Today's new voices shaping tomorrow's musicals.
THURS., NOV. 17, 2022 @ 7:30PM at Peter Norton Symphony Space | Click here or call 212.864.5400
CAPTION THIS - Writer Biographies
Written by: Rheanna Atendido; Skyler Chin & Sita Sunil; Amy Engelhardt; Jessie Field & James Martinez Salem; Sarah Hammond & Or Matias; Nay Harris & Raiah Rofsky; J. Quinton Johnson; Sarah Kaufman & Shane Dittmar; Sam Norman & Eliza Randall; Jesse J. Sanchez
Biographies listed below are in ABC order by each artist's last name.
Rheanna Atendido is a singer-songwriter, actor, and playwright born and raised in Seattle, now based out of New York. With her lens as a first-generation Filipino-American, she writes stories about love, grief, and the human psyche – often sprinkled with a hint of magical realism and always flavored with her acoustic-pop sound. Original musicals include Breakup Bench, Cultural Essay, and Pabitin (co-commissioned by The 5th Avenue Theatre and Village Theatre). Composer credits include Sonya’s Chickens (The 5th Avenue Theatre), Inside Out & Back Again (Book-It Repertory), Unstable Connection (Kent-Meridian High School), The Ballad of Annabel Lee (ArtsWest), Mary & Vic Get an Electric Kick (Arts West), Come Over and Play (Village Theatre’s Festival of New Works), and The Great Noise (The Horse in Motion).
Skyler Chin is a playwright and songwriter born in San Francisco and raised in New York. He and Sita Sunil wrote Illegal: A New Musical, which was awarded the Yale Tsai CITY Arts Innovation Award and the Harvard-National Arts Fellowship in recognition for representing diverse voices in 2019. Skyler also currently attends the BMI Musical Theatre Writers Workshop. In 2022, Illegal was named a Eugene O’Neill National Music Theater Conference semifinalist and NY Congresswoman Grace Meng and Senator Anna Kaplan commended the creative team for responding to recent anti-Asian hate through art. The Illegal team has kicked off an exciting season of shows in 2022 including UC Berkeley, Angel Island, Bronx Science, Manhasset, PS 130, and Flushing Town Hall. Stay tuned for more!
Shane Dittmar is a blind composer, musician, writer, and advocate who does everything loudly. As a songwriter, they combine moving and memorable melodies with witty, evocative, and often tongue-in-cheek lyrics that you can't help but sing. School, community, and professional choirs on three continents have performed their award-winning compositions. Their original musicals, with honest stories about lovable and under-represented characters, have been featured at Roundabout Theatre Company, 54 Below, and in concerts across the country. The pilot episode of The Reality Shaper: A Musical Podcast, which they created with Sarah Kaufman, has been downloaded more than 3,000 times. Shane is based in Brooklyn, where they work as an accessibility specialist, and has a passion for music education, a guide dog named Chevelle, and an infectious - and very loud - laugh.
Amy Engelhardt is the composer/co-lyricist of OBA Best New Musical nominee (and Richard Rodgers Award/O’Neill finalist) Bastard Jones (cell theatre). Also: Triptych (NY Transit Museum Commission - book/music/lyrics), Carl Sagan's Contact (lyrics - Puget Sound Theatre Award) and A Comedy of Eras (music/lyrics, with the Flying Karamazov Brothers). With producer Heather Shields, Amy co-created Tune In Time: NYC’s Musical Theatre Game Show at the York (“The BMI Workshop on steroids” – Stage Buddy). Her solo show Impact, streamed in 2021 (the cell/Playhouse at White Lake) and debuts in Emerging Artists Theatre’s 2022 New Works Festival. Winner: MAC Burman Award for Songwriting. Proud member: SAG/AFTRA, ASCAP, Dramatists Guild, Maestra, FB’s “I Hate Cilantro” group. From 1998-2012, Amy recorded 4 albums and toured the US and Europe as sole female vocalist/writer for Grammy-nominated, genre-busting vocal band The Bobs. She swears that her second album, Finish What You will still be released in 2020.
Jessie Field (she/her) is an award-winning queer NYC playwright and director. Jessie’s short play, Too Much Lesbian Drama: One Star was a winner of the 47th Annual Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival and is scheduled for publication in 2023. In 2022, Jessie and collaborator James Martinez Salem were commissioned to adapt James Brandon's novel, Ziggy, Stardust and Me, into a TYA musical, and they are both currently members of Theatre Now New York's musical writers lab. Additional selected writing credits include Charlotte Lucas is 27 and Not Dead (Winner: Musicals Now Competition, O’Neill NMTC Semi-Finalist, SDSU Semi-Finalist), Madam President (New Musicals Lab at Ferguson Center), and La Maupin (Winner: 2018 International MUT Competition, Winner: Audience Favorite – 2017 Fresh Fruit Festival). Jessie earned her MFA at NYU Tisch’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and she is represented by John Thornton and Claire Jennings of Fourth Wall Management. jessiefield.com
Sarah Hammond is a playwright and musical theater writer originally from South Carolina, now based in South Philadelphia. Sarah's honors include the Kleban award for lyric writing, the Richard Rodgers Award, the Loewe Prize, and a residency at New Dramatists. Her plays include Green Girl (SPF ’08 at The Public), House on Stilts (South Coast Rep Commission), Kudzu (Trustus), and others. Sarah’s musicals are String (Village Theatre), Barefoot Persephone, and Pete the Cat (TheaterWorksUSA). She has been a Dramatists Guild Fellow and has received residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Mercer Colony, and Space at Ryder Farm.
Nay Harris is a National Theater Institute and Advanced Playwriting alum of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, as well as a poet, playwright, lyricist, and librettist with an affinity for gallows humor. Through their craft, Nay further alleviates stigmas regarding mental illness and self-harm in the Black communities and they’re also an advocate for the safety of sex workers/sex work decriminalization. Among their works are Wounded Skyes, Glitter Bracelets, Club Leather Queen and Scratched Record. Nay is a Miranda Family Fellow and they’re an NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program alum. They were a finalist for NBT’s I Am Soul playwriting residency and recently completed Black Revolutionary Theatre Workshop’s Revolution Now! 2022 development workshop and Art House Productions 2021-2022 INKubator Playwright's Group. For leisure, they enjoy horror films, Eggo buttermilk waffles, roller-skating and star-gazing.
J. Quinton Johnson (JQ) is a multi-disciplined creative artist, educator, and professional super fan who is redefining what it means to make musical theatre. Throughout his career, he has sung Hamilton songs with Sydney Lucas, shared an Uber with Joshua Henry, hugged Lin-Manuel Miranda (like 6 times!), beatboxed and freestyled with James Monroe Iglehart, gotten ice cream with Nicole Scherzinger and Jennifer Lopez in the same night, was a rehearsal pianist for Brandon Victor Dixon and Mandy Gonzalez (moments before a performance of Hamilton on Broadway), has shaken hands with Keegan-Michael Key, had Fran Drescher sit in his lap (omg grow up it wasn’t weird), carved a turkey with Bryan Cranston, once made Steve Carell cry, and even shared a sharpie marker with the legendary Cicely Tyson.
Sarah Kaufman is an autistic musical theater writer and performer based in NYC. Their work has gone up at CAP21, the Manhattan School of Music, the York Theatre’s NEO Program, and the New York Musical Festival’s Head and Heart concert among others. They were also selected for Roundabout Theatre Company’s Reverb Festival and the BMI Musical Theatre Writers Workshop. Their most recent project, which they are writing with collaborator Shane Dittmar, is a fantasy musical podcast called The Reality Shaper. “The NonBinary Song,” a tune from the project, went viral on Kaufman’s TikTok account, gaining nearly 500k views, and another song from the project, “The Epic Tale,” was a finalist in Taylor Louderman’s Write Out Loud contest. SarahKaufmanNYC.com
Or Matias is an Obie award-winning composer, orchestrator, and music director. His original musical, The Wave, received its world premiere at the Landestheater Linz in 2020, and won top prizes at the Germany Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book. He has worked extensively with Josh Groban, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Phillipa Soo, Dave Malloy, Rachel Chavkin, and countless others. Or was the music director for the hit Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. Other select music director credits include: Octet at the Signature Theater (NYT Critic's Pick), for which he also produced the cast album (released by Nonesuch Records and Warner Music Group); First Daughter Suite at the Public Theater (NYT Critic's Pick); Preludes at Lincoln Center, in which he also co-starred as Sergei Rachmaninoff (Lortel Award nomination); and Moby Dick at A.R.T. Or holds a BM from The Juilliard School and an MFA from NYU.
Sam Norman is a lyricist, librettist, poet, and playwright originally from England. His work has been produced and/or developed at venues including the Lincoln Center, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Royal College of Music, the BBC, Hackney Empire, and the Edinburgh Fringe, as well as on a range of podcasts. He has been a finalist for the Stiles + Drewe Best Song Prize, the Mazumdar Short Play Prize and the Mercury Songwriting Contest, and won the national Stephen Spender Prize for Poetry in Translation and the OUFF Short Screenplay Competition. As a teenager, Sam authored a book of comic poems, A Teen’s Guide to Modern Manners (Little, Brown), which won acclaim from Buzzfeed and The Huffington Post. He is a graduate of Oxford University and NYU Tisch. www.samuelnorman.com
Eliza Randall is a composer, pianist, and music director from the Las Vegas Valley. Her short musical The Yellow Wallpaper has been performed by Harp Theatricals, Irvington Theatre, and Alleyway Theatre, and was a 2020 finalist for the Mazumdar Short Play Prize, and her musical The Debutantes was recently workshopped and performed at Leeds Conservatoire. Her various other compositions have been performed at Tin Pan Alley 2, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, the Hackney Empire (nominated for the 2021 Stiles and Drewe Best New Song Prize), and the Lincoln Center Broadway Future Songbook. Eliza studied classical piano under internationally renowned pianists Jeffrey Shumway and Stephen Beus at Brigham Young University and completed her MFA in musical theatre writing at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. elizarandall.com
Raiah Rofsky is a composer, orchestrator, and copyist located in NYC. Her music has been produced and performed at Phoenix Theatre Company, the Hollywood Fringe Festival, 54Below, the 52nd St. Project, and Rattlestick Theater. She is a recent graduate of the NYU Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program where found her writing voice and solid collaborators. Raiah is the composer and co-orchestrator of Nayika Mixtape, a reinterpretation of heroine tropes from Indian classical literature and art. She is also continuing to write her thesis musical Inevitable Transitions, an original '90s sapphic supernatural story. Raiah had the immense pleasure to be a part of the 2021-2022 Maestra Mentorship program, where she was (and continues to be) the mentee of Broadway’s leading copyist, Emily Grishman. As a queer and Jewish artist, Raiah is dedicated to centering her artistic practices around lifting up marginalized voices. When she is not writing, she enjoys embroidery, drinking iced coffee, and going to drag shows.
James Martinez Salem is a Puerto Rican/Syrian-Jewish queer theatre artist based in NYC. Recent projects include Charlotte Lucas is 27 and Not Dead (with Jessie Field; Winner: Musicals Now Competition; O’Neill NMTC Semi-Finalist), Ziggy Stardust & Me (2022 commission from SDSU), and #Masc4Masc:A Totally Masculine Musical (music by Josh Ben-Ami, Latiné Musical Theatre Lab’s 2022 Table Reading Series). In 2021, James was a finalist, with Josh Ben-Ami, for the Marvin Hamlisch International Music Award for emerging musical theatre artists. In 2020, James co-created the musical webseries Is This Art Now? with Jessie Field. James is represented by John Thornton and Claire Jennings of Fourth Wall Management, and is currently part of Theatre Now New York's musical writers lab. James holds an MFA (NYU Tisch), JD (NYU Law), and BA (CUNY Hunter), and is a practicing attorney, board game enthusiast, and dog lover. www.jamessalemmusicals.com
Jesse J. Sanchez is a songwriter, playwright, composer, and music director. As songwriter, he has been invited to various projects with Netflix and DreamWorks. He wrote the book, music, lyrics for new Mexican-American musical, SUEÑOS: Our American Musical. He co-wrote the libretto for Boston Lyric Opera’s Desert In, created by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, Ellen Reid. He’s writing music for the new musical, Sarah!, the first Black female millionaire, with book and lyrics by Joslyn Housley McLaughlin. He is arranger and music director for the new jukebox musical about the band Chicago, commissioned by Arizona Theatre Company and BMG Music. He received a 2022 Barn On Fire development residency with mentorship by Tony Award-winning director/choreographer, Jerry Mitchell, a 2021 NAMT Frank Young Development Grant, and was a 2021 finalist for the NAMT Festival of New Musicals (SUEÑOS), and was nominated for the Educator Grammy in 2014. Jesse is the resident music supervisor at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Sita Sunil is a composer, bookwriter, playwright, and painter based in New York City, originally from West Virginia. She developed her orchestral composition skillset with Rebecca Cherian of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. She is currently attending the BMI Lehmen Engel Musical Theater Workshop. She has composed for short films, concert performances, and soundtracks. Sunil co-composed Illegal: A New Musical with Chinese-American playwright Skyler Chin. In 2022, Illegal was named a Eugene O’Neill National Music Theater Conference semifinalist and NY Congresswoman Grace Meng and Senator Anna Kaplan commended the creative team for responding to recent anti-Asian hate through art. The Illegal team has kicked off an exciting season of shows in 2022 including Bronx Science, Manhasset, PS 130, Great Neck, UC Berkeley, Angel Island, and Flushing Town Hall. Stay tuned for more!