The Weston Playhouse New Musical Award has been created to provide new writers accessible means of producing a demo recording, a service that many young writers find financially restrictive. Producing director Steve Stettler worked with composer Polly Pen to develop the unique outlet and opportunity for new writers in the theatre.
As part of the award, the Weston Playhouse provides the selected composing team with a director, music director and five Equity actors for a three-day Vermont residency to rehearse selections from a new musical. The project will culminate in a free public reading of the new work, plus a demo recording with Sh-K-Boom records producer Kurt Deutsch. In addition, all the artists involved are paid on union contracts, and all expenses including copying and recording studio rental in New York are covered.
The first winner of the Weston Playhouse New Musical Award is Be Like Joe, which, according to press notes, is "a quirky modern fable about the relationship between a charismatic rock star and an independent-minded environmentalist."
Author Kyoung-Ae Kang and composer Sean Keogh created the work as part of the New York University/Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, which is where it was nominated for the Weston Playhouse New Musical Award.
Participants in the Weston concert and recording of Be Like Joe included actor/artist Greg Naughton (founder of the Obie-winning Off-Broadway company Blue Light), Jayne Paterson (Broadway's Les Misérables, Jane Eyre), Marcus Neville (Broadway's The Full Monty, Weston's Kiss Me, Kate), Susan Haefner (Broadway's Thoroughly Modern Millie, Weston's Ragtime) and Emily Drennan (Off-Broadway's Toxic Audio). The nation's leading theatrical institutions have recognized the Weston Playhouse's efforts. Among the nominating organizations are the American Musical Theatre Project, ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop, BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, Dramatists Guild Fellows Program, Lark Play Development Center, New Dramatists, New York Musical Theatre Festival, NYU-Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, O’Neill National Music Theater Conference and Sundance Institute Theatre Program.
In addition, numerous theatrical agencies have contributed to funding the award. Those involved to date are Dramatists Play Service, Inc.; Dramatic Publishing; Music Theatre International; the Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation; Samuel French, Inc.; Tams-Witmark Music Library; Theatrical Rights Worldwide; the Vineyard Theatre; Wayne and Deborah Granquist; Peter and Marguerite Mason; and the Lynn Ahrens & Neil Costa Foundation Fund of the Community Foundation of New Jersey.
For further information visit www.westonplayhouse.org.