January 27, 2016

Program in Theater presents New Student Musical Theater Works from “Introduction to Musical Theater Writing”

Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts Program in Theater will present new musical theater works by student lyricists and composers from the fall semester course “Introduction to Musical Theatre Writing,” taught by Robert Lee, Randall Eng, and Stacy Wolf on Saturday, February 6 at 5 p.m. in Rocky Common Room on the Princeton University campus.

The final presentation will include eleven original musical theater numbers written by nine students who were teamed in various combinations throughout the semester. These pieces will include dramatic and comedic numbers written as solos, duets, and ensemble numbers.

An example of the songs to be presented is “More Than Just a Side-Swan,” in which Prince Siegfried from the ballet Swan Lake searches for his love, the beautiful swan-woman Odette. Instead, he runs into one of the other swans, quirky Grebehilda, who awkwardly tries to convince him that she could make a good romantic partner instead. In another, “My Dear Amy,” Virgil is going blind and tries to convince his wife Amy to accept his condition. And in “Musical-Theater-Ville,” the Mayor of Theater Land decides to cut funding to Musical-Theater-Ville, which is an excessive drain on resources. Despite the news, the citizens of Theater Land, who communicate only in song, celebrate their existence with a big song-and-dance number, even as starry-eyed new arrival Betsy realizes the Mayor’s edict might not bode well.

Throughout the course students have been introduced to the craft of writing words and music for the musical theater through practical assignments and weekly workshops, exploration of key moments in musical theater history, and collaboration with other students to create pieces focused on character, plot, intention, ensemble, and politics.

Stacy Wolf is a professor of theater and director of the Princeton Arts Fellows in the Lewis Center where she teaches courses in American musical theatre history, dramaturgy and dramatic literature, histories of U.S. performance, performance theory, and performance studies. She also heads the Lewis Center’s Music Theater Lab, which will expand this fall to become the Program in Music Theater. Wolf is the author of Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical; A Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical; and the co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of the American Musical.

Robert Lee, a member of Princeton’s Class of 1992, and Randall Eng are core faculty in the Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at New York University. Lee is a lyricist and librettist whose original musicals include Journey to the West and Heading East, both with music by Leon Ko, and The Sweet By and By with book and music by Maria V.S. Seigenthaler. His work has received recognition with the Richard Rogers Development Award and AT&T First Stage Grant. Eng works in the territory between opera, music-theater, and jazz. His first two operas Florida and Henry’s Wife have been performed at venues such as Lyric Opera Cleveland, New York City Opera’s VOX festival, the Public Theater’s New Work Now! festival, Shaw Festival and Metropolis Opera.

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