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…hone your craft

core curriculum

a collaborative workshop

craft labs

add to your craft toolbox online

writers' workshop

a community of musical theatre geeks

summer boot camp

concentrated summer sessions

The Academy for New Musical Theatre is the academic branch of New Musicals Inc.

The West Coast version of New York’s BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, ANMT has been running for nearly 40 years in Los Angeles, offering musical theatre bookwriters, lyricists and composers many different options and levels of instruction.

core curriculum

If you want to join our community of musical theatre bookwriters, lyricists, and composers, then the Core Curriculum is the place you’ll need to start.

The first part of ANMT’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.

The Core Curriculum is an in-depth, intense nine-month collaborative workshop, which culminates in a production of your 15-minute musical in a professional theatre in Los Angeles.

monthly collaborative workshop 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.

assignments based on award-winning plays

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.

online craft labs

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.

your short musical produced in Los Angeles

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.

NOTE that the 2020 15 Minute Musicals were filmed for the internet because of the shelter-in-place requirements in Los Angeles, and NMI is prepared to continue and expand on this new tradition if needed in 2021.

staff instructors and feedback guests

The Core Curriculum is run by NMI Artistic Director Elise Dewsberry and internationally-acclaimed John Sparks, who has conducted workshops in Los Angeles and Chicago for thirty-five years. The staff are also frequently joined by guests from the writer membership and from the industry.  Craft Lab instructors include Chicago-based Philip Seward and Larry Todd Johnson.

history of the program

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.

curriculum schedule

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.

curriculum fees

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).


how to apply

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.

There is no fee or obligation: try it on for size and enjoy making musicals with us!

Just click the button below to sign up now.

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

don't live in Los Angeles?

All aspects of the Core Curriculum are available via Zoom video conferencing. We have had participants over the past few years from all over the United States, as well as from Canada, England, Switzerland, Bangkok, Japan, Singapore, Australia, and Russia.

NOTE: You will not be able to view the Core Application page unless you are a logged in Registered User, BUT you will be able to either log in or register once you get to the next page.

Core Curriculum participants enjoying a collaborative workshop session

craft labs

professional, engaging online classes in writing music, book and lyrics

Each of the online Labs is broken down into multiple units. Each unit contains videos, handouts, exercises, tests, and assignments. Each assignment is personally evaluated by a live evaluator - so you get personalized feedback on your progress every step of the way.

Note: Participants in the Core Curriculum are required to take at least one of the Core Labs (Book, Lyrics, or Music) but these Labs can also be taken anytime by anyone, independently of the Core Curriculum. In fact, we encourage you to take your required Lab BEFORE you enter the Core Curriculum in the fall to get a head start!

for bookwriters:

     the Book Lab
     the Outlining Lab

for lyricists:

     NEW Lyric Lab 1 Fundamentals
     the Lyric and Advanced Lyric Labs

for composers:

     the Music Lab

for collaborative teams:

     the Musical Theatre Song Lab
     the Master Class with the Masters

“I’ve been a poet all my life, but I feel like – at long last – the lab is giving me the skills and understanding to go beyond the poetic gifts I was born with and to build on those gifts with insight and intention. And what a difference that’s going to make to my efforts! So thank, you, thank you, thank you!!”

Randi Wolfe, Lyricist

try the free lab demo…

“I always thought I had it in me to write for musical theatre, but it took ANMT to lead me through the steps to learn the craft, develop the skills, and ultimately find my own voice as a writer.”

Robin Share


writers’ workshop

Bookwriters, lyricists, and composers who have completed the Core Curriculum can be invited to become on-going members of the Writers’ Workshop.

Each year we offer many different opportunities for Writers’ Workshop Members. The primary level is General Membership, which, among other benefits, gives writers the opportunity to submit their work for a book-in-hand Monday Night Reading; and also to book monthly dramaturgical time with the staff.

For info on all the current offerings for the Writers’ Workshop, click on the titles under “Membership Levels”.

NOTE that there is no way to APPLY for any of the programs in the Writers’ Workshop.
Interested participants must first complete the Core Curriculum, and then be invited to participate in these opportunities.

membership levels:

full length musical curriculum

Write a full-length musical in a nine-month period, culminating in a writer-produced public reading. This is a rigorous structure, with outlining and songspotting and deadlines, culminating in writer-produced public readings at NMI. $800 per person; no single-author projects.

general membership

$500 per year. General membership includes:

One-on-One Dramaturgy. General Members are entitled to schedule up to 1 (one) one-on-one dramaturgical session with an NMI staff member per month during the membership season (September through June) to discuss whatever projects you have going. Just contact a staff member to set up your session. Note that sessions cannot be “banked” from month to month.

Monday Night Readings. NMI will support a presentation of your musical for a livestream audience (potentially a live audience as well, pending occupancy/health issues). Readings available to General members for no additional cost, but you need to sign up for them ASAP, as slots are limited (see date listing below). Note that some of the Monday Night slots come with one or two Monday rehearsals with the Academy Repertory Company prior to the event; and some are “cold” readings.

Virtual Workshop. Once a quarter you will be paired with someone to write a song or short musical scene, like we did this spring with the National Theatre’s Twelfth Night and One Man, Two Guvnors. No feedback; just a celebration of working together.

Trunk Songs. Submit your song for inclusion in our musical webseries, which we would present in concert form and streamcast (filmed either at NMI, or possibly on-location by the performer). General membership doesn’t guarantee you a slot in the Trunk Songs series, but we will prioritize selecting Current Members’ submissions over non-members or even Alumni.

15 Minute Musicals Re-do. Join the Core Curriculum participants from April through June, and write a 15-minute musical. This season, we might reconceive the 15-minute musicals for an online streaming audience. Additional $700 to cover expenses of actors, music directors, and either theatre rental or greenscreen crew/editing.


alumni membership

$100 per year. Alumni membership includes:

Virtual Workshop. Once a quarter NMI will pair you with someone to write a song or short musical scene, like we did this spring with the National Theatre’s Twelfth Night and One Man, Two Guvnors. Participation is casual; write something if you have time or interest that quarter. No feedback; this is an opportunity to meet new collaborators, and keep your chops up.

Trunk Songs. Submit your song for inclusion in our musical webseries, which we would present in concert form and streamcast (filmed either at NMI, or possibly on-location by the performer). Alumni membership doesn’t guarantee you a slot in the Trunk Songs series, but we will prioritize selecting NMI Members’ submissions over non-members.

core curriculum re-boot

See the Core Curriculum section if you’d like to re-join us for the current. New plays, new collaborators. It’s fairly pricey, but General Members get $500 off the $1700 price, so it’d be only $1200 for you to take this year.

Not local? Here’s how long distance participants take part in Core sessions via video conference

summer boot camp

The Musical Theatre Boot Camp is a summer series of workshops, lectures, and practicums designed to give participants a chance to work quickly over a concentrated six week period. It’s also a great place to check us out before committing to our full curriculum in the fall.

The courses for the upcoming summer likely won’t be posted until early spring.

check back in the spring…

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

Chana Wise

Mary Marie (NAMT 2014)