Tesori, Richards, Miller Win Signature-AMVP Commissions for New Musicals; Schmidt and Rosenblum Snag Grants

News   Tesori, Richards, Miller Win Signature-AMVP Commissions for New Musicals; Schmidt and Rosenblum Snag Grants
The Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre has named Jeanine Tesori, the Tony-nominated composer of Shrek the Musical and Caroline, or Change, as the latest writer commissioned in The American Music Voices Project (AMVP).

Jeanine Tesori
Jeanine Tesori Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Tesori's AMVP commission will lead to a fully produced Signature mainstage production.

Additionally, composers Chris Miller (The Burnt Part Boys) and Scott Davenport Richards ( A Star Across The Ocean - Paris 1965 in New York City Opera's VOX 2010 opera lab) received AMVP "Next Generation" commissions that will lead to workshop presentations of their work.

Also, Signature is awarding special Next Generation "honoree grants" to composer Josh Schmidt (Adding Machine, A Minister's Wife) and composer Josh Rosenblum (Einstein's Dreams, Fermat's Last Tango) "to develop new works for the theatre." Traditionally, these honorees earn commissions that lead to workshop stagings in the 21/24 Signature Lab.

Tesori joins Adam Guettel, Michael John LaChiusa, Ricky Ian Gordon and Joseph Thalken as commissioned songwriters for the Arlington, VA, company.

AMVP, funded by The Shen Family Foundation (www.shenfamilyfoundation.com), is the largest musical theatre commissioning program in the U.S., with $780,000 awarded directly to artists since the program's founding in 2006. The AMVP supports established writers in the field of musical theatre and includes a commitment to produce the commissioned work during Signature's main stage season. Ted and Mary Jo Shen, executive directors of The Shen Family Foundation, said in a statement, "We are thrilled to continue our collaboration with Signature Theatre in the commissioning and development of new musicals by gifted composers who write with exceptionally original voices. While it is exciting to see the total number of full-scale commissions initiated through the AMVP and Next Generation programs rise to 12 since 2006, it is even more gratifying to know that these all will be developed in the extraordinarily nurturing and inspiring creative environment that [Signature artistic director] Eric Schaeffer is so uniquely able to provide for new works."

Each of the AMVP grants includes a commission to create a new full-length musical to be produced at Signature Theatre during its 2009-2013 seasons. Fully-staged musical world premieres through the AMVP have included LaChiusa's Giant in 2009 and Gordon's Sycamore Trees in 2010. Thalken's musical, Wheatley's Folly, will premiere in March 2011 with productions of new musicals by Guettel (The Light in the Piazza) and Tesori to follow.

In June 2008, the American Musical Voices Project added The Next Generation program. That year, emerging composers Matt Conner, Adam Gwon and Gabriel Kahane each received a commission to write new musicals for Signature Theatre and honorees Peter Foley and Marisa Michelson were given grants for the development of their musical ideas. In 2009, Foley and Michelson received full Next Generation commissions, and Chris Miller and Scott Davenport Richards received honoree grants for the development of future musical ideas.

In July 2009, the company launched the 21/24 Signature Lab, three weeks of rehearsal and performances of Next Generation works. The first summer featured The Hollow by composer Matt Conner and writer Hunter Foster, and The Boy Detective Fails by composer Adam Gwon and writer Joe Meno. This summer the 21/24 Lab is providing Next Generation composer Marisa Michelson the opportunity to develop her commissioned work, Tamar and the River.

As previously announced, as part of the AMVP, Musical Theater Leadership Awards have been made to four individuals in recognition of their extraordinary influence on and contribution to the advancement of new musical theatre: orchestrator Bruce Coughlin, composer Adam Guettel, singer/actress Audra McDonald, and director/musical director/orchestrator Ted Sperling.

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