Biographies of the principal workshop staff
John Sparks (Workshop Director) is the Founding Artistic Director for the Academy for New Musical Theatre in Los Angeles where he has taught since 1981. In 1987 he founded the musical theater writers workshop at the former Theatre Building Chicago where he served as Artistic Director from 1999 to 2009. John is also currently a board member and guest instructor with Mercury Musical Developments in London. John has written many musicals that have been produced in Los Angeles, Chicago and on the east coast, including: Babes In Barns (music and lyrics), Hans Brinker (lyrics), Cashel Byron (book), The Arresting Dilemma of Mister K (book), and On The Brink (book and lyrics). He has received awards such as the After Dark Award for Best Score and several commissions from Theatre Building Chicago and the Frederick Loewe Trust, awarded by the National Alliance for Musical Theatre. John studied with the late Lehman Engel, renowned musical director and founder of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and with Broadway and Hollywood director Michael Gordon.
Joan Mazzonelli (Producer) has produced, directed, dramaturged and designed original musicals, plays and operas for Theatre Building Chicago, for the Academy of New Musical Theatre in Los Angeles, and in New York City, for The Opera Shop at the Vineyard Theatre, On Stage Productions, the Great Traveling Theatre of Oklahoma and the National Shakespeare Company. Joan is also Managing Director for ShPIel – Performing Identity. She serves on the boards of City Lit Theater and Griffin Theatre and is a member of the Artistic and Technical Team of the Joseph Jefferson Committee and of the Dramatists Guild. Previously, Joan was Executive Director for Theatre Building Chicago and served as president of Child's Play Touring Theatre, vice president of the Chicago Dance and Music Alliance, treasurer of the League of Chicago Theatres, secretary of the Illinois Theatre Association and board member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre.
Larry Todd Johnson (Associate Artist) is a book writer and lyricist originally from Southern California. With composer Cindy O'Connor, his musical 40 is the New 15 received Stagescene LA’s award for Best New Musical 2010, received a 2010 GLAAD Media Award Nomination for Outstanding Los Angeles Theatre, and was chosen by Stephen Schwartz to be part of the ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop. Larry and Cindy won the Kennedy Center National Playwright's Award as well as the ACTF Musical Theater Award for their work on the musical-drama All That He Was. Other projects include Beautiful (with Cindy O'Connor and Adrian Bewley) Now and Then a Hero (with composer Jake Anthony) and The Last Princess (with composer Allen Hong.) For television, Larry has written animated series teleplays for Yin Yang Yo!, The Care Bears, and Angela Anaconda, to name a few. He holds a BA in Theatre from UCLA and a Masters in Playwriting from CSUF.
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