The ASCAP Foundation/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop kicked off its new season in Los Angeles on Jan. 24.
The core of the musical theatre series, which runs Jan. 24, 25, 26, 27 and Feb. 7, 8, 16 and 17 is a panel comprising moderator and award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz, ASCAP's director of musical theatre Michael A. Kerker, Disney's president of feature animation and theatrical productions Thomas Schumacher and ASCAP president Marilyn Bergman.
Participants in the workshop were determined after a mail-in application process. They will have the chance to present selections from their original works for professional critique. These selections are made from the four-song cassette tapes and lyric sheets that participants submitted during the application process.
Highlights included the Jan. 24 presentation by Paris Barkley, the Emmy award-winning director of television's "NYPD Blue" and the director of "City Of Angels." Barkley will be presenting his musical for theatre, Letters From Nam.
In a statement, ASCAP's Kerker, the workshop's developer, said that several successful projects could be traced to the program. "Lynn Aherns and Stephen C. Flaherty [ASCAP/Disney workshop participants] went on to compose Ragtime," Kerker said. A summary of activity related to the ASCAP/Disney workshop points to the value of programs like these while offering a glimpse at what to expect from rising musical theatre talents. According to ASCAP, the following composers have had success with the workshop (see brackets) and are expected to release new material soon: Glenn Slater (Lost In America) is currently working for Disney on two animated musicals as well as one stage musical in collaboration with Alan Menken; James McBride (Bobos) is just completing Quincy Jones' biography; and Chris Curtis (Chaplin is doing an animated musical for Disney based on the story of Rapunzel. Stephen Schwartz has been directing the ASCAP East Coast Musical Theater Workshop for the past eight years. Grammy winner Schwartz' credits include Godspell, Pippin, and the Disney animated films Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop will take place at Walt Disney Studio Lot -- the Buena Vista Gate, at 500 S. Buena Vista Street, in Burbank. For information contact ASCAP at (212) 621-6000.
-- By Murdoch McBride