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MASTER MUSICALS

9 Month Intensive

Your roadmap to becoming a proficient musical theatre writer in 9 months’ time.

Collaborate with other artists.

Get lessons and feedback from experts.

See your short musical staged live in LA.

There’s no better time to write musicals than right now.

The culture and landscape of musical theatre have changed dramatically. Anyone — including you — can create their own work and learn to share their vision with the world.

But chances are you already know this.

Whether you’re just starting or whether you’ve been at it for years, we know the frustration.
You’ve spent countless hours sitting in auditorium seats and playing back favorite albums, thinking, “I can do this too.”
But there’s a problem.
You struggle to flesh out your ideas into exciting plots. You don’t have the technique to pen professional quality dialogue. You don’t have a support system to push you through the process. And, to be honest, sometimes it feels like you’re lost.
Every time you think about starting a musical or working on what you’ve already started, you end up overwhelmed and stuck.

We can help.

Why our course isn’t like any other:

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Time-tested techniques from a workshop with 40+ years of history.

Beginning as the Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, and transforming into the Academy for New Musical Theatre in 2002, we’ve helped hundreds upon hundreds of writers over the years.

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Understand the artform from the ground up. Thorough coverage of vocab, topics, and techniques in your chosen area.

Composers will dive into motif and structure, lyricists will sink into the minutiae of prosody, and bookwriters will almost surely drown in outlines. In a good way.

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Learn at your own speed, blazing fast or slow and steady.

In addition to monthly collaborations, work through your corresponding online course (on book, lyrics, or music) to strengthen your craft. Watch your pen grow more powerful with each module.

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Feedback from experts and fellow learners.

Each month’s assignment gets presented for all to see. Is it intimidating? Maybe. Will it make you better? Definitely.                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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Creativity amplified through collaboration.

Each month, you’ll step into the ring with one or two new partners, and experience new dynamics that help you challenge and grow yourself as an artist.                                                                                                                         

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Your show staged live in Los Angeles.

The Core Curriculum culminates in the production of multiple fifteen minute musicals created by the students, rehearsed by actors and directors, and performed in front of sold-out crowds in July. (We usually do sell out.)

Why should you trust our process?

Going through NMI’s Core Curriculum as a bookwriter/lyricist really helped me shape the narrative of the musical I was writing. It helped me really focus on the “unwavering want” of the main character and that enabled me to tell a story that moved forward and progressed. Also the AMAZING formatting techniques that were taught really brought a strong sense of professionalism to the actual book and script which made things very clear on paper for the actors, director and designers. The awesome artists I met were really great and a fellow NMI alum became the composer on the project which had a 4 week sold out workshop production and is now going on to an extended run! If you’re a musical writer, lyricist or composer, do this program, it will sharpen your craft and skills greatly!

Abel Alvarado

Bookwriter/Lyricist, ARENA (Casa 0101, Los Angeles)

NMI has been transformative for me. It has literally been responsible for changing the trajectory of my life. How’s that for dramatic! I would counsel ANYONE interested in tackling this very all-consuming world of musical theatre writing to do it under the wings of NMI, as they are the ONLY game in town worth their salt.

Jan Roper

Composer, THE PATH TO CATHERINE (Broadway bound with Human Race Theatre)

NMI lives up to its name through its dedication to the creation, development, and production of new musicals. Besides NMI’s outstanding labs and workshops, I particularly appreciate the one-on-one feedback on my original work.

Sissy Van Dyke

Bookwriter/Lyricist, BMI Advanced Workshop, NYC

There’s a vast space between having a great idea for a musical and completing one that connects with an audience. As an educational institution, NMI taught me the craft needed to cross that scary void.

Michael Gordon Shapiro

GIDEON & THE BLUNDERSNORP, “Best Musical”, Hollywood Fringe Festival 2021

Joining NMI has been my single most productive move in the furthering of my musical theatre writing career.

Chana Wise

Bookwriter/Lyricist, MARY MARIE (NAMT Festival Finalist 2014)

Meet Your Instructors

Elise Dewsberry

NMI Artistic Director, Book & Outlining Lab Instructor

  • Over 40 years experience developing new works
  • Independent Dramaturg for Broadway producers and creators
  • Award Winning producer and performer
  • What she’ll be doing for you: 
    Elise facilitates the monthly collaborative workshop sessions, providing guidance and expertise throughout the assignment process, as well as dramturging and guiding the final 15 Minute Musical process.

 

Scott Guy

NMI Executive Producer, Lyric Lab Creator

  • Overseen development of 200+ musicals
  • Worked with studios like Warner Bros, FOX-TV, Disney, Discovery Channel, PBS and more
  • Has received 6 Emmy nominations
  • What he’ll be doing for you: 
    Scott created the Lyric Lab that lyricists will use during the program; and will take part in the development and production of the final 15 Minute Musicals, as well as keeping an eye out for promising teams to develop further in the future.

 

Philip Seward

Music Lab Creator & Instructor

  • Artist-in-Residence at Columbia College Chicago
  • recipient of several Jeff citations and an After Dark Award
  • free-lance conductor and performer for many ensembles, musicals, and operas
  • What he’ll be doing for you:
    Philip will be guiding the composers through the Music Lab, as well as providing general support and guidance.

 

Larry Cousineau

Lyric Lab Instructor

  • multiple Disney/ASCAP participant (“40 IS THE NEW 15; THE LAST PRINCESS)
  • Best New Musical (StageSceneLA) and GLAAD Media Award Nomination for 40 IS THE NEW 15
  • Kennedy Center National Playwright’s Award and ACTF Musical Theatre Award (ALL THAT HE WAS)
  • What he’ll be doing for you: 
    Larry will be guiding the lyricists through the Lyric Lab, as well as providing general support and guidance.

 

and Feedback Guests

from the NMI community

  • Core participants will also receive feedback from:
  • Members of the musical theatre community
  • Past Core participants
  • What they’ll be doing for you: 
    Additional monthly feedback guests will provide insights and alternate points-of-view in all areas of the art form.

 

And the best instructor of all? The whole community.

For many in the NMI family, Core Curriculum is just the beginning. Alumni can participate in our Writers’ Workshop, our Full Length Musical Curriculum, or just General Membership. And whether you continue in our programs or not, many of our students make lifelong friends and collaborators.

I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am without NMI’s help. The Core Curriculum program introduced me to wonderful book writers and composers and gave me the chance to pitch several ideas I had for musicals to my cohort, and out of that came my collaboration with Jan Roper and Gabi Wagner. The NMI staff’s guidance has helped bring our musical “City of Light” to fruition, and I will be forever thankful that someone told me about NMI!

Julie Weiner

Composer, CITY OF LIGHT (premiere production at She/NYC Arts)

I’ve been involved with ANMT/NMI for nearly 14 years now, first as a performer, later as a director, then producer and now as a bookwriter.  The time I’ve spent working in and around this organization have been many of my happiest moments.  Having an original show produced at Northern Sky Theater would never have happened if it hadn’t been for NMI paving that road to reality.

Peter Welkin

Bookwriter, WHEN BUTTER CHURNS TO GOLD (Northern Sky Theatre, Great American Melodrama)

Check out video testimonials from over a dozen bookwriters, composers, and lyricists who have graduated from the Core Curriculum over the past several years.

Facebook Group for Bookwriters

Are you a bookwriter? Join us on Facebook in this special Group devoted to musical theatre bookwriters.

Facebook Group for Lyricists

Are you a lyricist? Join us on Facebook in this special Group devoted to musical theatre lyricists.

Facebook Group for Composers

Are you a composer? Join us on Facebook in this special Group devoted to musical theatre composers.

Don’t live in Los Angeles? No sweat.

All aspects of the Core Curriculum are available via Zoom.
Where do some of our alumni live? Canada, England, Switzerland, Bangkok, Japan, Singapore, Australia, and Russia, to name a few (not to mention all over the United States)!

Ready to jump in?

You won’t regret it. Here’s a summary:
  • Monthly meetups and instruction with Elise Dewsberry and Feedback Guests
  • Monthly collaborative assignments, centered around time-tested techniques, using award-winning source material
  • Monthly presentations and critical feedback, to help you improve
  • Online courses in your chosen craft – push yourself on a daily basis
  • Your final collaborative project staged live in Los Angeles at a professional theatre
  • An invaluable community of writers, composers, actors, singers, and theatre-makers, all ready to start something new

The Price:

Four installments of $425 over the course of nine months.

After you try the first month for free, of course. 
We know this curriculum may not be for everyone. While we think this price is an incredible value for what we offer, we know it can feel like a lot of money.
What’s the best solution?

Join us in our September and October sessions for free. 

No commitment until you’re ready. 

We’ll see you there.

Need more proof?

NMI has worked with some Tony-award winners in the past. Check out what just some of them have to say.

I couldn’t be more impressed with the folks at New Musicals Inc. They are dramaturgs, coaches, and teachers of the greatest, highest caliber. The feedback they’ll offer you on your work is astonishingly insightful and detailed. I was amazed to find this level of professionalism and intelligence about musical theater outside of NYC. You can take or leave, of course, anything they say, but when they critiqued a project I wrote there, I found 90% of their feedback right on the money and incredibly helpful, and the project I was working on there grew by leaps and bounds because of their input. I highly, highly recommend getting their input on your new musical projects. Their teeth are sharp as sharks’, but they don’t bite.

Jeff Marx

Tony award-winning co-creator of AVENUE Q

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 Hollman

Tony award-winning composer of URINETOWN

It’s incredible what these guys can do to help a new musical. They are nurturing and supportive, and they help writers and producers conceive, develop, write, and produce dynamic, stage-worthy new musicals. I can’t recommend them highly enough.

Steve Cuden

Co-creator of JEKYLL AND HYDE

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 & Anthony Drewe

MARY POPPINS, HONK, SOHO CINDERS

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

How long have you guys been around?

We’ve been around for more than 40 years and have helped hundreds of writers and producers launch thousands of musicals. We began as the Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop (the west coast branch of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop). We became the Academy for New Musical Theatre in 2002, adding additional curriculum such as the Lyric Lab, Music Lab, and Book Lab, all of which are now also available online.

What is the schedule for the upcoming season?

The Core Curriculum meets one weekend per month beginning in September each year.

Saturday: 2:30 to 6:30pm
Sunday: 2:30 to 7:30pm
Location: 5628 Vineland Ave. in North Hollywood

Core Curriculum Schedule for the 2022-23 Season
     Sat, Sep 17
     Sun, Sep 18
     Sat, Oct 15
     Sun, Oct 16
     Tue, Oct 18
     Wed, Oct 19
     Thu, Oct 20
     Sat, Nov 12
     Sun, Nov 13
     Sat, Dec 10
     Sun, Dec 11
     Sat, Jan 7
     Sun, Jan 8
     Sat, Feb 4
     Sun, Feb 5
     Sat, Mar 4
     Sun, Mar 5
     Sat, Mar 25
     Sun, Mar 26

ALSO: The 15-Minute Musicals section of the program (writing, revisions, rehearsals, and performances) take place from the last session listed above through (approximately) mid-July.

What happens at each of the sessions?

Beginning every September, the Core Curriculum meets one weekend a month to put together musical theatre, composers, lyricists and bookwriters on teams that receive collaborative musical assignments. The following month, the work is presented and given highly constructive feedback from the staff, guests, and peers. Then, participants are paired with a different set of collaborators and a new assignment is tackled.

What are the assignments based on?

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. The Core Curriculum’s collaborative assignments are based on Pulitzer- and Obie award-winning plays written since 2000; movie and television scripts; and short plays commissioned by the “Play at Home” project in the spring of 2020.

What other homework is there besides the main assignments?

Concurrently with the monthly collaborative assignments, each participant will also complete at least one craft-specific online lab focusing on his or her main area(s) of concentration, i.e.; composing for the musical theatre, lyric writing, or book writing.

Tell me more about the produced musical at the end of program

Your final collaboration is a 15 Minute Musical, which we cast, direct, rehearse and produce for you. It’s a very intense and memorable experience where you and your team will write an original show for four 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 other ANMT bookwriters, lyricists, and composers anxious to check out the new talent joining the community.

It says the first month is free - how does that work?

All bookwriters, lyricists, and composers (from accomplished to aspiring) are invited to join us in September to audition for the new season of our famed Core Curriculum program. We will put you a collaborative team and give you a couple of assignments which you will prepare and present at the October sessions - and after that, we will make a mutual decision about whether or not the program is right for you.

For the first month, there is no fee or obligation: try it on for size and enjoy making musicals with us!

Once you’re formally invited to join the program, the fee for the Core Curriculum is $1700.  This includes all of the monthly collaborative assignments and feedback, 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 $425 (payments do not begin until after official acceptance).  

Just click the button to sign up for your spot in September.

NOTE: To apply for an audition spot, you will be prompted to CREATE AN NMI ACCOUNT first.

Anything else you'd like to know?

Ask Us Questions