Separate from the musical theatre songwriting workshop, the librettists workshop is for those interested in developing their skills for musical theatre script writing.
The job of librettist is considered thankless in the musical-making industry — scripts are routinely cannibalized in service of a score. ("It's a musical, not a bookical" is the oft-heard cry at BMI.)
However, books have also inspired some of the world's most beloved songs. Spoken scenes, characters and structural ideas created by librettists have helped put those works on shelves beside the best of contemporary dramatic literature.
Applicants accepted into the workshop interact in a moderated group (run by librettist, dramaturg and literary manager Nancy Golladay) where presentations of developing scripts are followed by discussion and critique. Discussion about produced works is also part of the process.
Golladay has written a musical adaptation of "The Great Impostor," and is currently developing a project based on the life of Edgar Allan Poe with the working title Annabel Lee. In recent years, Golladay has created a number of innovative programs where workshop members collaborate on short-term projects with members of the songwriting workshops to stimulate networking opportunities and new collaborations among the groups. Accomplished writers from all genres are invited to submit samples of their work, whether published, produced or in progress. A resume and completed application are also required.
The BMI Librettists Workshop is a tuition-free, nonprofit program of BMI. It was created by the late Lehman Engel to supplement the composer-lyricist workshops that Engel ran 1961-1982. Those songwriting workshop continue today, moderated by professionals such as Tony Award-winner Maury Yeston.
The BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop consists of approximately 250 composers, lyricists and bookwriters, most of who are actively writing new works for the musical theatre.
Alumni include Edward Kleban (A Chorus Line), Maury Yeston (Titanic, Grand Hotel, Nine), Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Little Shop of Horrors), Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Once On This Island, Dessa Rose), Joanne Bogart & Eric Rockwell (The Musical of Musicals — The Musical!), Michael John LaChiusa (Hello Again, Marie Christine, The Wild Party) and Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q).
Applicants for the Librettists Workshop are asked to submit samples of their scriptwriting work, as well as a resume and completed application form. Application forms and other information may be obtained by contacting Jean Banks, Senior Director, Musical Theatre, BMI, 320 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019, (212) 830-2508 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.