Monday, May 16, 2011


ANMT's sixth annual MUSICAL THEATRE BOOT CAMP presents:


Instructor: Mark Saltzman

Six Thursday evenings from 7pm to 10pm

July 7, 14, 21, 28, August 4, 11

Course Fee: $125 (Early Bird/ANMT Member Fee: $95)


For Writers:
So many writers, playwrights and screenwriters are trying their hand at writing musicals, but the process of musical theater creation can be bewildering, especially if you're a writer who has only written non-musical projects and may not be acquainted with even the most basic principles of music. If Mom didn't force piano lessons on you, if you weren't in a high school garage band, how do you, as a writer or scriptwriter, navigate that daunting world of tempos, rhythms, verse-chorus, legatos and back beats? This course provides, for writers, a place where your questions about music, no matter how basic, can be safely asked.

Your script writing skills will be valuable in writing musicals, but they're going to have to be adapted. All you've learned about laying out a narrative line, story structure, characterization, plot points, all of it, will be just as crucial in musicals. (Don't let the songwriters convince you otherwise!) But on occasion, some bending will have to occur. For example, sometimes, in musicals, it's OK to let forward plot motion stop.

In learning about creating musicals, we will never call this 'book writing.' The craft is not creating lead-ins to songs, though that may occur. You are writing a start-to-finish dramatic piece for the stage, whether the story is original or adapted.

For Composers:
It's equally important for a composer / songwriter starting out in musical theater to know something about the basic principles of dramatic writing: story structure, plot points, engaging an audience, and the crucial matter of making an audience wonder what's going to happen next. And, of course, becoming familiar with the sight of index cards on the corkboard. Your instrument, the one you'll be playing in musical theater, is your audience. So how do you get the right responses at the right times? How do you find the perfect place in the narrative to put a song, and the perfect song for that place, remembering at all times you are writing a score, not just a song? How can you to avoid the trap of too many passive songs in which characters do nothing but reflect on plot events? Also important: Deciding when a song is the right solution, and when it's better to musicalize an entire scene.

For both composer / songwriters and script writers:
Collaboration Fundamentals: This will be Couples Counseling (or in some cases, Trio Counseling) for creative teams -- Learning to communicate directly, in clear language, not jargon. Making sure all collaborators are writing the same show. Making sure the script writing side is able to contribute knowledgably to the musical elements, and that the songwriters are respectful of the dramatic writing rules that can make or break a show. Examining how the team can advance their project from an idea on a page to a finished draft to the process of readings, workshops and production.

Those enrolled in the workshop will be invited to submit their current musical-in-progress, whatever the stage of development of the project. Out of these, three will be selected for class analysis, given a creative MRI and discussed freely; one musical per class, each class session three hours. In the fourth and final session, time permitting, other members of the class will be given an opportunity to present their works-in-progress for evaluation. You are welcome to join the workshop if you do not have a current musical project

For submission, musicals at any stage of development are welcome, from the earliest one-page story idea (encouraged!) to a rough sketch with a song or two, all the way to a produced show in the process of revision. Early stage concepts are especially welcome, since so many projects fail in the very first creative phase -- the creation of a musical-worthy storyline, and the choices for songs and song placement. Submissions should include:
- Story synopsis of the musical
- Biographies of the creators.
- Description of the project's stage of development; e.g. outline, first draft, produced and in re- writes.
- Project's history: A list of any previous productions, readings or workshops.
- Existing materials: Scenes, lyrics, demo recordings, sound files, complete libretto, or an outline, if the show is in a very early stage of development.

Mark has led his musical theater workshop at University of California, Santa Barbara and at the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights, where he received this appraisal:

'I gained SO MUCH out of Mark's workshop, you wouldn't believe. Not only from working (my musical) Pyro, but working the other projects as well. It's a smashing success. Congrats on organizing this. In LA, it seems there are a lot of 'bunk' workshops, classes, seminars, etc. This one was hands down the most informative, nuts and bolts, specific, and productive workshop I've attended. (Feel free to quote me for the next one).'
--Sean Galuszka
Musical Theater Workshop student

To register (or for more info) - CLICK HERE

Mark Saltzman dwells comfortably in the worlds of musical theater and script writing, being an accomplished writer of movies, teleplays, plays, songs, and stage musicals.

He began his career as an audition pianist in New York, and became a script writer and songwriter for the Muppets. His songs and sketches for SESAME STREET won him seven Emmy Awards and the opportunity to collaborate with composer talents like Joe Raposo and Alan Menken. Mark has written several feature films, including the children's classic THE ADVENTURES OF MILO AND OTIS. For CBS, he wrote the Christmas musical MRS. SANTA CLAUS, starring Angela Lansbury, with songs by Jerry Herman. His stage musical, THE TIN PAN ALLEY RAG, has run in theaters throughout the country, including Pasadena Playhouse and New York's Roundabout, winning many honors along the way, including several L.A. Ovation Award nominations and a NY Outer Critics Circle Award nomination as BEST OFF-BROADWAY MUSICAL. More at

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