Thomas Cott Is New Artistic Director of Musical Theatre Works; Lonny Price Steps Down

News   Thomas Cott Is New Artistic Director of Musical Theatre Works; Lonny Price Steps Down Musical Theatre Works, the Manhattan not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development of new musicals, has a new artistic director in Lincoln Center Theater veteran Thomas Cott, it was announced Nov. 1.

Musical Theatre Works, the Manhattan not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development of new musicals, has a new artistic director in Lincoln Center Theater veteran Thomas Cott, it was announced Nov. 1.

Lonny Price is stepping down as artistic director due to his blossoming outside gigs, such as directing the Broadway-bound Urban Cowboy, but will remain resident director of MTW.

"This is a dream job for me," Cott said in a statement. He now partners with MTW executive director Randy Ellen Lutterman to continue the work of the organization.

MTW promises "a safe artistic community where emerging composers, lyricists and book writers can create, refine and present new American musicals," according to a statement." MTW's arts education programs cultivate new audiences and train young theatre professionals."

In addition to offering commissions to high-profile and produced writers such as as Andrew Lippa, Ricky Ian Gordon, Michael John LaChiusa, John Bucchino, Adam Guettel and Jeanine Tesori (who are all in the MTW Resident Writers Program), MTW engages writers who aren't widely known. MTW offers space, artistic teams and dramaturgical advice, all depending on the needs of the writers and the projects. In return, MTW gets a small royalty from any hit that might emerge in the future, and that money goes back into the new works initiative. MTW sponsors workshops, readings, seminars and panels, utilizing its commissioned writers. Lutterman calls MTW and "resource" and a "nurturer." In September 2002, Musical Theatre Works raised over $350,000 with its one-night-only concert presentation of Stephen Sondheim's musical Merrily We Roll Along, which reunited members of the original Broadway cast.

Cott has worked at Lincoln Center Theater since July 1985. He has contributed to the production of 95 shows to date over the past 18 seasons, including new musicals by Susan Stroman and John Weidman, Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry, William Finn and James Lapine, Michael John LaChiusa, Mbongeni Ngema, Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal, and Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. Cott's responsibilities have included the scouting and development of new musical theatre projects, coordination of 14 cast recordings, and the creation of educational programs such as the popular meet-the-artist series called Platforms, which he has produced and moderated since 1998. Prior to joining Lincoln Center Theater, Cott assisted the legendary impresario Alexander H. Cohen for two years on four Broadway productions and four television specials. During his early career, Cott was a reporter for several New Jersey dailies, a publicist and grants program coordinator for the Citizen's Committee for New York City and a copy editor for the Book-of-the-Month club.

Montreal native Lutterman joined Musical Theatre Works as producing director in July 1999 to help develop the new Resident Writers Program and to oversee production of original works. Promoted to executive director in September 2000, she has experience as a producer and project director and as a writer-developer and creative consultant. Formerly a senior producer at Back Row Productions, Lutterman introduced British sensation Eddie Izzard to North American audiences in a series of three sold-out New York seasons as well as a North American tour of Dress to Kill (filmed for HBO and winner of two 1999 Emmy Awards). Other projects for Back Row include work on the hit PBS special "Spirit Dance" (also released on USA video and on CD with Hollywood Records). Lutterman is also the writer and creative consultant of Hearst Entertainment's hit children's television series "Popular Mechanics for Kids," currently in its fourth season. Her scripts for the show, as well as her work as development and story consultant for other independent children’s programming in both the US and Canada, have been nominated for many awards. She produced the acclaimed reunion concert of Merrily We Roll Along for MTW.

For more information, visit www.mtworks.org/brochure.

— By Kenneth Jones