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Caissie Levy, Krysta Rodriguez & More Set for Yale Institute for Music Theatre's New Readings

The YALE INSTITUTE FOR MUSIC THEATRE announces the creative teams and casting for the two original book musicals, Blessing, music and lyrics by Andrew R. Butler and book by Andrew Farmer, and The White City, music by Avi Amon and book and lyrics by Julia Gytri, which will be developed in an intensive two-week summer lab at Yale School of Drama, June 13-25. Sybille Pearson is the Artistic Advisor and Catherine Sheehy is the Dramaturg for this year's Institute, which culminates with open rehearsal readings of each project, presented as part of New Haven's International Festival of Arts & Ideas on June 24 and 25.

Established in 2009, the YALE INSTITUTE FOR MUSIC THEATRE is a program of Yale's Binger Center for New Theatre that bridges the gap between training and the professional world for emerging composers, book writers, and lyricists. The Institute matches the authors of the selected works with collaborators, including professional directors and music directors, as well as a company of actors and singers that includes professionals and current Yale students.

The two-week alumni residency, introduced in 2015, provides a safe, "away from home," intensive environment for a writing team to work on a project already in development. The alumni residency is for authors only, one of whom must be a past Institute participant. The team is invited to all company events, but there is no rehearsal or public presentation of their work. Bookwriter and lyricist Charlie Sohn and composer Tim Rosser have been selected as this year's participants to work on their new musical Run Away Home.

The Binger Center for New Theatre has distinguished itself as one of the nation's most robust and innovative new play programs. Since 2008, the Binger Center has supported the work of more than 50 commissioned artists and underwritten the world premieres and subsequent productions of 24 new American plays and musicals at Yale Rep and theatres across the country. The Binger Center also facilitates residencies of playwrights and composers at Yale School of Drama, including those who are selected to participate in the Yale Institute for Music Theatre.


Music and Lyrics by Andrew R. Butler
Book by Andrew Farmer
Directed by Kent Nicholson
Music Direction by Rick Burkhardt

Cast: Ben Anderson, Stephen Bienskie, Jenelle Chu, Emma Galvin, Leah Hocking, Tim Jerome, Sydney Lemmon, Stephanie Machado, Kaia Monroe, Heath Saunders, Andy Tayler
Musician: Matt Cusack

Open Rehearsal Readings: Friday, June 24 at 1PM; Saturday, June 25 at 5PM

It's Spirit Week in Blessing, Alabama, the little ol' town that lives up to its name with sunny skies and friendly faces. But as storm clouds stir up unforgotten sins and unspoken secrets, the good folks of Blessing are forced to take a closer look at their lives and reconsider just how blessed their little town is.

Blessing was commissioned and produced by Playwrights Horizons Theatre School.

ANDREW R. BUTLER (Music and Lyrics) is a composer, writer, and performer based in Brooklyn, New York. As a member of Ars Nova's 2014-15 Uncharted music/theatre writers' group, he wrote music and lyrics for the folk musical Finn the Fearless with playwright Andrew Farmer. Finn also received development at the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Theatre Aspen, and The Polyphone Festival at University of the Arts. Also with Farmer: Blessing, commissioned by the Playwrights Horizons Theater School at NYU; and a musical adaptation of Kate DiCamillo's children's novel, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, commissioned by TheaterWorksUSA. Other work: music and lyrics for The Dixon Family Album (Williamstown Theatre Festival Fellowship), co-composer for Jaclyn Backhaus' Folk Wandering (Joe's Pub, Ars Nova), the sci-fi folk musical Rags Parkland (Ars Nova, JACK), the musical sketch comedy group Political Subversities (Joe's Pub, Ars Nova), and the experimental theatre company harunalee. Andrew holds a BFA in Drama from NYU's Experimental Theater Wing.

ANDREW FARMER (Book) is a writer and performer based in New York. Recent playwriting credits include The Gray Man (Walker Space); The Fall of Hotel Mudafier to the Toltecs (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Our Farm (The Tank, Underground Arts); andHands (Best New Play 2006, Southeast Theatre Conference). Other musical collaborations with Andrew Butler include Finn the Fearless(Ars Nova Residency, Polyphone Festival); Blessing, commissioned by the Playwrights Horizons Theater School at NYU; and a musical adaptation of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, commissioned by TheaterWorksUSA. Also at Ars Nova, Andrew created and performed in I Heard Sex Noises: A Glimpse at Gardening On Roosevelt Island with Claire Rothrock, Ryann Weir and Annie Tippe, and wrote the book for the new musical Boats And (music by Nate Weida). His storytelling has been featured on F@*k! I'm In My Twenties, New York Magazine'sThe Cut, and Mara Wilson's What Are You Afraid Of? He currently teaches playwriting at NYU's Playwrights Horizons Theater School, where he received his BFA.

The White City
Music by Avi Amon
Book and Lyrics by Julia Gytri
Directed by Mark Brokaw
Music Direction by David Gardos

Cast: Jenni Barber, Kate Berman, Robin DeJesus, Alexander Gemignani, Caissie Levy, Jared Joseph, Krysta Rodriguez, Thom Sesma, Bobby Steggert

Open Rehearsal Readings: Friday, June 24 at 5PM; Saturday, June 25 at 1PM

Change is in the air. It's 1893, and Chicago is hosting the World's Columbian Exposition, where scientists, scholars, and business tycoons hope to propel society into a shining new era. But trouble simmers beneath the façade of the shimmering "White City" when young women begin to go missing.

The White City was developed during a residency at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Music Theater Conference in 2014.

AVI AMON (Music) is a composer for theatre, film, and dance. With Julia Gytri, Avi wrote The White City (O'Neill National Music Theatre Conference, finalist for the Richard Rogers Award) and Step on a Crack (Prospect Theater). They are developing a new musical,Salonika, a fusion of obscure fairy tales paralleled with the extermination of the Ladino-speaking Jewish community of Salonika, Greece. Avi earned his MFA from NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. He's held residencies at the Weston Playhouse, New Dramatists, and Target Margin Theater. He is also a volunteer composer for the 52nd Street Project. Other recent projects include: Bread of Heaven with Kendell Pinkney (14th St. Y), The Children with Phillip Howze (2015 Carlotta Festival at Yale School of Drama, BRIC), and Rated Black with Kareem Lucas (La Mama). Upcoming: sound installation for Torn Space Theater in Buffalo's Silo City. Avi lives in Brooklyn where he tends to his immense plant collection.

JULIA GYTRI (Book and Lyrics) is an Austin-based wordsperson, composer, and fitness instructor. She received a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 2011 and completed her MFA in Musical Theatre Writing at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 2013, where she met composer Avi Amon. Together, they wrote and continue to develop The White City, which was a finalist for the Richard Rodgers Award (2015), the Larson Grant (2014, 2016), and selected for the National Music Theatre Conference at The O'Neill Theatre Center (2014). Their catalogue has been performed at venues such as Lincoln Center and 54 Below, as well as universities across the country. Other upcoming projects include Salonika, a fusion of obscure fairy tales paralleled with the extermination of the Jews of World War II era Salonika, and Adoption, a new play exploring what life would be if we chose where (and who) we came from.


Music by Tim Rosser
Book and Lyrics by Charlie Sohne

A boy shows up on the Parkers' doorstep claiming to be the son who disappeared three years ago. He looks different than the child they remember, but his mother, still reeling from the loss, is desperate to believe-creating a rift with her more skeptical daughter.

TIM ROSSER (MUSIC) and CHARLIE SOHNE (BOOK AND LYRICS) are winners of the 2015 Jonathan Larson Award and ASCAP's 2015 Mary Rodgers/Lorenz Hart Award. Tim and Charlie were also 2014-15 Dramatists Guild Fellows, members of The Civilian's R&D Group, writers in the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and ASCAP's Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project. Recently, they participated in The 24 Hour Musicals, where their short show A Better Me featured Edie Falco. Their show The Boy Who Danced on Air" was featured at the National Alliance for Music Theatre in 2013, received development and production grants from NAMT in 2014 and 2015, and will receive its world premiere at The Diversionary Theater in San Diego this spring. Their pilot script, Truth Slash Fiction, was a finalist at the Austin Film Festival and is currently being produced by Royal Prospects Productions. Their show The Profit of Creation was developed at the Yale Institute for Music Theatre in 2011. Tim and Charlie's songs have been seen at their sold-out 54 Below show, Birdland, Contemporary Classics at Seattle Rep, Cutting Edge Composers at Joe's Pub, ALNM at Rockwell in Los Angeles, Above The Arts in London, a sold out show at Broadway au Carre in Paris, and The Kennedy Center. Separately Charlie has had work seen at The Lark, The O'Neill, and New York Stage and Film, while Tim has conducted performances of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway, music directed Broadway Backwards, and associate music directed Andrew Lippa's I Am Harvey Milk.

The two-week alumni residency, introduced in 2015, provides a safe, "away from home," intensive environment for a writing team to work on a project already in development. The alumni residency is for authors only, one of whom must be a past Institute participant. There is no rehearsal or public presentation of their work.

Tickets for each open rehearsal reading are $25 and can be purchased online at, by phone at (203) 498-3772, and in person at the INFO New Haven Visitor Information Center (1000 Chapel Street). Tickets can also be purchased at the door and are $5 more than purchases made in advance.

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