August 12th marked the end of the 23rd National Music Theatre Conference, run by the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, CT. This year, the directors inaugurated the "NMTC Laboratory." Eight writers and composers were invited to create new pieces, while exploring the collaborative process. Each artist worked with four collaborators, writing specifically for a select company of actors.
The artists in residence included: Joel Derfner (score for Everyman, Off-Broadway’s Prospect Theater Company); Donna DiNovelli (Manhattan Theatre Club Fellow; Instructor, NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and the O’Neill Center’s National Theater Institute); Randall Eng (composer and pianist, The Woman in the Green Coat, Edinburgh Fringe Festival); Ellen Lewis (2000 National Arts Club Award in drama for The Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky); Curtis Moore (composer, scores include The Bus to Buenos Aires) Mary Murfitt (Oil City Symphony/Cowgirls); David Rodwin (Ecstatic Journey, a multi-media opera/Virtual Motion, a one-man “hyper-opera”); and Maryrose Wood (libretto for The Gift, music by Andrew Gerle, a Richard Rodgers Award finalist).
Audiences at this year’s conference were treated to staged readings of The Screams of Kitty Genovese, which was developed during last summer’s conference. The show is based on the famous incident in March 1964, in Queens, when a 28-year-old woman was stabbed to death in front of her home as 38 neighbors watched. The libretto is by David Simpatico and music by Will Todd. The public was also able to observe The Highwayman, a new musical being developed by the NMTC artist-in-residence Kirsten Childs (The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin).
Producer and Conductor Paulette Haupt co-founded the Music Theatre Conference in 1978 with O’Neill Theater Center Founder and Chairman George C. White to provide what was at the time a unique forum for developing new musicals. Composers, librettist and lyricists collaborate with directors, musical directors, and equity actors to clarify their creative visions and address problems in their work. Over 50 shows have gone onto productions on and Off-Broadway, and in regional theatres, opera companies, and international festivals. These include Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party, produced last season at the Manhattan Theatre Club, winner of Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Awards, and Nine (Arthur Kopit-Mario Fratti-Maury Yeston), which won five Tony Awards in 1982, when produced at the 46th Street Theater.