the fund | NewMusicalsInc

new musicals initiative

launching 30 musicals to find the HITS

the new musicals initiative

The New Musicals Initiative is a consortium of Broadway producers and regional theatres joining together to identify and develop a portfolio of 30 brand-new musicals, increasing the odds of finding breakout hits.

Instead of investing in ONE show and hoping for the best, NMI will nurture multiple musicals, covering a wide spectrum of taste, budget and demographics.

Creating new musicals is a numbers game.  Many of them lose money…most of them lose money.  We feel that by putting 30 musicals into development, we increase our chances of finding one which is a hit.

NMI starts with the producers

To further increase our chances of success, NMI starts with the producers, involving them from the initial concept, identifying a target audience and a market…often before the first note is written.

And these aren’t just any producers.

The creative forces behind NMI include theatres which between them have brought over 50 shows to Broadway in the past decade alone:  Memphis, Jersey Boys, Hairspray, Shrek, the Wedding Singer, Tommy, Jekyll & Hyde, Next to Normal, Sister Act, Jane Eyre, Sunday in the Park with George…the list goes on and on. 

List of producers

LaJolla Playhouse (Dana Harel, Producer) — Memphis, Jersey Boys, Tommy, Peter and the Starcatcher; 20 other Broadway productions

Goodspeed Opera House (Bob Alwine, Associate Producer) — Annie, Man of La Mancha, 17 other Broadway productions

Fifth Avenue Theatre (Ian Eisendrath, Director of New Works) — Jekyll & Hyde; Hairspray; Shrek; Wedding Singer; 12 other Broadway productions

Theatreworks (Phil Santora, Managing Director) — Memphis; Striking Twelve, Trouble with Doug; Burnt Part Boys

Village Theatre (Robb Hunt, Producer) — Next to Normal; Million Dollar Quartet

Blank Theatre (Daniel Henning, Artistic Director) — Little Fish; Cradle will Rock; First Lady Suite

Playwrights Horizons (Kent Nicholson, Director of Musical Theatre) — Sunday in the Park with George; I Am My Own Wife; Clybourne Park; Driving Miss Daisy; Heidi Chronicles

Rubicon Theatre (Karyl Lynn Burns, Producing Artistic Director) — Daddy Long Legs; Lonesome Traveler



their partnership uses television’s tested approach of identifying very commercial material and applies it to the development of new musicals.


Brian Graden

brings his decades of experience as President of MTV, Executive Producer of South Park, and President of NBC reality television.

Mr. Graden’s unrivaled string of hit shows (The Osbournes, Total Request Live, The Hills, Jersey Shore, etc.) generated a billion dollars in ad sales, launched boundary-breaking media genres, and reached beyond the entertainment industry to significantly impact popular culture. Mr. Graden founded his own television and film production, Brian Graden Media, which is now producing a variety show called Hit Record starring Joseph Gorden Levitt, as well as projects for Bravo, USA Networks, truTV, VH1 and others.


Scott Guy & Elise Dewsberry

bring their decades of experience as Executive Director/Artistic Director of New Musicals Inc.

They have worked with such writers as Jeff Marx (Avenue Q), Mark Hollmann (Urinetown), Hunter Foster (Clyde & Bonnie), Georgia Stitt (The Water), Fat Mike (NOFX), Clay Zambo (Greenbrier Ghost), Randy Rogel (The Gypsy King), Paul Graham Brown (Fairystories), Placido Domingo, Jr. (Vlad) and Roger Love (Love Bytes; vocal coach for Crazy Heart). In addition, NMI has worked with numerous producers including The Colony Theatre, Broadway Rose Theatre, Copake Theatre, Celebration Theatre, Deaf West, Red Mountain Theatre, American Folklore Theatre, Civic Light Opera South Bay Cities, McCoy Rigby Entertainment, East West Players, Carousel Theatre, the Lyric Theatre, the Victory Theatre, and the University of California Irvine’s prestigious Department of Drama.

The money.  We all know that most musicals don’t survive the trip to Broadway or other commercial avenues.  So NMI’s rationale is that by putting multiple musicals into the pipeline, we increase our chances of finding ones which make a return on their money.

The market.  We further increase our chances by borrowing a page from television’s model in identifying a MARKET for each show, from the onset.  That’s why we start with a producer’s vision to identify an audience for the show before we begin.  Who wants to see this show?  Who will want to see it five/ten years from now?

The art.  But at the end of the day, it has to be a good show.  All the money and marketing can’t save a musical with a doomed storyline.  From our perspective, too many producers relentlessly pour millions of dollars and developmental vigor into a “completed” show trying to fix the problems and force the pieces of the puzzle to fit together, after the fact. But, if you don’t have all the pieces or the right pieces from the start, that puzzle is not going to come together successfully.   So we’re applying the creative process we’ve developed for over four decades, and involving our colleagues with long-established track records of getting shows to Broadway and to successful road tours.  The New Musicals Initiative engages writers, producers, directors, and dramaturgs to take a more collaborative and strategic approach right from the start, before the pen even hits the page.  We strive to give writers a framework and a community that will nurture, encourage, and advise them every step of the way from the very beginning. NMI strives to pave the way for the development of new musical theatre that is imaginative, inspiring, and impactful in today’s world.

We’re already off to a great start.

In January, we had our first round of country-wide submissions, including submissions identified by our regional theatre and producing partners, as well as content from artists with whom we have working relationships.  Through this rigorous first round process, we identified eight initial target projects, and then narrowed them down to the five most promising.

In partnership with Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue Theatre, producers of 15 Broadway productions, including Jekyll & Hyde, Hairspray, Shrek and The Wedding Singer, is partnering with NMI on:


Cry to Heaven, a new dramatic musical based on Anne Rice’s best-selling novel of the same title. Cry to Heaven captures the exquisite and otherworldly society of the eighteenth-century castrati, the delicate and alluring male sopranos who lived as idols to all Europe, concealing their pain as they were adored as angels, yet shunned as half men. The music is written by Matthew Wilder (three-time Grammy, Oscar and Golden Globe nominee and composer of Disney’s Mulan, the hit song “Break My Stride” and the musical PRINCESSES, which premiered at the 5th Avenue), with a book by Roy Freirich (author and screenwriter of “Winged Creatures,” writer of songs by Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson and others) and Debrah Neal (songwriter for Chicago 17 and various film soundracks), screenwriter Fox Searchlight’s “Frontin'”).

Dutch Master, written by Marc Acito and Jeffrey Stock. The true story of Han van Meergeren - the most notorious art forger of all time. Marc won the Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play with his comedy Birds of a Feather; and is the head writer of the musical Allegiance, which won the Craig Noel Award for Outstanding New Musical for its run at the Old Globe; and book writer of A Room with a View, which also had its world premiere at the Old Globe and will appear next season at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle. Jeffrey is a Jonthan Larson grant winner who wrote the score for the Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical TRIUMPH OF LOVE starring Betty Buckley and F. Murray Abraham.

We Foxes,  written by Ryan Scott Oliver.   A southern Gothic thriller set in small-town Missouri, 1945.  Oliver is a 2011 Lucille Lortel Award Nominee and the recipient of both the 2009 Jonathan Larson Grant and the 2008 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater. Oliver is an adjunct professor at Pace University in New York, and Artistic Director of the Pasadena Musical Theatre Program in California.

In partnership with the Village Theatre

The Village Theatre, producers of The New Musicals Festival, Next to Normal, and The Million Dollar Quartet, is partnering with NMI on:


After All, written by Brendan Milburn, Valerie Vigoda and Duane Poole. A modernization/contemporary riff on classic fairy tales. In this case, we visit Alice, Dorothy and Wendy, all grown up and facing rather anticlimactic lives. Submitted by the creative team behind Striking Twelve, Sleeping Beauty Wakes, Groove Lily, the hot husband/wife team of Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda (they’ve written a LOT of the songs in Disney home videos, especially the Tinkerbell/Fairy series). Book By Duane Poole, who wrote Christmas Memory and Dorian.


In our second round, we are expecting proposals from the following theatres:

LaJolla Playhouse (Dana Harel, Producer)  —  Memphis, Jersey Boys, Tommy, Peter and the Starcatcher; 20 other Broadway productions

Goodspeed Opera House (Bob Alwine, Associate Producer)  —  Annie, Man of La Mancha, 17 other Broadway productions

Theatreworks (Phil Santora, Managing Director  —  Memphis; Striking Twelve, Trouble with Doug; Burnt Part Boys

Blank Theatre (Daniel Henning, Artistic Director)  —  Little Fish; Cradle will Rock; First Lady Suite

Playwrights Horizons (Kent Nicholson, Director of Musical Theatre)  —  Sunday in the Park with George; I Am My Own Wife; Clybourne Park; Driving Miss Daisy; Heidi Chronicles

Rubicon Theatre (Karyl Lynn Burns, Producing Artistic Director)  —  Daddy Long Legs; Lonesome Traveler

Here’s how we’ll be spending the $1.2M in the fund:

  • 30 pitches (actors, music directors, presentation)
  • 15 Act One workshop
  • 10 first draft workshops
  • 5 showcases
  • 3 $80,000 productions in Los Angeles
  • authors’ options for 10 musicals
  • Executive Producer
  • Dramaturg
  • actors, casting, director, stage manager, admin assistants, production designers and house crew
  • rehearsal space, overhead, insurance
  • Contingency fund, possibly for more expensive or additional authors’ options
  • Small travel budget for writers, or for staff to visit theatres flexible funding

The current plan assumes that after careful analysis of 30 shows, NMI will then acquire ownership of ten or more of the most promising.

So what’s the return on ten shows? 

Talking about return on investment for shows which won’t see the light until five years from now is, at best, hypothetical.  However, our budget and prospectus assumes a scenario in which ONE show is a big-budget breakout Broadway hit, with spin-off road companies; and nine other projects have more modest budgets in regional theatres.

A full financial analysis and Use of Proceeds is included in the prospectus.