resident arm of Light Opera Works, Chicago's specialists in operetta and musical theater. With the Midwest New Musicals, Light Opera Works is able to expand its programming and service to the field by providing an outlet for writers and for new works of musical theater.

Workshop Leader Biographies

John Sparks (Workshop Director) is the Artistic Director for the Academy for New Musical Theatre in Los Angeles where he has taught since 1981. In 1987 he founded the musical theater writers workshop at the former Theatre Building Chicago where he served as Artistic Director from 1999 to 2009. John is also currently a board member and guest instructor with Mercury Musical Developments in London. John has written many musicals that have been produced in Los Angeles, Chicago and on the east coast, including: Babes In Barns (music and lyrics), Hans Brinker (lyrics), Cashel Byron (book),The Arresting Dilemma of Mister K (book), and On The Brink (book and lyrics). He has received awards such as the After Dark Award for Best Score and several commissions from Theatre Building Chicago and the Frederick Loewe Trust, awarded by the National Alliance for Musical Theatre. John studied with the late Lehman Engel, renowned musical director and founder of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and with Broadway and Hollywood director Michael Gordon.

Larry Todd Johnson (Associate Artist) is a book writer and lyricist originally from Southern California. With composer Cindy O'Connor, his musical 40 is the New 15 received Stagescene LA's award for Best New Musical 2010, received a 2010 GLAAD Media Award Nomination for Outstanding Los Angeles Theatre, and was chosen by Stephen Schwartz to be part of the ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop. Larry and Cindy won the Kennedy Center National Playwright's Award as well as the ACTF Musical Theater Award for their work on the musical-drama All That He Was. Other projects include Beautiful (with Cindy O'Connor and Adrian Bewley) Now and Then a Hero (with composer Jake Anthony) and The Last Princess (with composer Allen Hong.) For television, Larry has written animated series teleplays for Yin Yang Yo!, The Care Bears, and Angela Anaconda, to name a few. He holds a BA in Theatre from UCLA and a Masters in Playwriting from CSUF.

Light Opera Works is a resident professional not-for-profit theater in Evanston, founded in 1980. The company's mission is to produce and present musical theater from a variety of world traditions, to engage the community through educational and outreach programs, and to train artists in musical theater. All productions are presented in English, with foreign works done in carefully edited modern translations. Maximum scholarship is employed to preserve the original vocal and orchestral material as well as the spirit of the original text whenever possible. Audiences have come to know that at Light Opera Works they will experience repertoire often unavailable on the stages of commercial theaters and opera houses, in modern productions with professional artists and full orchestra.


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