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Midwest New Musicals Writers Workshop Runs 9/18 Thru 6/19


Midwest New Musicals (formerly the Musical Theatre Writers Workshop at Theatre Building Chicago), a writers workshop and development program lead by John Sparks, begins on September 18, 2010, and continues through June 19, 2011.

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 take place at the Levy Senior Center in Evanston, Illinois.

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. One Lab is included in two-term fee. Additional Labs are $495 each. Non-refundable application fee is $25.

Information is available at (847) 869-6300, and

Midwest New Musicals, formerly the Musical Theatre Writers Workshop at Theatre Building Chicago, began its new phase in 2010 as a resident arm of Light Opera Works, Chicago's specialists in operetta and musical theater. When Theatre Building Chicago changed its mission last year, Light Opera Works recognized the opportunity 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 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 local 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 successful book writer/lyricist and a longtime member of the Academy for New Musical Theatre in Los Angeles, where he coordinated events and assisted in training new lyricists through the Lyric Lab. His production of 40 IS THE NEW 15 just completed a six-week run at the NoHo Arts Center. The piece previously received a 2010 GLAAD Media Award Nomination for Outstanding Los Angeles Theatre and was chosen by Stephen Schwartz to be part of the 2010 ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop. Larry won the Kennedy Center National Playwrighting Award and the ACTF Musical Theater Award for his work on the musical-drama ALL THAT HE WAS, which toured nationally and represented the United States in The Festival Vox Humana in Barcelona. Larry recently concluded a 13-year career with Walt Disney Television Animation where he worked as a line producer on productions including YIN YANG YO, MY FRIENDS TIGGER AND POOH, and HOUSE OF MOUSE.

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