core curriculum



If you live in Los Angeles, or can get to LA one weekend a month, and you want to join our community of bookwriters, lyricists, and composers, then the CORE CURRICULUM is the place you’ll need to start.

The first part of the Academy’s famed Writers’ Workshop, the Core Curriculum, is where experienced writers and novice writers alike begin, concentrating on the unique vocabulary and collaborative process of creating new musical theatre.

Don’t live in Los Angeles?  Talk to us about participating in the Core Curriculum via our live streamcasting.

Beginning every September, the Core Curriculum meets one weekend a month (2:30-6:30 Saturday, 2:30-7:30 on Sunday), and is the foundation for all of the writing courses at ANMT.  Along with discussions about the craft of writing for musical theatre, composers, lyricists and bookwriters are put together to form collaborative teams for a variety of musical assignments.  The following month, the work is presented and given highly constructive feedback from staff and peers. Then, participants are paired with a different set of collaborators and a new assignment is tackled. Concurrently, each participant completes a craft-specific lab focusing on his or her main area(s) of concentration, i.e.; composing for the musical theatre, lyric writing, or book writing.

Your final collaboration is a 15 Minute Musical, which the Academy casts, directs, rehearses and produces for you. It’s a very intense and memorable experience where you and your team will write an original show for five specific actors.  Over the course of eight very active weeks, you’ll write an outline and three drafts, receiving readings and feedback at every step of the way, before your final script/score is launched into production.  The annual 15 Minute Musicals are a much anticipated sold-out event, attended by Institute bookwriters, lyricists, and composers anxious to check out the new talent joining the community.  To  purchase published versions of past 15 Minute Musicals, please visit OUR ONLINE STORE.


All applicants for the Core Curriculum will take part in an audition in September.  Attend the first sessions in September, then collaborate with a fellow applicant over the next month and present your work in October for feedback.  At that point - we will make a determination as to whether or not you are a good candidate for the program at that time, and will make our offers of acceptance for the rest of the season.  (This also gives you a chance to assess whether or not the program is a good fit for you.) We’ll also require additional writing samples from you, which you can either bring with you in September or submit in advance.

If you are submitting your samples by regular mail, send your resume, application, and writing samples to:

5628 Vineland Avenue
North Hollywood, CA 91601

Samples to submit

Lyricists: submit three sets of lyrics, either to three songs, or three sections of a longer work.


Composers: include a CD or link to three musical selections and the piano/vocal score for the same selections. If no lyrics exist, piano score is sufficient, but no lead sheets please.

Bookwriters: include three writing samples of any kind of writing (each sample should not exceed ten pages).

If you are applying in more than one category, please send the samples applicable to each category.



Fees for Core Curriculum

The fee for the Core Curriculum is $1500.

This includes one online craft lab (Book, Lyric, or Music) and a production of your 15 Minute Musical.

Optional additional online craft labs are $495 each.

Fees are billed in quarterly installments of $375 (payments do not begin until after official acceptance).

About the Instructors

The Core Curriculum is run by internationally-acclaimed John Sparks, who has conducted workshops in Los Angeles and Chicago for thirty-five years, with support from Elise Dewsberry, who for ten years ran Toronto’s renowned Script Lab. Lab instructors include Chicago-based Philip Seward and Larry Todd Johnson. For more info on all instructors, please visit OUR STAFF.

What kinds of songs do we write?

During the Core Curriculum, participants will experiment with such song styles as: the Ballad, the Comedy Song, the Duet, the Musical Scene, the Ensemble, the Classic Charm Song, and the Contemporary Complaint Song.

What plays do you get to musicalize?

The Core Curriculum’s collaborative assignments are based on Pulitzer- and Obie award winning plays written since 2000, as well as movie and television scripts including:

The Big Bang Theory (pilot episode) by Bill Prady and Chuck Lorre
In the Other Room (or the Vibrator Play) by Sarah Ruhl
The Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire
Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo
This Is 40 screenplay by Judd Apatow
Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz
Sons of the Prophet by Stephen Karam
The Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane

Already have some experience or training in writing for the musical theatre?

For those who have completed the New York BMI workshop or the graduate Musical Theatre Program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, you are encouraged to join our Core Curriculum for the additional education, or you might prefer working directly on your newest musical through our personalized program called the Sandbox.

Call us at 818-506-8500 or email us at   We’re here to help you.

Calendar 2015-2016

Saturdays:  2:30 to 6:30pm
Sundays:    2:30 to 7:30pm
Location:   5628 Vineland Ave. in North Hollywood

September 26, 27
October 24, 25
November 8, 9
December 21, 22
January 9, 10
February 6, 7
March 5, 6
April 2, 3

ALSO:  The 15-Minute Musicals section of the program (writing, revisions, rehearsals, and performances) take place from April 3 through (approximately) June 30th.


The Core Curriculum is but a small piece of the Academy experience.

If you are invited back after the Core Curriculum year, you will then join the General Workshop where you will join our growing and talented membership.  As a General member, you’ll be able to present material for feedback on any show you are writing (well, provided its outline receives a “greenlight” in advance).  Your work will also be considered for readings and workshop productions by the 4×10 Company, and for production by New Musicals Inc., our producing branch.

highlights of past 15 minute musicals...

 Can’t Get Enough!

- three short musicals about addiction

June 23 and 24, 2014
Lonny Chapman Theatre
North Hollywood.

The Lover
Grace Jasmine (book and lyrics)
Ron Barnett (music)

Smartest Zombie at Harvard
Bryon Richards (book)
Natalie Elder (lyrics)
Marc Macalintal (music)

Mitch Glaser (book)
Michael Gordon Shapiro (lyrics)
Erik Przytulski (music)

DIRECTOR: Joshua Finkel
CAST: Noel Britton, Sara Gonzales, Jeffrey Landman, and Kevin Yee
STAGE MANAGER: Angel Hernandez



four short musicals about inequality

June 24, 25, 2013
Met Theatre

Written by: John Aaron, Joel Adlen, Ron Barnett, Ben Boquist, Brian Graden, David Anthony Hall, David Haworth, Denis McCourt, R.K. Rich, and Robert Rosen

Starring: Nikki Jenkins, Kevin Noonchester, Rachel Tyler, and Peter Welkin

Directed by Scott Guy
Music Directed by Jake Anthony
Stage Managed by Kevin Meoak



five brand new 15-minute musicals about techno-geeks and techno-phobes

June 26, 27, 2012
Colony Theatre

Written by: Matthew Alexander, Joel Bailey, Bryan Blaskie, Patrice Cassedy, Lawrie Chiaro, Mara Hitner, David Hollingsworth, Karla Kelly, David Orris, Richard Plotkin, Erik Przytulski, Jan Roper, Gabrielle Wagner, Julie Weiner, and Eve Weston.

Cast: Allie Costa, Luke Klipp, Shannon Elizabeth Martinous, and Kila Packett.

Director: Elise Dewsberry
Music Director: Jake Anthony
Producer/Stage Manager: Kevin Meoak.




four short musicals about recovery (or not)

June 27 and 28, 2011
Lonny Chapman Theatre

Nothing Personal
Book by Johanna Besterman
Music by Joe Greene
Lyrics by Erin Thompson and Johanna Besterman

The Bombay Staircase Hound of Peek-a-Boo Peak
Book by Elizabeth Carol Thompson
Music by Ronnie Cavalluzzi
Lyrics by John Sparks

Frankie’s Laundry
Book by Bryon L. Richards
Music by Jerry Ranger
Lyrics by Sandy Kasten

Carnival of Souls
Book by Joanna Warren Smith
Music by Todd Syswerda
Lyrics by Fred Piegonski

Cast:  Adrian Bewley, Jordan Kai Burnett, R. Christofer Sands, and Erika Whalen

Director: Elise Dewsberry
Music Director: Jake Anthony
Producer: Patricia Zehentmayr



June 28 and 29, 2010

Colony Theatre

Witch Is It?
Book by Maureen Borillo, Music by Matthew Levine, Lyrics by Richard Castle

Book by Sarah Hernandez, Music by Clifford J. Tasner, Lyrics by Ron Ovadia

Green Thumb
Book by Joan Enguita, Music by Nancy Gitlin, Lyrics by Karrie Vach and Joan Enguita

Shoot Ma!
Book by Joe Moe, Music by Ryan Luevano, Lyrics by Richard Hefner

Cast: Sonia Alcazar, Patrick Foley, Emily Kimmel Plotkin,Barry O’Neil, Gabrielle Wagner.

Director: John Sparks
Music Director: Jake Anthony
Stage Manager: Pat Loeb
Producer: Elise Dewberry
Associate Producer: Patricia Zehentmayr






seven short musicals about heroes and traitors

June 22-25, 2009
Colony Theatre, Burbank


Hired Hands
Book by Larry Gene Fortin, Music and Lyrics by Peter Alexander

Zombie Love
Book by Narda Fargotstein, Music and Lyrics by Clifford J. Tasner

The Ring
Book and Lyrics by Eric Dodson, Music by Alan Ross Fleishman

The Battle Between Good and Evil
Book by Michael Greenspun, Music by Jerry T. Fernandez, Lyrics by Mitchell Glaser

Cast:  Caroline Freeman Champ, Megan Crockett, Tara Hunnewell, Sylvin Jansen, Kevin Noonchester

Director: Elise Dewsberry
Music Director: Jake Anthony
Stage Manager: Rita Cofield


Standing Up
Book by Paul Elliott, Music by Joseph Blodgett, Lyrics by Larry Todd Johnson

The Veteran’s Wife
Book by Adrian Bewley, Music and Lyrics by Scotty Arnold

The People V. Superman
Book by Frank Mula, Music by Edward Auslender, Lyrics by Glenn  Johnson and Frank Mula

Cast:  Kellan Christopher, Kelly Lester, Paul Marchegiani, Dana Shaw, Heather Stewart

Director: Scott Guy
Music Director: Jake Anthony
Stage Manager: Rita Cofield


June 23 and 24, 2008

Colony Theatre

The Rightful Monarch of America
Book by Cynthia Ferrell, Music by Carl Johnson, Lyrics by Jeff Marx

Hell’s Belles
Book by Cynthia Ignacio, Music and Lyrics by Brian Leader

The Blue Queen and the Red Shadow
by Jan Alejandro and Jonathan Price

Bone Appetit
Book by Joanna Perry-Folino, Music by Jerry Ranger, Lyrics by Kincaid Jones

Keeping Score
Book by Yolanda Mendiveles, Music by John Piraino, Lyrics by Chana Wise

Cast: Paul Wong, Brent Schindele, Barry O’Neil, Kendra Munger, and Elise Dewsberry

Director: Andrea Press and Scott Guy
Music Director: Bill Brown
Stage Manager: Carla Porter
Producer: Elise Dewberry