2014 National Music Theater Conference Selections

The War Dept.

Libretto, Music, & Lyrics by Jim Bauer
Libretto, Art, & Video Direction by Ruth Bauer 

The American Civil War has ended, but the 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 mountains of records housed now in Ford’s Theater, dark since Lincoln’s assassination there three years before.  Clarke, fighting demons of his own, finds his strange and insular domain invaded by three visitors in the same day, each looking desperately for something precious lost in the war.  Unfortunately, Clarke may be the only person who can help them, and the war may not be over yet.

Readings: Saturday, June 28 at 8pm; Sunday, June 29th at 3pm; Wednesday, July 2 at 8pm; Friday, July 4 at 7pm

The White City

Words by Julia Gytri
Music by Avi Amon

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.

Readings: Saturday, July 5 at 8pm; Sunday, July 6 at 3pm; Wednesday, July 9 at 8pm; Friday, July 11 at 3pm

Artist Bios

Jim Bauer (Libretto, Music, & Lyrics, THE WAR DEPARTMENT)

Jim BauerJIM BAUER earned a degree in music composition and theory from Haverford College where he studied with composers John Davison and Harold Boatrite.  He has since divided his time between composing scores for film (Claire Dolan and Keane, written and directed by Lodge Kerrigan) and television (dozens of long-form programs for VH1, MTV, PBS, ABC News Productions, and others), as well as performing as singer, songwriter, guitarist, and keyboardist in a variety of bands he has assembled over the years, including, most recently:  The Weimarband (2000-05) and Dagmar The Band (2005-2011).  He wrote the music and lyrics and collaborated with his wife, visual artist Ruth Bauer, on the libretto for the award winning musical The Blue Flower which was most recently produced at A.R.T. – The American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA in the fall of 2010 and Off-Broadway at Second Stage Theatre in the fall of 2011.  In 2011-12 he collaborated with Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz (Anna In The Tropics) on Farhad, or The Secret of Being, a new one-act, one-person musical that premiered in New York City in November 2012.  He is a recipient of a Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Grant Award and a semi-finalist for the American Academy of Arts and Letters Richard Rodgers Award.  In addition to The War Dept., he is also currently working on EXO, turning his 30-song “Dagmar” narrative song cycle into an experimental theatrical concert event, blending folk and electronica in collaboration with percussionist David Rozenblatt and UK musician/producer Robbie Bronnimann.

Ruth Bauer (Libretto, Art, & Video Direction, THE WAR DEPARTMENT)

 is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.  Her oil paintings, watercolors, collages, and monotypes have been shown in group exhibits in museums and in solo exhibitions in galleries across the United States, including The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, The Hudson River Museum, The Tucson Museum of Art, and The DeCordova Museum. Her paintings, watercolors, and monotypes are part of notable private and public collections, and her work has been reviewed in a number of articles in art journals and newspapers, including Art News and The Boston Globe.  Her artwork has been published on book jacket covers for Houghton-Mifflin, Viking, Harvard University Press and Orchard Books.  She collaborated with her husband, composer/lyricist Jim Bauer, on the book for the musical The Blue Flower, as well as the videos in the production.  The Blue Flower was most recently produced at A.R.T. – The American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA in the fall of 2010 and Off-Broadway at Second Stage Theatre in the fall of 2011.  Ruth has been an artist-in-residence at the HERE Arts Center and was a recipient of a 2004 Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Grant Award.  Ruth is currently writing and illustrating a fictional journal of an amateur woman naturalist from the nineteenth century who has traveled to the mythical Isle of Kokovoko to document the flora and fauna there.  Ruth is represented by The Clark Gallery.

Melia Bensussen (Director, THE WAR DEPT.)

WAR_DEPT_Director_Headshot.JPGMelia Bensussen is the recipient of an OBIE Award for Outstanding Direction, and has directed extensively around the country, including work at the Huntington Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Actors Shakespeare Project, Baltimore Centerstage, Hartford Stage Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, the New York Shakespeare Festival, MCC, Primary Stages, the Long Wharf, Actors Theatre of Louisville (Humana Festival), People's Light and Theatre Company (Barrymore nomination for Best Direction), San Jose Rep, and many others. Most recent work includes THE CHERRY ORCHARD for Actors Shakespeare Project (Norton nomination for Best Direction and Best Production); upcoming work includes AWAKE AND SING at the Huntington in Fall 2014.

She directed the world premiere of Kirsten Greenidge’s LUCK OF THE IRISH at the Huntington Theatre (winner 2013 IRNE Award for Best New Play), and her production of TWELFTH NIGHT at Actors Shakespeare Project, Boston, received the 2012 Eliot Norton Award for Best Production. Her work with new plays has involved working at New York Stage and Film/Powerhouse, the O'Neill Theater Center, and the Midwest Playlabs/The Playwrights Center, as well as other new play programs around the country. Collaborations with playwrights include work with Catherine Filloux, Kirsten Greenidge, Motti Lerner, Carey Perloff, Mat Smart, Ken Urban, Masha Obolensky, Jeffrey Hatcher, Lee Blessing, Richard Dresser, Willy Holtzman, Eduardo Machado, Edwin Sanchez, and Y York.

Raised in Mexico City, Melia is fluent in Spanish and has translated and adapted a variety of works, including her edition of the Langston Hughes translation of Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding, published by Theatre Communications Group. She is the Chair of Performing Arts at Emerson College in Boston.

Dominick Amendum (Music Director, THE WAR DEPT.)

THE_WAR_DEP_MD_Headshot.jpgDOMINICK AMENDUM has for the past 7 years served as Associate Music Supervisor of the International Mega-Hit Musical Wicked, also having conducted Wicked on Broadway, in Los Angeles, and in cities across the U.S. on the First National Tour. This past year, Dominick served as Arranger and Music Supervisor for the Broadway musical First Date, while also Arranging and Supervising the world-premiere of Secondhand Lions at Seattle’s landmark 5th Avenue Theatre (coming to Broadway in 2015.) Other upcoming projects include: The Man In The Ceiling (with Andrew Lippa and Jules Feiffer); Galileo (with screenwriter Danny Strong); andThe Kid (based on the book by Dan Savage).

Off-Broadway, Dominick currently serves as Music Director for Heathers. He was also the Music Director for The Blue Flower (SecondStage Theatre); The Kid (The New Group; also orchestrations and arrangements); The Romance Of Magno Rubio (DR2 Theatre); and This End Up (Ma-Yi Theatre Company). Dominick produced the recent First Date cast album, as well as recordings for Stephanie J. Block (“This Place I Know”); Carrie Manolakos (“Echo”), Will Van Dyke (“Chasing The Day”) and Paul Loesel and Scott Burkell (“Sorta Love Songs”). In the studio, he has collaborated with the likes of Rupert Holmes, Dolly Parton, Andrew Lippa, Stephen Schwartz, and Marvin Hamlisch.

Dominick is a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he studied Classical Piano Performance.

Julia Gytri (Words, THE WHITE CITY)

Julia Gytri.jpgJULIA GYTRI is a Manhattan-dwelling artist/gymnast. She joined forces with Avi Amon in 2011 to create The White City, which was a finalist for the 2014 Larson Grant. Their one-act musical, Step on a Crack, debuted in March 2014 with the Prospect Theatre Company. Upcoming projects include Salonika, a fusion of obscure fairy tales paralleled with the extermination of the Jews of Salonika, Greece; and Tickets to the Gun Show, a futuristic examination of human courtship and gender norms inspired by segregated male and female tribes in ancient Greece.

With composer/paleontologist Yan Li, Julia constructed -Blind., which premiered to a blindfolded audience in May 2012 and was performed in concert by the National Asian Artists Project in December 2013. The duo continues to develop the piece and find new ways to provide audiences with intensely exciting sensory experiences.

Julia currently performs, operates puppets, and composes music for educational children's songs at the New York K!d’s Club. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at Tisch, NYU.  www.juliagytri.com

Avi Amon (Music, THE WHITE CITY)

AVI AMONAvi Amon lives in Brooklyn and writes music for theater, film, and dance. Avi has appeared on NBC's "The Sing-Off," and performs regularly as a solo pianist, session musician, and with the band Pictures of the Sun. His music has been featured at Lincoln Center, The Directors Guild of America, La Mama, The Skirball Center, Dixon Place, and 54 Below, among others.

Before moving to New York, Avi wrote and directed Delaware: The Musical while working as an admissions counselor for the University of Delaware. During his tenure at the university, he worked extensively with the Professional Theater Training Program/Resident Ensemble Players as a music director and vocal coach. 

With collaborator/pal Julia Gytri, Avi wrote the music for The White City (NYU, finalist for the 2014 Jonathan Larson Grant) and Step on a Crack (featured in Prospect Theater’s 7th Annual Music Theater Lab). The pair continues to work on other exciting projects including the fairy tale and Ladino-infused Salonika, and the futuristic Tickets to the Gun Show.

Avi is an alumnus of the Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts where he studied with Mel Marvin, Polly Pen, and Fred Carl. Avi is also a member of the Dramatists Guild, The American Composers Forum, The Society of Composers, Inc., and ASCAP. He currently tends to his immense plant collection and works at the JCC in Manhattan as a program associate for Arts+Ideas. www.aviamon.com

Tim Seib (Director, THE WHITE CITY)

Tim_Seib_Headshot.jpgTim Seib is a stage director who currently resides in New York City. Tim has worked with companies such as The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, Storm Theatre, WingsTheatre, Festival 56, The Gorilla Theater, The Universal Theatre Festival, and Emerging Artists Theatre.

He has spent the last nine years as an artistic associate within The November Ten, which produces a summer theatre festival outside of Chicago every summer. Regional Directing credits include Cabaret, The Full Monty, Into the Woods, Proof, The Lucky Stiff, The Wizard of Oz, A Doll's House, Vanities, The Shape of Things.

Tim also has a passion for working with children, having helped create Two Road Educational Arts Theatre as well as teaching with Stages on the Sound in Brooklyn, NY. While normally called in to re-conceptualize classics, Tim has now turned his attention to the development process, having worked on the new musicals Broadcast and Goddess at The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center as well as reading new script submissions for both the National Playwrights Conference and the National Musical Theater Conference. Tim is a proud graduate of Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts in St. Louis, Missouri.

Kenneth Gartman (Music Director, THE WHITE CITY)

THE_WHITE_CITY_MD_Headshot.jpgKENNETH GARTMAN (MUSIC DIRECTOR) – Theatre: Inner Voices III:Arlington (Off-Broadway); Broadcast (Eugene O'Neill Music Theater Conference, 2013); Bryan Putnam's The ToyMaker (Eugene O'Neill Music Theater Conference, 2012); Zapata! The Musical (NYMF2012) and subsequent cast recording; Once Removed, a new musical with music by Graham Russell of Air Supply; Show Choir! the Musical (NYMF2010); The ToyMaker (NYMF2009) and subsequent cast recording;Trouble in Shameland (FringeNYC) and subsequent cast recording.

Cabaret/Concerts:Rev. Yolanda's Old Time Gospel Hour (MAC Award), Joshing Around, Unity Benefit Concerts, Concerts for City Greens, Cabaret Cares, The Salon Open Mic(Host/Co-Host), A Ballsy Christmas Open Mic (Host). Singer/Performer: Kenneth Gartman...Not Like the Other Cavemen (cabaret debut), National Tour of The Music Man; Side by Side by Sondheim; Simply Sondheim LIVE! (BBC Broadcast); and A New York Songbook: Way Off Broadway.

For more information, visit www.KennethGartman.com

*Direct support for creative artists provided by The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music.