Signature Theatre Announces Musical Voices Project: The Next Generation


Continuing in its ongoing efforts of supporting new musical theater works, Eric Schaeffer, Artistic Director of Signature Theatre, announced today that the Tony Award®-winning theatre is commissioning two new musicals under Signature's American Musical Voices Project (AMVP): The Next Generation. Composers Joshua Rosenblum (Einstein's Dreams, Fermat's Last Tango) and Josh Schmidt (Adding Machine, A Minister's Wife) will be creating new musicals for future seasons at Signature. In December of 2011, Mr. Rosenblum and Mr. Schmidt were awarded "honoree grants" and shared selections from projects in development at a special performance held at Signature Theatre.

"After a season that featured five works premiere productions, Signature is proud to announce two new musical commissions for our future seasons," said Schaeffer. "It is a testament to our commitment to the future of the American musical. We're thrilled to add these wonderfully gifted artists to the writers working with Signature."

The AMVP, founded in 2006 thanks to a generous grant from The Shen Family Foundation, is the largest single musical theater commissioning and producing initiative of any U.S. theater, and has commissioned 14 works to date (nine under 'The Next Generation' which supports emerging composers). The Shen Family Foundation also awarded Signature a substantial grant in order to fund the AMVP: The Next Generation – with five rising composers becoming the initial recipients of grants to develop full-length musicals.

"We could not be more pleased with how the American Musical Voices Project has grown since its inception just six years ago," stated Mary Jo and Ted Shen. "With programs such as this, Signature continues to be a national leader in supporting new voices and innovative works, ensuring a rich future for the art form that is the American musical."


Joshua Rosenblum OFF-BROADWAY: Fermat's Last Tango, Bush is Bad (New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Charleston), The Joy of Going Somewhere Definite. As Musical Director: Dream True, The Last Lousy Moments of Love-Songs of Bolcom and Weinstein. INTERNATIONAL: Einstein's Dreams. REGIONAL: Garbo and Me. BROADWAY (as Musical Director): Miss Saigon, Falsettos, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Wonderful Town, Anything Goes, Arcadial. PIANIST: The New York Pops, New York Chamber Symphony, American Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony. Founding Member: New Voices Collective. RECORDINGS: Impetuosities-Music of Joshua Rosenblum, Sundry Notes (Albany Records); Bush is Bad, Fermat's Last Tango (Original Cast Records). FOUNDER AND MUSIC DIRECTOR: Pit Stop Players. FACULTY: Yale University Dept. of Music. Contributing writer: Opera News.

Josh Schmidt OFF BROADWAY: Lincoln Center: A Minister's Wife, When the Rain Stops Falling (Incidental Score); Minetta Lane: ADD1NG MACH1N3; 59E59: Whida Peru; American Players Theatre, WI: Gift of the Magi; MCC Theater: Fifty Words (Incidental Score). DC AREA: Ford's Theatre: A Christmas Carol, The Grapes of Wrath; Kennedy Center: Love-Lies-Bleeding. REGIONAL: Over 150 productions at venues across the country. RECORDINGS: ADD1NG MACH1N3, A Minister's Wife, both released on PS Classics and available on iTunes, Amazon, etc. ASSOCIATE ARTIST: Alley Theatre in Houston, Writers Theatre in Glencoe. MEMBER: ASCAP. AWARDS: Lortel, Outer Critics, Jeff, ASCAP, NEA/TCG.

About the American Musical Voices Project (AMVP)

Signature Theatre's American Musical Voices Project is the largest single musical theater commissioning and producing initiative of any U.S. theater. Founded in May 2006 and funded by The Shen Family Foundation, the AMVP demonstrates Signature's commitment to producing full productions of world premiere Musical Theatre Works. Through the AMVP, Musical Theater Composer Grants have been awarded to Ricky Ian Gordon, Michael John LaChiusa, Joseph Thalken, Adam Guettel and Jeanine Tesori. Each of the grants includes a commission to create a new full-length musical, with a commitment for full production as part of Signature Theatre's mainstage season. In April 2009, Giant by Michael John LaChiusa received its world premiere at Signature Theatre. Ricky Ian Gordon's Sycamore Trees premiered in May 2010, and Joseph Thalken's musical, And the Curtain Rises premiered in March 2011.

As part of the AMVP, Musical Theater Leadership Awards have been made to four individuals in recognition of their extraordinary influence on and contribution to the advancement of new musical theater, orchestrator Bruce Coughlin, composer Adam Guettel, singer/actress Audra McDonald, and director/musical director/orchestrator Ted Sperling.

In June 2008, the AMVP added The Next Generation program. That year, emerging composers Matt Conner, Adam Gwon, & Gabriel Kahane each received a commission to write new musicals for Signature Theatre and honorees Peter Foley and Marisa Michelson were given grants for the development of their musical ideas. In July 2009, the Theatre launched the "21/24 Signature Lab," three weeks of rehearsal & performances of new works by The Next Generation composers. In addition, two additional musical commissions were awarded to Foley and Michelson, as well as honoree grants given to Chris Miller and Scott Davenport Richards for the development of future musical ideas. In 2010, Miller and Richards were awarded commissions through The Next Generation program, and Joshua Schmidt and Joshua Rosenblum were named honorees. In August 2011, the AMVP Next Generation program saw two of its early commissions come to fruition with the historic AMVP Repertory Series, featuring full productions of Conner's The Hollow and Gwon's The Boy Detective Fails in rotating repertory. The AMVP Repertory Series – the first of its kind in the American theater – launched Signature's 22nd season.


Recipient of the 2009 Regional Theatre Tony Award®, Signature Theatre is a non-profit professional theater company in Arlington, Virginia dedicated to producing contemporary musicals and plays, reinventing classic musicals, and developing new work. Under the leadership of co-founder and Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer and Managing Director Maggie Boland, Signature has presented 38 world premiere productions and is renowned for combining Broadway-quality productions with intimate playing spaces.

In addition to hosting the finest talent from the DC metropolitan area and New York, Signature has been home to such theatre luminaries as Chita Rivera, George Hearn, Hunter Foster, Emily Skinner, Ann Reinking, Marc Kudisch, Judy Kuhn, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Cameron Mackintosh, Terrence McNally, and the company's signature composer, Stephen Sondheim. Since its founding in 1989, Signature has won 77 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in the Washington, DC region's professional theater and has been honored with 305 nominations.

Signature is partially supported by a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts and by a gift from the Arlington Cultural Affairs Division of Arlington Economic Development and the Arlington Commission for the Arts.


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