Introduction to Musical Theater Writing

This workshop will introduce students to the craft of writing words and music for the musical theatre. In addition to weekly and in-class practical assignments in technique and skill-building, the course will explore key moments in musical theatre history and criticism to place students’ work in a larger context. Readings will illuminate how the specific areas of craft have been handled by masters in different areas of musical theatre. Because collaboration is central to the creation of musical theatre, students will work in different teams during the semester. The workshop will culminate with a presentation of works-in-progress.

Sample reading list:
Rodgers and Hammerstein, The King & I
Eyen and Krieger, Dreamgirls
Kander and Ebb, Chicago
Sondheim and Weidman, Assassins
McMillin, The Musical as Drama
Wolf, Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical
See instructor for complete list

Reading/Writing assignments:
Weekly exercises in writing music, lyrics, and script, such as: solo character songs, scene-with-song, adaptations, writing-as-yourself. One musical to be studied each week. Weekly readings in musical theater history, theory, and criticism. Short response papers and analyses of musicals. Participation in critiques of student work. Final workshop performance. Grading: 50% – Weekly practice of writing music, lyrics and script for musical theatre.

Other Requirements:
United States Travel Required

Prerequisites and Restrictions:
This course is by application. Applicants will be asked to identify as composer, lyricist, bookwriter/playwright, or some combination of the three. Composer applicants should have experience writing and notating music, but are not required to have previously written for the theatre.

Other information:
The course will be co-taught by Professors Stacy Wolf, Robert Lee ’92 and Randall Eng. Lee and Eng are core faculty in the Tisch MFA Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU. They bring expertise in developing skills of writing musicals and knowledge of the reality of an artist’s life in the musical theatre world. Workshops and discussions will be supplemented with master classes by guest artists and field trips to New York to see productions and to meet composers and lyricists.




Wednesdays, 12:30 - 4:20 p.m.
Woolworth, Rm. 105