Dramaturgical options | NewMusicalsInc

developing your musical with Elise Dewsberry...

FEEDBACK: Who needs it?

NMI’s Artistic Director talks about getting feedback for your new musical: why you need it; and where to find it.


Overview Evaluation.
NMI dramaturg will read your script and listen to your demo and respond with a 20-30 minute audio overview evaluation addressing core topics such as: Is the plot clear and trackable? Is the theme clear and compelling? Does your lead have a clearly defined want and strong obstacles? Is the exposition delivered skillfully? Do the lyrics progress the story? Is there a partnership between the lyrics and the music? Does the score have variety and breadth? Is the author's intent being realized as fully as possible?

$195 for 20-30 minutes of audio feedback.

Detailed Analysis.
The Detailed Analysis consists of a 2-3 hour video feedback session.  It covers the same topics as the audio Overview Evaluation, but at a much more detailed level, often discussing the work page by page, even line-by-line. Focus is on specific songs, themes, characters, subplot, diction, story logic, as well as manuscript presentation, marketability, and recommendations for next steps.

$400 for 2-3 hours of video feedback.

Full Draft Personal Consultation.
Spend time in person (or by video or telephone conference) with an NMI staff member who has read and made notes on a full draft of your developing musical.  The NMI staff member will spend up to four hours reading your show and making notes, and then arrange for a video conference call or in-person meeting with you for up to two hours.

$595 for prep and up to 2 hours of evaluation either in person, or by video or telephone conference call

Staff Table Reading.
Three NMI staff members read through the entire script/score, and then provide a detailed feedback session on book, music and lyrics. Authors can present the material, or the staff can cold-read/sing. The read/sing-through will generally take 2-3 hours; followed by a short break; and then up to four hours of feedback.  This can be done in person; or the authors may attend by video conference; or NMI can make a video recording of the session to share with the authors.

NOTE: All Full Length Script options also include automatic submission to the Search for New Musicals.

Premium Subscribers to the Musical Theatre Writers' Resource Center receive the following discounts: - $50 off the Detailed Analysis or Full Draft Personal Consultation and $150 off the Staff Table Reading


Outline Advice.
Feedback on plot points, character arcs, themes, target audience; before you begin writing.

Song Spotting.
Discussion, analysis, and brainstorming about song possibilities and their structures. Combining/condensing scenes; decisions about solos v. duets, or ensemble numbers. Structuring lyrics to convey the plot, character decisions, etc. 3 hr. minimum.

Lyric Crafting.
Detailed work, usually concentrating on one lyric. The goal of these sessions will vary, pending your needs, but typically, we'll examine such elements as: character diction, rhyme, euphony, prosody, metaphor, as well as ensuring that each stanza is conveying exactly what you mean it to, that the jokes are landing, and that the storyline is clear.

Get advice on marketing copy, loglines, query letters, identifying potential producers, packaging, graphics, demos, and how to approach theatres with your musical.

Practical Advice about Producing.
Consultation about budgets, contracts, unions, producers' checklists, raising money.

FEES: $80 per hour (including prep time).

* Premium Subscribers to the Musical Theatre Writers' Resource Center receive $50 off any purchase of consultation time.

First Act Personal Consultation.  
Spend time in person (or by video conference) with an NMI staff member who has read and made notes on the first (or second) act of your developing musical.  The NMI staff member will spend up to two hours of prep time reading and making notes on your musical; then arrange for an in person or video conference for you for up to one hour.
(Additional hours of in person or video conference time at $80/hour)
(If you are interested in a personal consultation on your full script, please check out the full length script analysis options.)

$240 for prep and 1 hour in person session or conference call (additional hours at $80/hour)

* Premium Subscribers to the Musical Theatre Writers' Resource Center receive $50 off a First Act Personal Consultation.


THE SANDBOX - Personal Development Program

Maybe you don’t fit the usual mold.

Perhaps you’re looking for feedback, but don’t want structured classes. Or your dialogue is finished, but your score isn’t finished. Or you want to hear just a section with actors, but don’t need a whole reading right now.

We’ve designed something we call The Sandbox, where you get to play for a full year, determining your own pathway. You tell us your goals, and we’ll help get you there.

In your twelve months of membership in the Sandbox, you’ll have nine 2-hour work sessions with your selected staff member to work on such topics as outlining, song-spotting, presentation of scenes and songs, marketing advice, budgeting, feedback, music preparation, song structure, consultation about demo recordings, etc. - depending on the needs of you and your musical at any given moment in the process. Design your own schedule ...choose two from column A, three from column B, etc. — whatever’s best for you and your musical…at your pace.

Use your nine sessions however you like. Online or in-person. $1500 per project

Check out MORE INFO ON THE SANDBOX - including sample videos and handouts.

Premium Subscribers to the Musical Theatre Writers' Resource Center receive $150 off the regular Sandbox price.


Some Examples of Feedback

Or - check out Elise’s video blog series “How to Get NO Feedback from Elise” - a series of short videos about specific topics that come up the most often in feedback sessions. Check out one of the videos from the series to the right - or go to ELISE’S VLOG page to see the entire series.

Elise Dewsberry is spot on. Her approach is thorough, extensive, direct and supportive. Her comments resonated as she identified and made suggestions for the hiccups and obstacles that had been thwarting us for too long. We wish we had her help years ago, and we look forward to working with her again soon on all of our projects.


Caroline Sherman and Robert Hull
Empire the Musical

We really did appreciate all your help - you’ve got just the right tone to critique. It’s a matter of “A Spoonful of Sugar Helps The Medicine Go Down”!


George Stiles
Mary Poppins, Honk, Soho Cinders

Elise is the Sherlock Holmes of dramaturgy. ‘Having gathered these facts, Watson, I smoked several pipes over them, trying to separate those which were crucial from others which were merely incidental.’ With her keen eye, extensive knowledge and thoughtful commentary, she has managed to suss out exactly what the creatives must do to improve their story-telling. I’d love to have her expertise on all new shows I work on.


Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Director/Choreographer
Ragtime, High Society, Secret Garden

My co-writers George Stiles & Anthony Drewe and I worked with Elise when she provided dramaturgical services on our show Soho Cinders. Her insights were invaluable. She asked exactly the right questions to make us think about our characters with a fresh perspective. As a result, characters and their journey arcs tightened up and the overall show did so as well. As a writer, you think you know your piece but it is amazing what a professionally focussed look at your work can do to enhance it. Elise provides just that forensic approach.


Elliot Davis, George Stiles, and Anthony Drewe
Soho Cinders

We were fortunate to have Elise Dewsberry as advisor for our presentation at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre. Elise provided kind, thoughtful and wise script guidance during the strenuous work of chopping our musical’s first act to forty-five minutes. She was a constant encouraging presence offering sage advice based on the strength of her experience with musical theatre presentation, promotion and marketing.  NAMT was a challenging ride and we can’t thank Elise enough for assuming so many roles on our behalf, from dramaturg to cheerleader. We will always value her knowledge, dedication and care.


Jennie Redling, Phillip Palmer, Stacey Luftig
My Heart Is The Drum, Village Theatre

I recently had the pleasure of working with New Musicals Inc. on a reading of The Grouch’s Daughter, my new musical co-written with Jack Helbig. NMI staff member Elise Dewsberry served as both dramaturg and director, and in our years of working on this show, no one person has been as helpful to us as she was. Prior to the reading, we received a set of notes that were as thoughtful as they were thorough. NMI’s suggestions led to a rewrite that greatly helped me shape the show and refine its style. I’m deeply impressed with the care and intelligence of their creative input, and would not hesitate to work with NMI again.


Mark Hollmann
Tony award-winning composer, Urinetown

check out some more testimonials...

We are in receipt of your video and your analysis of the piece. After watching the video and taking notes, we feel as if a nurturing dramaturgical Mary Poppins has visited us with wonderful insightful nourishment. It appeared to us that you seemed to rea


Ron Yatter

We are so grateful for your thoroughness and the insight of your comments. Your report has given us a fresh approach to the project.

I’ve never received a more cogent and useable evaluation before. I’m very comfortable with the critique process but I have never finished reading a critique/evaluation with as much desire and energy to go to work on and polish a piece.

Thanks for the fantastic feedback that you provided on the evaluation. It sounds like you really understood my vision for the show more than many of the people I’ve shown it to.

The critique was spot on. I would say that the work that you are doing is the most helpful I have ever received from any arts organization. I only wish that more organizations were able to do as much for the field of musical theater. I think that your entire approach is great, serving a wide number of artists at many different levels in their careers. An incredible process really.

I thought the critique was very thorough, thoughtful, and encouraging, and it inspired many new ways of thinking about my project.

I found the feedback extremely helpful. It was thoughtful, thorough and very supportive. This is the first time I have attempted to write the music, lyrics and book and your comments have re-energized me and I am currently hard at work on a second draft of my piece. Thank you so much!


2008 Search Writers

Wow! So awesome! This is extremely helpful and - wow! I say it again! So amazing that you would spend your time helping us in this way. We submitted Planet Eden in one of its initial drafts and received amazingly detailed feedback. Clearly, whoever was assigned to our project had read the script numerous times and took copious notes and we got them all. This has been one of my most personally satisfying interactions with an arts advisory group that I have ever experienced! We cannot thank you enough.


Aaron Kirk Douglas
Planet Eden

We are both very very happy with the knowledge and experience you have brought to this evaluation, The time and thought you have put into it is quite evident and greatly appreciated….Thanks again for all the work you have done in helping us to make [our musical] as good as it can be.


Alan Riva

I wanted to tell you how much we appreciated your very thorough evaluation of our Musical, Gift of the Magi: The Musical. Your comments & suggestions were right on and gave us great insight to things in the show that we hadn’t noticed. We have already made many changes to the script & songs as a result of your input. Thank you!


Beverly Bremers and Faith Grant

I want to thank you one last time for the care and attention you gave to Mad Bomber. I think it is a much better play than it was when I first submitted it and any further improvements will have started with you and ANMT. I will always be grateful for your enthusiasm and professionalism. Thanks again.


Charles Monagan
Mad Bomber

The Search evaluation provided not only insights, but also inspirations - ANMT transformed the rewrite process into something exciting and fun!


Charles Veley
G & S on Wall Street

What can we say? We are DELIGHTED with your evaluation and we are now going to forge ahead with further revisions to make this show as water-tight as possible (before the forensic scrutiny it will eventually get in workshop rehearsal, when things will - inevitably - change again!!) You have an eagle eye and a pitch perfect ear and we treasure your insights and suggestions. A big thank you yet again from across the pond. We really wouldn’t be where we are with this show without you.


Chris Burgess & Denise Wright

Without ANMT’s help this project would never have come this far! After last year’s search and Elise’s analysis before that, I have received top notch plot help, character development, and musical advice. Useful is not a strong enough word. ANMT has been a guiding force in this project’s evolution, for which I am most grateful. One of the most difficult things for writers is obtaining professional feedback. Working in a vacuum is almost impossible. Collaboration and constant outside feedback is part of the process. I would certainly recommend ANMT to fellow writers.


David Nelson

Thank you for your evaluation of Eye of the Storm. WOW! That is all I kept saying to myself as I got thru Act 1’s eval. I appreciate EVERYTHING you pointed out to me and believe me I have thought many of the remarks myself along the great writing way. You just confirmed so much of my gut feelings for the things I need to work on. I wanted to get my first thoughts off to you before I continue with Act II’s eval. Again, Elise, thank you for all you did to make me want to continue to fix Eye.


E.H. Milam

Thanks again for your honesty and smarts. Your candor, insights and graciousness are much appreciated. It’s the best tutorial I’ve ever had and, like most artists, I generally don’t sit still for tutorials.


Ed Goldman
Composer/Lyricist/Librettist, Friday@5

Thank you so much for your evaluation. I’m gratified by how whole-heartedly you engaged with the piece, and your report is full of useful insights and suggestions which will help us greatly in the next phase. Thank you to you and your colleagues for running this programme.


James Reid

Once again you have identified moments that are not quite working and suggested ways to make them work. I will address the remaining points … and return to you an outline that should be the springboard for creating a fine show. We can’t thank you enough.


Joanne Koch

Wow. This was a really detailed analysis. Many thanks.


John Piraino

I just finished reading your evaluation and want to thank you So Much for your perspectives and time. What you wrote is exactly the kind of fundamental theatrical feedback I was hoping to get for the work. Its always hugely helpful getting feedback revealing where the conceptual blind spots are.


Les Oreck

Thank you so much for these valuable notes. They are an incredible help and will push the show to the next level. It’s given me something to think about and dwell on before moving forward. I miss all you guys and the intensity, professionalism, and talent over at ANMT.


Mark Garcia
Holy Cows of Credence North Dakota

Thank you for the notes … We’ve made a lot of changes, many of which were based on your direct feedback. It was very good to get an opinion from someone with your expertise.


Mark Knowles
Killer in Drag

We appreciate your constructive review of our project. It was the best $100 we’ve spent in a while. In fact, a substantially revised version, that includes many of your recommendations, is being staged this summer by the El Paso Community College.


Mark Watts

I’m extremely pleased and appreciative of your evaluation. It’s the first constructive evaluation I’ve had. Your thoroughness and assistance pretty much blew me away. I am both impressed and enthused.


Michael McNeill

Thank you so much for the evaluation. It was more helpful than I could have imagined. Your words inspired me to work most diligently …You are more valuable than money and gold! I really appreciate your insights and clarity.


Peter Copani

Any musical theatre project in development can benefit greatly from the objective, knowledgeable feedback services provided by the Academy for New Musical Theatre. Their efficient staff provides a supportive viewpoint, rare in the profession.


Ramon Delgado

Thanks for the honest evaluation. That’s not easy to come by and the level of detail you provided far exceeded my expectations so I feel I got more than my money’s worth. I realize that ‘jukebox’ musicals are sometimes viewed as the step children of the genre and I suppose in many instances rightfully so. But in my head I see the narrative arc of these songs clearly so I think I’ll keep revising to improve the telling of that story rather than work it into more of a musical revue type piece. I hope I can get to LA to see one of your productions sometimes soon.


S.D. Williams

Elise Dewsberry’s rare gift for analyzing plot and character is enormously helpful to writers.  Her story sense is phenomenal.


Stephen Oles
bookwriter, Seattle

I am so impressed with your evaluation. It is far more thorough than I expected, and full of valuable critiques and suggestions.


Tracey Corea

[I have found] the evaluation to be very enlightening; I’d like to add that such a detailed treatment was far beyond my expectations and proved your organization to be totally sincere and definitely concerned with promoting quality and professional musical theatre.


Walter Johnson

If anyone is hesitant about the cost of submitting to you guys, be sure to have them talk to me. Your evaluations are worth ten times the fee.


William Roetzheim
Producing Director

Elise Dewsberry has been the most influential, helpful, encouraging but brutally honest mentor in my six year attempt to write the book and many of the lyrics of a Broadway-style musical. I recommend Elise without reservation. Entering the Search was the beginning of a year-long association with ANMT, and I will continue to seek Elise’s help and very happily pay for it.


Sandy Wolf

still not sure? send Elise an email...

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