The O'Neill Announces Selections for the 2011 Nat'l Music Theater Conference

By: Apr. 21, 2011
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The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center announced today four musicals to be developed at its 2011 National Music Theater Conference under the leadership of Artistic Director Paulette Haupt. The Conference runs from June 25 through July 15 on the O'Neill's campus in Waterford, Connecticut. Tickets for these readings go on sale Wednesday, June 8. Advanced ticket sales for O'Neill Members will be available beginning Monday, May 16.

The four musicals, which will undergo the O'Neill's signature development process, employing acclaimed professional actors, directors, and music directors in an intensive series of rehearsals, discussions, and public readings, are: Unknown Soldier -- book by Daniel Goldstein, lyrics by Daniel Goldstein and Michael Friedman, and music by Michael Friedman; Son Of A Gun -- book by Chris Cragin and Don Chaffer, and lyrics and music by Don Chaffer; Suprema -- book by Jordan Harrison, lyrics by Jordan Harrison and Daniel Zaitchik, and music by Danie Zaitchik; and The Shadow Sparrow -- book by Anton Dudley, lyrics by Charlie Sohne, and music by Keith Gordon.

Selections were chosen from over 170 musicals received through the O'Neill's open submissions process, which allows any writer or composer, with or without agent representation, to submit, and utilizes readers from across the country to evaluate and recommend promising projects that will benefit from the O'Neill's development process.

Since it's founding in 1978, the National Music Theater Conference (NMTC) has developed and presented more than 100 musical works, including early works of award-winning writers and composers such as Kirsten Childs, Tan Dun, Andrew Lippa, Duncan Sheik, Steven Sater, Paul Oakley Stovall and Jeannine Tesori. Joe Masteroff and Edward Thomas' Desire Under the Elms (2003 Grammy nominee) was the first work to be developed at the Conference in 1978, and Arthur Kopit, Mario Fratti and Maury Yeston's Nine, developed at the O'Neill in 1979, won Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Score in 1982, and for Best Revival of a Musical in 2003; Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez, and Jeff Marx's Avenue Q, developed at the O?Neill in 2002, won three Tony Awards in 2004, including Best Musical. In the Heights, a 2005 NMTC project, received the Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Musical when it played off-Broadway in 2007, and four 2008 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Numerous other works from the Conference have received productions and acclaim worldwide.

The O'Neill's Executive Director, Preston Whiteway, remarked, "I am proud that the O'Neill will develop four unique musicals this summer; the strength and value of our process is clear with the nearly 170 works that were submitted this year - a record. Paulette and the selection committee have chosen an exciting lineup of veterans and new voices, and I look forward to the workshops this summer."

National Music Theater Conference Artistic Director Paulette Haupt said, "The works selected for development this summer speak volumes about the diversity of music theater in both content and style. Each piece features a uniquely different tapestry of words and music in their storytelling. We are pleased to support the creative talents of nine emerging and established playwrights, lyricists and composers during the 34th annual National Music Theater Conference."


Unknown Soldier
Book by Daniel Goldstein
Lyrics by Michael Friedman, Daniel Goldstein
Music by Michael Friedman
Performances: Saturday, June 25 at 8pm; Sunday, June 26 at 3pm; Wednesday June 29 at 8pm; and Friday, July 1 at 7 pm.

In the romantic Unknown Soldier, a timeless search for lost love crosses two generations: Lucie Rabinowitz searches for the truth hidden in her grandmother Lucy's past while 80 year earlier Lucy searches for the love she thought stolen by the horrors of The Great War. The searches lead both women to the same lost young man, a fragile unknown soldier. This intimate musical examines the past and our memory, what we choose to forget and what we can't help remembering.

Son Of A Gun
Book by Chris Cragin and Don Chaffer
Lyrics and music by Don Chaffer
Performances: Saturday, July 2 at 8pm; Sunday July 3 at 3pm; Wednesday, July 6 at 8pm; and Friday, July 8 at 7pm.

Danderhauler Agamemnon Khrusty finally admits to himself and his girlfriend, Lucy that he is going to quit the family band. The confession proves untimely when the next day their father and band leader is diagnosed with aggressive tongue cancer, leaving Dan the responsibility of carrying on the family legacy. Packed with dueling cowboys, flaming vans, seduction, and one angelic host, Son of a Gun is a darkly comic bluegrass rock musical that tells the tale of this wildly eccentric Appalachian family.

Book and lyrics by Jordan Harrison
Lyrics and music by Daniel Zaitchik
Performances: Saturday, July 9 at 8 pm; Sunday, July 10 at 3 pm; Wednesday, July 13 at 8 pm; and Friday July 15 at 7pm.

What if you could hear the difference between a truth and a lie? What would it do to your home life? Suprema is a strange-but-true three-way love story about the creator of both Wonder Woman and the lie-detector test, and the two real women who inspired him.

The Shadow Sparrow
Book by Anton Dudley
Lyrics by Charlie Sohne
Music by Keith Gordon
Performances: Thursday, July 7 at 8:00pm; Sunday, July 10 at 2:30pm; and Thursday, July 14 at 8:00pm.

A woman in search of fame; a man in search of the mother he never knew; among the graves of Paris' famed Pére LaChaise Cemetery, each will discover their destiny. The Shadow Sparrow is a cabaret musical that reveals that sometimes those things we chase beyond ourselves may actually be found within.

The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, founded in 1964 in honor of Eugene O'Neill, four-time Pulitzer Prize Winner and the only American playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, is the recipient of two Tony Awards, in 2010 for Regional Theatre, and in 1979 for Theatrical Excellence.

The O'Neill is the country's preeminent organization dedicated to the development of new works and new voices for the American theater. The O'Neill has been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and 2,500 emerging artists. Scores of projects developed at the O'Neill have gone on to full production at other theaters around the world, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, and major regional theaters.

O'Neill programs include the National Playwrights Conference, National Music Theater Conference, National Critics Institute, National Puppetry Conference, the Cabaret & Performance Conference, and National Theater Institute, which conducts semester-long intensive theater training programs as well as Theatermakers, a six-week summer program.

The O'Neill also owns and operates the Monte Cristo Cottage, boyhood summer home of Eugene O'Neill and setting for his plays Ah Wilderness! and Long Day?s Journey Into Night. The museum is a registered National Historic Landmark and is open to the public during the summer season.

In addition to its Tony recognition, the O'Neill has received the National Opera Award, the Jujamcyn Award for Theatre Excellence, and the Arts and Business Council Encore Award. For more information, visit or email


Daniel Goldstein (book/lyrics, Unknown Soldier)
As a writer: Winter Birds, an adaptation of the novel by Jim Grimsley, Bridge The Wound, a solo play based on the life of surgeon Richard Selzer, The Songs Of Songs, a musical written with Michael Friedman based on the short novel by Sholom Aleichem. Unknown Soldier was written for an inaugural Calderwood Commission from the Huntington Theatre Company.

As a Director: Godspell; Broadway, ?Samantha Brown, Goodspeed, God Of Carnage, Huntington Theatre Company. With Ethan Sandler: Artificial Fellow Traveler; Williamstown Theatre Festival, Black Dahlia Theater. =Celebraiton; NYC, San Francisco, New Haven, Aspen Comedy Festival. Recent credits: Baby Universe; Wakka Wakka, Golden Boy; Juilliard School, True West; Williamstown Theatre Festival, Annie ; St. Louis Muny, Miss Margarida?s Way ? Starring Julie Halston; Bay Street Theater, Kerrigan & Lowdermilk's ?Samantha Brown, Costa Mesa PAC, William Finn?s A New Brain; Tokyo (in Japanese), Stephen Masicotte?s Mary's Wedding; Two River Theater. Off-Broadway credits: Kenny Finkle's Indoor/Outdoor, Rohn & Capallero?s Walmartopia. Off-Broadway and Regional credits: the acclaimed revival of Stephen Schwartz? Godspell; Paper Mill Playhouse, the IRNE Award winning William Finn?s Falsettos; Huntington Theatre Company, world premieres of Beau Willimon's Lower Ninth; The Flea/SPF, Sinan Unel's The Cry Of The Reed; Huntington Augustin & Abrams' But I'm A Cheerleader, NYMF. Daniel served as the Associate Director of All Shook Up on Broadway and the Resident Director of the 1st National Tour of Mamma Mia!. He is a graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in Performance Studies.

Michael Friedman (lyrics/music, Unknown Soldier)
Mr. Friedman's recent productions as composer/lyricist include: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Broadway, Center Theatre Group and The Public Theater), This Beautiful City (The Civilians at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Studio Theatre in Washington, DC, Kirk Douglas Theater in Los Angeles, and the Vineyard Theatre in New York), Saved (Playwrights Horizons), The Brand New Kid (Kennedy Center), and In the Bubble (at AMTP) as well as The Civilians' [I Am] Nobody's Lunch, Canard, Canard, Goose? and the long-running Gone Missing (Barrow Street Theater). With Steve Cosson, Mr. Friedman co-wrote Paris Commune, which was produced at The Public Theater in 2008. Music for film and TV include the films On Common Ground and Affair Game, the online series Floaters and the upcoming feature, Coach. His music has also been heard at NYTW, the Roundabout, Second Stage, Soho Rep, Theater for a New Audience, Signature, and The Acting Company, and regionally at the Guthrie, The Huntington, La Jolla Playhouse, Hartford Stage, Humana Festival, ART, Williamstown Theatre Festival; and internationally at London's Soho and Gate Theatres, and the Edinburgh Festival. Mr. Friedman was also the dramaturg for the Broadway revival of A Rasin in the Sun, directed by Kenny Leon. He is currently working on an adaptation of Jonathan Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude with Itamar Moses and Daniel Aukin; THE CHERRY SISTERS REVISITED with Dan O'Brien, and is under commission at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Center Theatre Group, Playwrights Horizons, and the Huntington Theater. Mr. Friedman is an Artistic Associate at New York Theatre Workshop, a founding Associate Artist of the Obie-Award-winning Civilians, and a recipient of a MacDowell fellowship, a Princeton University Hodder Fellowship, and a 2007 Obie Award.

Chris Cragin (book, Son Of A Gun)
Chris Cragin is a proud alumna of the Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater. She spent her childhood in the Philippines, Hong Kong and China before returning to Oklahoma where she spent her teenage and college years. She has written eight full length plays including: The River Nun (Public Theater EWG Spotlight reading), A War in a Manger (commissioned by Art Within Theatre in Atlanta), Emily (Firebone Theatre, NYC in 2009, Acacia Theatre, Milwaukee 2008, and workshopped at Pacific Theatre Vancouver, 2007), Deadheading Roses (Firebone Theatre, Acacia Theatre, and published by Original Works Publishing), Debutantes Anonymous (workshopped at The Lamb's Theatre), Love and Money, Lady of the Dunes and her musical Son of a Gun. Chris also has six one act plays: Milking Success (The Keller Theater), Peanut Butter or Soy (Baylor University), Pankhurst (Baylor University), Nathaniel, Dig (Horse Trade Theater), Port Authority (The Public EWG retreat), and Obesity, Wine, and the Gay Thing. Awards include: Yale Music Institute Finalist, Riva Shriver Comedy Award Finalist, and Actors Theater of Louisville Semifinalist. Ms. Cragin has an MFA in Stage Directing from Baylor University. She and her husband, Steve Day, provide the artistic and managerial direction for their company, Firebone Theatre (

Don Chaffer (book/lyrics, Son Of A Gun)
Don Chaffer is a writer, musician, recording artist, and music producer. He graduated from the University of Missouri at Kansas City with a bachelor degree in music in 1995, where he also completed their newly established Audio Recording program. That same year he formed the band, WATERDEEP, ( Mr. Chaffer became the lead producer on their independently released albums until 1999 when, after selling over one hundred and fifty thousand albums, the band was signed to Squint Entertainment. The band left the label in 2001 and returned to producing independently. In 2006, Mr. Chaffer was signed as a staff writer to Simpleville Music, as he continued to write, perform, and produce both WATERDEEP albums and his own solo albums. In 2008 he built The Conductor Studio in Kansas City, where he both engineered and mixed over fifty albums. In 2009 he and his wife and band member, Lori Chaffer, moved The Conductor Studio to the legendary Woodland Studios in Nashville, Tennessee until the recent completion of their own studio space in Nashville. Mr. Chaffer has recorded over twenty albums as a recording artist. His awards include: ASCAP award for Wicked Webb (1999), Radio and Records Song of the Year award for You Are So Good to Me (2001), ASCAP award for What Life Would be Like (2008), and Yale Music Theater Institute Finalist. Previous musical theater experience includes a commission to write the lyrics for a stage musical adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Jordan Harrison (book/lyrics, Suprema)
Jordan Harrison grew up on an island near Seattle and currently lives in Brooklyn. His play Maple and Vine recently premiered in the 2011 Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and will be produced next season at American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco and Next Theatre in Chicago. His other plays include Doris to Darlene (Playwrights Horizons), Futura (Portland Center Stage), Amazons and Their Men (Clubbed Thumb), Act a Lady (2006 Humana Festival), Finn in the Underworld (Berkeley Repertory Theatre), Kid-Simple (2004 Humana Festival, SPF, American Theater Company), and The Museum Play (Washington Ensemble Theatre). His children's musical, The Flea and the Professor, written with composer Richard Gray, will premiere next month at the Arden Theatre Company under the direction of Anne Kauffman.

Mr. Harrison is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University, the Kesselring Fellowship, the Heideman Award, the Loewe Award for Musical Theater, a Theater Masters Innovative Playwright Award, Jerome and McKnight Fellowships from The Playwrights? Center, a Rhode Island Foundation Grant, the Weston Prize, and a NEA/TCG Playwright-in-Residence Grant with The Empty Space Theatre.

Mr. Harrison has written commissions for Ars Nova, Berkeley Repertory Theatre/Actors Theatre of Louisville, Playwrights Horizons, Guthrie Theater/Children?s Theater Company, South Coast Repertory, and others. He has collaborated with Pig Iron Theatre Company and Theatre de la Jeune Lune, and had residencies at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the McCarter Theatre Retreat, and the Sundance Retreat at Ucross. His work is published by Samuel French, Playscripts, Inc., Smith and Kraus, Simon Spotlight, and Heinemann. With Sylvan Oswald, he edits the semi-annual Play: A Journal of Plays. A graduate of the Brown University M.F.A. program, Jordan is a resident playwright at New Dramatists.

Daniel Zaitchik (book/music, Suprema)
Daniel Zaitchik is a singer-songwriter, theatre writer/composer, and sometimes actor. His musical adaptation of Picnic at Hanging Rock (book/music/lyrics) was first given a staged reading at Lincoln Center Theater and later workshopped at the O'Neill's 2009 National Music Theater Conference, directed by Joe Calarco. In 2008 Mr. Zaitchik teamed up with playwright Jordan Harrison to write Suprema, a commission from Ars Nova Theater, for which they received the 2009 Frederick Loewe Award from New Dramatists. Other musicals include Ula (book/music/lyrics), first presented at Boston University, then at the 45th St Theater in NYC, and developed further at Ars Nova; and Grenadine (book/music/lyrics), currently being developed. As a singer-songwriter, Mr. Zaitchik goes by the name Blue Bottle Collection. His debut album, Summer of the Soda Fountain Girls, featuring a 10-piece, multi-voiced band, produced by Michael Croiter at Yellow Sound Lab, was released in April 2011. As an actor, he has worked at Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, Cherry Lane, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Long Wharf Theatre, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and others. He was in the premiere of Craig Lucas's Prayer for My Enemy at the Intiman Theatre, directed by Bartlett Sher, and the premiere of The Burnt Part Boys at Barrington Stage Company, directed by Joe Calarco.

Anton Dudley (book, The Shadow Sparrow)
Anton Dudley's Off-Broadway productions include Substitution (Playwrights Realm featuring Jan Maxwell), Getting Home (Secondstage Theatre directed by David Schweizer), and Slag Heap (Cherry Lane Theatre featuring Vincent Kartheiser).

Other productions include A Dram of Drumhiccit [co-written with Arthur Kopit] (LaJolla Playhouse directed by Christopher Ashley), Cold Hard Cash (Williamstown Theatre Festival directed by May Adrales), Circumvention (Keen Company), Honor and the River (The Walnut Street Theatre; SPF featuring Jan Maxwell; Luna Stage; New York Stage & Film directed by Ken Rus Schmoll; Manhattan Theatre Club commission), Davy & Stu (Ensemble Studio Theatre Marathon), The Lake?s End (Adirondack Theatre Festival featuring Jason Butler Harner), BOB (New York Stage & Film directed by Leigh Silverman), Letters to the End of the World (At Hand Theatre Company@Theatre Row), January 1, 2000 (Lincoln Center Theater@HERE), Pleaching the Coffin Sisters (EST), and edWARd2 (FringeNYC).

Mr. Dudley's work has been published by Playscripts, Inc. (Honor and the River, Circumvention, Letters to the End of the World, and Slag Heap) and in Paper Theatre's PLAY Journal (Pleaching the Coffin Sisters), both volumes of Gary Garrison?s Monologues for Men by Men (Heinemann Press), New American Short Plays 2005 (Backstage Books) edited by Craig Lucas, and Shorter, Faster, Funnier (Vintage) edited by Eric Lane and Nina Shengold.

The short film of Davy & Stu, for which Mr. Dudley adapted the screenplay, appears on Strand Releasing's collection Boys Life 6. The award-winning film was an official selection of over 60 international film festivals, playing on 5 continents.

Mr. Dudley holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, and was the Playwright-In-Residence at the Lark Play Development Center in 2006-07. Currently, he is developing the new musical Tina Girlstar (lyrics by Charlie Sohne, music by Brian Feinstein) with Olympus Theatricals, LLC.

Charlie Sohne (lyrics, The Shadow Sparrow)
In addition to The Shadow Sparrow, Mr. Sohne has written lyrics (and sometimes book) for many other shows. Tina Girlstar (book by Anton Dudley, music by Brian Feinstein) has received four readings, including one at N.Y. Stage and Film. The show is currently under option with commercial Production Company Olympus Theatricals. The Profit of Creation (music by Tim Rosser) has received roundtables at the Lark Play Development Center and the Cell Theatre and was developed at the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project this past summer. Kissing The Underworld (book by Anton Dudley, music by Michael McElroy) received a commission from the Cherry Lane Theater and Touched (music by Matt Van Brink) was developed at the BMI workshop. He and Brian Feinstein contributed songs to Speargrove Presents (commissioned by the New York Theater Barn) and he has been selected for three Lark writers retreats. Mr. Sohne?s work has been seen as part of the NEXT Concert series, the BMI Smoker, and New York Theater Barn at the D-Lounge. Charlie is a member of the Advanced Class of the BMI Workshop, Dramatists Guild and ASCAP.

Keith Dale Gordon (music, The Shadow Sparrow)
Keith Dale Gordon has written music & lyrics for Saint Heaven, with book by Martin Casella (Village Theatre, Seattle; Stamford Center for the Performing Arts [featuring Montego Glover, Darren Ritchie, and Chuck Cooper]; NYMF [winner Director?s Choice]; TRU New Musicals Festival [winner Best of Festival]; Stages Chicago). He is currently writing the music for The Shadow Sparrow, with book by Anton Dudley and lyrics by Charlie Sohne. He has also written music & lyrics for Little Mary, with playwright Michele Aldin (Dixon Place Festival), and the score for the stage musical version of the film How To Marry a Millionaire.

Artists who have recorded Mr. Gordon's songs include JoJo David & Adam Birnbaum (Arrhae Press), Bayje (Atlantic), The Valli Girls (Sony/BMG), and Anne Marie David (Arrhae Press). His jingles and promotional work have been featured in national advertising campaigns, sung by (among others) Diane Schuur, Valeri Simpson, and even Howard Stern.

He is a BMI Musical Theatre Workshop alumnus.


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