Writers' Retreat, With Spring Awakening, Jane Eyre Composers, Begins Jan. 22

News   Writers' Retreat, With Spring Awakening, Jane Eyre Composers, Begins Jan. 22 Spring Awakening and Jane Eyre songwriters begin work on their new musicals at TheatreWorks' fifth annual Writers' Retreat, Jan. 22.

The Palo Alto, CA, company will host artists Paul Gordon, Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, Neil Bartram and Brian Hill as well as Gary Kelson and D.W. Jacobs through Jan. 28 — when the event culminates at an invitation-only performance of selections from each work.

According to an announcement, "TheatreWorks will provide collaborating teams of acclaimed up and coming and established composers and playwrights the opportunity to develop new works, uninterrupted by the hassles and distractions of their daily lives. The company will supply performers and accompanists to try arrangements, and a musical director to help guide the creative process."

The works being developed this year include:

  • Emma
    Music, lyrics, and book by Paul Gordon
    Adapted from the novel by Jane Austen, Gordon (Jane Eyre) returns to TheatreWorks following a sold-out workshop at the 2006 New Works Festival to continue work on his new take on the 18th-century heroine who fancies herself a matchmaker.

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  • The Nightingale
    Book and lyrics by Steven Sater, Music by Duncan Sheik
    The Spring Awakening team work on their third theatrical collaboration (also Nero (Another Golden Rome)), which is based on a Hans Christian Andersen tale. The work follows "the story of a young Chinese emperor who finds hope in a bird and a common girl."
  • The Story of My Life and Clara's Piano Music and Lyrics by Neil Bartram, Books by Brian Hill
    The duo finish work on two new musical projects: The Story of My Life, "a touching musical about two lifelong friends and the events that shaped their lives," and Clara's Piano, "an exploration of the triangular relationship between composer Robert Schumann, his wife Clara, and composer Johannes Brahms."
  • Better Than Sinatra
    Book by Gary Kelson and D.W. Jacobs, Music by Lee Kelson
    Playwright Gary Kelson pens this tale of "a swinging singer [who] is forced to decide between his career and his family." The musical employs the songs of Gary Kelson's father's unpublished songs written in the 1940's for the story "loosely based on the ups and downs of the popular musician’s career." TheatreWorks' currently present Anthony Clarvoe's Ambition Facing West (through Feb. 11) and ends its 37th season with Joanna McClelland Glass' Trying in March (March 7-April 1) and Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along (April 4-29).

    For more information about TheatreWorks, visit theatreworks.org.

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