Dramatists Guild Foundation to Present Work by 2022-23 Class of Musical Theater Writing Fellows

The mentors of this year’s Musical Theater Writing Fellows class are Stephen Schwartz, Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, and more.

By: Feb. 26, 2024
Dramatists Guild Foundation to Present Work by 2022-23 Class of Musical Theater Writing Fellows
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The Dramatists Guild Foundation  will present selections of work by the 2022-2023 Class of Musical Theater Writing Fellows on Monday, March 25, at Playwrights Horizons (416 West 42nd Street), beginning at 7:00pm. The DGF Fellows program propels the most promising creative talents to their full potential to help shape the future of theater. 

The year-long intensive serves New York City-based emerging playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists who are looking to develop existing projects nearing completion and learn production strategies in order to reach the next level of their careers. This cohort of theater artists work together under the guidance and leadership of professional artists to develop current work in pursuit of commercial development and production. 

Musical Theater Co-Chair Michael Korie (Grey Gardens, War Paint, Harvey Milk) has mentored the Fellows for the past eleven years, and was joined this past term by Co-Chair and Director Jess McLeod (Hamilton, Yoko’s Husband’s Killer’s Japanese Wife Gloria), and Composer Chair Tom Kitt (Next to Normal, If/Then, Almost Famous). 

McLeod will direct the presentation.

The mentors of this year’s Musical Theater Writing Fellows class are Stephen Schwartz, Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Jeanine Tesori and Rona Siddiqui; with guest speakers including dramatists Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, Gretchen Cryer, Doug Wright, Chisa Hutchinson, Jack Viertel, Annie Jin Wang; and theater industry professionals, including Director Rachel Chavkin, David Stone (producer), Matt Polk (Polk & Co theatrical public  relations), Betsy King Militello (NAMT), Frankie Dailey (NAMT), Emmanuel Wilson (Dramatists Guild), Kathy Evans (Rhineback Writers), Liz Carlson (New York Stage and Film), Natasha Sinha (Playwrights Horizons), Kent Nicholson (Broadway Licensing), and John McWhorter (The New York Times). 
The 2022-2023 Musical Theater Writing Fellows, and their work that will be presented, are as follows:

Nicholas Connors


Deep in the hills of West Virginia, Will Foster dreams of escaping his coal mining life. As he partners with his best friend Jimmy to perfect an invention that will make them both rich, their community is thrust into the 1921 West Virginia Coal Mine Wars— a labor struggle that becomes the largest armed insurrection in US history since the Civil War. Featuring a sweeping, Appalachian folk-infused score, COAL is a musical about working folk fighting for a piece of the American Dream. 

April Dae Okpwae


A musical reimagining of the ancient story of the 700 wives of King Solomon, the richest and wisest king of biblical times. This community of fierce, regal, shade-slinging, quick-lipped  women of color from kingdoms near and far are shocked when they are expected to abandon their customs for strange new traditions and religious laws. Tensions arise as their beliefs and fashion choices clash with each other and with the kingdom. Can this brigade of side-eyeing sister-queens unite to entangle the king and ensure their own queenly freedoms? Or will their differences in desires leave them ensnared? Alliances are formed, wigs are snatched, and religious patriarchy meets its match in Queens of Solomon.

Joriah Kwame

A musical fantasy that follows the journey of YOU, the unborn spirit of a black man who appears in limbo in preparation to go into the world. With the help of a wise talking owl and six personified "chapters", YOU is enlightened to the realities of identity, race, and humanity.

Julian Mesri

Malena, a domestic worker at a mid-budget “Luxury Inn” near Poughkeepsie hopes to one day bring her son to live with her in the United States. She is deceived by Rocco, a guardian angel who in their boredom has made her believe that she has inherited 300 million dollars. Using a score that merges, cumbia, folclore, musical theater and pop, 300 million reimagines Robert Arlt's classic Argentine play into a musical fantasy of the Latine immigrant community's vision of American success. 

The evening is free and open to the public through reservation by e-mailing rsvp@dgf.org.  

Fellows receive a $5,000 stipend, access to career resources, as well as the opportunity to partner with several arts organizations. At the end of the program, each Fellow has an opportunity to participate in a presentation of their work for top theater professionals. The Fellows program is highly sought after for its uniquely successful format of partnering playwrights and musical theater writers together in the learning process, who come together bringing a variety of backgrounds, identities, styles and experiences to the program. 

The Fellows program was founded in 2000 by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, and Janet Neipris, eventually joined by Susan Miller. They believed it was vital to put playwrights and musical theater writers in the same room, to learn from each other’s different perspectives, to see how collaboration creates magic, and to foster community. The success of the program has been proven by the careers of various dramatists and collaborations, including launching the careers of more than 200 writers. With alumni that include Pulitzer finalists, Tony nominees, and recipients of Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, Larson Awards, Kleban Awards, and Fred Ebb Awards, the DGF Fellows program is an opportunity to grow in community and professionally.

Former Fellows include Michael R. Jackson (Pulitzer Prize Winner, A Strange Loop), Antoinette Nwandu (Pass Over), Lauren Yee (Cambodian Rock Band), Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Academy Award winner, Frozen), Rajiv Joseph (Pulitzer Prize finalist, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo), and Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (Tony winners for Best Score, Dear Evan Hansen). 

For more information about the DGF Fellows program and how to support dramatists throughout their careers, visit https://dgf.org

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