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2016 Writers Grove Bios

2016 Writers Grove Bios

Listed alpabetically by project


NATALIE TENENBAUM (Music) is a pianist and composer who has appeared as soloist and with orchestras in Israel, Europe, Asia and the US, performing in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Korea’s National Theater, Jerusalem Music Center, the Kennedy Center, Berlin’s Konzerthaus. An avid performer of new music, Tenenbaum premiered Tomer Addadi’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in 2011 with the Israel Chamber Orchestra, and recently performed Jason Eckardt’s Piano Concerto, Trespass with EMP ("Sparkling... invigorating" - New York Times). Natalie premiered her own compositions at Carnegie Hall, Harvard University, Merkin Hall, The National Arts Gallery (NY), at Juilliard’s Paul Hall and in Israel. Natalie is a recipient of scholarships from the America-Israel cultural foundation as well as Ronen Foundation. Graduate of The Juilliard School, Natalie studied piano with Prof. Julian Martin. Natalie is currently pursuing a Masters in Composition Degree with Distinguished Professor Tania Leon at CUNY, as well as with the renowned teacher of “Real Time Composition,” Opher Brayer. As of 2011, Tenenbaum has been a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop as a composer, where she received the 2012 Harrington Award For Outstanding Creative Achievement. Currently residing in New York, Tenenbaum is also an active jazz/improvisation artist, and has appeared in solo sets as well as with other artists at the Blue Note, Apollo Theater, Madison Square Garden, the Highline Ballroom, and is working on her first record.

BRETT BOLES (Book and Lyrics) holds a degree from Ithaca College in Music Composition and has written the book, music and lyrics to Foreverman, which premiered at NYMF in 2012 where it won awards for Outstanding Orchestration and the New World Stages Development Award. Brett has also written book, music and lyrics for an adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo, and is currently collaborating with Broadway playwright Bill C. Davis (Mass Appeal) on a musical entitled Village Rites (readings and workshops held at Ground Up Productions, Firehouse Theatre Project in Richmond, VA, Ithaca College, Sharon Playhouse, among others). Currently, Brett is working as composer/lyricist with Christina Crawford on a musical adaptation of her memoir Mommie Dearest about her life growing up as the adopted daughter of Joan Crawford. In January 2013, he organized a benefit concert for his hometown of Sandy Hook with Broadway Producer Van Dean (Cinderella, Matilda, Evita, Bonnie & Clyde) called From Broadway With Love.  Performers and guests included Brian Stokes Mitchell, Mary Testa, Julia Murney, Christine Ebersole, Linda Eder, Nikki Blonsky, Capathia Jenkins, Mickey Dolenz, Stephen Schwartz, Marc Shaiman, Frank Wildhorn, and many others. Brett is a lyricist with the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop.


 AMANDA YESNOWITZ, lyricist and writer, has won the Jonathan Larson Award, the Dottie Burman Award, and the Jamie deRoy and Friends ASCAP Award, all for excellence in songwriting. She's a 7-time MAC Award nominee and a Dramatists Guild fellow whose newest musical Somewhere in Time just had its pre-Broadway run at Portland Center Stage having won 7 PAMTA nominations, also placing as a NAMT finalist. Her works include The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Hangar Theatre world premiere); The History of War (NYMF Invited 2010, O’Neill conference finalist); While I Wait, featuring songs: "Other People's Art" (NAMT Showcase), Another Day (debuted by Lea Michele), and Gotta Start Small (recorded by Stephanie Block on This Place I Know); By The Numbers (ASCAP Showcase, No Looking Back performed by Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops). When she isn’t creating lyrics, Amanda is teaching at NYU as a Senior Lecturer and a nationally ranked crossword solver: her debut as a puzzle constructor ran in 2012 in the New York Times Magazine.

BRIAN FEINSTEIN is an award-winning composer in NYC. His new musical Girlstar will premiere at The Signature Theatre in Washington DC, October, 2015. Off-Broadway: Mimi Le Duck starring the legendary Eartha Kitt. The Top Job (based on the best-selling children's novel). Regional: The Circus is Coming to Town (awarded Best Family Musical in Southern California), Dial M for Murder, As You Like It. The world premiere play Ever So Humble, Bertol Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle, and the The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe (Hangar Theatre, Ithaca). His film credits include original songs for the film musical The Legion of Grads and The Sublet. Brian is the recipient of 6 ASCAP Plus Awards, a Dramatists Guild Fellowship and the Anna Sosenko Musical Theatre Trust Award. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild, ASCAP, and the Tri-State Basset Hound Rescue League. www.BrianFeinsteinMusic.com


MAX VERNON is a composer, lyricist, playwright, and performer. Described by the New Yorker as "equal parts bohemia and Broadway," his work has been performed and developed at Ars Nova, Theatreworks Silicon Valley, Theatreworks USA, Naked Angels, New Dramatists, Two River Theater of NJ, Dixon Place, Woodshed Collective, Ma-Yi, LaMaMa, and Pride Films and Plays of Chicago. This past year he received the Jonathan Larson Grant, and was a Dramatist Guild Theatre Fellow, an artist in residence at Rhinebeck Writer's Retreat, a JFund award recipient, and also finished his first commission for Disney Creative Entertainment. He is currently a member of Ars Nova's Uncharted. He has performed over a hundred concerts in New York City, including sold out shows at Joe's Pub (Frisk Me: The Songs of Max Vernon) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Civilians' Let Me Ascertain You). His musicals include The View UpStairs (NYU, Pride Films and Plays) and WIRED (Ars Nova) Developing: Co-Op (Ars Nova, Naked Angels Radio); Aesop's Fables (Theatreworks USA); KPOP (Ars Nova/Ma-Yi); Show & Tell (Jerome Foundation, Civilians R&D Group). Max holds an MFA from the NYU-Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. www.maxvernon.com

JASON KIM is a Korean-born dramatist based in Brooklyn, New York. Television: Girls (HBO) and Gracepoint (Fox). Film: Auto (LineXLine Productions), A Wednesday (Downtown Short Film Festival). Plays: New America (Naked Angels), Jason Kim Writes a Play (Ma-Yi Theater Company), Stuck (Serials at the Flea Theater), A Modern Feeling (NSD), History of a Marriage (Gowanus Art + Production), Co-op (Naked Radio), and an upcoming K-Pop Musical in Ars Nova Theater’s 2016-2017 season. Opera: An American Man (Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, commissioned by Washington National Opera), Legendary (American Opera Projects, Manhattan School of Music), A Year of Madness (American Opera Projects), and Seeking You (Spoleto Festival). IFP—Marcie Bloom Fellowship in Film, Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, Mark Campbell Chair Librettist Fellow in American Opera Project’s Composers & The Voice. Member of Ma-Yi Writers Lab and Ars Nova’s Uncharted. BA Columbia University, MFA New School for Drama.


ERICA SCHMIDT’s writing credits include: Humor Abuse (with performer Lorenzo Pisoni, at Manhattan Theatre Club, Humor Abuse won: Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics, Drama Desk and Obie Awards also played Philadelphia Theatre Company, American Conservatory Theatre, Seattle Rep and The Mark Taper); Debbie Does Dallas (wrote the adaptation/book and lyrics – published by Dramatists Play Services - and directed the Off-Broadway production at the Jane Street). Her directing credits include: Turgenev’s A Month In The Country at CSC with Peter Dinklage and Taylor Schilling; Dennis Kelly’s Taking Care Of Baby (Manhattan Theatre Club); Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s I Call My Brothers and Obie Award winning Invasion! (both for The Play Company); Rent (Tokyo); Moliere’s Imaginary Invalid, Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer and Copland’s The Tender Land (all at Bard Summer Scape); Carnival (The Paper Mill Playhouse); Quincy Long’s People Be Heard (Playwrights Horizons); Gary Mitchell’s Trust (The Play Company, Callaway Award nominee); As You Like It (The Public Theater/NYSF, chashama; New York International Fringe Festival Winner for Best Direction); Spanish Girl (Second Stage Uptown); R&J; Topdog/Underdog;Buried Child and Macbeth (The Juilliard School); Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards (The McCarter’s Berlind Theater, Princeton University). Princess Grace Award recipient 2001.


UPDATE: Darling Grenadine was selected for the 2016 National Music Theater Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in July.

DANIEL ZAITCHIK is a singer-songwriter, playwright-composer, and sometimes-actor. His musical Picnic at Hanging Rock was developed at Lincoln Center Theatre, the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center, and was recently produced at Weber State University and Stoneham Theatre (Young Company). Other music-theatre projects include Suprema (with playwright Jordan Harrison; commissioned by Ars Nova; developed at Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and New Dramatists), Ula (45th St Theatre) and Darling Grenadine (currently in development with director Kristin Hanggi). As a singer-songwriter, Daniel has played NYC/LA venues including Joe's Pub, 54 Below, Canal Room, Rockwood Music Hall, Room 5 and The Bootleg Theatre. In 2009 Daniel created the multi-voiced band Blue Bottle Collection, with whom he released the 2011 concept album Summer of the Soda Fountain Girls. In 2013 he released the solo EP Bad Dancer. He is currently working on his next solo album. His songs were recently featured on the web series Submissions Only and “EastSiders.” As an actor, Daniel has worked at Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, Cherry Lane, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Barrington Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, the Intiman Theatre, and others. Grants and Awards include The Ester B. Kahn Career Entry Award from Boston University, the Frederick Loewe Award from New Dramatists (for Suprema) and The Georgia Bogarduz Holof Lyricist Award (for Picnic at Hanging Rock).


UPDATE: Deathless is planning further development with a major regional theatre.     

ZACK ZADEK An award winning composer/lyricist, songwriter, performer, and playwright, Zack Zadek has been named by Playbill as "A Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriter You Should Know" and by Buzzfeed as a writer who "proves why you should give musical theatre another shot". His musicals 6 (dir. Sheryl Kaller), The Crazy Ones (NY Theatre Barn, NYMF 2013), and The Role of a Lifetime (Produced by William Berlind, Lyrics by Randy Blair) have been seen and developed around the world, from New York City to Edinburgh, Scotland. Zack's songs have been performed by some of Broadway and West End's biggest names in performances across NYC including The Highline Ballroom, Joe's Pub, (le) Poisson Rogue, 54 Below, Contemporary Classics in Seattle, and as a part of In The Valley: The Songs of Zack Zadek at The Laurie Beechman Theatre. Also touring and performing his own music regularly, Zack has been seen banging on pianos with his band in London, Los Angeles, and more. Winner of the inaugural "Got Musical!" award by Disney Imagineering and NMI, Zack has also actively scored films for emerging filmmakers and directors. As a mainstream songwriter, he has collaborated with Nina Nesbitt (Universal), Mree, LOLO (DCD2) and many other artists. He attended New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study and has been taught and mentored by Duncan Sheik, Amund Bjørklund (Espionage), Andrew Lippa, Tor Hermansen (Stargate), Maury Yeston, Nick Blaemire (Glory Days), Charlie Rubin (Seinfeld), Jesse Harris (Norah Jones), Bob Power (D'Angelo), Josh Safran (SMASH), Ira Newborn (Ferris Buller's Day Off), Joe Church (The Lion King), John Sexton, and more. He is currently working on several new projects, including an adaptation of a film, EDM song-cycle, and Deathless, a new indie musical about life, death, and family.


GARRETT SHERWOOD, a native of Chicago Illinois, is a graduate of Political Science and currently seeking is Masters in Strategic Communication from Westminster College. He is a working musician, certified yoga instructor, as well as a published author and performer of poetry.

RYAN HAYES is a true son of the American West. He thrives on the excitement of discovery, which has led him to travel the world and become a student of many disciplines. Whilst he works professionally as a geologist, he is increasingly enchanted by the humanities and works most passionately as a songwriter. As part of the folk duo Midas Whale, Ryan released an album in 2014, titled Sugar House.


UPDATE: This summer, Mark will be developing Devotion at the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival.

MARK SONNENBLICK is a composer, lyricist, and scriptwriter, although not always at the same time. Collaborations include: Independents (lyrics, revised book; “Best Production” FringeNYC, “Critics’ Pick” New York Times, Huffington Post’s Top Ten Shows of 2012), Ship Show (book/lyrics; Yale Institute for Music Theatre, dir. Mark Brokaw), Stompcat In Lawndale (book/lyrics/co-music; Ars Nova), Wheel Of Misfortune (music/co-developer; Denver Center for the Performing Arts), The Dinosaur Hunters (book/lyrics/music; touring children’s show), Rodman In North Korea (libretto; Houghton Lyric Theater), Midnight At The Never Get (book/music/lyrics; Don’t Tell Mama), Bunkerville (music/lyrics; first student-written Yale DRAMAT musical in 30 years). Larson Grant and Kleban Prize finalist, MAC Award nominee, special merit award winner (New Musicals, Inc.). Composer fellow at the John Duffy Institute (Virginia Arts Festival), member of the Johnny Mercer Songwriting Project, librettist fellow with Composers and the Voice (American Opera Projects), commissioned by the American Opera Initiative (Washington National Opera, Kennedy Center). He lives in Brooklyn with no wonderful family.


UPDATE: The Hollywood Romance team had a 29-Hour Reading in April 2016 under the auspices of Scott Sanders Productions. Their other Universal project is hoping for a 29-Hour Reading this summer under the auspices of Universal Stage Productions.

MARCY HEISLER is an author and lyricist, is currently at work on a musical adaptation of Ever After, based on the Twentieth Century Fox film. She was the 2012 winner of the Kleban Prize for Outstanding Songwriting, and was a recent Fred Ebb Award winner along with longtime composing partner Zina Goldrich. Her Off-Broadway Credits include Dear Edwina (Drama Desk nom., Best Lyrics) and Junie B Jones (Lucille Lortel nom, Best Musical). Other works include the Kennedy Center's Snow White, Rose Red and Fred (Helen Hayes nom; Best Musical); Goodspeed Musicals' The Great American Mousical at The Norma Terris Theatre (Lyrics); and the Ordway Theatre's Adventures in Love (Lyrics). She has published two romantic comedy songbooks, and her compositions have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and others.  She has taught/lectured at CarnegieMellon, University of Miami, Baylor University, and others, and is the co-creator of Spotlight Sessions, an audition workshop for professional actors in New York City. Television and Film credits include Peg Plus Cat (PBS), Pooh's Learning Adventures (Disney) and Disney Education's Safety Smart series. A graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts with High Honors in Dramatic Writing, she also studied Theatre at Northwestern University's School of Speech. While actively working on both coasts, Marcy currently lives in New York City.

ZINA GOLDRICH, Composer, won the 2009 Fred Ebb Award for excellence in songwriting with longtime collaborator, Marcy Heisler. She is currently working on the musical Hollywood Romance, with Heisler, bookwriters Jen Crittenden & Gaby Allan, and director Kristin Hanggi. Her most recent musical, Ever After, completed a successful run at Paper Mill Playhouse this past summer. Goldrich and Heisler’s musical, The Great American Mousical, directed by Julie Andrews premiered in 2012 at Goodspeed’s The Norma Terris Theatre in Connecticut last Christmas. Their songs have been sung by many Broadway stars including Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth and Allan Cumming.  Ms. Goldrich composed music for Dear Edwina (Drama Desk Nomination) and Junie B. Jones (Lucille Lortel Nomination) which ran successfully Off-Broadway. Snow White, Rose Red (and Fred) (Helen Hayes Nomination) was commissioned by the Kennedy Center and is licensed by MTI. On television, she has composed for WonderpetsJohnny and the Sprites, Pooh’s Learning Adventure and the new hit, Peg + Cat, on PBS. She is the recipient of the ASCAP Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, a Larson grant and is a Seldes-Kanin Fellow. She has played keyboards on Broadway for Avenue Q, Bombay Dreams, Oklahoma and Titanic, where she also conducted. She is currently composing the score for a new musical produced by Universal Stage Productions based on one of their classic films. www.marcyandzina.com

KRISTIN HANGGI is best known for directing and developing the international smash-hit Rock of Ages, which received five Tony Award nominations, including a nomination for Best Direction of a Musical. She has directed numerous productions of Rock of Ages, including Broadway, the West End, Australia, Toronto, Las Vegas, and two National Tours. Ms. Hanggi's other stage productions include the developing and directing the acclaimed pop opera bare, which ran to sold-out audiences in Los Angeles and off-Broadway. bare brought Ms. Hanggi's numerous accolades including the Ovation Award for Best Musical, LA Weekly Award for Best Musical, and the Robby Award for Best Director. bare has gone on to have over 100 productions all over the world. Among other exciting upcoming projects, Kristin is currently working alongside Amy Heckerling to develop Ms. Heckerling's hit 1995 film Clueless into a musical for the stage. Also a film director, Kristin recently directed Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List, an adaption of Rachel Cohn & David Levithan's popular novel of the same name, starring Victoria Justice. She made her feature directorial debut in 2013 with the indie Grantham & Rose starring Jake T. Austin and Marla Gibbs. For television, Ms. Hanggi adapted and directed the hit book series, Dear Dumb Diary into a musical movie, under Executive Producer Jerry Zucker for Walden Media. Other past stage productions include: the initial production that launched the Pussycat Dolls, Pussycat Dolls Live at the Roxy with stars Christina Applegate, Carmen Electra, and special guests Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, Brittany Murphy, Nikka Costa, and Charlize Theron. And the Curtain Rises at the Signature Theater; the winner of the New York Fringe Festival for best play, Catch the Fish by Jonathan Caren; Brian Crano’s Twelfth Premise (LA Times Critic Pick); the Los Angeles premiere of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi (Ticketholder Awards for Best Production and Best Director; Robby Award for Best Director of a Play); and Timothy McNeil’s Crane, Mississippi (LA Times Critic’s Choice, Backstage West Critic’s Pick). Ms. Hanggi graduated with her Masters from USC after receiving her Bachelors from UCLA in Theater. In June of 2013, Kristin returned to her alma mater when she received the UCLA School of Theater, Film, & Television Distinguished Alumni Award. Kristin has a passion for music, and has directed multiple music videos. She also has a deep love for connecting artists with spiritual tools to develop and sustain their careers; she teaches ongoing workshops in both New York and Los Angeles. To learn more about all of her work, visit www.kristinhanggi.com.


UPDATE: In the Green had a concert reading at Greenwich House Music School in their Uncharted series in May 2016, and Grace just took it to The Orchard Project in Saratoga Springs in June for further development. Later this month, she will be at the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project at Northwestern. Grace will also be performing a song from In the Green for the NYMF Women of Note Concert in August 2016. By the end of the summer, she is hoping to do another concert presentation of In the Green, and she is in talks with The Sheen Center and Ars Nova to host.

TIM DRUCKER is a New York based playwright and director. With Randy Blair, he has written the books to the musicals Fat Camp (American Theater of Actors, Off-Bway; Playhouse in the Square, Cleveland; NYMF 2009 Winner Best of Fest), Spidermusical (Mint Theater), Perez Hilton Saves The Universe (NY Fringe Best Musical 2008; Fringe Encores) and the upcoming Role Of A Lifetime (Berlind Productions). Other work includes Haute Mess (Ars Nova Residency); Jcrs (UCB Theater starring Vinny from the JERSEY SHORE) and Ruff (#serials at the Flea). TV: Hot Fail (NYTVF FOX Comedy Finalist 2013; NYTVF IPC 2014). Directing work includes Off Broadway: the long running hit Sex Tips For Straight Women From A Gay Man at the 777 Theater, soon to have a sit down production in Las Vegas as well as a national tour, Spidermusical (Mint Theater), and Stinkykids! (Best Family Musical OBAA; Vital Theater). His directing work has also been seen at Lincoln Center, NYMF, Ars Nova, Joe's Pub and CAP21. As well as numerous concerts, events and the occasional Star Wars wedding.

GRACE McLEAN, called “electrifying” by The Huffington Post and “spectacular” by the New York Times, is a multi-hyphenate actress-singer-writer-teacher on the rise. In addition to performing in Off-Broadway hits like Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Brooklynite, Bedbugs!!! and Sleep No More, Grace also makes time for her acclaimed original music, both as a solo artist and with her band Grace McLean & Them Apples. With a sound that combines Regina Spektor's quirkiness, Nellie McKay's jazz sensibilities, Fiona Apple's irreverence, Kimbra's sass and Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs' rhythm, McLean adds up to one beautiful weirdo. Manhattan User's Guide writes, "this pop and jazz singer writes seriously infectious melodies with seriously antic lyrics. Her voice can raise the roof, or she can slide off a note and break your heart." Grace was a headlining performer and instructor at the SingStrong a capella festivals in DC and Chicago in 2014 along with a capella group Ten of NBC’s The Sing Off and singer/songwriter Blake Lewis, runner up on season six of American Idol. Most recently, Grace McLean & Them Apples opened the Lincoln Center American Songbook series with a sold out concert on January 21, 2015, and have just returned from a US State Department sponsored tour of Pakistan. Grace’s work as a performer and educator has taken her to Jamaica, Scotland, Italy, Croatia, Serbia and Pakistan. In New York, you can find her and her band at Joe’s Pub, 54 Below, Rockwood Music Hall, Ars Nova (where she developed the interactive concert experience Grace McLean: Lives in Concert), and the Museum of the American Indian, where she performed as part of a panel discussion on storytelling for The Economist’s 2012 Ideas Summit. As a performer Grace has been seen at Lincoln Center, New York City Center, The McKittrick, BAM, the ACE Hotel (where she collaborates monthly with The Dance Cartel’s show OnTheFloor) and numerous other venues both uptown and downtown. McLean's pop opera In The Green (about 12th century German mystic Hildegard von Bingen) is currently in development. Grace released her new EP in May 2015, featuring the single, and her first feature video, Natural Disaster. Make Me Breakfast, the 2012 EP from Grace McLean & Them Apples, is available on iTunes now. Find out more at www.gracemclean.com


UPDATE: Michael and Rob are still working on King of Kong, and Michael was recently appointed as the Artistic Director of Encores! Off Center.



KRISTA PIOPPI (Book) writing credits include My Name is Annie King, Porcelain (music by Brandon Kalm - short film in production). As a performer Pioppi appeared in Spring Awakening (First National Tour), For Tonight (NYMF), Hit Her With The Skates (NYC Reading), A Lasting Impression (NYTW), The Visit (dir. John Doyle), Disney High School Musical (Paper Mill Playhouse). Krista holds a BFA in Musical Theater from Pace University.

AARON ALBERT (Music & Lyrics) has composed music for My Name is Annie King, The Many Selves Of Mia Scott (Pasadena Playhouse), Famille (Joe’s Pub.) Aaron has had his music performed at New World Stages, Urban Stages, Joe's Pub, 54 Below, and Sidewalk Cafe. PERFORMING: Dear Evan Hansen (Michael Grief), Backstreet Boys The Musical (Warren Carlyle), 13 (Jason Robert Brown), Merrily We Roll Along (Lonny Price), Nickelodeons’ I-Carly, ABC’s 10 Things I Hate About You, Disney's I'm in The Band. Albert holds a BFA In Musical Theatre From Pace University.

KATY REA (Music & Lyrics) has composed music for My Name is Annie King, The Many Selves Of Mia Scott (Pasadena Playhouse), Famille (Joe’s Pub.) Katy has had her music performed at New World Stages, Urban Stages, Joe's Pub, 54 Below, and Sidewalk Cafe. PERFORMING: Factory Girls (54 Below), Dogfight (Pace University). Adam Guettel's, The Invisible Man (Pace University). She currently studies acting at The William Esper Studio, BFA in Musical Theatre from Pace University.


UPDATE: Nikko Benson received the 2016 Jonathan Larson Award. Benjamin and Nikko are still working on Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat, and they will be performing a few numbers at the Rahway Arts Festival in New Jersey, which this year is dedicated to Tesla. They are planning on doing a reading or workshop in September 2016 and are working on creating a music video with a company that makes 360-degree videos this summer.

BENJAMIN HALSTEAD is the co-writer of Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat with mad-genius, Nikko Benson. Ben studied filmmaking at NYU, but let’s be honest: he’s a theatre nerd. He wrote/directed a couple musical short films (NYU Film Festival Faculty Commendation for Directing, Art Direction, and Original Music, Wasserman Award Finalist, National Board of Review Student Grant Recipient, Marion Carter Green Award), and then enrolled at NYU again for the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. His songs have been performed at Joe’s Pub, 54 Below, Bill Finn’s Cabaret, Barrington Stage, Tisch, NYMF, and more. He’s a founding member of the Musical Theatre Factory, and participates in the MTF Writer’s Group, and is a curator of the Annual MTF Musical Film Festival.

is a writer and performer. Based in New York, he and his songs have been featured at Signature Theater, 54 Below, Joe’s Pub, Don’t Tell Mama, Sophie’s, as well as other international venues. He was the special guest writer of William Finn’s Ridiculously Talented concert (2013) at Barrington Stage Company, and recently presented his first solo showcase, In Pursuit of Magic, at the Musical Theater Factory. With collaborator and cool-dude Benjamin Halstead, Nikko created immersive electronica musical Nikola Tesla Drops The Beat, which has received readings at NYU and the Musical Theater Factory. They also created and premiered short film Zombie Musical at MTF, and curate and produce the semi-annual NYC Short Movie Musical Festivals hosted there. As a solo entity, Nikko is author of Unpacking (The Music Theater Company), Hope—A Tragedy, Who’s Waldo—A Comedy, and Going Up (Lawrence University). He also wrote lyrics for When The War Is Done, a translation of Quand La Guerre Sera Finis (Music by Nicholas Skilbeck). He writes on occasion for film and dance, just to switch it up. Nikko is a founding member of the Musical Theater Factory, an alumnus of NYU’s Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program, and a proud member of ASCAP and the Dramatists’ Guild.


ERIC ULLOA is the librettist of the musical Passing Through and Molly Sweeney. He is also the author of the play 26 Pebbles, which recently played a sold out benefit evening at Arena Stage in Washington DC. Eric was in the 2013 production of The Most Happy Fella at the Goodspeed Opera House. Eric is also currently performing on Broadway in the musical On Your Feet!. www.ericulloa.com                   

BRETT RYBACK is an actor, composer, and playwright based in LA. He originated the role of Marcus Off-Broadway in Murder for Two at Second Stage and New World Stages. Recent TV/Film appearances include: Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, House, and the Coen Brother’s upcoming film, Hail, Caesar! Regional theatre credits include work at Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Kirk Douglas, Geffen Playhouse, South Coast Rep, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, La Jolla Playhouse, Milwuakee Rep, and many more. His plays and musicals include: Liberty Inn: The Musical (Ovation nominations Best Book, Best Music/Lyrics); Darling (Weston Playhouse New Musical Award, Featured on NBC’s “The Apprentice”); The Tavern Keeper’s Daughter (Best Musical, Pasadena Weekly), A Roz By Any Other Name, and Weïrd (both featured in Best American Short Plays 2007-2008). He was commissioned to write music for Just a Little Critter Musical for First Stage Milwaukee, which will premiere in February 2016, and was invited to participate in the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed to develop his latest project Passing Through. www.brettryback.com


MATTHEW LEE ROBINSON is a New York-based Australian composer/lyricist who has won the UTAS Stephen Schwartz Songwriting Award, the Pratt Prize for Music Theatre, the Gilbert Spottiswood Churchill Fellowship and the $100,000 Australia Council Music Fellowship. His latest musical Atlantis was most recently developed at the 2015 Canadian Music Theatre Project in Toronto and in NYC readings mentored by Stephen Schwartz and representatives from Disney Theatrical Group, Manhattan Theatre Club and Ambassador Theatre Group. His next musical in development, Happy People, has been workshopped by Village Theatre, Washington, and his first musical, Metro Street, received productions in Australia and South Korea, being nominated for five Helpmann Awards (Australia’s equivalent to the Tony Awards). Robinson’s other songwriting credits include the Emmy-nominated television series Dance Academy, the musical revue Sing On Through Tomorrow (Original Cast Recording on iTunes) and various songs for the events of Coca-Cola, Nintendo, Nokia, IBM and the Australian Open Tennis Championships. His music has been heard in concert through the Ars Nova Uncharted series, Seattle’s New Voices series and his 2015 NYC launch concert G’day Broadway. Robinson’s upcoming engagements include Lincoln Center’s Broadway’s Future Songbook Series and the 2016 iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta.  

REB + VoDKa + ME

UPDATE: Julia and Gordon have continued to develop the show through the Civilians’ R&D group. They presented a sharing of the show with the Civilians in late May 2016 as part of their Findings series.

GORDON LEARY and JULIA MEINWALD are New York based musical theatre writers from Chagrin Falls, Ohio and Ithaca, New York, respectively. They were 2009-2010, 2013-2014 Uncharted writers at Ars Nova, and are beginning a 2015-2016 residency with The Civilians. Their musicals together include Pregnancy Pact (2012 premiere production, Weston Playhouse; 2011 NAMT Festival; 2011 Yale Institute for Music Theatre), I Love You, Anita Bryant (2015 workshop production, University of the Arts; 2014 OutLoud reading, Ars Nova), Galaxy Comics (2014 United Airlines in-flight programming, 2012 New York Television Festival Award), Disappeared (2009 Lincoln Center Directors Lab; 2008 Prospect Theatre Company), and One Man Show (2010 DanceNow [NYC] at Joe’s Pub; 2009 DanceNow [NYC] Festival at Dance Theater Workshop). They also recently collaborated on a short children’s musical for New York City Children’s Theatre. Their work has been heard at 54 Below, 92Y Tribeca, D-Lounge, Duplex, Goodspeed, Laurie Beechman Theatre, NYMF, New York Theatre Barn, Penn State Nu Musicals, Rockwood Musical Hall, the Triad, Williamstwon Theatre Festival, and the York Theatre Company. juliameinwald.com


UPDATE: Ty and Tidtaya received the Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Florida in Spring 2016.

MARY KATHRYN NAGLE (Book) was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She is a member of the 2012-2013 Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group, where she developed her play, Manahatta, which the Public Theater workshopped in its in inaugural Public Studio series in May 2014. Her play Sliver of a Full Moon was presented at Yale Law School on March 31, 2015 (directed by Madeline Sayet) www.sliverofafullmoon.org . She currently lives in New York where she writes briefs, plays, and posts on Howlround that explore the appropriation and exploitation of Native identity on the American stage. #InsteadofRedface

TY DEFOE (Lyrics) of the Oneida and Ojibwe tribes, received a Grammy Award for his work on Come to Me Great Mystery: Native American Healing Songs. Other work includes: Clouds Are Pillows for the Moon (2014 Yale Institute for Musical Theatre, 2015 ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop, 2015 Kilroys Honorable Mentions List, and 2015 NAMT Songwriters Cabaret with his main collaborator Tidtaya Sinutoke), Tick-Tick (2014 Prospect Theater Company’s Musical Theater Lab) and Crossing Borders (2015 CAP 21 Residency), most recently an international puppet tour of Heather Henson’s Flight:  Crane’s Story. Recent highlights include: Rauschenberg Foundation (artist residency), and TCG (Leading the Charge: Diversity and Inclusion Fellow). Ty is a graduate of CalArts, Goddard College, and NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at Tisch. He also collaborated with the Alaskan Cultural Heritage Center, and Indigenous Hawaiian Theatre Project. ASCAP and Dramatists Guild member. tydefoe.com

TIDTAYA SINUTOKE (Music) is a NYC-based composer, writer, and musician. Writing credits include: Clouds Are Pillows for the Moon (2014 Yale Institute for Music Theatre, 2015 ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop, 2015 Kilroy’s Honorable Mentions List, 2015 NAMT Songwriters Cabaret), Tick-Tick (2014 Prospect Theater Company’s Musical Theatre Lab), Crossing Borders (2015 CAP 21 Residency), Untitled: Hart Island Requiem (2015 Civilians R&D Group), and In The Cards (2014 Boston-Contempo International Festival). Originally from Thailand, she has a Bachelor of Music from Berklee College of Music in Boston and Master in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Her music has been featured at venues such as the Signature Theatre, 54 Below, Symphony Space, Joe’s Pub, Songbook at Lincoln Center, and Dramatists Guild National Conference in Chicago. She also participated in the 2014 Composer-Librettists Studio at New Dramatists and the 2015 Johnny Mercer Songwriter Projects. Tidtaya is a proud member of ASCAP, and the Dramatists Guild. tidtayasinutoke.com


UPDATE: Since the Colony, Kate has been accepted to the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project at Northwestern. Kate and Shayfer are also performing an industry concert of the music from The Ninth Hour in July 2016 at Rockwood Music Hall.                   

KATE DOUGLAS is a New York-based performer, songwriter and theatre artist currently working as Associate Artist at Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More and touring with Courtney Love in the opera Kansas City Choir Boy. Since graduating from NYU, Kate has devised numerous original theatre/music hybrid works featuring alternative folk music with roots in bluegrass, country and rock with an emphasis on story, most notably her genre-defying piece The Imaginary Menagerie, which has had incarnations at Joe’s Pub and Ars Nova in addition to a year-long residency The McKittrick Hotel that featured different musical artists each month, including PigPen Theatre Co., Shaina Taub, Kiah Victoria and Shayfer James. She has sung with artists such as Todd Almond, Lisa Sokolov and Jonathan Hart-Makwaia and collaborated with companies such as Punchdrunk, Theatre Oobleck and the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Her poetry has been published in Burningwood Literary Journal, Contrary Magazine and Potluck Magazine, among others. Her first EP, The Blue House, was produced by Matthew Marsh (of DEAN) and Ben Wygonik (who has worked with artists such as OK Go and They Might Be Giants) and was mastered by Dan Konopka of OK Go.

SHAYFER JAMES weaves surprisingly genuine musical landscapes that evoke the gauzy, sweaty sexuality of gulf-coast barrooms and the fantastical, narcotic mysticism of a Lewis Carroll- inspired three-ring circus. Mr. James' noir-infused, piano driven music swaggers from dark danceable anthems to harrowing ballads with jazz lilted satire and whiskey-dirt grit. Raised with one foot in the theater and the other in a dingy night club, Shayfer finds inspiration as frequently in Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim as he does in The Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello, The Pogues, and The White Stripes. He has toured the U.S., and has performed at festivals and events like CMJ NYC, Art Basel, Miami, Foburg Festival, New Orleans, CBGBs Festival, NYC, and Hope & Glory, Hong Kong. His songs have been featured by WNYC.org and Filter Magazine online, and his second album, Counterfeit Arcade, was dubbed 'New and Noteworthy' by iTunes. Shayfer has independently released two LPs and one EP since 2010, and recently released a new collection of songs called Haunted Things.


UPDATE: Zoe and Marsha Norman will be working on Secret Soldiers at Williamstown Theatre Festival in Summer 2016.

 ZOE SARNAK is an award winning composer, lyricist and playwright. She graduated from Harvard University where she was awarded the Ann Radcliffe Trust. Sarnak’s The Quad was produced at Harvard’s Loeb Experimental Theatre in 2009. Works include: Mixtape, featured in Silent Street Productions 2012 season, A Lasting Impression, winner of Pace New Musicals 2012, produced Off-Broadway at the 4th Street Theatre at NYTW in August 2012, winner of the 2013 NJ Playwright's contest, The Years Between, performed at 54 Below and workshopped in Musical Theatre Factory’s 2014 season. Winner of the 2015 Davenport Songwriting contest and finalist for NY Stage & Film’s Founders award, Sarnak’s music has been featured at The Lilly Awards, Women of Note (NYMF), Cutting Edge Composers and more, and in venues from Playwrights Horizons and New York Theatre Workshop to Joe’s Pub and the Highline Ballroom. Zoe is one half of the indie folk/pop band, she, featured in #sheSESSIONS recorded live from The End Studios.


ALEXANDER SAGE OYEN is the recipient of the 2014 ASCAP Foundation’s Lucille and Jack Yellen award for lyricists. His musicals include Outlaws (Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals - book by James Presson, dir. Noah Himmelstein), Archie's Final Project (Book by James Presson and David Lee Miller), Diva (book by Sean Patrick Monahan), A Night Like This (book, music, lyrics) and Moment By Moment (directed by Brandon Ivie, 54 Below. Production at Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand). He and collaborator James Presson were awarded the 2013-2014 Dramatist Guild Fellowship and their musical, Outlaws, was a 2014 NAMT Finalist and was the recipient of the 2014 ASCAP Workshop. He was named one of Playbill’s “Contemporary Musical Theatre Writers You Should Know,” and he was selected for the 2014 Johnny Mercer Songwriter’s Project. His music has been heard at 54 Below, Joe’s Pub, Playwrights Horizons, The Signature Theatre, New World Stages, The Laurie Beechman Theatre and venues in Thailand, London, The Netherlands and all across the world. His song cycle, Moment By Moment, is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon. Proud member of ASCAP and The Dramatists Guild.

SEAN PATRICK MONAHAN is a playwright and performer known for his award-winning solo musical Diva, written with Alexander Sage Oyen, which won the United Solo Theatre Festival at New York City’s Theatre Row in 2013. Other writing credits include Little Mac, Little Mac, You’re the Very Man! (Less Than Rent Theatre), What do you call a-? (Rhapsody Collective), 6B (Fordham University), and The Drive There (CWA Finalist 2015). As a performer, Sean Patrick has frequently appeared in the work of Charles Busch, including Times Square Angel (Theatre for the New City), An Evening with Charles Busch (Arthur Seelen Theater), and the upcoming 30th anniversary benefit of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom (August Wilson Theatre).


UPDATE: Jeff and Will are putting the finishing touches on studio demos for Wintersong, after having completed a full draft of the musical at the Colony. They are excited to get it out in the world.

JEFF TALBOTT (Lyrics) is the author of The Submission, which won the inaugural Laurents/Hatcher Award in 2011, was produced Off-Broadway by MCC Theater starring Jonathan Groff and Rutina Wesley and went on to win the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for Best New American Play in 2012, and has since been produced all over the country. His play A Public Education was a finalist for the 2015 O’Neill Playwrights Conference.

WILL VAN DYKE (Music and Lyrics) has also written the upcoming musicals Magnificent Climb (with Rick Elice) and Writing Kevin Taylor (with Josh Holloway), as well as Winnie the Pooh Kids, The Lion King Jr., and Kids for Disney, among many other compositions. His albums Chasing the Day, Writing Kevin Taylor, Daylight, Constant and Make the Season Bright (the last three co-written with Matt Doyle) are available wherever digital music is sold. www.willvandyke.com.

Together they have written the musical Imagine Harry, which was a semi-finalist for the 2015 O'Neill Musical Theatre Conference, and will be featured in the 2015 NAMT Festival of New Musicals in October. They also are releasing an EP of their songs called A View of the of River in September of 2015.