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2022: A WHOLE NEW WORLD – a conference on the BIZ of the Musical Theatre BIZ


July 22-24 PLUS Pitch Weekend July 30-31

ONLINE via ZOOM VIDEO CONFERENCING


A WHOLE NEW WORLD


Musicals and Audiences are Changing. Get Ready.

The emerging post-pandemic world is going to be VERY different. This conference is designed to help you prepare for the demands of the future. Masks. Pronouns. Diversity. Metaverse.

Join us for a transformational ALL VIRTUAL weekend designed to help the musical theatre writer create in and for a whole new world.

BONUS OPTION: After spending the weekend learning about what producers are looking for; registered teams can get the opportunity to pitch directly to panels of Industry Professionals during the weekend of July 30/31.

All registered teams will also have the opportunity to create a website page on the NMI site which will shared with all of our Industry guests.

See the COMPLETE SCHEDULE below. NOTE that all times are Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

Register by June 1 to receive discount

REGISTER

All schedule times are in Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).  The schedule of panels is subject to change.


Friday, July 22



4:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Meet and Greet and Intro to Hosts

Before the conference weekend begins, spend some time meeting your fellow attendees, as well as the staff of New Musicals Inc. who will be guiding you through the weekend.

Confirmed Moderator:
          Elise Dewsberry (NMI Artistic Director)
          Scott Guy (NMI Executive Director)



6:00 pm to 7:30 pm

HOW LOCKDOWN CHANGED MUSICAL THEATRE (FOREVER?)

Since the pandemic began, theatres around the world have had to pivot and figure out how to continue to produce. How did they do it? How are they doing it? How has it affected what they are choosing to program, and how they are presenting it?

Confirmed Panelists:
          Margot Astrachan (Owner, Margot Astrachan Production)
          Joe Barros (Artistic Director, New York Theatre Barn)
          Joey Monda (Partner, Sing Out Louise Productions)
Invited Panelists:
          Roy Lightner (Associate Artistic Director, Red Mountain Theatre)
          Blair Russell (Producer/Speaker/Educator, Blair Russell Productions/Show Shepperd/Black Heart/Resounding)


Get to know your fellow attendees!


Since 2020, many theatres around the world have gone dark



Get the dope on all the legal stuff


What vocal range do you write for a non-binary character? What pronouns do you use in your script? How do you advertise your casting needs?



Saturday, July 23



11:00 am to 1:00 pm

THE LAW IN A CHANGED WORLD

Some aspects of the legal side of writing of musical don't really change: collaboration agreements; public domain titles; underlying rights; etc. But there are also many new considerations regarding intellectual property on the internet, independent contractors; New Media agreements; and the like. Join our panel of experienced entertainment attorneys to get the answers to your questions (at a fraction of their usual rates!).

Confirmed Panelists:
          Michael R.  Blaha (Entertainment Attorney)
          Gordon P. Firemark (Entertainment Attorney)



2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

WRITING FOR INCLUSIVE STORIES AND CHARACTERS

Many things have come to the forefront over the last couple of years that have most theatre companies re-examining the kind of material they are looking to present in their theatres. How does that affect YOU as a creator of musical theatre? What do you need to know about telling diverse stories authentically; creating characters from all areas of life; making sure those roles are filled by a wide spectrum of performers; composing for the non-binary voice? Our panel will get into the nitty gritty of this challenging terrain to make sure you know how to navigate this new world.

Confirmed Panelists:
          Michael Cassara (Owner, Michael Cassara Casting)
          David Kurs (Artistic Director, Deaf West Theatre)
          Josefina Lopez (Artistic Director, Casa0101 Theater)
          Kalani Queypo (Actor, Filmmaker, Writer)
          Philip Seward (Composer, Creator of NMI's MUSIC LAB)
          Michael Shepperd (Director/Actor)
          Socks Whitmore (Performer/Composer/Storyteller)


Sunday, July 24



1:00 pm to 2:30 pm

NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR MUSICAL

What opportunities are out there in the world for YOUR musical? We'll talk to representatives from festivals, contents, grants, digital opportunities, etc.

Confirmed Panelists:
          Joshua Katzker (PiTCH Coordinator/Artistic Associate, The Rev Theatre Company)
          Rebecca Lowrey (Producing Director, MusicalWriters.com)
          Christopher Sepulveda (Producer, Apples and Oranges Arts)
Invited Panelists:
          Tim Kashani (Co-Founder, Apples and Oranges Arts)



3:30 pm to 5:30 pm

THE FUTURE OF PRODUCING

Producers are being very thoughtful about what they are presenting to the public. Hear directly from regional theatre producers, Broadway producers, and other movers and shakers about what producers are looking for these days, and how they are going about finding it.

Confirmed Panelists:
          Brian Graden (Producer, Brian Graden Media)
          Cody Lassen (Producer, Cody Lassen and Associates)
          Kent Nicholson (Director of Acquisitions and New Works, Broadway Licensing)
          Paige Price (Independent Producer)
          Jen Sandler (Associate Artistic Director, New York Theatre Barn)



6:00 pm to 7:30 pm

PITCH PREP with NMI Hosts

Attend a final session where the NMI Staff will talk about pitching your music, and set you up with an opportunity to present your own pitch to a panel of producers the next weekend.

Pitch opportunities will happen on Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31. All participants who are registered for the Full Conference Plus Pitch Panels will be scheduled for at least TWO pitch sessions during that weekend. Each Pitch session will be virtually attended by a variety of industry professionals from across the country.

Participants who have registered for the Full Conference or the Saturday Only or Sunday Only options (none of which include the opportunity pitch your musical) will be walked through the process of setting up a web-page on NMI's site, which will be shared with the same industry guests who are on the pitch panels.



Where can you submit YOUR musical?


What are producers looking to produce?


Prepare to pitch YOUR musical to producers!


ONLINE via ZOOM VIDEO CONFERENCING


The 2022 Conference will take place entirely ONLINE via Zoom video conferencing. Participating teams only need to have a computer with a webcam and a connection to the internet.

Meet ALL of our panelists:

Margot Astrachan (Owner, Margot Astrachan Production)

MARGOT ASTRACHAN had an early career as a photo-journalist and was a protégé of Ansel Adams. Her first story was published when she was 20 years old and a journalism Student at Boston University. She is now a Tony and Drama Desk Award winning Commercial Theatrical Producer. Broadway: The Prom; A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder; The Realistic Joneses; Nice Work If You Can Get It; On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Tours: Ghost the Musical; national and Australia. Past American Artistic Director of Jermyn Street Theatre and The Kings Head Theatre in London. Graduate of the Commercial Theater Institute and member of The Broadway League. Board Chair: The Billy Rose Theatre Committee of the Library for The Performing Arts, Past Chair of The American Friends of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Board Member: The Episcopal Actors Guild (EAG), Alumni & Friends of La Guardia High School for the Arts, Rosie’s Theater Kids, The Transport Group. Upcoming Productions: Radio Galaxy UK: Birmingham Rep/London; Diana- opening this fall on Broadway at the Longacre Theater, has been filmed in a live capture for Netflix and will air this fall.

Panelist: HOW LOCKDOWN CHANGED MUSICAL THEATRE (FOREVER?)   (Friday, 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm)

Joe Barros (Artistic Director, New York Theatre Barn)

Joe Barros is a New York-based stage director and award-winning choreographer working on Broadway, Off-Broadway, regionally, and internationally.

Joe recently directed and choreographed two national tours of A Charlie Brown Christmas (Gershwin Entertainment), the new musical Love and Yogurt in New York, the musical Aida in Singapore, and A New Brain at Five Towns College on Long Island.

New York credits include the Broadway revival of Gigi (associate director, directed by Eric Schaeffer) starring Vanessa Hudgens and Victoria Clark, Cagney (associate director, directed by Bill Castellino)the New York premiere of Dan Elish and Douglas Cohen’s The Evolution of Mann Off-Broadway (starring Max Crumm and Allie Trimm, cast recording on iTunes and Spotify), the world premiere of Marc Acito and Amy Engelhardt’s critically acclaimed rock musical Bastard Jones Off-Broadway, Nine at CAP21/Molloy College, Out of the Box Theatrics’ Alice in Alice’s (Alice in Wonderland at Alice’s Tea Cup with a company of actors with disabilities, co-writer, world premiere at Weathervane Theatre), I Married Wyatt Earp at 59E59 Theatres (Prospect Theater Co./NY Theatre Barn), Hard Times (NY Innovative Theatre Award Nominee for Best Choreography, NY Times Critics’ Pick), Debra Barsha and Hollye Levin’s A Taste of Things to Come (associate director, directed by Lorin Latarro, York Theatre Company, Bucks County Playhouse, Broadway in Chicago), and the world premiere of Cheryl Stern’s Shoes & Baggage (The Cell). With New York Theatre Barn, Joe produced the new musical Sam’s Room, inspired by real stories of nonverbal teens who find a way to communicate.

Regional/International productions include Beaches at Chicago’s Drury Lane (associate director, directed by Eric Schaeffer) starring Shoshana Bean and Whitney Bashor, For Tonight at Goodspeed Musicals and Michigan State University, the world premiere of Brother Russia (associate director/choreographer, directed by Eric Schaeffer, choreography by Jodi Moccia) and The Haunted Hotel at DC’s Tony Award®-winning Signature Theatre, Aida at Singapore’s LASALLE College of the Arts, Carrie at Michigan State University (recipient of SDCF’s Guest Artist Initiative program), Small Town Story at The Hartt School (also co-conceived), Tuck Everlasting, Bright Star, Cabaret, Catch Me if You Can, My Way, and Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical (Southeastern Summer Theatre Institute), the world premieres of The Mysterious Candy Factory and Mini Lover (Kaixinmahua, Shanghai), Nine and Die Fledermaus (Music Academy International, Italy), Fall in Love (Seoul, Korea), and workshops/readings of King Kong, Eastbound (by Khiyon Hursey/Cheeyang Ng), Mommie Dearest (by Christina Crawford and David Nehls), and Frankie.

Choreography for films include The Girl Who Left Home with Paolo Montalban (written by Mallorie Ortega), Mangus with Jennifer Coolidge, Leslie Jordan and John Waters, and Petunia with Christine Lahti, Thora Birch, and Michael Urie (both written/produced by Ash Christian).

Panelist: HOW LOCKDOWN CHANGED MUSICAL THEATRE (FOREVER?)   (Friday, 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm)

Michael R.  Blaha (Entertainment Attorney)

Mike Blaha has produced theater all over the world though his company Fringe Management, LLC, including Latina Christmas Special (Soho Playhouse Off-Broadway), Bukowsical! (Best Musical, New York Fringe), Bumpersticker: The Musical (Best Songwriting nominee, Hollywood Fringe), Hoboken to Hollywood (L.A. Weekly Best Musical), and Job: The HipHopera (multiple Los Angeles area Best Musical nominations).   In addition, he has produced over 65 shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe including Land of Smiles and Re-Animator the Musical (Musical Theatre Network Best Musical Nominees).  His film producing credits include Chi Girl (Slamdance Grand Jury Prize Winner), The Who: The Vegas Job, Tropicalia (Telluride Film Festival) and the short film The Legend of Beaver Dam (numerous festival Best Short awards; Sundance Honorable Mention).   Mike is also an entertainment attorney, an Adjunct Associate Professor at Southwestern University School of Law, one of the co-authors of Entertainment Law (Matthew Bender, 4th ed.), and an Arbitrator for the Independent Film and Television Alliance.  He is also the past President of New Musicals, Inc. and on the Board of Directors of Filmmakers’ Alliance.

Panelist: THE LAW IN A CHANGED WORLD   (Saturday, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm)

Michael Cassara (Owner, Michael Cassara Casting)

MICHAEL CASSARA, CSA (Casting Director)

Since the formation of Michael Cassara Casting in 2003, Michael has worked with many of the nation’s top theatres including Gulfshore Playhouse, the Denver Center, Hangar Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Asolo Repertory Theatre, the Old Globe, Queens Theatre, Great Lakes Theater, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, and more. Recent projects have included The Mad Ones (Kerrigan-Lowdermilk, dir. Stephen Brackett/Prospect Theater Company), SPAMILTON (dir. Gerard Alessandrini, off-Broadway/Chicago/Pittsburgh CLO/national tour companies), A Night With Janis Joplin (National Tour), Forbidden Broadway (three New York editions and cast recordings),  Fat Camp (off-Broadway), Heat Wave: The Jack Cole Project (dir. Chet Walker), Kingdom (The Old Globe, dir. Ron Daniels), Falling For Eve (book by Joe DiPietro, York Theatre Company), A Little Night Music (starring Penny Fuller and Mark Jacoby), Cheer Wars (winner, 2009 Richard Rodgers Award, dir. Dan Knechtges), The Molly Maguires (dir. Sheryl Kaller, mus. dir John McDaniel), Stephen Schwartz’s Captain Louie (National Tour), If This Hat Could Talk (National Tour, directed by Tony® Award-winner George Faison), The Gig (York Theatre Concert/Cast Recording on JAY Records, dir. Victoria Bussert), Barnstormer (by Douglas J. Cohen and Cheryl L. Davis, dir. Jerry Dixon), The Unauthorized Autobiography Of Samantha Brown (Makor, w/ Michael Arden and Celia Keenan-Bolger), Joy (off-Broadway and workshops), and countless readings and workshops.

From 2007 through its final season in 2019, Michael served as the resident casting director of the New York Musical Festival, where he cast over 80 individual projects beginning with the festival’s inception in 2004. Some favorite NYMF casting credits included The Yellow Wood (dir. Tony Award®-winner BD Wong), All Fall Down (dir. Lonny Price), The Woman Upstairs (by Kait Kerrigan and Bree Lowdermilk), Fat Camp (dir. Tony Award®-winner Alex Timbers), Max Understood (dir. David Schweizer), and Twilight In Manchego (dir. Tony Award®-winner Billy Porter). Among the performers Michael cast in NYMF are a veritable who’s who of the contemporary musical theatre scene, including Chuck Cooper, Nick Cordero, Lena Hall, Caissie Levy, MJ Rodriguez, Ali Stroker, and many more.

In 2013, Michael became the Resident Casting Director for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT), and has earned widespread acclaim for his casting of NAMT’s annual Festival of New Musicals every October.

Feature film credits include Grantham & Rose (dir. Tony® Award-nominee Kristin Hanggi, starring Jake T. Austin, Marla Gibbs, and Tessa Thompson), Contest (dir. Anthony Giunta, starring Raviv Ullman, Kenton Duty, Katherine McNamara, and Mary Beth Peil), and Clear Blue Tuesday (directed by Elizabeth Lucas.)  Additionally, he has cast a number of high-profile short films including Alienated (dir. Paul Borghese, starring Vincent Pastore) and The Hyperglot (dir. Michael Urie, featuring Tovah Feldshuh – Artios Award nomination for Excellence in Casting.)

Originally a performer, Michael is a native Clevelander and a BFA graduate of the musical theatre program at Otterbein College (now Otterbein University). Michael serves on the Artistic Advisory Board for MainStreet Musicals, and has served on the selection committee for NAMT’s National Fund for New Musicals. He regularly teaches and lectures on musical theatre and the entertainment industry, in New York City and throughout the world, and currently serves on the adjunct faculty of Wright State University. Member, Casting Society of America.

Panelist: WRITING FOR INCLUSIVE STORIES AND CHARACTERS   (Saturday, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm)

Elise Dewsberry  (She/Her) (NMI Artistic Director)

Artistic Director of New Musicals Inc., has been involved in the development of new works for over forty years: as an actor/singer, as a director, as a dramaturge, and as a writer. While living in Toronto, Elise served as the Assistant Artistic Director of the Muskoka Festival; the Co-Ordinator of the festival’s annual Musical Theatre Writer’s Colony, the Associate Dramaturge of the Canadian Stage Company; the Resident Dramaturge of the Smile Theatre Company; and was the co-founder of Toronto’s Script Lab. Elise spent many years touring Canada with Nine Months – a one-woman musical which she commissioned from writers Carl Ritchie and Stephen Woodjetts. Elise and Carl also co-wrote Any Body Home?, which was produced by the Cordova Bay Theatre in Victoria, British Columbia, and published by Dramatic Publishing. Elise joined ANMT as Associate Artistic Director in 2003; joined Founding Artistic Director John Sparks as Co-Artistic Director in 2010; and became Artistic Director of New Musicals Inc. in 2013. Elise is also the author and evaluator of the Book Lab and the Outlining Lab, offered online through www.writingmusicaltheatre.com, and publishes a monthly blog on the craft of musical theatre available at https://nmi.org/elises-video-blog/. Elise has been ecstatically married to cellist Stephen Green for 39 years, and they are the proud parents of political organizer Rebecca Green.

Moderator: Meet and Greet and Intro to Hosts   (Friday, 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm)

Gordon P. Firemark (Entertainment Attorney)

(http://firemark.com)

Gordon Firemark has been involved with the entertainment industry in one way or another since his youth as a sound, lighting, and special effects technician in the theatre.   Nowadays, he is an attorney whose practice is devoted to the representation of artists, writers, producers and directors in the fields of theater, film, television and new media. He is also the producer and host of Entertainment Law Update, a podcast for artists and professionals in the entertainment industries (http://entertainmentlawupdate.com). He is the author of The Podcast, Blog and New Media Producer’s Legal Survival Guide.

A past President of the Board of Directors of The Academy for New Musical Theatre (now NMI), he has also served on the Boards of Governors of The Los Angeles Stage Alliance , (the organization responsible for the annual Ovation Awards for excellence in Theater) and the Beverly Hills Bar Association , where he served as liason to the Association’s Entertainment Law Section (of which he is a former chairman).

Mr. Firemark teaches Business Law , Entertainment Law, and Theatre Law at several Southern California colleges and law schools, and is the founder and chief instructor of the innovative online producer training course at Theatre Producer Academy (http://theatreproduceracademy.com)

For a free copy of Mr. Firemark’s ebook outlining the essential elements of a theatrical collaboration agreement, visit http://firemark.com/collaborationbook

Panelist: THE LAW IN A CHANGED WORLD   (Saturday, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm)

Brian Graden (Producer, Brian Graden Media)

BRIAN GRADEN MEDIA is a production company located in the heart of Los Angeles, CA. Brian Graden, Lois Curren & Gaurav Misra are the principal partners of the company. Since BGM’s start in 2012, they have produced the series “4th and Forever” for Current, the movie events “Men of the Strip” and “Lance Loves Michael: The Lance Bass Wedding Special” for E!, the series “Walk of Shame Shuttle” for VH1, the series “Todrick” starring Todrick Hall for MTV, the quarterly comedy series “Gay Skit Happens” for Logo, and the Emmy-Award-winning series “HitRECord on TV” starring Joseph Gordon Levitt in its second season on Pivot. Additional development projects and pilots have been housed at E!, VH1, MTV, Freeform, NBC’s SEESO, WeTV, Tru, A&E, Esquire, CW, & SyFy.

Brian Graden served for 13 years as the President of Entertainment, MTV Networks Music Channels and President of Logo until December 2009. As President of Entertainment, Mr. Graden provided programming oversight to all the MTVN music networks including MTV, VH1, MTV2 and CMT. At the helm of LOGO, he was responsible for all aspects of the channel created specifically for the LGBT audience.

Before joining MTV Networks, Mr. Graden tapped into the phenomenon that became South Park, as he commissioned Matt Stone and Trey Parker to create an animated short that led to the series that Mr. Graden Executive Produced. Mr. Graden also owned his own company, which produced several shows including The Dating Game for national syndication. Mr. Graden holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Panelist: THE FUTURE OF PRODUCING   (Sunday, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm)

Scott Guy (NMI Executive Director)

has been actively involved as a writer and producer in both theatre and television.  He has six Emmy nominations, and over 100 produced television scripts for Warner Bros., FOX-TV, Disney, Discovery Channel, PBS, etc.   Upcoming/recent projects:  Disney (musical version of Pirates of the Caribbean); Corday Productions (Days of Our Lives); Manson’s Girls for Hollywood Fringe Festival (Pick of the Fringe); Der Strunkenwhitenlieder at Theatre Elision.  Scott is currently writing episodes for three different musical webseries:  Tales from a Darkening Wood, The Last of Its Kind, and Slow Time on a Prairie Porch.  Scott is the Executive Director of New Musicals Inc. where he supervises online writers’ workshops, lyric labs, and script consultations. Under Scott’s tenure, New Musicals Inc. has developed over 50 musicals for producers across the country, and over 100 independent musicals by NMI writers.  www.scottguy.biz

Moderator: Meet and Greet and Intro to Hosts   (Friday, 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm)

Joshua Katzker (PiTCH Coordinator/Artistic Associate, The Rev Theatre Company)

Josh Katzker is The Rev Theatre Company’s Artistic Associate. In addition to serving as a director and teacher for the Rev on Tour and Rev Education, he is the coordinator of The Rev’s new musicals series, The PiTCH. Before joining The Rev, Josh worked at Victory Gardens Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Orlando Repertory Theatre, and Spokane Civic Theatre.

Panelist: NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR MUSICAL   (Sunday, 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm)

David Kurs (Artistic Director, Deaf West Theatre)

David J. Kurs is Deaf West Theatre’s second artistic director in its 21-year history. Under his tenure, Deaf West has received a Tony nomination for their critically acclaimed revival of Spring Awakening on Broadway.  Previously, he served as the company’s artistic associate; was an associate producer and ASL master on Deaf West productions of Pinocchio (2011), My Sister in This House (2010) and Children of a Lesser God (2009); and wrote Aesop Who (2008). A native of Riverside, CA and graduate of Gallaudet University, he began his career as a script reader at Jersey Films, the Production Company of Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, and Stacey Sher. He has worked as a freelance writer and producer of a variety of documentary, commercial, theatrical and narrative projects. Kurs maintains strong ties with the national and local deaf community. He has served as the President of the Board of Directors at GLAD (the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness) and is the co-chair of TEDxIslay, a TED affiliate.

Panelist: WRITING FOR INCLUSIVE STORIES AND CHARACTERS   (Saturday, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm)

Cody Lassen (Producer, Cody Lassen and Associates)

A Tony Award-winning theatre producer and live entertainment consultant, Cody was most recently represented on Broadway by Paula Vogel’s Indecent and the previous season’s Deaf West Theatre revival of Spring Awakening, which transferred from a 99 seat production in Los Angeles to Broadway in just 366 days. Recent co-producing credits include Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song, The Band’s Visit, Significant Other, and Macbeth starring Alan Cumming. Upcoming projects include Some Lovers, a new musical by Burt Bacharach (Promises, Promises) & Steven Sater (Spring Awakening) and Directed by Josh Rhodes (Grand Hotel) and Alice By Heart, by Duncan Sheik & Steven Sater (Spring Awakening) and Directed by Jessie Nelson (Waitress), premiering February 2019.

In addition to producing his own projects, Cody consults for major studios, producers, theaters, and agencies to help them discover how they should market their shows for the best chance of financial and critical success. Previously, he was the Director of Marketing for Los Angeles’ Center Theatre Group and its three theaters: the Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre, attracting an audience of more than 500,000 and revenues of more than $30 million annually.

Prior roles included live entertainment management positions with Nielsen and NBCUniversal.  Cody serves on the board of New York’s Vineyard Theatre, one of the country’s preeminent theaters for the creation and development of new plays and musicals, and also serves as Vice-chair of the board of GLAAD, the world’s leading LGBT advocacy organization. He is an active member of the Broadway League, where he serves on the legislative council, the National Association of Musical Theatre, the Theatre Communications Group, the International Ticketing Assocaition and the Travel and Tourism Research Association. He earned his MBA from the University of Notre Dame and is a graduate of DePaul University.

Panelist: THE FUTURE OF PRODUCING   (Sunday, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm)

Josefina Lopez (Artistic Director, Casa0101 Theater)

Born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico in 1969, Josefina Lopez was five years old when she and her family migrated to the United States and settled in the East Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. Josefina is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago, has an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA’s School of Film & Television, and has a Diplome de Cuisine from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris.

Josefina is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including a formal recognition from U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s 7th Annual “Women Making History in Hollywood” in 1998; and a Screenwriting Fellowship from the California Arts Council in 2001. She and Real Women Have Curves co-author George LaVoo won the HUMANITIES PRIZE for Screenwriting in 2002, The Gabriel Garcia Marquez Award from L.A. Mayor in 2003, and the Artist-in-Residency grant from the NEA/TCG for 2007.

Panelist: WRITING FOR INCLUSIVE STORIES AND CHARACTERS   (Saturday, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm)

Rebecca Lowrey (Producing Director, MusicalWriters.com)

Rebecca Lowrey is passionate about creating new works and has spent the past 17 years as a premier music director, vocal coach, and accompanist in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, New York City and everywhere in between. The impressive ability to play anything put in front of her has gained her entry to elite casting rooms, production meetings, rehearsals, and beyond, resulting in a unique skillset that spans more than just music — simply put, she knows what works for a musical. A director and producer as well, Rebecca is adept at getting new shows up on their feet in record time, all while efficiently coordinating the long list of to-dos required to prepare a show for an audience

Rebecca is a champion of diverse casting and production teams (#WomenDirect) and has the pull and connections to assemble unforgettable, live, onstage bands. In 2017, Rebecca began producing a series of intimate productions known as the Living Room Concerts. Starting with simple piano-only performances in her living room with friends, the series expanded to poolside parties and festive holiday gatherings. Her recent credits include the critically acclaimed production of the rock musical Lizzie at Imprint Theatreworks in Dallas, a lauded run of Gutenberg! The Musical! at Amphibian Stage in Fort Worth, and a Rocky Horror Show and 9 to 5 that celebrated the uniqueness of its performers.

You may recognize Rebecca from TikTok, where her popular #DuetWithMe videos encourage thousands of performers to #KeepSinging. Rebecca earned her bachelor of arts degree in music (with a minor in business administration) from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas.

Panelist: NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR MUSICAL   (Sunday, 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm)

Joey Monda (Partner, Sing Out Louise Productions)

Joey currently serves as a Partner with Sing Out Louise Productions and a General Manager/Co-Founder of Dailey-Monda Management. With Sing Out Louise Productions, he is a Producer on the currently running Hadestown (Tony Award) and Mrs. Doubtfire and the previous Broadway productions of The Inheritance, Slave Play, Mike Birbiglia’s The New One and The Cher Show. With fellow Sing Out Louise partners Lorenzo Thione and Jay Kuo, Sing Out Louise Productions shepherded actor and activist George Takei’s true-life experience of WWII Japanese American internment camps into the Broadway musical and subsequent film Allegiance, which starred Takei and Tony Award winner Lea Salonga.

Joey and Sing Out Louise are passionate about extending the brand, reach, and impact of Broadway through cinema-quality stage-to-screen films and Joey has served as the Executive Producer on the films of Allegiance and Bandstand and oversaw the full marketing and distribution of the Broadway musical Kinky Boots film.

In 2016, Joey co-founded Dailey-Monda Management, a full-service production and management office to bring a fresh and innovative approach to theatrical business management. Specializing in new work and self-producing artists, DMM has overseen the Off-Broadway productions of Fern Hill, Smart Blonde, Goldstein, the bi-annual commissioning Inner Voices series, as well as the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Festival of New Musicals (2012-present), multiple New York Musical Festival (NYMF) productions, the Musical Theatre Factory, and the multi-city charity concert Concert for America, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the National Immigration Law Center, NAACP, Sierra Club, and Planned Parenthood with performances from Barry Manilow, Wayne Brady, Jane Lynch, Melissa Manchester, Alan Cumming, Tina Fey, Andrea Martin, Chita Rivera, and many more.

Outside of his work with Dailey-Monda Management, Joey served as the original General Manager for Seth Rudetsky’s Off-Broadway hit Disaster which then moved to Broadway and the Off-Broadway production of Unbroken Circle.

In response to the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting, he helped to organize and produce the Broadway recording of What the World Needs Now is Love which gathered Grammy, Oscar, Tony, and Emmy award winning artists including Carole King, Sara Bareillies, Lin Manuel Miranda, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Whoopi Goldberg.

Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, Joey proudly holds a BFA from Wright State University and is a member of the Broadway League, Off-Broadway League, Off-Broadway Alliance, and National Alliance for Musical Theatre.

Panelist: HOW LOCKDOWN CHANGED MUSICAL THEATRE (FOREVER?)   (Friday, 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm)

Kent Nicholson (Director of Acquisitions and New Works, Broadway Licensing)

Kent Nicholson most recently served as Associate Producer of Musical Theatre at Playwrights Horizons in New York overseeing the creation and production of works such as A Strange Loop by Michael R. Jackson. Previously he served as the New Works Director for Theatreworks, Silicon Valley where he created the New Works Initiative and their New Works Festival. He also co-created The Uncharted Writers Group at Ars Nova, and has served on the boards of The Playwrights Foundation, The National Alliance for Musical Theatre, and Musical Theatre Factory. His directing work has been seen at South Coast Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, Seatlle Repertory and The Old Globe, among many others.

Broadway Licensing is a full-service theatrical licensing partner specializing in the development, production and worldwide distribution of new and established theatrical properties. Approaching the licensing universe with a wholly personal and producorial vision, the company partners with authors, agents and producers to harness the power derived from embracing the intersection of art and commerce. Broadway Licensing advocates for the author, committing to have as many people experience their work as possible while protecting the copyright, utilizing its pioneering digital platform, high touch servicing and cutting-edge strategies to execute that vision. As a trusted curator of important, daring, and entertaining theatre, with a dedication to diversity and inclusion, Broadway Licensing helps build experiences that are bigger than itself; where communities come together to share the ideas of an author’s work, inspiring conversations and forging memories that last a lifetime.

Panelist: THE FUTURE OF PRODUCING   (Sunday, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm)

Paige Price (Independent Producer)

Paige is the Producing Artistic Director of the Philadelphia Theatre Company. After years spent as a Broadway performer, she began producing events, television shows and theatre in the U.S. and abroad.  From 2007-2017, she was the Executive Artistic Director at Theatre Aspen in Colorado, where she created a new work festival as well as a professional apprentice program for aspiring students in the field.. Price was the 1st Vice President of Actors’ Equity Association, the national union for actors and stage managers, from 2006-2017 and was first elected to its board in 2000. She is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Theatre Subdistrict Council, and a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women, as well as a former Tony Award Nominator and Voter. As a performer, she starred in the original cast of Broadway’s Saturday Night Fever, as well as the original cast of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Smokey Joe’s Café. Her professional career encompasses film (All The Right MovesThe News Kids); television, radio, web, Off Broadway, regional theatre, and national and international tours. In 2017, she stepped back onto the boards to star in Denver’s Curious Theatre production of Sex With Strangers.  Her directing credits include several musical productions, concerts, a live television broadcast starring Kelli O’Hara and Matthew Morrison for the WOWOW network in Tokyo, Japan, a reading of The Deplorables at Primary Stages and, most recently, directing Next to Normal at Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, PA. Representing Philadelphia Theatre Company, she was a producer for The Adam Mickiewicz Institute commission of the musical Blacksmith at Public Arts Theater in New York City. Pronouns: she/her/hers. Proud Member AEA, SDC.

Panelist: THE FUTURE OF PRODUCING   (Sunday, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm)

Kalani Queypo (Actor, Filmmaker, Writer)

I am an actor.
I’ve had the privilege of working on the Oscar-nominated Terrence Malick film, The New World, Steven Spielberg’s Emmy-winning Into the West, and, most recently, three seasons with the producers of Downton Abbey (Carnival Films) as “Chacrow” in the Jamestown series.

I am a filmmaker.
I wrote, directed, and produced my first short film, Ancestor Eyes, which went on to play at nearly 40 festivals and win 14 awards, including the Rhode Island International Film Festival’s Directorial Discovery Award. I am currently developing my scripts for my episodic comedy, When You Miss Aloha, as well as my feature-length drama, Stored and Safe, both showcasing my beloved Hawai’i as the cultural backdrop in these character-driven projects.

I am a songwriter.
I LOVE music, always have, always will. I’ve written music with the artist, Chadwick Johnson, including developing and directing his one-person show, Music and Me. And this year, I’ve entered into the world of musical theater with my newest stage play, Missing Peace, currently in development with Native Voices Theater in Los Angeles.

I am a storyteller.
My career experience has been eclectic. And it’s always driven by story.

Panelist: WRITING FOR INCLUSIVE STORIES AND CHARACTERS   (Saturday, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm)

Jen Sandler (Associate Artistic Director, New York Theatre Barn)

Jen Sandler has been collaborating with New York Theatre Barn’s Artistic Director Joe Barros on programming for the 2020 season and serves as the executive producer of the New Works Series, the company’s signature series. Sandler is a creative producer based in New York City who recently co-produced Joe Iconis’ Broadway Bounty Hunter at the Greenwich House Theater. She also serves as an Original Programming Producer at Feinstein’s/54 Below. Previously, Sandler has worked on Penn and Teller on Broadway as well as at prominent theatre companies such as Playwrights Horizons, Primary Stages and MCC Theater.

Panelist: THE FUTURE OF PRODUCING   (Sunday, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm)

Christopher Sepulveda (Producer, Apples and Oranges Arts)

CHRISTOPHER SEPULVEDA (Producer) - is a film and theatre producer specializing in new work development and production. He is currently developing the new musical Airborn by Jordan Kamalu & Taylor Hatch with Apples and Oranges Studios.  Most recently he produced the Edinburgh Festival Fringe premiere of Sleeping Giant by Steve Yockey, Be A Good Little Widow by Bekah Brunstetter at The Odyssey Theatre and world premiere musical Mutt House at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Other work includes the Tony award-winning Broadway production, First National Tour and West End premiere of An American in Paris with Apples and Oranges and the hit revival of Spring Awakening with Deaf West Theatre, the 2013 Ovation Award-winning production of The Color Purple (Best Musical), 2011 Ovation nominated production of Take Me Out (Best Production) and Los Angeles premieres of Altar Boyz and Haram Iran (GLAAD Media Award Nom) among others. FILM: “No One Called Ahead,” “Emma,” “Followed,” “Manson Family Vacation,” “GBF,” “He’s Way More Famous Than You,” “Somewhere Slow,” “Exquisite Corpse,” and others. 

Panelist: NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR MUSICAL   (Sunday, 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm)

Philip Seward (Composer, Creator of NMI's MUSIC LAB)

Philip Seward lists among his operatic and musical works, Nimue (2007, Edinburgh); Downtown (2007, Stages Festival Chicago); Sincerely Yours (2003); Juan Peron’s Hand (2002, Northtown Arts Center); High Fidelity (1998, Chicago Humanities Festival and 1999, Merkin Hall, New York); Spreading The News (1998, North Park University); Hans Brinker (1994, Theatre Building Chicago, recipient of several Jeff Citations and an After Dark Award); youth operas African Stories (2007); A Noteworthy Tale (2002) and Stone Soup (2001), commissioned by Lyric Opera of Chicago; Blessing (2003, Lira Chamber Chorus); and Psalm 8 (1997) commissioned by the Lyric Opera Chapters. He is an Artist-in-Residence at Columbia College Chicago, co-conductor of the Lira Ensemble of Chicago, music director at St. James Presbyterian Church, and serves as a free-lance conductor and performer for many ensembles, musicals and operas.

Panelist: WRITING FOR INCLUSIVE STORIES AND CHARACTERS   (Saturday, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm)

Michael Shepperd (Director/Actor)

Directing credits include: The Boy From Oz, The Next Fairy Tale[title of show] and numerous others in his 11 year career at CT. Acting roles include Fences (Troy; Ovation, LADCC Nominations, Lead Actor), Bootycandy (Man 3; LADCC nom, Stage Raw Win, Lead Actor), The Color Purple (Mister; Ovation Nom, Lead Actor), Steel (John Henry, Ovation Award, Lead Actor), Master Harold and the Boys (Sam, NAACP nom, Lead Actor), Intimate Apparel (George, NAACP Theatre Award, Supporting Actor), Choir Boy (Headmaster, NAACP Theatre nom, Supporting Actor). Broadway/Off-Broadway/Regional credits include: Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan (Starkey), Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey Two), Caroline, or Change (Bus/Dryer), 5 Guys Named Moe (Big Moe), Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Fred) and The Whipping Man (Simon) TV: Soul Man, Hot In Cleveland, Adopt- able, Wizards of Waverly Place, Monk, Criminal Minds, NCIS.

Panelist: WRITING FOR INCLUSIVE STORIES AND CHARACTERS   (Saturday, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm)

Socks Whitmore  (They/Them/Theirs) (Performer/Composer/Storyteller)

Socks Whitmore is an agender/gender non-conforming performer, composer, and storyteller rooted in voice and text. You can witness their book, lyrics, and musical work in stage shows such as Marrow (Original Vision 2022), Back to One: A Coming of Self Musical, and We Are Here (New Voices Winner 2019). You can also hear their voice and musical talents in audio dramas (Georgie Romero Is Done For, The Sheridan Tapes, Life with Leo(h)), video games (Detour Bus, To Remember A Friend, Georgia), and audiobooks (the Narwhal & Jelly series, This Is Our Rainbow). A self-described “professional overachiever,” Socks likes to keep busy—if they’re not recording VO or writing a new musical, they can be found working on choral music, indie games, short fiction, or amassing large amounts of socks. For those who are curious, they hold a BFA Performer-Composer degree from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) with minors in Digital Arts and Creative Writing. Learn more at sockswhitmore.com.

Panelist: WRITING FOR INCLUSIVE STORIES AND CHARACTERS   (Saturday, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm)