Marc Shaiman Scott Wittman
Add Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman to your list of reasons to attend Thespian Festival 2014.
The creative partners who wrote the music and lyrics for the much-decorated musical Hairspray (and for Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, Catch Me If You Can, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) will be at the center of a special performance titles An Evening with Shaiman and Wittman on the Thespian Festival main stage.
The composer and co-lyricists will share stories about their lives in the theatre. A Thespian cast and crew for the show will be announced next week. They will work and perform alongside Shaiman and Wittman and members of the cast of the first national company of Wicked.
This is a second visit to the Festival for Shaiman and Wittman, who were in the audience for the 2008 International Thespian Cast production of Hairspray. The two won a Tony and a Grammy for Hairspray; a Best Musical Tony nomination for Catch Me If You Can; and nominations for two Emmys, a Grammy, and a Golden Globe for their work on the television musical drama Smash. Shaiman has also been nominated for five Academy Awards for his film scores and original songs.
“We are thrilled we got a callback to this year’s Thespian Festival,” Wittman said. “Seeing Hairspray at the Festival was one of the highlights in our professional lives, and you can ‘run and tell that.’”
Wanna be onstage at Festival? There are a record number of parts available for Playworks. Don’t miss this special opportunity to bring a new piece of theatre to life.
Audition for Playworks on Tuesday of Festival week. Stay tuned for details!
Program coordinator Maggie Perrino on Thespian Musicalworks!
Why was this program started?
Several years ago while watching the Individual Events Showcase, it occurred to me that we have developmental programs for playwrights and actors, but not a lot of developmental work for musical theatre kids. It seemed that a developmental program for new musical writers and musical theatre performers was needed, so discussions began for shaping a program to workshop a new musical at Festival. Musicalworks was born out of these conversations.
Why should kids get involved?
Students interested in writing new musicals should attend Jim Hoare’s workshops at Festival and submit their new pieces in the winter for evaluation. Musical theatre performers should audition via Acceptd to be a part of the cast of the new musical and perform the opening number at the Individual Events Showcase on Saturday at Festival.
How do you think the program affects the students?
I think the students learn a lot about collaboration, what makes a musical number entertaining, and how musical structures affect the way an audience feels about a piece. It was amazing last year to see how different the opening number was at the beginning of the week to the end result. Every person who worked on Musicalworks became a small part of that change. Together, we made something new and truly amazing.
What do you, personally, experience while working on this program?
At the beginning of the week, you can really see on everyone’s faces that workshopping this new show will be a challenge, but those faces turn to pure joy by the end of the week when they see how far they’ve come. I love the transformation that theatre brings. When you finally perform it on stage, all the hard work and fear falls away. You can revel in your accomplishments and just enjoy the moment.
What’s been your favorite memory or moment?
Hands down: Caitlin Sloane, one of last year’s winners, on the day of the performance. She was so overwhelmed seeing her musical take the stage at festival and thanked all of us profusely for making her dreams come true. That’s why I am in theatre education — for the moment when a student sees her dreams alive onstage. That is truly magical to me!
By Julie York Coppens
What does it mean to be human? Famous? Free? Irredeemable?
The judges found some surprising answers to these and other immortal questions among this year’s Thespian Playworks and Musicalworks submissions—seventy-three student-written scripts and eight prospective musicals from across the country and as far away as Dubai. After much deliberation, the contest results are in.
The Playworks panel has chosen four winning finalists in the Educational Theatre Association’s annual competition and script-development program, sponsored by play publisher Samuel French, Inc., and run by Dramatics. A separate panel selected a single work for the Musicalworks program, which is now in its second year, sponsored by Theatrical Rights Worldwide.
These outstanding entries are now slated for staging at the 2014 Thespian Festival, June 23-28 in Lincoln, Nebraska, where the student authors will work with professional playwrights, directors, and corps of actors (and in the case of the musical theatre program, a music director) to put their scripts on their feet:
What We Talk About When We Talk About Planned Parenthood, an unflinching two-character study by Alexa Derman, Troupe 7582, Westfield (New Jersey) High School. What’s left to say, Derman’s play asks, when a young couple has done the unspeakable?
The Trial of Adbot Five-Seven-Nine, a fresh, near-futuristic courtroom drama—by Francis Bass, Troupe 1429, Leon High School, Tallahassee, Florida—that pushes some classic sci-fi buttons.
This Play Is About Pirates: An Autobiography, by Caleigh Derreberry, Troupe 3678, Brookwood High School, Lilburn, Georgia, in which a sea-weary buccaneer confronts his clueless younger self.
And from the sea-battered cliffs of Irish legend comes Skin, a reimagined selkie fable by Derick Edgren, Troupe 386, Auburn High School, Rockford, Illinois.
This year’s Musicalworks winner is Balloon Boy: The Musical, with book, music, and lyrics by Billy Recce, Troupe 7097, Hauppauge (New York) High School. Inspired by true events in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2009, Recce’s satirical musical-in-the-making centers on the mad scientist father of three sons and their quest for fame via reality TV. Like the Playworks finalists, Reece will work with professional mentors and a Thespian cast to develop Balloon Boy and stage an excerpt at the Festival.
“The contest has grown to attract serious writing interest,” commented Playworks judge and director Joe Norton, from New York City, one of several professionals joining the Dramatics/EdTA staff in evaluating this year’s submissions. “I’m just so impressed… These pieces are all really good, for different reasons.”
For more on Thespian Playworks and Musicalworks, including how students may participate this year or in future programs, visit Schooltheatre.org. Stage managers, designers and other backstage types interested in positions on the Playworks Dream Team should contact Julie York Coppens at email@example.com.
We are so excited to welcome the following shows to the 2014 Thespian Festival main stage!
Smokey Joe’s Café presented by Troupe 3860, Jeffersonville High School, Jeffersonville, Indiana
Three Sisters presented by Troupe 5869, Denver School of the Arts, Denver, Colorado
Fiddler on the Roof presented by Troupe 1539, Edina High School, Edina, Minnesota
Catch Me If You Can presented by Troupe 4982, Bradford High School, Kenosha, Wisconsin
Of Mice and Men presented by Troupe 5273, Las Vegas Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada
Disney’s Mary Poppins presented by Troupe 5134, Green Valley High School, Henderson, Nevada
Time Stands Still presented by Troupe 69, Dubuque Sr. High School, Dubuque, Iowa
Violet presented by the Missouri All-State Cast and Crew
In the Heights presented by the Georgia All-State Cast and Crew