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 Music?...Poetry?...Fiction?...Plays?...Ad Copy?...Lyrics?

Midwest New Musicals wants you!

Stages08WkShop-12 250Midwest New Musicals is a forum where writers create and discuss their work.

Bookwriters, composers and lyricists invent new musicals of all descriptions - Broadway-style musicals, operas, children’s musicals, rock operas, revues and innovative new works.

Midwest New Musicals is a place for writers to showcase their musicals with audiences.

Writers work with actors, directors, music directors and designers. Creative teams collaborate on both private readings and public performances.

Midwest New Musicals offers an intensive process that is a pyramid of creative activity. 

The base of the pyramid is the Core Curriculum, a series of writing assignments and production exercises that provides writers with a common experience, a technical vocabulary and process, and the opportunity to meet collaborators with whom they will create musicals.

From the Core Curriculum writers advance to a developmental level where their works are rehearsed and presented in readings and further developed in more intensive workshop productions. This part of the process provides audience feedback to help writers complete their work.

At the top of the pyramid writers develop new works for theater companies and producers locally and around the country.

“John Sparks gave me a safe place to learn about art, craft and collaboration: three essential elements of writing for and working in the musical theater.”

Jan Tranen – The Minister’s Wife – Jeff Award winner

“I had a terrific experience working with John Sparks…super-smart, nurturing teacher with great instincts and advice, and I’m very much looking forward to working with him again. I totally recommend his program for any musical theater writer looking for constructive feedback, challenging assignments (and deadlines!), and a wonderful, supportive peer group.”

Jeff Marx -- Avenue Q –Tony Award winner

Midwest New Musicals is conducted by John Sparks. John 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 Theatre Building Chicago where he also 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 shows in Los Angeles and Chicago, among other cities, including:

  • Babes In Barns -- music and lyrics, 1984-1985
  • Hans Brinker -- lyrics, 1994-2000 
  • Cashel Byron -- book, 2000
  • The Arresting Dilemma of Mister K -- book, 2003/2004
  • On The Brink -- book and lyrics, 2009

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 at UCLA, where he acquired an MFA in Playwriting.

“Anyone who wants to write musicals should study with John Sparks. He thoroughly understands the craft and conveys that understanding with kindness and encouragement. I still rely on the basic principles of theater songwriting that John taught me over 20 years ago.”

Mark Hollmann – Urinetown -- Tony Award winner 2002

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