Talk Back Series at the New York Public Library to Celebrate our 50th Anniversary

In partnership with The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the O'Neill will present a series of conversation to coincide with the Library's public exhibition on the O’Neill, “Launchpad of the American Theater: The O’Neill since 1964.” The three programs – May 29, June 19, and August 7 – are held in The Library for the Performing Arts' Bruno Walter Auditorium and are free and open to the public. 

“The O’Neill is a launchpad for new work and new careers, and has been since our founding in 1964.  These three fascinating evenings will explore not only our immense legacy of work, but our continuing and vital evolution to serve the artist.” - Preston Whiteway, Executive Director


50 Years Later: The Developmental Path to Production
Thurs., May 29 | 6pm

George C. White (Founder, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center), Wendy C. Goldberg, Artistic Director of the National Playwrights Conference; Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director of Manhattan Theater Club; and O’Neill alumni playwrights John Guare (House of Blue Leaves, NPC 1966), Samuel D. Hunter (A Great Wilderness, NPC 2013 & Norman Rockwell Killed My Father, NPC 2005) and Quiara Alegría Hudes (The Happiest Song Plays Last, NPC 2011 & In The Heights, NMTC 2005). 

Thanks to the O’Neill:  A Tribute to the National Theater Institute
Thurs., June 19 | 6pm

Rachel Jett, Artistic Director of the National Theater Institute, moderator
Josh Radnor, NTI'95

Thousands of actors, writers, and directors found a launchpad in our National Theater Institute. The National Theater Institute offers six intensive credit-earning semesters taught by industry professionals and has given rise to award-winning artists. In a conversation moderated by Artistic Director Rachel Jett,  Josh Radnor shares memories of his time at NTI, and how it shaped their career and craft. The discussion will be followed by audience Q&A.


The O'Neill: On the Cutting Room Floor
Thurs., Aug 7 | 6pm

Jeffrey Sweet, Author, “The O’Neill: The Transformation of Modern American Theater”
GW "Skip" Mercier, Curator, Launchpad of the American Theater; the O'Neill since 1964"
Preston Whiteway, Executive Director, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center

What stories made the cut for the book? What valuable pieces of O’Neill history ended up on the cutting room floor for the exhibit? O’Neill Executive Director Preston Whiteway leads a discussion with author, playwright, critic, and O’Neill alumnus Jeffrey Sweet and exhibit curator Skip Mercier about the development processes for both of their projects. Admission is free and open to the public.


The exhibition “Launchpad of the American Theater: The O’Neill since 1964” is free and open to the public until September 16 at The Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center. For more information please visit


Eugene O'Neill Theater Center
Announces 2014 National Music Theater Conference Selections 

Two New Musicals to be Developed as Part of 50th Summer Season:
The War Dept. & The White City 

The Oneill is proud to announce today its two new musicals selected for development at the 36th National Music Theater Conference:

The War Dept.
Libretto, Music, & Lyrics by Jim Bauer
Libretto, Art, & Video Direction by Ruth Bauer
View creative team bios
Readings: Saturday, June 28 at 8pm; Sunday, June 29 at 3pm; Wednesday, July 2 at 8pm; Friday, July 4 at 7pm

Synopsis: The American Civil War has ended, but the terrible task of cleaning up the mess – and trying to make sense of it all – has only just begun. That work falls in large part to the eccentric savant Private William T. Clarke working in an obscure and mysterious division of The War Department, sorting through unmanageable mountains of records housed now in Ford’s Theater, dark since Lincoln’s assassination there three years before. Clarke, who is fighting demons of his own, finds his strange and insular domain invaded by three desperate visitors in the same day, each looking for something precious lost in the war, unearthing tense and powerful emotions buried just below the surface. Unfortunately, Clarke may be the only person who can help them, and the war may not be over yet.

The White City
Words by Julia Gytri
Music by Avi Amon
View creative team bios
Readings: Saturday, July 5 at 8pm; Sunday, July 6 at 3pm; Wednesday, July 9 at 8pm; Friday, July 11 at 3pm

Synopsis: Chicago, 1893. The city hosts the World’s Columbian Exposition. Change is palpable: all in attendance hope to propel society into a shining new era. We follow Lucy, a rambunctious sharpshooter from Buffalo Bill's Wild West, as she explores the Fair, thrilled by the fast-paced modernity of city life. But trouble simmers beneath the façade of the shimmering “White City” when young women begin to go missing, as Henry Howard Holmes, a local doctor, exploits the innovations presented at the fair for his own demented purposes. Loosely based on the true story of America’s first recognized serial killer, The White City explores all of the delightful (and deadly) possibilities that accompany the introduction of new technology.

Breaking the 2013 conference's records, the National Music Theater Conference received over 200 submissions for 2014. Under the leadership of conference Artistic Director Paulette Haupt, each selected work will under go the O'Neill's signature development process, employing acclaimed professional actors, dramaturgs, directors, and music directors in an intensive series of rehearsals which culminate in four staged script-in-hand readings open to the public.

Speaking about this year's selections, Ms. Haupt said, "The selection process for this summer was daunting, with 211 applicants marking a record year for us. It is always astonishing to know how much talent is out there needing and deserving to have their voices heard. We are proud to support the works of Jim and Ruth Bauer and Avi Amon and Julia Gytri this year with two inspired music theater works of exceptional quality."

Since its founding in 1978, the National Music Theater Conference has developed nearly 120 new musicals, including early works of award-winning writers and composers such as Kirsten Childs, Tan Dun, Andrew Lippa, Duncan Sheik, Steven Sater, Paul Oakley Stovall, and Jeannine Tesori. Many have received productions and acclaim worldwide.

Joe Masteroff and Edward Thomas' Desire Under the Elms (2003 Grammy nominee) was the first work to be developed at the Conference in 1978. Arthur Kopit, Mario Fratti, and Maury Yeston’s Nine, developed in 1979, was the Tony Award winner for Best Musical and Best Score in 1982 and Best Revival of a Musical in 2003. Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez, and Jeff Marx’s Avenue Q, developed in 2002, won three Tony Awards in 2004, including Best Musical. In the Heights, a 2005 project with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, received the Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Musical in 2007 and four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, in 2008.

The O’Neill’s Executive Director, Preston Whiteway, remarked, "The National Music Theater Conference remains at the forefront of fostering this unique American art form. I am very excited for these pieces to come to the O'Neill to be developed as part of our 50th summer season. Jim and Ruth Bauer's The War Dept. and Julia Gytri and Avi Amon's The White City continue the robust tradition of the American musical."

Direct support for creative artists provided by The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music. The National Music Theater Conference runs from Saturday, June 28 through Friday, July 11 at the O’Neill’s campus in Waterford, Connecticut.

Box Office ((860) 443-1238) and online ticket sales begin Wednesday, June 11; advance ticket sales are available to O’Neill Members beginning Wednesday, May 21. Schedules are subject to change.


Additional Faculty Named for Intensive Semester-Long Credit-Earning Program, Beginning Fall 2014

Jonathan-Bernstein.jpgRachel Jett, Artistic Director of the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center has named director, playwright, and book writer Jonathan Bernstein as the artistic head of the Institute's new program, the National Music Theater Institute (NMTI).

NMTI is for high school graduates, undergraduates, and post-graduates seeking a launchpad into the music theater profession. A 14-week program offered in the fall and spring, NMTI offers conservatory-like schedule with broad-based ensemble training in acting, dance, movement, directing, singing, voice, writing, and composition complemented by two weeks of training in New York City through NMTI’s singular series of workshops and master classes.

Bernstein has taught for the National Theater Institute since 2012 and also serves as adjunct professor of Playwriting and Script Analysis in the MFA Musical Theater Writing Program at NYU and as the Artistic Director of The Performing Arts Project. His directing credits include work at the Atlantic Theater Company, Williamstown Theater Festival, New York Stage & Film, Signature Theater, Joe’s Pub, Ensemble Studio Theater, and many others. Broadway/London supervising director credits includePrivate LivesThe Iceman Cometh,Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, and Chicago, for which he oversaw the (still running) 1996 Broadway revival and its many national/international companies. His plays and musicals have been produced across the country, and he most recently wrote and directed the world premiere of The Shape She Makes (in collaboration with Susan Misner) for the A.R.T., a show which had its developmental residency with NTI at the O’Neill in 2013.

Rachel Jett remarks, "I am beyond delighted to welcome Jonathan Bernstein as Artistic Associate for NMTI during this important moment of expansion and growth. He is a total theater artist and a great educator. His previous contributions to NTI have furthered our artistic and educational mission to not only prepare young artists to work in the theatrical landscape, but to also invigorate and electrify that landscape.”

Led by Bernstein, a faculty of professional artists will instruct NMTI students in Acting for Music Theater, Writing the Musical, Dance/Movement, Directing for Music Theater, and Singing/Voice, as well as Cabaret, Greek Chorus, Business of the Business, Producing for Theater, Breakout Break Through Musicals, and Design, among many others. Current faculty members include Susan Blackwell, Nick Blaemire, Jeff Bowen, Ted Chapin, Gavin Creel, Donna Di Novelli, David Dorfman, John Doyle, Mike Errico, Alex Gemignani, Paulette Haupt, G. W.“Skip” MercierSusan Misner, Scott Murphy, Ryan Scott Oliver, Erin Ortman, Steven Pasquale, Scott Richards, Jack Viertel, and Thomas Viertel

Bernstein says "I'm thrilled to help create this new component of the National Theater Institute. The O'Neill has been a beacon of light in this industry for the last half-century. I have every confidence that our new musical theater program (NMTI), with its world-class faculty, will become an innovative breeding ground for the next generation of curious, courageous, risk-inclined artists. I look forward to teaching them and learning from them."

Applications are currently being accepted. To learn more and apply please, please or follow the National Theater Institute on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram(@NTIRiskFailRisk). Deadline to apply for the spring 2015 semester is October 20. Early applications are encouraged.





Launch of National Music Theater Institute on Schedule for Fall Semester of 2014


Looking down Cottage RowHartford, CT – The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center has officially been granted $3 Million in bonding funds from the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, allowing it to move forward with construction of housing and rehearsal facilities required to launch a new program in fall of 2014.

The National Music Theater Institute (NMTI) will serve as a new program of the existing National Theater Institute, which has been training undergraduates in a credit-bearing semester in dramatic theater since 1970. NMTI will offer a semester-away program in all areas of musical theater training for college undergraduates from the U.S. and abroad.

From porch looking uphillThe expansion, the largest in the Center’s history, includes seven new dormitory cottages creating living spaces for 65 artists and faculty, a laundry building, a new rehearsal hall and the renovation of existing buildings into additional production and rehearsal space. The town of Waterford recently renewed the O’Neill’s lease for 60-years on its 305 Great Neck Road property, and has approved all construction permits clearing the way for a late summer ground breaking.

Executive Director Preston Whiteway remarked, “The O’Neill is entering an exciting and transformative time in its history, equal in implication to the future of American theater as our founding nearly 50 years ago. We are grateful for the support of Governor Malloy and the Connecticut Department of Economic Development, whose investment will join private donations making this project a reality.”

The National Music Theater Institute will be a unique program internationally, with comprehensive seven-day-a week-training in all areas of musical theater, including composition and playwriting, acting, voice, directing, choreography, and design.

“With the recent successes of network television programs such as Glee and Smash, and leveraging the O’Neill’s vast professional resources in musical theater & undergraduate training and the Broadway community, NMTI is poised for success," Mr. Whiteway said. "After 6 years in planning, the Board and staff are thrilled to get started.”

For information about the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center or the National Music Theater Institute, please visit or call (860) 443.5378.

Across from Rehearsal Building


New Rehearsal Facility Named After Jim & Jane Henson

Posted by jladyga on June 13, 2014


The O’Neill is proud to announce the naming our new rehearsal facility, the
Jim & Jane Henson Rehearsal Hall, honoring a lifetime of commitment to the National Puppetry Conference and the advancement of puppetry around the world, and due to underwriting support from their daughters, O’Neill Trustee Heather Henson and her sister Cheryl Henson.
Henson Hall will serve as headquarters for the annual summer National Puppetry Conference beginning with its 25th Anniversary in 2015.  The new facility is part of a major campus expansion, including construction of seven new housing cottages and additional production and rehearsal space to further accommodate a new division of the National Theater Institute, the National Music Theater Institute (NMTI), which operates programs largely in the fall and spring.  

"Jane Henson loved and supported the O'Neill's National Puppetry Conference,” says Cheryl Henson, daughter of the Henson’s and President of The Jim Henson Foundation.  “As one of the founders of this innovative program in 1990, our mother returned to the O'Neill every June to enjoy the playful camaraderie of the creative process, encourage new artists and reconnect with established masters. In 2009, she participated as an artist-in-residence to develop her production of "The Nativity". As her birthday fell on June 16th, she always looked forward to spending her special day with puppeteers whose company she enjoyed.  

“My sister Heather and I are honored to dedicate this new rehearsal hall to our mother and father, Jim and Jane Henson, and to their love of the art of puppetry.  We look forward to seeing what wonderful productions will be created here."

O’Neill Center Executive Director Preston Whiteway added, “There is no finer name for the centerpiece building of our new expansion than that of ‘Henson.’ Jane, Jim, and their daughters Cheryl and Heather have supported the O’Neill’s mission of discovery and development for decades, since our earliest days as an organization. I’m delighted that new generations of puppeteers will create in this space, and that it allows for a broad expansion of our offerings – a new major new professional puppetry residency and year-round undergraduate musical theater training with our National Music Theater Institute. O’Neill artists in every discipline will be train in the Jim & Jane Henson Rehearsal Hall, and know of their commitment to our mission.

The spacious new rehearsal hall will also house the Jim Henson Foundation Puppetry Residency each January.  Residencies will last 2-4 weeks (full room and board), expanding and broadening the work of the National Puppetry Conference, and offering space and support to a deserving artist or project.

Together with Jane Henson, the National Puppetry Conference was established by key founding members George Latshaw, Richard Termine, Bobbie Nidzgorski, Bart P. Roccoberton Jr., and Jim and Margo Rose. The mission of the Conference is to encourage puppet artists to create and communicate through the visual and kinetic form of the puppet,to push beyond their personal boundaries, and develop new works for Puppet Theater. Participants collaborate with renowned guest directors, puppet artists, and playwrights to develop innovative productions conceived by guest artists, as well as presentations initiated by the Conference participants.