Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) seeks submissions for the 9th Annual TRU VOICES New Musicals Reading Series (deadline: August 22, 2009). TheTRU VOICES New Musicals Reading Series is a unique series created to support producers who have an interest in developing new musicals. Shows selected will receive staged readings to be presented on consecutive Monday evenings in December 2009 at The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street (below W. 3rd Street), NYC.
"Musicals are an expensive proposition, and even doing a staged reading can be daunting cost-wise, especially in today's economic climate" said TRU president Bob Ost. "We try to take some of the financial pressure off the producer. TRU pays for what is essentially a first date. Our hope is that the producer and project will hook up from our series and continue the happy march to a full production."
The series encourages submissions from emerging and established producers who are interested in testing the waters with a new musical work, but TRU also accepts submissions from writers and tries to match them with a sponsoring producer for the series. TRU sponsors fully-staged readings of two or three of the most promising works submitted, followed by TRU's well-respected "Dollars and Sense" industry panels in which prominent commercial producers, general managers and artistic directors discuss the development process and possibilities for the work presented. Catherine Lamm added, "We also look for other opportunities for shows that we can't move into the series. In fact, we moved two of last year's submissions into this year's Midtown International Theatre Festival: A Night at the Kremlin and Connect/Disconnect."
The series is extremely well-regarded in the industry. "The event (and the whole experience) had to have been one of the most helpful, well thought out, useful readings I've ever been a part of. TRU should be very proud of what you are doing for artists and theater in general." So says Off-Broadway director Jeremy Dobrish (In the Wings, The Joys of Sex, The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged), who directed the musical Hell Hole Honeys in the 2006 VOICES New Musicals Reading Series. Tom Tierney writer of At the Back of the North Wind in the 2007 TRU Series states: "Not only was it a perfect venue to see and hear the show again from the creators' point of view, but also very instructive to hear what the "Dollars and Sense" panel had to say. Writers need to get the producer's viewpoint, and that we did - loud and clear. There were many new insights that came up, and I believe we all found it quite useful on our journey of getting North Wind from page to stage."
The TRU VOICES' track record is impressive. Among the shows that started in the series are The Great American Trailer Park Musical by Betsy Kelso and David Nehls, which went on to a popular off-Broadway two seasons ago and is currently touring; Nor'mal by Yvonne Adrian, Cheryl Stern and Tom Kochan, which went on to win a Larsen Award and played a limited in the East Village starring Barbara Walsh; and last year's Opa! by Mari Carras and Laurel Ollstein, which was a recent sell-out hit of the Midtown International Theatre Festival. For the 2001 Series, TRU President Bob Ost cast the perfect actress for the one-woman musical The Ambition Bird by Matthew Sheridan, Victoria Clark (who won a Tony for Light in the Piazza). The show went on to be a selection at the Cardiff Wales International Festival, as was About Face by David Arthur, which is also scheduled for the upcoming New York Musical Festival (NYMF). And in the 2005 Series, TRU found a producer for Saint Heaven, a writer submission from Martin Casella and Keith Gordon; TRU put the show in the hands of Van Dean and Hillary Cutter of Van Hill Entertainment, and also matched Van and Hillary with mentor Broadway producer Cheryl Wiesenfeld (Legally Blonde, Elaine Stritch: At Liberty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, In the Continuum). As a result of this successful partnership, Saint Heaven moved from a reading in December '05 into a full production in June '06 at the Stamford Center for the Performing Arts starring Deborah Gibson and Tony winner Chuck Cooper and it performed last fall at The Village Theatre in Issaqua, Washington.
Unlike other talkbacks, TRU's "Dollars and Sense" panels focus on the producing needs of the show, welcoming suggestions for further development for the work, with discussions about venue, marketing and budgets and other business concerns. Top professionals who have graced the panels included producers Michael Alden (Bridge & Tunnel, Bat Boy), Ken Davenport (Altar Boys, My First Time, 13), Jennifer Manocherian (Spring Awakening, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Crucible, Caroline or Change), Dan Markley (Shockheaded Peter, High Fidelity, Damn Yankees revival, Stomp), Pam Koslow (Jelly's Last Jam), Anita Waxman (Bombay Dreams, Topdog/Underdog) and Cheryl Wiesenfeld; artistic directors Robert Lupone (MCC), Sue Frost (formerly of Goodspeed), Mark Hoebee (Papermill Playhouse) and James Morgan (York Theatre Company); and general managers Peter Bogyo, Laura Heller, Jamie Cesa, among countless others.
TRU welcomes both mainstream commercial works and non-traditional works, and encourages multi-cultural and minority submissions as well. "We'd love to find the next big Broadway smash, but we also understand that there are many other markets for musicals. We are interested in any interesting, well written show that has a producer who is passionate to produce it," Ost explained.
Submissions must be received by August 31, 2009 for shows with a producer; and August 22, 2009 for shows without a producer. Readings will take place in early December. There is a $25 submission fee, waived for TRU members, and all submissions receive a feedback letter based on the evaluations of readers. Guidelines and application form may be found at www.truonline.org or by sending an SASE to Theater Resources Unlimited/TRU Musicals, 309 W. 104th Street, #1D, NYC, NY 10025. Submissions will not be accepted without an application.
For more information, visit www.truonline.org.
This series is made possible in part through the generous support of the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Friars National Association Foundation.