36 Writers Head to 4th Annual Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals

19 Brand New Musicals will be part of this exclusive month-long retreat.

EAST HADDAM, CT – DECEMBER 02, 2015 – In what has become an annual ritual, a total of 36 established and emerging composers, lyricists, and librettists will converge on the Goodspeed campus from mid-January through mid – February 2016 to participate in the Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals. The writing teams, representing 19 new musicals, will populate the campus, creating a truly exciting environment for discovery and inspiration.

This year’s participants boast credits as diverse as: 

  • Award-winning Host of NPR’s “This American Life” (L. Glass)  
  • Tony-nominated Director (K. Hanggi)
  • Jonathan Larson Award Winners (S. Willmott, M. Vernon)
  • World-renowned Ojibwe & Oneida Hoop Dancer. Storyteller & Grammy Winner (T. Defoe)
  • Winner of the Inaugural “Got Musical!” Award by Disney Imagineering & NMI (Z. Zadek)
  • Member of the Acapella group Ten of NBC’s “The Sing Off” and the band Grace McLean & Them Apples (G. McLean)
  • Co-Directors of the Ma-Yi Writer’s Lab (R.Lew Mirza, M. Lew)
  • Australia Council Music Fellowship Winner (M. Robinson)
  • Creator of the Multi-voiced Bottle Blue Band (D. Zaitchik)

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 18, 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 the 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 show 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), Nightmare Alley (book, music, lyrics), and 40 Naked Women, A Monkey and Me (book, music, lyrics).

Michael Bush will serve as Resident Dramaturge. Mr. Bushdirected the Off-Broadway productions of Bikeman, PsychoTherapy, Cactus Flower, and Based On A Totally True Story.  Bush served as director of artistic production and associate artistic director for the Manhattan Theatre Club for over 25 years where he helped artistically guide more than 200 new plays and musicals, including the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning Proof and Doubt, and the Tony Award winning Love! Valour! Compassion!.  He was instrumental in the rebirth of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s Cabaret & Performance Conference, and served as its artistic director from 2005 to 2012. Bush has developed over 100 new shows, revues, and intimate musicals including the Broadway show The Story of My Life.

Line Producer Donna Lynn Hilton is guiding Goodspeed’s efforts on the JMF Writers Colony and Hunter Bird will be the 2016 Colony Coordinator.

The Writers Colony created a confluence of a long-held mission of fostering new works by both missions of Goodspeed and JMF to nurture the discipline of song writing. With this wonderful collaboration, Goodspeed continues to be an incubator for the next generation of musical theatre artists and performers as well as a home of the American Musical.

The outstanding writers who have been invited to participate in the colony have earned tremendous recognition in the industry with honors such as the Fred Ebb Award, Jonathan Larson Award, Kleban  Prize, ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Award, ASCAP Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, Ovation Award, Frederick Loewe Award, Lanford Wilson Award, Helen Merrill Award, Pacific/Rim Prize, Dramatists Guild Fellowship, UTAS Stephen Schwartz Song writing Award, ASCAP Foundation’s Lucille and Jack Yellen Award for lyricists, Sam French Festival Winner, Marcie Bloom Fellowship in Film, Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, the Pratt Prize for Music Theatre, and the Jamie deRoy and Friends ASCAP Award.

We are pleased to announce that the 2016 writing teams include (in alphabetical order) Aaron Albert, Nikko Benson, Meghan Brown, Ty Defoe, Kate Douglas, Tim Drucker, Brian Feinstein, Zina Goldrich, Ben Halstead, Kristin Hanggi, Marcy Heisler, Shayfer James, Jason Kim, Gordon Leary, Mike Lew, Grace McLean. Julia Meinwald, Rehana Lew Mirza, Sean Patrick Monahan, Mary Katheryn Nagle, Alexander Sage Oyen, Kristia Pioppi, Katy Rae, Matthew Lee Robinson, Brett Ryback, Zoe Sarnack, Erica Schmidt, Tidtaya Sintoke, Mark Sonnenblick, Ben Toth, Eric Ulloa, Max Vernon, Sam Willmott, Amanda Yesnowitz. Zak Zadek, and Daniel Zaitchik.


The mission of the Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF) is to support the discipline of song writing 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-Kaufman Music Center, Los Angeles 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 TV’s 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 Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn., and additional musicals at The Norma 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 more information, to schedule an interview, or to receive stock art, please contact:

Elisa Hale
860.873.8664 (ext. 323)

Dan McMahon
860.873.8664 (ext. 324)

Media Contact
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Website: http://www.johnnymercerfoundation.org/