How to Write a Musical That Works: Submission Deadline Extended to Sunday October 3rd 

How to Write a Musical That Works: Submission Deadline Extended to Sunday October 3rd 

Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) announces a Virtual Feedback Workshop: How to Write a Musical that Works Part Two: Conflict and Obstacles on Sunday, October 17, 2021 from 12pm-7pm ET. This workshop is dedicated to fostering a conversation about musical theater structure not only for writers but also for producers, directors and everyone involved in the creation and production of new musical works. Submissions deadline has been extended to Sunday, October 3, 2021. For more information and to submit, visit

Each workshop will accept up to ten writing teams and/or producers who will share works in progress and get feedback from a panel of expert evaluators. Audience members will also have a chance to offer their observations and participate in discussions.Part Two: Conflict and Obstacles will focus on three main aspects of your show: 1) Songs that express differing points of view, or conflict; 2) “Turnaround Songs” in which a character changes his course of action; 3) Plot complications that keep your characters from achieving their wants, and drive the action forward; in particular, the climactic moment (sometimes the first act finale) that drives us forward into the resolution (note: the actual “resolution” will be in workshop #3). In addition, we will continually explore the delicate balance between script and song, so it is important that you present a continuous portion of scene and song from your show.

Due to the virtual issues of lag and latency, we will need writers to record and edit any musical presentations that involve more than one singer. We have a team of tech advisors to help you: music directors and editors who will be available to play and record your tracks, and in some cases may be able to edit duets, trios and ensemble numbers from single tracks and sync them with your video recording. You may, of course, use your own music director, editor or other resources to help you produce a professional presentation.

We do NOT need a recorded presentation when you submit, only when you are accepted.

Writers or producers are invited to submit no more than the 25 pages of a show you are working on, plus mp3s of the songs within those pages that demonstrate conflict. These pages should be well after the opening number and the introduction of the main characters and their wants – think of it as the middle third of the show. Submission fee is $20 ($10 for TRU members).Our professional panel of commercial producers, directors and writers will include:

  • Ken Cerniglia, former dramaturg and literary manager Disney Theatrical Group
  • Cheryl Davis, Kleban and Larsen Award winning librettist and lyricist (Barnstormer), Audelco Award winning playwright (Maid’s Door), general counsel for The Author’s Guild
  • Paul Gordon, composer/lyricist (Broadway Jane Eyre; off Broadway Daddy Long Legs; regional Emma; virtual Estella Scrooge)
  • Tamra Pica, London, off-Broadway and TV producer 
  • Others TBA

Bob Ost, executive director of Theater Resources Unlimited, and TRU Literary Manager Cate Cammarata will facilitate. The TRU Selection Committee will determine what song and scene from your show we want you to present, although you may tell us your preference. We will provide a zoom room, access to a music director and editor, actor and director suggestions, and panelists.


12:00-12:15 – check-in

12:15 pm to 12:45 am – Discussion: How to musicalize conflict, and are certain actions better expressed by dialogue or by song? How a character’s deep want, and the dramatic obstacle, become plot points that drive the story forward.

12:45 am to 3:15 pm – Five writing teams will explain their work’s overall concept (in 30 seconds or less) and present up to 12 minutes of a scene and song that show one or more characters in conflict, including disagreements, shared wants and persuasion songs. After each presentation, panelists will provide feedback.

LUNCH/ZOOM BREAK (Stretch, rest your eyes)

4:15 pm to 5:00 pm – Discussion: The dramatic journey of characters, including their “escalating want” and turnaround songs. Plus effective first act finales and engaging second act openers. Panelists will comment and invite additional audience feedback.

5:15 pm to 7:15 pm – Four writing teams will explain their work’s overall concept (in 30 seconds or less) and present up to 12 minutes that include one or more of the main characters’ challenges, plus first act finales and second act openings. After each presentations, panelists will provide feedback.

“A fantastic resource! If anyone is in the process of writing a musical and would like constructive but gentle feedback on your work, I highly recommend the TRU workshop lead by Bob Ost and Cate Cammarata. They explain in detail the requirements of each section of a new musical…. The panel of auditors is truly stellar…. A great way to hear how others see your show, with a fresh eye and extremely intelligent suggestions on what could be clarified and how to move forward.” ~Larry Daggett

“WOW! I can’t begin to tell you how enlightening, thought-provoking, and helpful it was for me to: a) hear my piece being sung in front of an audience, and b) get the crucial feedback from professionals. I’ve already re-written [and] taken most of the criticisms to heart and to be honest … I LIKE IT BETTER!!!” ~Richie Abanes 

Theater Resources Unlimited(TRU) is the leading network for developing theater professionals, a twenty-eight-year-old 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created to help producers produce, emerging theater companies to emerge healthily and all theater professionals to understand and navigate the business of the arts. Membership includes self-producing artists as well as career producers and theater companies. TRU publishes an email community newsletter of services, goods and productions; presents monthly panels and Town Hall discussions, as well as the weekly Community Gatherings; offers a Producer Development & Mentorship Program taught by prominent producers and general managers in New York theater, and also presents Producer Boot Camp workshops to help aspirants develop business skills. TRU serves writers through the TRU Voices Play Reading Series, Writer-Producer Speed Date, a Practical Playwriting Workshop, How to Write a Musical That Works and a Director-Writer Communications Lab. Programs of Theater Resources Unlimited are supported in part by the Montage Foundation, The Storyline Project and the Leibowitz Greenway Foundation. For more information about TRU membership and programs, visit


Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email:

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