Createtheater and Suny Cortland Performing Arts Announce THE BONE HARP as Their First College Musical Theater Partnership Collaboration

The reading will take place on December 9th at 7:30pm and on December 11th at 2:00pm at the SUNY Cortland Dowd Fine Arts Theater.

By: Nov. 18, 2022
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CreateTheater's Executive Producer Cate Cammarata and Kevin Halpin, Musical Theatre Program Coordinator of SUNY Cortland's Musical Theater Department, have selected THE BONE HARP (Book and Lyrics by Laura Stratford, Music by Heidi Joosten) as their first College Musical Theater Partnership collaboration. Music direction is by Jeff Cox. The partnership was formed in order to develop new musicals in Cortland's professionally-oriented B.F.A. program. The reading will take place on December 9th at 7:30pm and on December 11th at 2:00pm at the SUNY Cortland Dowd Fine Arts Theater in Cortland, NY. RSVP for tickets at

"The Bone Harp underwent significant revision in reaction to questions about the nature of justice that arose in 2020 and remain relevant," said Laura Stratford, who wrote the book of the musical. "The Professional College Music Theatre Partnership between CreateTheater and SUNY Cortland's Performing Arts Department will grant us as writers the opportunity to see this draft brought to life by talented student performers, and to see the work's impact on an audience at this stage in its development. We are excited to make discoveries along with the cast and creative team, and this process will be invaluable as we continue to refine this work with the aim of a future world premiere."

Cate Cammarata, who conceived the idea of the Partnership as the Artistic Director of CreateTheater's New Works Festival, is enthusiastic about this first collaboration. "I believe that the future of the arts can and should be written by the next generation. As a theatre professional who also teaches theater on the college level, it's imperative that today's theatremakers provide the opportunities and the guidance for this to happen. We're very excited with what we see here at SUNY Cortland with THE BONE HARP."

The director of THE BONE HARP is Kevin Halpin, who developed the Musical Theatre Program at SUNY Cortland. He found that the musical's "haunting lyricism and its strong roles for women captured me the first time I read the script and listened to the music. This fable, woven with themes of love, family, betrayal, vengeance, responsibility, and redemption, is sure to capture the audience with its plot full of mystery and passion, and the folk-infused music lifts the story up and swirls it around them."

The new program will produce one staged reading each year, with submissions managed by CreateTheater and the final project selected by the college faculty. The program is seeking new musicals in development with no previous production history, centered around young people's voices and perspectives about current issues.

"The partnership with CreateTheater is an exceptional opportunity for the Musical Theatre students here at SUNY Cortland," says Halpin. "Our program has always been focused on providing training that has a direct connection to what is required in the world of professional theatre. The New Musical development program is bringing the professional theatre world to our campus and having our students in the center of it. Having new, emerging theatre writers bring a piece at its early stages of development gives our students the opportunity and experience to be part of the creation of a new musical."

SUNY Cortland's Musical Theatre department has been recently named a "hidden gem" in an article by that lauds the College for its contemporary training standards, activities and past performance.

For more information and submission details, go to

LAURA STRATFORD (Book/lyrics, additional music) is a Chicago-based musical theatre writer, member of the Dramatist's Guild and ASCAP, and the Founding Executive Director of Underscore Theatre Company. Her work has been produced by Underscore, the Midwest Fringe Tour, EX-Pats Theatre, the Actor's Training Center, and NYMF, and she is the librettist for The 57th National Mathlete Sum-It, licensed by Theatrical Rights Worldwide. She wrote and composed nine songs for season two of the podcast Arden. Learn more about her work at

HEIDI JOOSTEN (Music) is a Chicago-based composer, lyricist, pianist, harpist, orchestrator, sound designer, music director, vocal coach, and conductor. Since 2014, Heidi has collaborated on over 100 new theatrical, comedic, and concert productions in the Chicagoland area. Most recently, she music directed and conducted the concert production of Children of Eden at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, starring Michelle Williams, David Phelps, Sam Tsui, and more. Notable theatrical writing/orchestrating credits include: The Bone Harp (with Laura Stratford), Queer Eye: the Musical Parody (with Evan Mills), Saint Hildegard: the Rupertsberg Tour (with Elizabeth Swanson, Davyd Reddyk and Ethan Krupp), and Micro (with Adam Qutaishat). Heidi is a highly-sought after classical composer with over 200 works to her name, and her award-winning music has been performed across the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. Heidi holds a Bachelors of Music from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Masters of Music from Roosevelt University - Chicago College of Performing Arts. She is a proud member of ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild. / @heidijoosten

KEVIN T. HALPIN (Director) has worked for over 40 years as a performer, director and choreographer across the US and internationally. Throughout his career he has directed and choreographed over 100 productions. In 1999 he moved to Cortland, NY to establish and develop the Musical Theatre Program at SUNY Cortland. The new BFA program is focused on providing every young artist the opportunity to reach their full potential in all aspects of musical theatre performance.

JEFF COX (Music Director) is a New York-based music director and conductor who has performed internationally and on Broadway. His credits include THE BAND'S VISIT (Broadway & National tour), A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK (Off-Broadway), WICKED (National tour), AUSTEN'S PRIDE (Fifth Avenue Seattle), and numerous other regional theatres and concert venues. An avid arranger and orchestrator, Jeff has shaped the development of new works, most notably as music supervisor of Danny K. Bernstein's FAR FROM CANTERBURY. His work as a copyist has appeared on music stands in New York, on cruise ships and across the country. Jeff is a faculty member at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, and he holds a Master's Degree in conducting from Ithaca College.

Cate Cammarata (Producer) is an Off-Broadway producer, director, and dramaturg in NYC, dedicated to the development of new plays and musicals. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of CreateTheater's New Works Festival, launched in 2022 at Theatre Row. Off-Broadway: The Assignment, My Father's Daughter. Regional: My Life Is a Musical (Bay Street Theater), Bran Castle (Porchlight Theater, Chicago). Cate has an MFA in Dramaturgy and teaches theatre at CUNY Baruch College. Her company, CreateTheater, has been helping writers develop and produce their work since the company was launched in 2016. Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) honored her with the TRU Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2022. ,

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