The long-established ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Workshop has entered into a new alliance with the Kennedy Center. The partnership will take the form of a program called "In the Works," which is designed to encourage new composers, lyricists and writers.
Formally titled the Kennedy Center/ASCAP Foundation Musical Theater Development Program, "In the Works," will provide outstanding graduates of the long-running ASCAP Foundation Musical Theater Workshops with a continuation step in building their careers.
According to a joint release from the Kennedy Center and ASCAP, "'In the Works' will identify two promising new musicals from The ASCAP workshops and bring the writers of the musicals to the Kennedy Center for an intensive, three-week development process. Producers and representatives of regional theatre companies will be invited to attend the musicals, which will each be performed three times at the Kennedy Center following the development process."
One goal of the program is the development of new pieces for the theatre. In this connection, "In the Works" is being launched with the support of Walt Disney Feature Animation and Buena Vista Theatrical Group. Currently produced by ASCAP's Michael A. Kerker, the original ASCAP musical theatre workshop has attracted top names in the field and has become associated with the Walt Disney Company. The latest ASCAP musical theatre workshop was held on the Disney lot in Burbank, California.
In a paper statement, the program was described as unique because it "provides a vehicle for composers, lyricists and book writers to further develop and refine their new musicals at the Kennedy Center." Award-winning composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz has been named artistic director of "In the Works." A Grammy winner, Schwartz' credits include Godspell, Pippin, and the Disney animated films Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Schwartz has been directing the ASCAP East Coast Musical Theater Workshop for the past eight years.
"I'm very excited to be involved with a program that not only provides our most promising new writers and new projects a chance to come to fruition but could help increase the number of quality musicals produced today for the theatre," Schwartz said in the prepared statement.
ASCAP's Kerker has said that several successful careers and projects could be traced to the program. Lynn Ahrens and Stephen C. Flaherty, former ASCAP/Disney workshop participants, went on to compose Once on This Island and the Tony Award-winning Ragtime.
Kennedy Center president Lawrence J. Wilker and ASCAP Foundation president Marilyn Bergman were characterized as optimistic over the alliance and the prospect of identifying promising new musicals.
For ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Workshop information call (212) 621-6234. For further information on the Kennedy Center call (202) 467 4600, (800) 444-1324 (from outside the Washington, DC, metropolitan area) or TTY: (202) 416-8524.
-- By Murdoch McBride