BWW Interview: Erin Poor of GROW A SHOW: ASCAP NEW MUSICAL THEATRE WORKSHOP at the Lied Center For Performing Arts
The Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska has announced their fourth biennial GROW A SHOW, a development program for new musical theatre. The workshop, although it is ticketed, is free to the public.
More than 125 scripts were reviewed and the two selected, REBEL GENIUS by Matthew Puckett and MODERN by Selda Sahin and Derek Gregor, will be performed at the Carson Theatre on September 10 and September 12, respectively, as staged readings.
Special guest panelists this year are Scott Frankel (composer) and Michael Korie (lyricist, librettist.) Mr. Frankel received a Tony Award nomination for his work in GREY GARDENS. Mr. Korie received The Marc Blitzstein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his work in musical theatre and opera. Frequent collaborators, their most recent project was WAR PAINT. In addition to Tony nominations, their scores have been nominated for Grammy and Drama Desk Awards.
I spoke with Erin Poor, Director of Education and Community Engagement for the Lied.
The "Grow a Show Musical Theatre Workshop" sounds a bit like the Great Plains Theatre Workshop here in Omaha.
Ours is unique in the fact that we are partnering with the national organization ASCAP. We work specifically with musical theatre. We are dedicated to the creation of new works and the development of new works alongside ASCAP and Broadway experts. Our ASCAP experts give feedback to the creative teams whose work we are mounting. They have real world experience putting shows on Broadway with Tony nominations, Drama Desk Awards, and things like that.
It's surprising that Lincoln is the only city outside of Los Angeles and New York City to do this.
It's an opportunity for the Lied Center to distinguish ourselves. We've always been dedicated to the creation and development of new works. We've been dedicated to creating a cultural hub here in the center of our country. We feel like this workshop, now in its fourth year, is an opportunity to establish ourselves as a cultural beacon between the coasts.
Have any of the musicals you've worked with gone on to Broadway?
Yes! We are very proud of the creative team we had here in our first year 2013. Are you familiar with the musical called THE PROM? It's had several Tony nominations. We had a Tony Award party here this year. (THE PROM was not developed at the Lied, but during the first "Broadway at the Lied" a song from THE PROM was performed for the first time.)
The two shows you are working on this year both sound interesting: REBEL GENIUS and MODERN.
Becky Boesen and Petra Wahlqvist are the co-producers for this workshop. They, along with our executive director Bill Stephan, worked very closely with Michael Kerker of ASCAP to develop this concept of creating a musical theatre workshop in Lincoln. So, it's due to their work that we have this. They're fantastic! Then Becky, of course, as a theatre artist herself acts, writes, and directs. She will be directing REBEL GENIUS.
What is involved in the readings?
They are staged readings, so we have a creative team of lyricist, composer, and book writer of musical theatre here. It is extremely expensive to get your work seen, to get it on its legs. You need theatre space. You need actors. You need musicians and directors and promotion people. If you're a student or recently out of school, those are not resources that are readily available, especially when you don't have much in the way of investor support. This is a wonderful opportunity for those creatives to have 60 minutes of their production actually mounted. Staged readings are pared down with a lean musical ensemble, usually a piano, and sometimes a minimal drum set, cajon, percussion, and maybe there's a bass. Then there's a cast. We try to cast as fully as possible. It's a really wonderful educational opportunity for students in the musical theatre and vocal music programs. We invite students to audition, as well as members of the broader community. We'll do auditions on the 19th and start rehearsals shortly after that.
After the 60 minutes of staged readings the Broadway experts give feedback. They'll give notes to the music, the narrative, the book, dialogue, all of these kinds of things, really trying to tighten the screws, ensuring they are telling the story in the most compelling way.
I see that the events are ticketed, but they are free of charge?
Yeah, everything we do at the Lied Center is ticketed. That way we can send messages to the ticketed audience to ask for feedback about the programming and to invite them to other shows that we do.
It's a whirlwind week, but you'll see a lot of that behind the scenes magic. Almost 3,000 people will be a part, if you include our Broadway at the Lied musical performance on Wednesday.
Tickets are available online at www.liedcenter.org
Between the two days of staged readings is the Broadway at the Lied event on September 11. Tickets are also available for this special night of Broadway music.