Signature Theatre Announces The Signature Theatre/Yales Composer Partnership

Signature Theatre has partnered with The Shen Family Foundation to create the SigWorks: Signature Theatre/Yale Composer Partnership, a new and unique program for young musical theatre writers. Each year the new program will award one senior from Yale University's Shen Curriculum for Musical Theater a 3-week workshop to develop their own musical upon graduation together with a Shen Artist Internship for the Signature Theatre season. As a Shen Artist the award recipient will work alongside Signature's artistic team in the preparation for a world premiere production on Signature's mainstage season. In addition, one recent graduate (within the past five years) of Yale University and a participant in the Shen Curriculum for Musical Theater will be awarded a 2-week workshop of a musical they are currently writing.

"I'm thrilled that Signature will be partnering with The Shen Family Foundation to provide our resources to these young writers entering the field of musical theatre," said Signature Theatre Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer. "It's our job to provide young artists with immersive learning experiences that will expand their understanding of the creative process and form a foundation they can build on. This new program is designed to do that and so much more."

Through its Ted & Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund, The Shen Family Foundation has enjoyed a long partnership with Signature Theatre. It has provided major funding for many Signature Theatre musicals since 2004 and also funded Signature's groundbreaking American Musical Voices Project in 2006 together with its follow-on AMVP commissioning programs in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

"We are thrilled to support the Signature Theatre/Yale Composer Partnership," said Ted & Mary Jo Shen, Executive Directors of The Shen Family Foundation. "Given our longstanding relationship with Eric Schaeffer and Signature Theatre's unique commitment to producing new musicals, we are certain that Signature's know-how and experience are ideal for guiding the early development of Yale's musical theater graduates. These incredibly enriching workshop and internship programs will be life-changing for all the award recipients. Even experienced composers in the field consider the opportunity to develop new work in Signature's nurturing, creative environment to be highly rewarding."

Daniel Egan, the coordinator of Yale's Shen Curriculum concurs: "The new partnership provides initial opportunities for gifted Yale composers as they navigate this most difficult, but rewarding, field. The depth and breadth of resources at Signature for the development of new musical theater works is only surpassed by the vision and generosity of the Shen Family Foundation."

This new program will begin in the summer of 2019 at Signature Theatre. Signature will announce the first set of writers for this new program on February 1, 2019.

To learn more about the SigWorks: Signature Theatre/Yale Composer Partnership visit:


Signature is widely recognized as the premiere venue in Washington to see musical theater, especially new musicals. Recently called "the hottest company in (and around) D.C. by The Washington Post, Signature is renowned for its interpretations of Stephen Sondheim's work, inventive adaptations of overlooked or forgotten musicals, and investment in fresh new projects. The Theatre is an industry leader in developing and producing new work and is home to the largest musical theater development program in the United States.

Signature features the finest talent from the D.C. metropolitan area and New York on its stages and has been a creative home to such luminaries as Chita Rivera, Sheryl Crow, Barry Levinson, George Hearn, Hunter Foster, Emily Skinner, Kathleen Marshall, Ann Reinking, Marc Kudisch, Judy Kuhn, Deborah Monk, Boyd Gaines, James Lapine, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Cameron Mackintosh, Terrence McNally, and the company's signature composer, Stephen Sondheim. Signature draws more than 100,000 patrons annually to its Arlington home and has been cited for its achievements by a wide range of local and national media.


The Shen Family Foundation, through its Ted & Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund, provides funding for commissions and not-for-profit productions of works by musical theater composers whose writing is distinguished by exceptional individuality and an advanced harmonic sensibility. Since 2002 it has provided major funding for 20 commissions of new musicals, more than 30 productions of works by Stephen Sondheim, more than 60 productions of works by other contemporary composers, and 20 cast recordings. It also has endowed the permanent funding for the Shen Curriculum for Musical Theater at Yale University. More information on the Foundation's grants can be found on its website at

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