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Michael Gordon Shapiro

“Studying at New Musicals Inc helped me channel my talent into technique. I learned everything from the anatomy of a rhyme to the key elements musicals need in order to create emotional momentum. I’d recommend the experience to anyone with an ambition for musical theatre.”

Michael’s first exposure to musical theatre came in childhood, when his parents dragged him unwillingly to the hit Broadway shows of the day. Something must have clicked; decades later, while Michael’s career kept him busy scoring films and video games, the impulse descended upon him to write musicals as well. Michael soon found his artistic voice by writing witty humanistic musicals in the literary genres that had predominated his youth: science fiction, fantasy, and superhero mythology. Embracing Heinlein’s motto that “specialization is for insects”, Michael frequently tackled book, music, and lyrics together. Michael began with a series of short comedic musicals produced in short play festivals in the US and abroad. The anthology of these shorts, A Feast of Snacks, has been staged in such storied locations as London, Hollywood, and Abilene, Texas.

A collaboration with playwright Gregory Crafts led to Michael’s first commercially published TYA show, Super Sidekick: The Musical. A superhero romp with a positive message about bravery, responsibility, and ninja koalas, Sidekick is now published by Concord Theatricals and is regularly licensed to productions around the country. (All of them adorable.)

Years of attending the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop made Michael realize that there was such a thing a musical theatre dramaturgy and that perhaps he ought to learn some. He promptly enrolled in studies at New Musicals Inc, first completing the Core Curriculum, then undertaking private study with dramaturg Elise Dewsberry. The educational partnership turned professional, as NMI co-produced Michael’s subsequent two musicals.

Michael’s family musical The Bully Problem brought a pop score to a world filled with antisocial nerds, bully tormentors, and an eccentric android that helped the smart kids find their courage. One of just two shows accepted into the 2018 ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop in Los Angeles, Bully received feedback and praise from Stephen Schwartz, then went on to its world premiere at the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival, where it earned multiple nominations and an Encore Producer’s Award.

Michael turned next to the genre of fantasy with Gideon and the Blundersnorp, a medieval adventure that blended medieval-ish folk music with the fantasy film score tradition. After a pandemic-era online workshop, Gideon had an ambitious staging at the 2021 Hollywood Fringe, featuring a forest chase on horseback as well as a dramatic showdown with the titular monster. The show won unanimous praise from audiences and critics, as well as the festival award for Best Musical.

Today Michael continues to develop musicals on nerdy subjects.