top of page
NMTC2_Jeannette_performance-32.jpg

national music theater conference

The National Music Theater Conference is the nation's premier program for the development of all styles and genres of music theater, offering selected works a two-week writer-focused development process.

Application Dates

October 2–16, 2023

Conference Dates

June 30–July 27

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

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 of music theater, including musicals, song cycles, operas, and hybrid pieces. Every summer, three unproduced works are selected from a nationwide 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 three 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 300-400 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 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, including three public script-in-hand 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.

 

 

PUBLIC READINGS

 

While in residence with the National Music Theater Conference, each piece in development receives several public, script-in-hand 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, follow each reading.

 

 

RESIDENCY

 

During their 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.

 

DREAM RESPONDER

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.

Since its founding in 1978, the National Music Theater Conference has been on the forefront of the industry—developing 120+ new musicals and counting.

 

Under the leadership of founding artistic director Paulette Haupt, NMTC uplifted scores of Broadway-bound musicals and their makers—highlights include In the Heights by Lin Manuel-Miranda and Quiera Allegra Hudes; Avenue Q by Robert Lopez, Robert Marx, and Jeff Witty; and Violet by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley.

 

Current artistic director, Alex Gemignani, took up the mantle in 2017. Under his curation, NMTC has had the pleasure of supporting a myriad of music theater artists on the cutting edge of the field—including Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael R. Jackson (Teeth), Gavin Creel (Walk on Through), Masi Asare (The Family Resemblance), and more.

 

Discover the new musicals we've developed by decade!

alex g.jpg

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 Ensemble Studio Theatre (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 Company in Washington, DC, and the title character in the world premiere musical Saint-Ex at The Weston Playhouse. Concerts: The New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall, The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, The Los Angeles 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 represented Off-Broadway with Fiasco Theater’s production of Merrily We Roll Along at the Roundabout (also penned new orchestrations) and made his Broadway conducting debut as Music Supervisor for the 2019/2020 revival of West Side Story. TV/Film: Servant (Apple TV), Empire (FOX - Recurring), Chicago Fire (NBC), Homeland (Showtime - Recurring), The Good Wife (CBS), Empire State (ABC Pilot), the film The Producers (Universal), three appearances on The Tony Awards (CBS), and on season 5 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (AMAZON - Recurring). Additionally, he made his conducting debut with the New York Philharmonic New Year’s Eve 2019 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 two new musicals, Diamond Alice and swingset/ moon, and has composed the incidental music for several plays. As an educator, he has served on the faculty of the National Theater Institute at the O’Neill and New York University Steinhardt. He has also served as guest faculty or guest artist for the University of Michigan, Texas State University, Syracuse University (Tepper), and New York University 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 Theater Center. His greatest joys are his beautiful daughter and his incredible wife, Erin Ortman.

2024 NMTC Submission Window: October 2–16, 2023! For updates and reminders, sign up for our mailing list HERE.

 

If you are interested in submitting a play, the 2024 NMTC Application Guide is available here for your reference. The application itself will be hosted on Submittable, which you’ll be able to access through this webpage when applications open. Be sure to sign up for email updates, too, to stay in the loop about NMTC applications. Our eligibility requirements and a rundown of application materials can be found below.

 

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Writers must be at least 18 years of age or older and have the right to work within the United States.

  • We require that the work has not had a professional production prior to submission, and that the work remain unproduced until July 31, 2024. 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.

  • The O'Neill requires vaccination for all staying on campus; therefore, all writers must be vaccinated against Covid-19.

  • Only complete applications will be accepted.

 

The administrative fee for NMTC 2024 is $20 per script submission. This helps offset the costs of the application process itself: its organization, staffing, administration, and submission platform. In 2021, the O’Neill committed to reducing application fees for all of its professional programs with the ultimate goal of reaching a final fee of $15 by Fall 2024. We understand that this fee can pose a barrier to entry. To that end, a number of fee waivers are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you would like to request a fee waiver, please use this Request Form before you begin your application.

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, 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 300-400 scripts each season, all received and reviewed through our open submissions process this fall. In the initial round of consideration, the first 30 pages and five 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. 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 "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 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. We welcome experimentation with book and music alike.

 

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.

 

Who is eligible to apply?

 

As long as you are at least 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, book, and the integration thereof. Conversely, we find that many applicants who characterize their work as a "play with music" ultimately feel that the National Playwrights Conference is a better fit for their work. For more information about the National Playwrights Conference and its application process, please visit the NPC webpage linked here.

 

When you say that submissions must not have had a “professional production” prior to July 31, 2024, 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, 2023. 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.”

 

I’ve already had a staged reading or developmental workshop of my musical. Am I still eligible to apply?

 

Yes. If your piece has had a staged reading or workshop presentation, it is still eligible for consideration at NMTC. Only pieces that have received a full professional production are ineligible to apply. Please note that you will be asked to provide a full developmental history of your piece on the NMTC application. Review the FAQ above for more details about this eligibility requirement.

 

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 adaptations?

 

Yes. We do accept adaptations, provided that the rights to any material not in the public domain have been granted to you in writing. Proof of rights and a copy of the release must be submitted to the O’Neill through the NMTC application form along with your other application materials.

 

Can I submit more than one piece?

 

Yes.

 

Does the text of my script sample 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. Please note that your title page, character breakdown, and any other introductory front matter will not count against the 30-page limit. We encourage you to include them in your script sample.

 

I don’t have a script or libretto yet because my piece is sung-through. Can I submit the first 30 pages of the score instead?

 

No. We are unable to accept excerpts from the score in lieu of the 30-page script/book/libretto sample.

 

What kind of quality is expected of the demo tracks?

 

The most important thing about your demos is that we can understand the lyrics. We recognize that every project shared with us is in a different stage of development, and understand that production quality will vary widely. 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, two 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?

 

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 along with my application?

 

No. 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 the resources offered by the National Music Theater Conference can further the development of your musical. As a reminder, the O’Neill provides selected writing teams with a director, dramaturg, music director, musicians, and a professional equity cast. In addition to your dedicated rehearsal weeks and public readings, you’ll have access to housing, writing spaces, and library resources on the O’Neill’s seaside campus. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • 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.

  • Your “Developmental Goals” should be about a page in length, but a little longer or shorter is fine, too. There are no formatting requirements for this section, so you are welcome to include a bullet point list, a narrative with multiple paragraphs, visual elements, charts, etc…

  • Bear in mind that this 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 developmental goals address every formal element of the piece, including book, music, and lyrics. Please 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 script 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.

 

My submission is listed as “Accepted” or “Completed” on Submittable. What does that mean?

 

When your NMTC application is listed as either “Accepted” or “Completed” on Submittable, it means that your application has been successfully submitted and accepted for review by the O’Neill literary office. If your script is accepted for development in our upcoming summer Conference, you will hear from us directly via email no later than May 2024.

 

If you have any other questions, please reach out to the O'Neill literary office via email at litoffice@theoneill.org.

The National Music Theater Confernce receives approximately 300-500 scripts each year, and a small volunteer corps of professional theatermakers—directors and dramaturgs, actors and designers, 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.

2024 Readers

Rebecca Aparicio, Kelsey Baehrens, Amanda Baschnagel, Isaak Berliner, Brittany Bradford, Tor Campbell, Carrie Chapter, David Chase, Ben Chavez, Mia Crivello, Rodd Cyrus, Sunnie Eraso, Adam Ferguson, Gabriela Garcia, Abel Garriga, Tiffani Gavin, Martine  Green-Rogers, Emmett Grosland, Lisa Helmi Johanson, Adam Hyndman, Guillermo Jemmott, Nehal Joshi, Lexy Leuszler, Lily Ling, Jorge Lopez Rivera, Megan McGinnis, Ryan Morales Green, Kelli Morgan McHugh, Samy  Nour Younes Figaredo , KO, Denis O'Hare, Johanna Pan, Tatiana Pandiani, Helena Pennington, Rebecca Rovezzi, Devina Sabnis, Zeina Salame, Darryl Semira, Tania Senewiratne, Mona Seyed-Bolorforosh, Garrett Shin, Roberto Sinha, Carter Smith, Aimée Steele, Caridad Svich, Alex Swann, Sam Theobald, Bobbie Theodore, Vishal Vaidya, Melody Valdez, Garrick Vaughan, Annie Wang, Connor Wang, Jacob Keith Watson, Tatiana Wechsler, Emily Whitaker, Liv Wilson, David Zinn

This exceptional group of writers is at the forefront of artistry, curiosity, and perspective in contemporary music theater. As NMTC Finalists, these pieces were championed by members of our first-round and second-round reading teams alike: fewer than 3% of musicals submitted made it to this phase of the selection process. We firmly believe that our 2024 NMTC Finalists deserve the attention of the national new work audience and enthusiastically encourage you to connect with them and their work!

 

Black-Eyed Susan

Book, Lyrics, and Music by Matthew McCollum

Book by Crystal Skillman

 

Fountain of You

Music by Faye Chiao

Book and Lyrics by Tasha Gordon-Solmon

 

LIGHTHOUSE

Book and Lyrics by abs wilson

Music by Veronica Mansour

Story by abs wilson and Veronica Mansour

 

Moonfaker

Music and Lyrics by Kyle Wilson

Book by Sam French

 

The Phoenix

Music by Cheeyang Ng

Lyrics by Eric Sorrels

Book by Desdemona Chiang

 

Soft Magical Tofu Boys

Book, Lyrics, and Music by Kevin Wong

 

Teacher of the Year

Book, Lyrics, and Music by Ari Asfar

Book and Lyrics by Esteban Gast

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.

Superhero (2017)
GIRL Shakes Loose (2016)
Home Street Home (2017)
A Reading in the Rose Barn
bottom of page