Emerging musical theatre composers, lyricists and librettists looking for a first step for their new projects can apply for the New Musicals Reading Series, sponsored by the New York City trade group, Theatre Resources Unlimited (TRU).
The nonprofit collective of theatre production companies and individuals has a database of 800 theatre professionals and 140 dues-paying members who share information, advice and physical resources. After eight years of sharing information, the group is reaching out to help nurture new productions.
TRU will assist in the development of three selected works by paying for a public readings of the pieces.
Deadline for submission is Sept. 11. Those submitting should be from the New York City area.
The series, which is designed to develop new musicals and to help producers develop the skills needed to produce new musicals, will showcase three projects in November 1999 at a theatre to be determined. After each presentation, a "dollars and sense" panel discussion featuring prominent New York City producers and general managers will be held, focusing on potential venues, marketing and budgets for projects. The artistic merits will not be under scrutinized by the panel, and TRU holds no rights to future stagings.
"It basically ends up being a cash grant of sorts," said Mark Cannistraro, producing director of the series. "We’re trying to create an opportunity for both writers and producers to develop new musicals by giving them all of the necessary tools -- the most important of which is, of course, the money to present the reading. I think that's the most interesting facet of the whole series: rather than simply producing the work, we're empowering people to do it for themselves."
Projects with a producer-coordinator attached are preferred. If a director is not attached, TRU can help find one for the reading.
The TRU grant will cover costs of producing the small-scale reading including musical director's fee, Equity actor transportation, rehearsal space, lighting-sound technicians and copying; performance space with piano; promotional postcards; publicity services and access to the TRU database of performers, musical directors and producers.
TRU is seeking book musicals, although themed revues will be considered. Works may be as short as 45 minutes; there is no maximum length, but producers must be able to present the reading in under 90 minutes with a maximum of 12 actors. To be eligible, the project in its present form must not have had a previous New York City production before a paying audience.
Producers and writers interested in submitting projects for consideration can request a copy of the guidelines and application form by calling TRU at (212) 714-7628 or emailing a request to SourceW@aol.com.
"We've always wanted to create programs that would benefit membership and create visibility for us," said TRU founder Bob Ost.
TRU began life years ago, said Ost, a playwright-composer-lyricist. "I had a couple of friends running theatre companies and everybody seemed to be struggling," Ost told Playbill On-Line. In 1991, he offered his apartment as a meeting place to talk about small companies to share some information. Some 30 people showed up, and the grassroots TRU, with both for-profit and nonprofit people involved, was born.
Early meetings yielded offers of a fax machine and office furniture for some, and there have been many referrals of talent.
"We've gotten a lot of people working together over the years," said Ost.
TRU board members and advisors include producers, directors, actors, journalists and others.
-- By Kenneth Jones