East Haddam, Connecticut's Goodspeed Musicals has announced the participants for the 11th annual Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Grove. The development program will be held January 31-February 27 for work on 16 new musicals.
This year's participants include composer Peter Siebert (Captain Marvel), singer Heather Ragusa, Grammy winner Paula Cole, Write Out Loud winner Joriah Kwamé, authors Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie (Hi My Name is Ben), composer Mark Governor (Pet Sematary), author Jessie Burton, Olivier and Grammy nominee Barnaby Race (Amelie), Grammy winner Emily Saliers, nominee for an educational Grammy Jesse J. Sanchez, composer who has co-written songs for Katy Parry and Jessica Simpson Jonatha Brooke, writer Geoffrery Naufts (Nashville), two-time Pulitzer winner Jake Bernstein. Also participating will be Melis Aker, Jonathan Brielle, Jeff Chambers, Jacinta Clusellas, Jennifer Lucy Cook, Lauren Du Pree, Jasmine Joshua, Patrick Lundquist, Beth Malone, Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako, Tatiana Pandiani, T.J. Pieffer, Lynn Rosen, Janet Roston, Marc Sambola, Shelby Solla, Mary Ann Stratton, Shea Sullivan, Melvin Tunstall III, and Pia Wilson.
Working in residence at Goodspeed Musicals' Arists Village, each team will share a house with access to support from Goodspeed as they work on their musical. The think tank will feature Jonathan Brielle (Foxfire, Stories I Never Told My Mother), Executive Vice President of the Johnny Mercer Foundation, as Writer and Producer in Residence. He will work with Bernstein on an untitled project over the course of this year's program.
Also serving on the leading team of the program will be Blair Russell as Producer in Residence; his producing credits include Jeremy O. Harris' Tony-nominated Slave Play and Playbill Goes Fringe favorite Lizard Boy which will make its Off-Broadway premiere this year. Clifford Lee Johnson III will serve as Resident Dramaturge, and Goodspeed’s Artistic Director Donna Lynn Hilton will guide Goodspeed Musicals’ efforts on The JMF Writers Grove at Goodspeed with additional artistic support from Goodspeed Artistic Associate Michael Fling and Line Producer Stephen Agosto.
Pulitzer-winning and 2022 Tony-winning musical A Strange Loop underwent development at the Grove. Previous projects that Goodspeed has moved from The JMF Writers Grove at Goodspeed to full production include the acclaimed 2019 productions of Passing Through, and Hi, My Name Is Ben, Deathless, Darling Grenadine, Indian Joe, and Chasing Rainbows. In 2023, Goodspeed will be further developing Private Gomer Jones by Marshall Pailet which also was included in Goodspeed’s 2020 Festival of New Musicals.
The Johnny Mercer Foundation supports songwriting in the name of composer-lyricist, performer, and producer Johnny Mercer.