32 Writers Head to 5th Annual Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals

18 Brand New Musicals will be part of this exclusive Month-long retreat

In what has become an annual ritual, a total of 32 established and emerging composers, lyricists, and librettists will converge on the Goodspeed campus from mid-January through mid-February 2017 to participate in the Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals. The writing teams, representing 18 new musicals, will populate the campus, creating a truly exciting environment for discovery and inspiration.

The Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed is an unparalleled, long-term residency program devoted exclusively to musical theatre writing.  It provides a sanctuary for composers, lyricists, and librettists to embark on new musical theatre work or to devote a substantial amount of time to a work-in-progress in an environment rich with creative energy. For four weeks, starting January 16, the writing teams work in residence in Goodspeed’s Artists Village, each team in their own house, with whatever support is needed, from dramaturgical to Goodspeed’s fine music department. In the evenings, writers get together in an informal, salon-style environment and share the day’s work. This gathering allows the artists an invaluable opportunity to gain insight from their colleagues. The Colony is the ultimate think tank of veteran Broadway and young working professionals in theater today.

Over the course of the four-week program, composer/lyricist Jonathan Brielle will again serve as Producer/Writer in Residence. Mr. Brielle is a writer, composer, and lyricist. He created the first songwriters’ room in New York City, Uncle LuLu’s. His first Broadway credit was writing music and lyrics for Foxfire starring theater legends Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy (who won the Tony) and Keith Carradine. Subsequently, he became Composer in Residence of the prestigious Circle Repertory Company in New York, providing scores for some of New York’s top playwrights. His recent credits include Himself and Nora (book, music, lyrics) Minetta Lane Theater 2016; Nightmare Alley (book, music, lyrics) Geffen Playhouse; and 40 Naked Women, A Monkey and Me (book, music, lyrics) Eugene O’Neill Cabaret Conference.  His Las Vegas shows include book, music, lyrics for Enter The Night (Stardust) and MADhattan (New York, New York). For television, he is the music director and composer for “Wonderama” on the Tribune network. He continues to serve as Executive Vice President of the Johnny Mercer Foundation.

Clifford Lee Johnson III will serve as Resident Dramaturge.  Johnson is a Consulting Producer who specializes in producing and developing new plays and musicals.  Between 2009 and 1993, he was the Director of Musical Development at Manhattan Theatre Club.  Prior to that, he was the Assistant Literary Manager at Actors Theatre of Louisville.  He has been a critic for BACKSTAGE and published articles on the theater in various publications.  He has also taught at the Kenyon Playwrights Conference, mentored at the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals, and served as an adviser during the creation of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Goodspeed’s Line Producer Donna Lynn Hilton is guiding Goodspeed Musicals’ efforts on the JMF Writers Colony. Amanda Kate Joshi will be the 2017 Colony Coordinator.

The Writers Colony created a confluence of Goodspeed’s long-held mission of fostering new works and JMF’s dedication to nurturing the discipline of songwriting. With this wonderful collaboration, Goodspeed continues to be an incubator for the next generation of musical theatre artists and performers, as well as the home of the American Musical. This is best-illustrated by several projects that Goodspeed has moved from the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony forward to production including Indian Joe (2015) and Chasing Rainbows (2016) as well as the upcoming Deathless and Darling Grenadine which are both slated for the 2017 Terris Theatre season.

The outstanding writers who have been invited to participate in the colony have earned tremendous recognition in the industry with honors such as the Pulitzer Prize, New York Drama Critics Award, Obie Award, Lucille Lortel Award, Richard Rodgers Award, Drama Desk Award, The Jonathan Larson Award, Outer Critics Circle, MAC Award, BMI Foundation Jerry Bock Award, NEFA National Theater Project Award, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellowship, ASCAP Plus Award, the Ronald M. Ruble Prize for New Works for Young Audiences and many more.

Goodspeed is pleased to announce that the 2017 writing teams are (in alphabetical order): Janet Allard, Beth Blatt, Alex Brightman, Sam Carner, Ben Clark, Peppy Castro, Joel Derfner, Mindi Dickstein, Kate Douglas, Robert DuSold, Drew Gasparini, Nolan Gasser, Scott Gilmour, Matt Gould, Derek Gregor, Kirsten Guenther, Shayfer James, Andrew Kramer, Patrick Lazour, Daniel Lazour, Sean Mahoney, Dan Marshall, Claire McKenzie, Andy Monroe, Patricia Noonan, June Rachelson Ospa, Nicky Phillips, Martha Redbone, Jen Shuber, Mark Sonnenblick, Niko Tsakalakos, and Douglas Waterbury-Tieman.


The mission of the Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF) is to support the discipline of songwriting in the tradition of the Great American Songbook, as exemplified by the life and work of the legendary Johnny Mercer: lyricist, composer, performer, collaborator and producer. The Foundation continues Johnny’s legacy by partnering with individuals and organizations dedicated to celebrating and nourishing the disciplines he mastered and the causes he and his wife Ginger Mercer championed.

JMF has created a number of dynamic creative joint ventures with several prestigious institutions to facilitate our goals, including the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals, Accentuate The Positive Programs (New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Miami), The Musical Theater Program at NJPAC, Georgia State University Fellowship Program, Florida International University Fellowship Program, the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project with Northwestern University and the Johnny Mercer Archives at Georgia State University. In addition, JMF also supports various charitable causes including UCLA’s Art of The Brain, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (Mark Taper and Johnny Mercer Artists Program), Braille Institute (Johnny Mercer Children and Adult Choirs) and KCET TVs Cinema Series.

For more information please visit www.johnnymercerfoundation.org


Under the leadership of Executive Director Michael Gennaro, Goodspeed Musicals is dedicated to the preservation, development, and advancement of musical theatre. Goodspeed produces three musicals each season at the The Goodspeed  in East Haddam, Conn. and additional musicals at The Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn., which was opened in 1984 for the development of new musicals. The first regional theatre to receive two Tony Awards for outstanding achievement, Goodspeed maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre. 

For a list of the 2017 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals Participants please visit:

Media Contact
Company Name: The Johnny Mercer Foundation
Contact Person: Hillary Herskowitz
Email: hillaryhersk@gmail.com
Phone: 917.279.9574
Country: United States
Website: http://www.johnnymercerfoundation.org