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national music theater conference

Alexander Gemignani, Artistic Director

The National Music Theater Conference proudly supports the development of all styles and genres of music theater, including musicals, song cycles, operas, and hybrid works. In keeping with the ethos of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, the National Music Theater Conference strives to create a supportive, collaborative environment in which emerging and established artists alike are welcome to explore, experiment, and take risks with their work-in-progress.

Questions? Contact our Literary Office at litoffice@theoneill.org

Submissions for the 2022 National Music Theater Conference are closed.

history


Since its inception in 1978, NMTC has developed over 120 works. Countless worldwide productions of musicals and operas have advanced the careers of NMTC authors and composers. The Conference was helmed by Paulette Haupt for 40 years until 2017. Alexander Gemignani began his tenure in 2018. > Discover the new musicals we've developed by decade




artistic director


Alexander Gemignani is an actor, music director, orchestrator, conductor, composer/lyricist, educator and Artistic Director. As an actor on Broadway: My Fair Lady (Doolittle), Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel (Enoch Snow - Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Grammy Nominations), Violet (Father), Chicago (Billy), Les Misérables (Valjean - Drama League nomination), Sweeney Todd (Beadle - Drama Desk nomination), Assassins (Hinckley - Theatre World Award), The People In The Picture (Moishe), Sunday in the Park With George (Boatman/Dennis). Off-Broadway: Road Show at the Public (Addison Mizner - Drama League nomination), Headstrong at EST (Nick) and Avenue Q at the Vineyard Theatre (Brian). Favorite Regional: Hamilton in Chicago (King George III, original cast), The Three Sisters (Andrei) at Cincinnati Playhouse, The Boys From Syracuse (Sergeant) at The Shakespeare Theatre of D.C. and the title character in the world premiere musical Saint-Ex at The Weston Playhouse. Concerts: The N.Y. Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall, The N.Y. Pops at Carnegie Hall, The L.A. Philharmonic at The Hollywood Bowl and the American Songbook Series at Lincoln Center. His solo show, All At Once, premiered at the Kennedy Center as a part of Barbara Cook’s Spotlight Series.
As a music director, he was recently represented Off-Broadway with Fiasco Theatre’s production of Merrily We Roll Along at the Roundabout (also penned new orchestrations) and is currently making his Broadway conducting debut as Music Supervisor for the Ivo van Hove helmed revival of West Side Story. Additionally, he made his conducting debut with the New York Philharmonic this past New Year’s Eve with the concert, Celebrating Sondheim, featuring symphonic suites and guest soloist, Katrina Lenk which aired on Live From Lincoln Center. As a composer/lyricist, he is currently developing four new musicals and has composed the incidental music for several plays.
As an educator, he serves on the faculty of the National Theatre Institute at The O’Neill and NYU Steinhardt. He has also served as guest faculty or guest artist for the University Of Michigan, Texas State University and NYU Tisch School Of The Arts. He is a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Writing Workshop and a proud graduate of The University of Michigan. 2018 marked the beginning of his tenure serving as Artistic Director for the National Music Theater Conference at The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, CT. His greatest joys are his beautiful daughter and his incredible wife, Erin Ortman.




submission info


Submissions for the 2022 National Music Theater Conference are closed. If you are interested in submitting a piece, the 2022 submission guidelines are available for reference below. Sign up for our email updates and be the first to know when applications are open! > Sign-up for NMTC updates > View the NMTC 2022 Digital Submission Guidelines Eligibility Requirements:

  • You must be 18 years of age and have the right to work within the United States.
  • We require that the work not have professional production prior to submitting and that the work remain unproduced until July 31, 2022. A professional production means that the artists working on the show were compensated for their time, and that all the theatrical or production elements desired were present. If your piece was produced but the production lacked significant and necessary theatrical elements — a Zoom or virtual reading, stage lighting, projections, or puppets, for instance — we do not consider that a “professional production.”
  • NMTC has no specific requirements regarding the form or content of your piece. We support the development of all styles and genres of music theater, including song cycles, operas, and experimental works.
  • You may submit an adapted work, providing that the rights to any material not in the public domain have been granted in writing, and a copy of the release is sent along with the script. You must provide proof of rights at the time of submission.
  • Jukebox and Catalog musicals are ineligible for consideration. This is due to our development process focusing on significant advancement of book, music, and lyrics.
  • Only complete applications will be accepted.




frequently asked questions


We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions for your convenience below. However, if you would prefer to speak directly to a member of our literary staff, you’re more than welcome. Please note that due to COVID-19 safety protocols, the Literary Office will be remote for the application and selection process. We highly recommend you send us an email at litoffice@theoneill.org rather than calling our offices. Can you tell me more about the selection process? The National Music Theater Conference expects approximately 300 applications for our 2022 season, all received and reviewed through our open submissions process this fall. In the initial round of consideration, the first 30 pages and 5 demo tracks of each musical are carefully considered with attention and appreciation. Full scripts and additional demo tracks (if available) will be requested for the second round of consideration on a rolling basis via email, at which point each team will have 72 hours to provide them. At no point will our offices request or require scores or sheet music. Due to the impacts of COVID-19 on our offices, the selection process for the 2022 National Music Theater Conference may take slightly longer than this projected timeline. Please know that we endeavor to respond to all inquiries and applications in a timely fashion. Who will read and listen to my work? The National Music Theater Conference proudly hosts a select pool of readers and reviewers. All industry professionals in the world of music theater, our readers include directors, writers, composers, dramaturgs, and other artistic professionals. Final conference selections are made by NMTC Artistic Director Alexander Gemignani. To learn more, please view our full list below under "2021 NMTC Readers." When can I expect to hear back from you? Invitations to participate in the second round of consideration for NMTC will be extended on a rolling basis starting in mid-November. By April, every applicant will be notified of their status. What does the National Music Theater Conference residency at the O’Neill entail? The National Music Theater Conference offers each piece selected for development a two-week-long, 60-hour workshop, culminating in four public script-in-hand staged readings. These workshops are wholly artist-driven and staffed with industry-leading directors, dramaturgs, music directors, musicians, actors, and designers. Artists are welcome to revise, rework, and rewrite as much or as little as they like while in residence with us, and we welcome revisions to the book, music, and score alike. In addition to the two-week development period, residencies include full room and board, as well as a stipend. Artists in residence are welcome to attend the rehearsals, readings, and presentations of their peers' work, as well as their own. We’ve found that one of the most valuable elements of an O’Neill summer is its strong community of fellow writers, artists, and theater-makers, which endures long after the conferences have drawn to a close. If selected, can I bring my family with me? Yes. The O'Neill strives to be a family-friendly campus, and we are committed to working with guest artists to accommodate individual childcare needs. We deeply encourage parent playwrights to apply and communicate any concerns and questions as they move through our application process. Please contact litoffice@theoneill.org with specific questions. Who is eligible to apply? As long as you are 18 years of age and have the right to work in the United States of America, you are more than welcome to apply. To that end, you do not need an agent or other professional representation to submit an application to the National Music Theater Conference — or any open submissions process hosted by the O’Neill. Do you accept work from international writers? Yes. NMTC gladly accepts — and has developed — work by artists from around the globe. We’ll only note that the script submitted must be accessible to English-speaking readers. To participate in the National Music Theater Conference, international writers must have the right to work in the United States. Unfortunately, our small staff size precludes the O’Neill from assisting with visa applications; however, previous applicants have found the resources on the U.S. Department of State's website useful. My play has music in it, but I don’t consider it a “musical.” Should I submit it to the National Playwrights Conference or the National Music Theater Conference? Our rule of thumb is: If developing the musical world of the play is your primary developmental goal, it's a better fit for the National Music Theater Conference — which provides exceptional support for the growth and development of music, lyrics, and book alike. Conversely, if your focus is on revising the text of your script, then the National Playwrights Conference is a more appropriate developmental home — in no small part because the National Playwrights Conference is unable to provide robust musical support for participating projects. We find that many applicants who characterize their work as a "play with music" tend to find that the National Playwrights Conference is a better fit for their work. When you say that submissions must not have had a “professional production” prior to July 31, 2022, what exactly do you mean? (Or, “I had a developmental opportunity with X, Y, Z, qualities. Is my piece still eligible?”) The O’Neill requires that all scripts submitted to the National Music Theater Conference remain without professional production through July 31, 2022. For our purposes, a professional production means that the artists working on the show were compensated for their time, and that all of the theatrical elements that one hopes to see — light, set, sound, costume, etc. — were present. A few notes:

  • If your piece has had a reading or a workshop, or if scripts were still in your actors’ hands at the time of a performance, we would not consider that a “professional production.”
  • If your piece was produced but the production lacked significant and necessary theatrical elements — a Zoom or virtual reading, stage lighting, projections, or puppets, for instance — we do not consider that a “professional production."
  • If your piece has been produced by a college or university theater, we would not consider that a “professional production.”
  • If your piece was fully produced but the artists were not compensated, we would not consider that a “professional production.”
  • If your piece has been produced, but the production lacked significant and necessary theatrical elements — stage lighting, projections, or puppets, for instance — we would not consider that a “professional production.”
My piece is music-driven, but I’m not sure that it’s a “musical.* Can I apply? NMTC proudly supports the development of all styles and genres of music theater, including song-cycles, operas, and experimental works. Please note, however, that because our process centers on writing and developing all elements of the project — book, music, and lyrics — pieces without original music, like "jukebox" or "catalog" musicals, are not eligible for submission. Can I submit a work that I have previously submitted? Yes. Though we would prefer to spend time with your latest work, we do accept scripts that have been previously submitted to the National Music Theater Conference. We do ask, however, that the work has been significantly revised — which tends to mean that substantial changes to the story and its telling have been made since it was last shared with us. Do you accept adaptions? Yes. We do accept adaptations, provided that the rights to any material not in the public domain are granting in writing and that a copy of this permission is shared with our offices. Please email a copy of this permission directly to litoffice@theoneill.org after completing your online application. Can I submit more than one piece? Yes. Does the text of my piece need to be formatted in any specific way? No. We recognize that music theater encompasses a multiplicity of styles and forms, and we trust that your book will be formatted in the way that best communicates your vision. What kind of quality is expected of the demo tracks? The NMTC selection committee listens to demo tracks to get a sense of the soundworld of your work — so, you’ll want to put your best foot forward here. Still, our readers recognize that every project shared with us is in a different stage of development. Accordingly, we have received everything from solo composers singing their own work to concert recordings from previous workshops; from single pianos to multiple instruments (real or synthesized); from home studios to professional studio suites. We only require that the songs are submitted in the order that they appear in the script, even if they fall outside of the first 30 pages. How many demo tracks should I submit? (Are you sure I can’t submit more than five?) Please include no more than five songs in show order. You may submit fewer than five songs if you would prefer. However, if you should include more than five tracks, please know that we are only able to pass the first five songs forward to our reviewers. Should your piece advance to the second round of consideration, you may then be invited to share the rest of your tracks with us. Do the five selected songs have to be in consecutive order? No. While we ask that the songs are listed in show order, they do not have to be consecutive. For example, you may choose to share with us the first two songs of the piece, three songs from the middle, and then the finale. Do the five selected songs have to fall within the first 30 pages of the script? No. While the songs must be listed in show order, you are welcome to submit tracks that fall outside of the first 30 pages of the script. Can I submit a video recording? Yes. If you feel that your demo tracks are better represented by video, you are welcome to submit video recordings of one or two selected songs — but please bear in mind that these videos are meant to supplement the audio files of your five demos, not replace them. Please do not send us a video recording of your full submission in performance. Do I need to submit the score? No. At no point will you be asked to provide a score or sheet music for your work. The materials requested in the NMTC application guidelines are sufficient. What should my synopsis look like? Your synopsis should be about half-a-page to one full page in length, but no more than that. This should be a clear overview of your piece that outlines its basic plot. Remember that the reader will only have access to the first 30 pages of your script, so please don’t fret about spoilers. What should my character breakdown look like? Please list character name, vocal/instrumental requirements, any doubling schemes should they occur, and any traits that you deem necessary for casting, These traits could include but are not limited to age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, etc. Beyond that, any information or notes that you wish to share about your characters is welcome, but not necessary. What should I include in my developmental goals? This is an opportunity for you to describe how specifically the resources provided by the National Music Theater Conference can help advance your draft. As a reminder, the O’Neill provides selected playwrights with a director, dramaturg, music director, musicians, and access to a professional equity cast. In addition to your dedicated rehearsal weeks and readings, you’ll have access to housing, writing spaces, and library resources on the O’Neill’s Waterford campus. Let us know how these resources can best serve your process and particular piece. Do you hope to examine a specific character arc with the help of a dramaturg? Are you curious about how the ending of your piece lands on an audience? What are you hoping to explore musically? These goals are shared with our readers and help them understand how you speak about your work and process as a writer. It should be about a page in length, but a little longer or shorter is fine, too. There are no formatting requirements for this section (save for the length as mentioned above), so you are welcome to provide a list, paragraphs, a visual element, a chart, etc. Bear in mind that is an opportunity to engage with your readers about the material that they have just read, so there’s no need to include a blow-by-blow account of the plot or worry about spoilers. We’ll only note that the more specific you can be about your goals, the better — we find that the more successful statements of objectives address every formal element of the piece, including book, music, and lyrics. Feel free to include any relevant notes about the developmental history of your piece here, too. How do I pay the application fee? You will be guided through the payment process step-by-step as you finalize your online application. We are glad to accept both debit and credit cards. If you run into any issues regarding the acceptance of your payment, please contact support@submittable.com How do I make a PDF of my script? We are only able to accept scripts samples in PDF format. Fortunately, the vast majority of word processors— including Microsoft Word, Final Draft, GoogleDocs, and Pages — will allow you to convert your document to a PDF by clicking on the tab, “Save as PDF.” Once you have done so, simply upload the new PDF of your script as directed on our online application form. Can I expect feedback on my submission? Unfortunately, our small staff size and the sheer number of applications we receive precludes us from giving individual feedback on submissions to the National Music Theater Conference.




overview


The 2021 National Music Theater Conference will likely look different due to the continuing presence of COVID-19. The core tenets of the NMTC process remain, however, and feature a writer-driven development with collaboration and rehearsal time with actors and creative teams. Writers selected through the open submission process will experience these processes through an in-person or digital development. The National Music Theater Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center is the nation's premier program for the development of all styles and genres music theater, including musicals, song cycles, operas, and hybrid pieces. Every summer, three unproduced works are selected from a nation-wide pool of submissions for a two week long, artist-driven workshop residency on the O’Neill’s campus in Waterford, CT. Each piece is matched with a team of industry-leading directors, dramaturgs, musicians, and actors for an intensive 60-hour rehearsal period, culminating in four public, script-in-hand staged readings. At every step in the process, the O’Neill strives to foster an inclusive, collaborative environment in which artistic exploration and experimentation is encouraged. SELECTION The National Music Theater Conference is proudly committed to an open submission process — we welcome all music theater artists, regardless of location or representation, to share their work with us. Our offices typically receive between 200-300 scripts annually, and a small corps of 20+ industry professionals — directors and dramaturgs, musicians and songwriters, critics and administrators — reads every submission in its entirety. Every submission is considered with care and appreciation, undergoing a rigorous evaluation process in which form, content, and developmental goals are meticulously reviewed and discussed. At the end of this reading process, a select number of outstanding musicals are chosen for their artistic excellence, originality of voice, singularity of perspective, and developmental potential. At the end of this six-month process, three outstanding pieces — chosen for their artistic excellence, originality of voice, singularity of perspective, and developmental potential — are selected for workshop residencies at the O’Neill. DEVELOPMENT The National Music Theater Conference offers each piece selected for development a two-week long, 60-hour workshop, culminating in four public script-in-hand staged readings. These workshops are wholly artist-driven, and staffed with industry-leading directors, dramaturgs, music directors, musicians, actors, and designers. Artists are welcome to revise, rework, and rewrite as much or as little as they like while in residence with us, and we welcome revisions to the book, music, and score alike. As always, risk-taking is encouraged. STAGED READINGS While in residence with the National Music Theater Conference, each piece in development receives four public, script-in-hand staged readings. We believe that these staged readings are a crucial step in the O'Neill’s developmental process, serving as an invaluable opportunity to hear an audience’s real-time response to the work in a welcoming, low-pressure environment. Talkbacks, led by each piece’s workshop dramaturg, will follow three of the four readings. DREAM ORCHESTRATION NMTC offers a “Dream Orchestration” session at the end of each workshop, designed to provide artists with a deeper understanding of the sound-world of their piece — and glimpse into its future development. Led by Tony Award-winning orchestrators, each creative team will select one song to digitally sequence, orchestrate, and perform live with the cast. NMTC also provides each piece with a “Dream Responder”: a top-of-field artist of the creative team’s choice — to attend one workshop reading, and share their thoughts with the creative team after. RESIDENCY In addition to developmental workshops, the National Music Theater Conference offers participating writers a two-week residency at the O’Neill’s ninety-acre seaside property — including full room and board, as well as a stipend. We welcome you to use this time however you see fit. Artists in residence are welcome to attend the rehearsals, readings, and presentations of their peers' work, as well as their own. We’ve found that one of the most valuable elements of an O’Neill summer is its strong community of fellow writers, artists, and theater-makers, which endures long after the conferences have drawn to a close.




2021 nmtc readers


Kelsey Baehrens Amanda Baschnagel Brittany Bradford Giselle Byrd Anika Chapman Carrie Chapter Christie Evangelisto Rodd Farhadi Cyrus Asmeret Ghabrimichael Emma Goidel Em Grosland Hansol Jung Martine Kei Green Jonathan Kirkland Ray Lee Nathan Lee Graham Lexy Leuszler Lindsay Levine Lily Ling Stephanie Machado Michael McElroy Megan McGinnis Scott Murphy Manu Nayran Taylor Nicole Lewis Helena Pennington Erica Piccininni Brian Quijada Caeser Samayoa Aimée Steele Pearl Sun Caridad Svich Ricky Ubeda Tiffany Wang Tatiana Weschler Charity Wicks Meg Zervoulis




nmtc finalists


In light of the impact of COVID-19 upon our 2020 season and the national playwriting community at large, the O'Neill provided all 2020 finalists the option to remain in consideration for the 2021 National Music Theater Conference. This incredible list represents finalists from both the 2020 and 2021 submission cycles. This exceptional assemblage of writers and their work represent the forefront of artistry, curiosity, and perspective. These voices are essential to our shared understanding of the human experience as they imagine thrilling theatrical and social futures across their work. We highly encourage you to investigate and connect with these artists and firmly believe they deserve the attention of a national new work audience. TL;DR: Thelma Louise;Dyke Remix; Book and Lyrics by EllaRose Chary, Music and Lyrics by Brandon James Gwinn AT THIS PERFORMANCE; Book and Lyrics by Kellen Blair, Book and Music by Joe Kinosian MĀYĀ; Book and Music by Cheeyang Ng, Book and Lyrics by Eric Sorrels AZUL; Book by Melis Aker and Tatiana Pandiani, Music by Jacinta Clusellas, Lyrics by Jacinta Clusellas and Rubén Darío Telo; Book, Music, and Lyrics by Julián Mesri Half the Sky; Book and Lyrics by Isabella Dawis, Music by Tidtaya Sinutoke Big Country; Book by Emily Mann, Music by Lucy Simon, Lyrics by Susan Birkenhead Call Me From the Grave; Book by Harold Hodge Jr, Music and Lyrics by Charlie Romano South; Book, Music, and Lyrics by Florencia Iriondo, Music and Arrangments by Luis D’Elias





 

Funding for the National Music Theater Conference is provided by The Shubert Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Rodgers & Hammerstein Foundation, and Actors’ Equity Foundation.

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