2022 Writers Grove
ALIEN OF EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY
Book by Rotana
Music & Lyrics by Rotana Tarabzouni & Hayley Gene Penner
ROTANA TARABZOUNI (she/her) Rotana is a Saudi Arabian performance artist, singer and songwriter. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia, she moved to Los Angeles five years ago to pursue music after quitting her job at Saudi Aramco, the largest oil company in the world. She is currently working on her one woman show/musical, Alien of Extraordinary Ability (named after her immigration status), and her debut album which just released her latest singles “Sin Again” and “Stuck in America.” Rotana describes herself as an initiator, an erotic being, and a liberator. As an artist that reckons daily with the experience of “other,” she is determined to give movement, sound, beauty and witness to that experience. After premiering her one woman show at FORM, a world-renowned festival featuring artists and poets like Aja Monet and Florence and The Machine, she received the attention of publications like GQ noting that Rotana “delivered one of the most spine-tingling performances of the entire FORM festival.” She has also collaborated with brands including Fendi, Miu Miu, Lucky Brand, and more. Rotana has been named one of BBC’s 100 most powerful women and covered by GQ, LA Weekly, Huffington Post, Vice Arabia, Vogue Arabia, NPR, and AJ+. Her performances have spanned cities globally including Paris, Abu Dhabi, Los Angeles, New York, and at the Sundance Music Festival. Straddling a profound love for her home and the determination to be free, Rotana’s music speaks to the journey of self-realization in the face of Saudi tradition, God, sexuality, family and the immigrant experience.
AT BUFFALO: A NEW MUSICAL
Book, Music & Lyrics by Dr. Amma Y. Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin, Khalil Sullivan & Joshua Williams
DR. AMMA Y. GHARTEY-TAGOE KOOTIN (she/her) Born to Ghanaian immigrants in Tuskegee, Alabama and raised in Kansas, “Dr. Amma” is a scholartist*, writer, performer, and producer who transforms historical material about black identity into performances for the stage and screen. Named a 2019 TED Fellow, she bridges the worlds of academia and arts/entertainment—having worked for A&E® Networks/The History Channel, National History Day, Inc., and as a professor. Her current projects are an historical musical about black performers in the 1901 World’s Fair entitled At Buffalo and a book about the relation between laughter and the American slave experience entitled Laughing After Slavery: The Performances and Times of Laughing Ben Ellington. Her hyper-collaborative creative research projects have garnered numerous fellowships and awards including a 2019 MAP Fund Grant, an Innovative Seed Grant (CU-Boulder), a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Ford Foundation Fellowship, etc. She is also a co-recipient of a 2020 Honorable Mention for the National Council on Public History’s Outstanding Public History Project Award for her co-direction of [the Georgia Incarceration Performance Project]. Her educational work for the History Channel's Peabody award-winning documentary Save Our History: Voices of Civil Rights received a 2006 Beacon Award. The History Channel also selected Dr. Amma to join the ranks of Ang Lee and Gloria Estefan as one of 37 extraordinary immigrants/children of immigrants whose stories are currently featured at Ellis Island’s Museum of Immigration. Dr. Amma holds an A.B. in Afro-American Studies from Harvard University and an M.A./Ph.D. in Performance Studies from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
KHALIL SULLIVAN (he/him) Inspired by the expressive freedom and creativity birthed in the Harlem Renaissance, the blues and folk traditions of the African American working class, and the vocal and songwriting stylings of Tracy Chapman, Michael Jackson, and Bobby McFerrin, Maryland native Khalil Sullivan Muhammad is a musician and scholar of popular music and popular performance. He is also the Band Leader, Composer, and Lead Vocalist for the six-piece ensemble Mad Noise, which received the distinction of being selected by the U.S. State Department's American Music Abroad (AMA) program to take part in a diplomatic music tour to Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Equatorial Guinea in December 2015. The ensemble has won several awards in the SF Bay Area, including Best Band in the Bay (SF Bay Guardian, 2011, 2012, & 2013), Best Hyperliterate Busking Outfit (SF Weekly, 2011), Best Local Band (Daily Californian, 2011); and have performed at a variety of local music clubs, venues and alternative spaces including Yoshi’s (SF), Great American Music Hall (SF), Hotel Utah (SF) The Uptown (Oakland). In his spare time, he also plays guitars for San Francisco, CA-based punk band, The Truants. Sullivan Muhammad holds an A.B. in English (Theatre minor) from Princeton University.
JOSHUA WILLIAMS (he/him) is a writer, theatre director, teacher, translator and scholar. In 2007, New York Magazine named him “a star of tomorrow” on the basis of his forthcoming novel, Bird in Blue. His plays have been produced or developed at Theatre Intime, Princeton University, the Capital Fringe Festival, UC Berkeley, CU Boulder, the New York Musical Theatre Festival, CAP 21, Ars Nova's ANT Fest, SUNY Buffalo, the Rhinebeck Writers' Retreat and Play Ground San Francisco/Thick House. His play Ornithology was recently commissioned by EST/Sloan. He was a 2012-2013, 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 member of the PlayGround San Francisco Writing Pool and had three of his short plays read at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and one published in The Best of PlayGround. In 2011, he directed the North American premiere of Ebrahim Hussein's Kinjeketile at UC Berkeley. Currently a visiting professor of English at Brandeis University, Williams’ academic research concerns the political figure of the animal in East African theatre and performance. His articles, essays and reviews have appeared in ASTR Online, Theatre Journal, The Johannesburg Salon, Theatre Survey, African Theatre, Performance Research, Africa is a Country, HowlRound, Brittle Paper and The Los Angeles Review of Books. Williams holds an A.B. from Princeton University in Comparative Literature with certificates in African Studies and Creative Writing, an M.A. from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, also in Comparative Literature, and a Ph.D. in Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
A BURNING CHURCH
by Alex Hare and Zhailon Levingston
Music by Nehemiah Luckett
ALEX HARE (he/him) Alex Hare is a theatre and video creator focused on music-driven storytelling. In 2021 he directed and co-wrote, with playwright Julia Izumi, the internet movie Capricorn 29 for The Tank and Post Theatrical (“actually brilliant” - Helen Shaw, Vulture/NY Magazine). With Zhailon Levingston and Nehemiah Luckett, he is developing A Burning Church through Musical Theatre Factory’s MAKERS cohort, New Ohio/IRT’s Archive Residency, and a fellowship with A Blade of Grass. He received the SDC Foundation’s 2020 Charles Abbott Fellowship for early-career musical theatre directors. Assistant credits: School of Rock, Side Show (Broadway). Alex studied American Studies at Columbia University.
ZHAILON LEVINGSTON (he/him) A Louisiana-raised director and storyteller, Zhailon specializes in the development of new plays and musicals. He made his Broadway debut in fall 2021 with Chicken & Biscuits as the youngest Black director in Broadway history. With Tony-winner Rachel Chavkin, Zhailon is the co-director of Reconstruction, a devised play in development for The TEAM; also with Chavkin, he co-directed the audio series Live From Mt. Olympus (NYT Critic’s Pick). He's the director of industry initiatives for the Broadway Advocacy Coalition (Special Tony Award, 2021), the resident director at Tina: the Tina Turner Musical on Broadway and the associate director of Hadestown in South Korea.
THE CAROL OF THE BELLS
NEVADA LOZANO (he/him) is a musical theater composer and lyricist, as well as a professional music director, arranger, orchestrator, and pianist. He has served as music assistant for several Broadway productions, including: Oklahoma! (2019 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, featuring new orchestrations by Daniel Kluger), The Sound Inside (directed by David Cromer, starring Mary-Louise Parker), and Sea Wall/A Life (starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge). Most recently, he served as music assistant for Bard SummerScapes’s production of The Most Happy Fella (directed by Daniel Fish, starring Mary Testa).
Nevada has also assisted on many exciting shows-in-development, including A Face in the Crowd (music and lyrics by Elvis Costello, book by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Des McAnuff), Joy (music and lyrics by AnnMarie Milazzo, book by Ken Davenport) and The Seat of Our Pants (by Ethan Lipton, directed by Leigh Silverman), among many others.
As a composer, Nevada has written an album of solo piano music to be used in ballet classes. Performed by Wesley Ducote and directed by Erica Johnston, Music for Ballet Class is now available to purchase and stream on all major platforms.
As an orchestrator, Nevada’s work is featured on the podcast [insert movie here]: The Musical! He orchestrated the songs heard in the No Country for Old Men, Blair Witch Project, and Space Jam episodes, as well as the theme song. Additionally, Nevada is the arranger/orchestrator for Dolo Publications, an educational company that uses songs and stories to teach languages to students of all ages and skill levels.
His musical, Ramona:
An American Epic (based on the classic novel by Helen Hunt Jackson),
received a “pre-premiere” at NY Theatre Barn in February 2019 and was featured
as part of the organization’s live-streamed New Works Series in November 2020.
He is also developing an animated Christmas musical — one with the heart of
holiday classics like Rudolph the
Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie
Brown Christmas, but the irreverent humor of contemporary musicals like Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon.
Nevada is a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop (Advanced) and received their Jerry Harrington Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement in 2018. He was a finalist for the Jonathan Larson Grant in 2019 and 2020 and has participated in residencies at Yaddo, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program (upcoming). He studied composition with Lisa Bielawa, David Liptak, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon at the Eastman School of Music, and later with Arthur Gottschalk and Pierre Jalbert at Rice University.
THE DEATH OF DESERT ROSE
Book by Jessica Kahkoska
ELLLIAH HEIFETZ (he/him) is a first-generation American composer, pop songwriter, and country-folk singer. Theatrical works include The Death Of Desert Rose (SBR Productions Option, Dramatist Guild Fellows); Dust Can’t Kill Me (NYC Fringe – Best Music & Lyrics, NYMF – Best Music); We Are Pilgrims (ASTIR Lab Series, Barn Arts Collective); Baba Yaga (ISU); Untitled Beale Ciphers Musical (Signature Theatre in D.C.), among others. Published by The Brain Music, Elliah has also collaborated with hit pop songwriters and producers like Freddy Wexler (Kanye West, Selena Gomez), Dave Kuncio (Dierks Bentley, Steve Aoki), and Neff-U (Dr. Dre, Justin Bieber), and has had placements on major label projects and network TV soundtracks. Additionally, Elliah performs his original Americana songs, which have been streamed over 800k times online and heard live from New York to Nashville (TIDAL’s Best Of: Rising Folk/Country). Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, SPACE on Ryder Farm, DGF Fellows, Rhinebeck Writers. The son of political refugees from the Soviet Union, Elliah was born and raised in Philadelphia before studying English at Yale.www.elliahheifetz.com
Book, Music, & Lyrics by Jorge Miguel Rivera-Herrans
JORGE MIGUEL RIVERA-HERRANS (he/him) Jorge “Jay” Rivera-Herrans is a class of 2020 graduate of the University of Notre Dame from Dorado, Puerto Rico. After spending his high school years preparing to study medicine in college, Jay switched from his Pre-Med major to a major in Film, Television, and Theatre to pursue his dreams of becoming a playwright. After receiving pushback for his sudden change, Jay teamed up with Professor Matt Hawkins to write and develop a musical titled My Heart Says Go about a med school dropout who runs away to California to chase his dream of being a singer/songwriter. The musical debuted to a sold out run at the University of Notre Dame. My Heart Says Go is now in development with Apples and Oranges Arts, as well as The Goodman Theatre. On top of playwriting, Jay also enjoys acting. He played Usnavi in the South Bend Civic Theatre’s production of In The Heights, Melchior in the University of Notre Dame’s production of Spring Awakening, and Indigo in Notre Dame’s production of My Heart Says Go (at the time titled Stupid Humans). He also received a callback for the role of John Laurens/Phillip Hamilton in Hamilton and was brought by Hamilton Casting to New York City, where he attended two days of dress rehearsals and met the touring cast. Some notable accolades include the 2018 BroadwayWorld Award for Best Actor in a musical in South Bend for his role as Usnavi in In The Heights, as well as another nomination for the same award for his role as Melchior in Spring Awakening. Jay is currently in the process of writing his second major project, Epic, a musical adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey. He recently received the first ever Career Launch Fellowship with Show Shepherd, a New York-based musical theatre consulting firm that specializes in the development of new pieces.
HUNDRED FEET TALL
Book by Melis Aker
Adapted from the book by Benjamin Scheuer and Jemima Williams
MELIS AKER (she/her) is a writer, actor, and musician from Turkey, based between NY, LA and London. Her scripts have been commissioned by and developed at the Atlantic Theatre (Middle Eastern Mixfest), Ars Nova (Play Group member), NYTW (2050 fellow), O’Neill, NAMT, Cannes Film Festival, IFP, New Group, Dramatists Guild (DGF fellow), Roundabout, Lark (MEA writers room), Noor, Golden Thread, 24 Hour Plays, Magic Theatre, and Silk Road Rising in the U.S., as well as the Finborough and Park theatres in London. She recently worked on developing a screenplay with Revelations Entertainment headed by Morgan Freeman, wrote the teleplay Fractio Panis starring Brian Cox for Homebound Project/No Kid Hungry directed by Tatiana Pandiani, and released her New York Times reviewed radio play Scraps and Things on Playing On Air, starring Carol Kane. Selected acting credits include The Equalizer (CBS), The Blacklist: Redemption (NBC), Seneca (HBO Max), Love in Afghanistan (Arena Stage & Roundabout), Proof (Edinburgh Fringe). Melis is currently developing a musical play with Benjamin Scheuer and Jemima Williams based on their illustrated book Hundred Feet Tall, a bilingual musical Azul, and a new play commissioned by Ars Nova. Her play Field, Awakening (Kilroy’s List) will receive its world premiere at the Finborough Theatre (COVID-19 pending). Melis is a recipient of the Sundance Interdisciplinary Program grant, and will be voicing the role of Marie in the upcoming audio series Wavelength from the creators of Archive 81. Previous training: Columbia (MFA), Tufts (BA), RADA (Acting). Representation: CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
BENJAMIN SCHEUER (he/him) is a songwriter and performer. His solo-show The Lion opened off-Broadway in 2014 (Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Solo Performance) then played in London (Off-West End Award, Best New Musical). Directed by Sean Daniels, the show is streaming on BroadwayHD.com. In May 2022, a new production of The Lion will open in London, starring by Max Alexander Taylor. Scheuer wrote and performed the music for ballet dancer Carlos Acosta’s Empty Stage, the “magical…best dance film of the 2021” (The Guardian). Scheuer’s music videos have won Annecy Film Festival’s Best Commissioned Film, and the British Animation Awards’ Best Music Video (twice). He’s the author of two songs-turned-into-children’s books: Hibernate With Me and Hundred Feet Tall, which he’s adapting for the stage with Melis Aker. With Rick Elice, Scheuer is writing a musical about Peter Roget, creator of Roget’s Thesaurus. He is working on a new solo show called Elodie’s Mountain and an accompanying album. A Kleban Award winner, “Scheuer plays guitar as if he invented the instrument (LA Times) and his songwriting “gets to the heart of the matter” (NY Times). Originally from New York, Scheuer lives in London.
Book by Ty Defoe
Music by Avi Amon (& Nolan Doran)
Lyrics by Nolan Doran (& Avi Amon)
AVI AMON (he/they) is a Turkish-American composer, sound artist, and educator. Recent credits include: The Copper Children with Shariffa Ali (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Stew with Zora Howard and Colette Robert (Soho REP), The Fisherman (dir. Zoey Martinson, HBO Films), The Black History Museum (HERE Arts), Salonika (Berkeley REP) and The White City with Julia Gytri (Yale Institute, O’Neill NMTC), and several sound installations in a 100-year-old grain silo in Buffalo, New York (w/ Torn Space Theater, featured at the Prague Quadrennial). Avi’s work has also been developed or presented by Actors Theatre of Louisville, Ars Nova, Atlantic Theater, BAM, The Civilians, Edinburgh Fringe, JACK, Juilliard, Lincoln Center, La Mama, Playwrights Center, Prospect Theater, and Spoleto Festival USA, among others. In development: Heroine’s Guide with Claire Kiechel (Spotify/Gimlet), Rated Black with Kareem Lucas (Woolly Mammoth), Inshallah/Mashallah: a 3-D-audio opera re-imagining of the 1,001 Nights (Target Margin Theater), and scores for several films. He is a Jonathan Larson Grant and New Music USA Grant winner, a Dramatists Guild Fellow, and has been an Artist in-residence with Princeton, Exploring the Metropolis at JCAL, Hi-ARTS, Judson, New Dramatists, and Weston Playhouse, among others. Avi is the resident composer at the 52nd Street Project and teaches a variety of collaborative art-making courses at NYU Tisch.
NOLAN DORAN (he/him)is a Collaborative Theatre Artist (writer, director, and producer) who creates new works across theatre and film and is a 2019-2020 Dramatist Guild Foundation Musical Theatre Writing Fellow. In addition to The Lesson, his recent works include, My Eclectic Life (HERE), Woody – A New Fairy Tale (Main Street Musicals winner), The Spectrum (Azalea Film Festival winner), The King (L.A. Indie Film Festival winner) and music for Ayodele Casel’s, While I Have the Floor (Spoleto Festival). Broadway and Off-Broadway credits: Co-Producer and Assistant Director for Head Over Heels with songs of the Go-Go’s, Associate Director for Michael Moore’s The Terms of My Surrender, Assistant Director of the star studded one-night concert Stronger Together: Hillary on Broadway and Assistant Director of Jamboree, starring Sutton Foster and Jonathan Groff at City Center. Recently, Doran was Executive Producer alongside Liesl Tommy, Halle Morse, Julie Boardman and Jennifer Mudge for Broadway For Biden’s In Our America Concert starring Glenn Close, Jennifer Hudson, Samuel Jackson John Water and over 150 Broadway stars; Executive Producer of Artists For Change for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; Producer for #Arts4America in collaboration with Arts For Biden-Harris; Co-Producer of The Secret Life of Bees; Executive Producer of The Golden Girls Musical Parody – Pride Edition for World Pride at HERE and is the Co-Producer of The Museum of Broadway coming in 2021. Doran holds an M.F.A. from The Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU Tisch. Check out his channel on Broadway on Demand, or visit nolandoran.com.
TY DEFOE (Giizhig) (he/we) is from the Oneida and Ojibwe Nations and is an interdisciplinary artist, actor/writer, and Grammy Award winner. Ty aspires to an interweaving approach to artistic projects with social justice, indigeneity, indiqueering, and environmentalism. Ty’s global cultural arts highlights: the Millennium celebration in Cairo, Egypt; Ankara, Turkey, International Music Festival; and Festival of World Cultures in Dubai. Awards: Global Indigenous Heritage Festival Award, a Robert Rauschenberg Artist in Residence, Jonathan Larson Award, TransLab Fellow, Cordillera International Film Festival Finalist. Works authored & created: Red Pine, The Way They Lived, Ajijaak on Turtle Island, Hear Me Say My Name, Trial and Tears, River of Stone, Wind Changes Direction (Crystal Bridges at The Momentary). Ty is co-founder of Indigenous Direction (with Larissa FastHorse), core member of All My Relations Collective, showing Gizhibaa Giizhig | Revolving Sky at Under the Radar's Incoming at the Public Theater. Degrees from CalArts, Goddard College, + NYU Tisch. Movement Direction: Mother Road, Dir. Bill Rauch (OSF), Manahatta, Dir. Laurie Woolery (OSF + Yale Rep), and Choreographer for Tracy Lett’s The Minutes (Broadway). Netflix: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and made his Broadway debut in Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men, Dir. Anna Shapiro. Lives in NYC + loves the color clear. He|We
Book, Music, & Lyrics by Kalani Queypo & Kyle Puccia
KYLE PUCCIA (he/him) is a Platinum-selling songwriter, composer and musician. His co-write, Kids In Love, debuted at #1 on Billboard's Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart. Kyle earned a Swedish Grammy nomination in 2018 and his songs have charted on Billboard's Top 40 Hot Dance Club Play & Top 10 UK Commercial Pop Charts. Kyle has composed dozens of scores for Microsoft and T-Mobile commercials and he's garnered song placements on such TV shows/films/brands as HBO, World Of Dance, Pretty Little Liars, Legacies, The Titan Games, Love Island, Siesta Key, The Vineyard and Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List. He's music-directed and/or created vocal arrangements for TV's Lucifer (Netflix), LA workshop productions for Rock of Ages and Romy & Michele's High School Reunion, The Musical.
KALANI QUEYPO (he/him) Before moving to Los Angeles, Kalani trained in New York City, and was featured on stages all over the country, such as the Goodspeed Opera House, Arena Stage, Trinity Repertory Company, Mark Taper Forum, The Wilma, and The Ordway. He can be seen in the Oscar-nominated Terrence Malick film, The New World, Steven Spielberg’s Emmy-winning Into the West and Slow West (Sundance GRAND JURY PRIZE). Television credits include Jamestown (three seasons series regular), Saints & Strangers, Fear the Walking Dead, Mad Men, Nurse Jackie, Bones, and Hawaii Five-0. Kalani is currently filming the new CBC series, Trickster. A short film written and directed by Kalani, Ancestor Eyes, screened at nearly 40 festivals and won 14 awards including the Rhode Island International Film Festival’s Directorial Discovery Award.
Music by Paul Hodge
Lyrics by Naomi Iizuka & Paul Hodge
PAUL HODGE (he/him) is an award-winning writer-composer from Australia. Paul’s work has been produced Off-Broadway, in London, Edinburgh and Australia. Paul is currently developing the musical adaptation of the iconic children’s TV show Round The Twist, which premiered on the BBC and has aired in over 70 countries over 30 years, including on the Disney Channel in Europe and Fox Kids in the US. Paul received his PhD in Music Composition from the University of Queensland and received a Brisbane Young and Emerging Artist Fellowship and the Dame Joan Sutherland Fund Award to undertake a mentorship with Alain Boublil, the Academy Award-nominated, Tony Award-winning writer of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon. Residencies include the inaugural Vanguard Arts Project at Olney Theatre Center, Maryland, and the Ground Floor Residency at the Tony Award-winning Berkeley Rep in California, with Naomi Izuka to develop their new musical Okuni. Paul was commissioned to write the five-time Matilda Award-nominated musical comedy Joh For P.M., starring Lano and Woodley’s Colin Lane, and is currently commissioned by Opera Queensland and La Boite Theatre to compose the opera Riot with award-winning playwright and screenwriter Michelle Law. His musical comedy, Clinton, received a New York Times Critics’ Pick, nominations for Best Musical from the Off-Broadway Alliance and Edinburgh Festival Fringe and won Best Off-Broadway Cast Album in the Broadway World Awards and Best Production in the Performing Arts WA Awards. He is currently developing Black Box, a musical based on the life of the Australian inventor of the “Black Box” flight recorder.
NAOMI IIZUKA's (she/her) plays include 36 Views, Polaroid Stories, Anon(Ymous), Language Of Angels, Aloha, Say The Pretty Girls, Tattoo Girl, Skin, At The Vanishing Point, Concerning Strange Devices From The Distant West, Last Firefly, Citizen 13559, and War Of The Worlds (a collaboration with Anne Bogart and SITI Company.) Her plays have been produced at theatres across the country including Berkeley Rep, the Goodman Theatre, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, the Guthrie Theater, Cornerstone Theater Company, Children’s Theater Company, Seattle Children’s Theatre Company, the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, the Huntington Theatre Company, Portland Center Stage, the Public Theater, Dallas Theater Center, and Soho Rep. Iizuka’s plays have been published by Overlook Press, Playscripts, Smith and Kraus, Dramatic Publishing, and TCG. Iizuka is an alumna of New Dramatists and the recipient of a PEN/Laura Pels Award, an Alpert Award, a Joyce Foundation Award, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Stavis Award from the National Theatre Conference, a Rockefeller Foundation MAP grant, an NEA/TCG Artist in Residence grant, a McKnight Fellowship, a PEN Center USA West Award for Drama, a Hodder Fellowship, and a Jerome Fellowship. Her play Good Kids was commissioned by the Big Ten Consortium’s New Play Initiative and has been produced at universities nationwide. Recent projects include an adaptation of Sleep by Haruki Murakami which premiered at the 2017 BAM Next Wave Festival and was a New York Times Critics Pick, and What Happens Next, a play written in collaboration with US Marine Corps combat veterans and their families, and produced by La Jolla Playhouse and Cornerstone Theater Company. Iizuka was the 2017 Berlind Playwright-in-Residence at Princeton University. She worked as a writer and story editor for Season 2 of The Terror on the AMC network and as a writer and executive story editor for Tokyo Vice which will air on HBOMAX. She currently heads the MFA Playwriting program at UC-San Diego.
THE OSCAR MICHEAUX PROJECT
Kearney, Jr. & Cara Reichel
Music by Alphonso Horne
Lyrics by Jesse L. Kearney, Jr. & Peter Mills
ALPHONSO HORNE (he/him) Alphonso Horne is a composer, performer, and educator. He is a two-time Grammy-nominated trumpeter, named by Wynton Marsalis as one of the rising stars of the next generation. Horne has performed with many renowned jazz artists including Marcus Roberts, Michael Feinstein, Rhiannon Giddens, Marilyn Maye and Rihanna. On Broadway, he has performed in the orchestras for After Midnight and Shuffle Along, and he was the Music Director for Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolic. Horne leads an active career as a sideman, performing at world-class venues and jazz festivals. Horne is involved with many projects, including playing with Sammy Miller and the Congregation (2017 Ars Nova residency) and the annual Savannah Swing Central & Music Festival. He is the bandleader of an early jazz band, Gotham Kings, which performs regularly at Jazz at Lincoln Center and Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem. He is producing his original show Mother Kofi: The Tale of an African Princess, inspired by his family history. Education: Florida State University (BM), The Juilliard School (MM).
JESSE L. KEARNEY, JR. (he/him) is an award-winning playwright, and composer/lyricist. Honors include the ASCAP Musical Theater Workshop, and the Jonathan Larson Musical Theater Fellowship through the Dramatist Guild. His musical The Little Playhouse received a workshop production at Lincoln Center Theater Director’s Lab / American Living Room Series. His songs have been featured at cabaret venues around NYC, including Joe’s Pub. MFA: NYU Musical Theater Writing Program.
PETER MILLS (he/him) Lyricist, composer, and bookwriter Peter Mills received the Kleban Prize for lyrics and the Fred Ebb Award, and received 2019 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations for his original score for the recent Off-Broadway hit The Hello Girls. He has written music & lyrics for over a dozen shows, including Illyria and The Underclassman, and wrote lyrics for The Honeymooners, which premiered at Paper Mill Playhouse in 2017. MFA: NYU Musical Theater Writing Program.
CARA REICHEL (she/her) is a bookwriter, director and producer of new musical theater, and the founding Producing Artistic Director of NYC's acclaimed Prospect Theater Company, dedicated to the development and production of new musical theater. Most recently she was the co-bookwriter on The Hello Girls, and crafted the book for the original jukebox musical The Olympians for Theatrical Rights Worldwide. She is serving as a creative producer and co-bookwriter for The Oscar Micheaux Project.
RISE OF THE PHOENIX
Book by Cheeyang Ng
& Eric Sorrels
Music by Cheeyang Ng
Lyrics by Eric Sorrels
CHEEYANG NG (they/he)
Born and raised in Singapore, Cheeyang Ng is an award-winning singer-songwriter who writes at the intersection of queer, Asian and immigrant stories. They have performed around the world, including Lincoln Center with Carole King and Carnegie Hall with a cappella group Vocalosity and hold an MFA from New York University and a BMus from Berklee College of Music. They are the first Singaporean to headline a concert at Joe's Pub and Millennium Stage at Kennedy Center showcasing their original music and their songs have been performed around New York, including The Duplex and Feinstein's/54 Below. Creator of podcast East Side Story and vocal group The Lunar Collective, they have won multiple vocal awards all across Asia, including Singapore, Taiwan and China. Musicals in development include Eastbound (2020 NAMT, Village Theatre Festival of New Musicals, NYTB IMPACT Award) with Khiyon Hursey, M?y? (2021 NAMT, Live & In Color, Hypokrit) and Only Us (Drama League Residency) with Eric Sorrels. Select credits include: 2021 Princess Grace Award, 2020 Eric H. Weinberger Librettist Award, 2020 Eugene O’Neill National Musical Theatre Conference Finalist, 2019 ASCAP Foundation Lucille & Jack Yellen Award, 2019 New York Musical Festival Commission, 2019 Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project.
ERIC SORRELS (he/him) Originally from Tennessee, Eric Sorrels is an award-winning writer who juggles a dual career of professional choral singing and musical theatre in New York City. He is a member of the esteemed choirs of St. John the Divine and Temple E-Manuel, and he has sung at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall and internationally at some of the world's most famous sacred spaces. His songs have been heard throughout New York City's spaces, including The Duplex, Joe's Pub, and Feinstein's/54 Below. Musicals in development include M?y? (Live & In Color, Hypokrit), and Only Us (Drama League Residency) with Cheeyang Ng. Eric plans to release his debut solo EP Indecent Proposal in 2022. Select credits include: 2020 Eric H Weinberger Librettist Award, 2020 Eugene O’Neill National Musical Theatre Conference Finalist, 2019 ASCAP Foundation Lucille & Jack Yellen Award, 2019 Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project. MFA: NYU.
SALAAM MEDINA: TALES OF A HALFGHAN
Book, Music & Lyrics by Rona Siddiqui
RONA SIDDIQUI (she/her) is an award-winning composer/lyricist, orchestrator and music director based in NYC. She is the recipient of the 2020 Jonathan Larson Grant and the 2019 Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award, and was named one of Broadway Women's Fund's Women to Watch. Her show Salaam Medina: Tales of a Halfghan, an autobiographical comedy about growing up bi-ethnic in America, had a developmental workshop at Playwrights Horizons November 2019. She has also received the ASCAP Harold Adamson Lyric Award, the ASCAP Foundation Mary Rodgers/Lorenz Hart Award, and the ASCAP Foundation/Max Dreyfus Scholarship. She performed her concert Rona Siddiqui: Halfghan on a Mission at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Her musical One Good Day (book & lyrics by Liz Suggs) was selected for the ASCAP/Dreamworks Musical Theatre Workshop with Stephen Schwartz in L.A. and was named one of the Best New Musicals of 2014 by the Festival of New American Musicals. Rona composed the music for an original 20-minute musical about Afghanistan, The Tin, which was selected to be part of the Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival in 2012. Her musical Treasure in NYC (book & lyrics by Laura Kleinbaum), an immersive musical adventure for autistic children, has been produced at The Cell. She is honored to be part of the 2020/21 MTF Maker and Ars Nova Vision Residencies. She has been commissioned to write songs for Wicked's 16th Anniversary Commemoration Flying Free, Broadway Inspirational Voices, The Civilians, Pittsburgh CLO, the NYC Gay Men's Chorus, MuseMatch, 52nd St. Project, and the web series Amateur Dicks. She has been a featured songwriter in concert venues such as 54 Below, Joe's Pub, and New York City Center. Original scores she has written for plays include Middletown, The Vagina Monologues, The Good Person of Szechuan, The Clean House, and Love Song of J Robert Oppenheimer. Rona music directed the Off-Broadway Pulitzer Prize-winning A Strange Loop for which she received an Obie along with the cast and creative team (Playwrights Horizons), Bella: An American Tall Tale (Playwrights Horizons), and Who's Your Baghdaddy: Or How I Started the Iraq War (St. Lukes Theatre). She has orchestrated for Broadway Records, Broadway Backwards, NAMT and Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. She received her Masters from NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.
UNTITLED NEW MUSICAL
Book by Jake Bernstein
Music & Lyrics by Jonathan Brielle
JAKE BERNSTEIN (he/him) is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author. He was a senior reporter on the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists team, which broke the Panama Papers story. In 2017, the project won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting. Bernstein was an executive producer on the The Laundromat, a Netflix film based on his book, Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers, Illicit Money Networks, and the Global Elite (Henry Holt, 2017). He earned his first Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for National Reporting, for coverage of the financial crisis. He has done radio, television, and podcasting, including three highly-rated This American Life episodes. Bernstein has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, The Guardian, The New York Review of Books, and Vice, and has appeared on the BBC, NBC, CNN, PBS, and NPR. He was the editor of The Texas Observer and is the coauthor of Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency (Random House, 2006).
JONATHAN BRIELLE (he/him) on Broadway: wrote the music and lyrics for Foxfire with Jessica Tandy (Tony Award) Hume Cronyn, and Keith Carradine; Off-Broadway: Himself and Nora (book, music, lyrics); Outer Critics Best Musical Nomination, Minetta Lane Theatre 2016; Circle Repertory Company, NY: dozens of scores as Composer in Residence; Regional: Himself and Nora: American Theater Group, James Joyce Center, Ireland and The Old Globe; Nightmare Alley (book, music, lyrics): Geffen Playhouse; 40 Naked Women, A Monkey and Me (book, music, lyrics) The Eugene O’Neill Cabaret Conference. Las Vegas: Enter The Night (book, music, lyrics) Stardust Hotel 12 years; MadHattan (book, music, lyrics) New York, New York Hotel; US Tours: Rugrats, Live! (Executive Music Supervisor); Goosebumps, Live! (Producer, Music) TV: Wonderama (music, lyrics); Charitable Organizations: Executive Vice President of the Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF), creating programs in New York, Newark, Los Angeles, Miami and Atlanta. Writer/Producer in Residence of the Johnny Mercer Writers’ Grove at Goodspeed Musicals and oversees the JMF Songwriting Project at Northwestern University. Jonathan is the former National Projects Director of the Songwriters Guild of America and is the founder of a new platform featuring new Broadway bound musicals with Forever Free musical theater education for grades K-12: www.valamusicals.com.
UNTITLED NEW MUSICAL
Book, Music, & Lyrics by Zack Zadek
Project Created/Conceived with Sammi Cannold
ZACK ZADEK (he/him) is a Brooklyn based composer/lyricist and songwriter with Warner/Chappell. He is a two time MacDowell Fellow, UCross Fellow, VCCA Fellow, Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellow, and was named by Playbill as “a contemporary musical theatre writer you should know”. Zack won the Weston New Musical Award for his book, music, and lyrics to Deathless (dir. Tina Landau) which was produced at Goodspeed Musicals in 2017. His work has been developed and presented at The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Signature Theatre, Roundabout, The 5th Avenue Theatre, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, The Playwright’s Center, The Lark, Vineyard Arts Project, Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, Mitten Lab, Johnny Mercer Writers Colony, NYMF, and in the UK at The London Theatre Workshop and Edinburgh Fringe. Zack received the inaugural New Voices award from Disney/NMI and is a two time Kleban Prize finalist, three time Jonathan Larson Grant finalist, and is a founding member of Musical Theatre Factory. As a songwriter he has co-written and released records with artists on every major label group. He currently holds commissions from Mike Bosner, Arena Stage, and Ars Nova/Jill Furman and is a writer-in-residence at SPACE on Ryder Farm, The Orchard Project Greenhouse, The Civilians, and Ars Nova.