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new voices project

The New Voices Project is supported in part by Walt Disney Imagineering and the Helen & Jose Colton Foundation

Mission:  To nurture new  musical theatre writers under the age of 26 by offering them private and public  workshops of their writing.

New Voices Project 2019 Winners Announced

New Musicals Inc. is proud to announce that three writing teams have been selected to participate in the 2019 New Voices Project, a musical theatre development program hosted by New Musicals Inc. in Los Angeles (with support from Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment), now in its seventh year.

The New Voices Project is offered to a select group of young musical theatre playwrights, composers and lyricists under the age of 26, who receive workshops, readings, and concerts of their work.

“We are always so thrilled to have this opportunity to get to know these up-and-coming writers,” says Elise Dewsberry, Artistic Director of New Musicals Inc., “and we only wish we could support more of these deserving young and talented artists.”

The three teams will receive workshops and feedback with NMI’s resident theatre ensemble, the Academy Repertory Company, and will then have excerpts of their work presented as part of the STAGES FESTIVAL in August, 2019.

“Being a part of [the New Voices Project] was an incredibly informative experience.” says Chris Bryon Pratt, former NVP winner. “Having my material performed then dissected gave me a very clear picture of what I can improve on as a writer. I think workshops such as the New Voices Project are so monumental to young aspiring writers because the panel gives fabulous critical feedback.”

The teams chosen to participate this year are:

• Evan Johnson and Socks Whitmore
• Ryan Martin
• Shayna Toh

“New Musicals Inc. offers a great opportunity to get the exposure that all young writers so desperately need.” says Santino DeAngelo, former NVP winner. “The New Voices Project was my first chance to have my writing scrutinized by industry professionals and, throughout the course of the project, they really helped to shape the professional standards that I hold myself to today.”

Additional information about this year’s New Voices writers:

Evan Johnson is a fourth-year Composition student at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). An alumnus of The Walden School Young Musicians program, Evan has worked with prominent film composers Joe Wong, Roger Neill, and Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum. His diverse musical catalogue includes music for solo instruments, orchestra, chamber ensembles, jazz ensembles, electronics, and large and small choral groups. He has scored films such as Where It Takes Me and Serenade, and contributed music to the third season of the podcast Unsolved. Evan recently directed the premiere of We Are Here, an original musical he wrote with Socks Whitmore. The CalArts Contemporary Vocal Ensemble will premiere his choral work The Einstein Complex in April.

Socks Whitmore is a second-year undergraduate student in the Performer-Composer program at CalArts and an in-demand singer, voice actor, and lyricist. In addition to debuting roles in the play Rosacea (2017) and the lead of Ray in the ballet operetta Children Cannot Sleep (2018), they have been involved in productions of Hansel and Gretel, Street Scene, Shrek the Musical, and will be in the upcoming CalArts production of the a cappella opera Sweat in March 2019. Socks recently played the lead role of Valerie at CalArts in the premiere of We Are Here, an original musical written in collaboration with Evan Johnson.

Ryan Martin is a playwright, composer, and lyricist based in Chicago, Illinois. His original musical The Incredible Six Thousand-Foot Ladder to Heaven was produced at the 2019 Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, where it was recognized with six awards including Best Book, Best Music, and Best of the Festival. His work has also appeared at the Purple Crayon Players’ PLAYground Festival of New Works, and was selected as a finalist for UC Davis’s Ground and Field Theatre Festival. He is a recent graduate of Northwestern University where he was honored with the Craig Carnelia Award for achievement in songwriting for his work on Waa-Mu: Beyond Belief. You can find Ryan on Soundcloud, YouTube, Twitter, and (usually) in close proximity to strong coffee.

Shayna Toh is an author, composer, lyricist, performer and a junior at Brown University, double-concentrating in Music and International Relations. Her first musical, Firefly in the Light, was an Official Selection of the 2017 New York Musical Festival, with presentations at Playwrights Horizons, Off-Broadway. Shayna’s second musical, The Olive Trees, was staged in Brown in 2017. At age 11, her 15-minute winning play was showcased by the Singapore Repertory Theatre and she has been awarded multiple grants for her original theatrical productions and literary publications.

ABOVE: Music director Bryan Blaskie rehearses for the 2013 New Voices Project with performer Daniel Stewart, as writer Noah Reece video-conferences. BELOW: MD Bryan Blaskie works with singers Daniel Stewart and Jordan Kai Burnett.


The 2019 New Voices Project winners are: Evan Johnson, Socks Whitmore, Ryan Martin, and Shayna Toh.

Excerpts from their work will receive in-house critiques at NMI in the spring of 2019; and will be presented at the STAGES Festival in the summer of 2019.


The 2018 New Voices Project winners were: Charlie Oh (book and lyrics) and Ross Baum (music); Monica Hannush (book & lyrics) and Julian Drucker (music and lyrics); and Natalie Stewart Elder (lyrics and book) and John Ervin Brooks (music and book).

Excerpts from their work refceived in-house critiques at NMI in the spring of 2018; and were presented at GOT MUSICAL in May of 2018.


The 2017 New Voices Project winners were: Anderson Cook, Amanda D’Archangelis, Luke Davidson, David Gomez, Cristian Guerrero, Edison Hong,  Jonathan Horn, Oliver Houser, Oscar Jacques, David Lancelle, Ariel Mitchell, Andrew Moorhead, Jude Obermüller, Eliot Rhys, Steven Schmidt, Jackson Teeley, and Marina Toft.

Excerpts from their work received in-house critiques at NMI in the spring of 2017; and were featured at the STAGES Festival in July, 2017.


The 2016 New Voices Project winners were: Rebekah Allen, Ben Boecker, Benedict Braxton-Smith, Claire McKenzie and Scott Gilmour, Blake Dylan Pilger, Alex Ratner and Laurel Durning-Hammond, Marina Toft and Benji Goldsmith, and Zach Spound.

Excerpts from their work were presented as part of the annual GOT MUSICAL concert at the Colony Theatre in Burbank on May 15, 2016 and at the 3D Theatricals Rehearsal Hall in Anaheim on Tuesday, April 26, 2016.  Prior to those presentations, the writers’ work received in-house critiques at NMI with input from Walt Disney magineering Creative Entertainment.


The 2015 New Voices Project winners were: Jacob Combs & Madeline Myers, Bill Nelson and Joseph Trefler, and Michael Finke.  The Merit Award Recipients were: Mark Sonnenblick, Andre Catrini, Sam Chanse and Bob Kelly, and Ben Boecker.

Excerpts from their work were presented as part of the annual GOT MUSICAL concert at the Colony Theatre in Burbank on June 4, 2015; critiqued by NMI staff and members of the staff of Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment; and presented in concert as part of the STAGES Musical Theatre Festival in August, 2015.


The 2014 New Voices Project winners were Danny K. Bernstein, Santino De Angelo, and Zach Zadek.

Excerpts from their work were workshopped at New Musicals Inc. in April of 2014.  After receiving feedback from WDI Creative Entertainment’s Michelle Baron and the NMI staff, the writers were given time to revise their work.

The revised pieces were presented as part of NMI’s annual got musical concert at the Colony Theatre (Burbank) on May 6, 2014.


The New Voices Project began as part of the 2013 STAGES New Musical Theatre Festival.

The 2013 finalists were Chris Byron Pratt, Nick Jester, Amar Biamonte, Ion Constantine, and Noah Reece.

These writers had their work presented as part of the STAGES Festival, and received feedback from a panel including WDI Creative Entertainment’s Vice President of Theatrical Development, Michael Jung, as well as NMI Staff Elise Dewsberry, Scott Guy, and Ross Kalling.

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