NOTES FROM NOW - Writer Biographies
Written by: Jay Adana; Troy Anthony; Masi Asare; Jeff Blumenkrantz; Georgie Castilla & Jaime Lozano; Gretchen Cryer; Tia DeShazor & Derrick Byars; Alexandra Elle & Stephen Schwartz; Adam Gwon; Douglas Lyons & Ethan Pakchar; Peter Mills, Ryan Scott Oliver; Michelle J. Rodriguez; Angela Sclafani; Paulo K Tiról; Amanda Yesnowitz & Deborah Abramson.
DEBORAH ABRAMSON has served as Music Director or Associate Music Director for several Broadway and Off-Broadway premieres, including Spring Awakening, James Joyce’s The Dead, Bernarda Alba, Dessa Rose, The Glorious Ones, and Broadbend, Arkansas. First Children's Music Director on Broadway for Matilda the Musical. Music Director for world premiere of The Gardens of Anuncia (Old Globe) and English-language premiere of Maybe Happy Ending (Alliance Theatre). As composer, she has written Old Older Oldest (with William Finn), Young Marco Polo (with Peter Mills, developed with Prospect), The History of War (with Amanda Yesnowitz and Chip Zien), and While I Wait (with Amanda Yesnowitz).
JAY ADANA (she/her) is loud and shy. The Loophole (Public Theater Studio, music and lyrics), The Woodsman (New World Stages, lyrics), Fingerpaintings (Playwrights Horizons Downtown, music and lyrics), LeFay (Musical Theater Factory, book and lyrics), The Last Tiger in Haiti (Berkeley Rep/La Jolla Playhouse, contributed music and lyrics). 2020 Richard Rodgers Award for The Loophole with Zeniba Now, 2021 Vivace Award for Vera & The Battle For New Seoul with Zeniba Now, 2018 Jonathan Larson Award, 2019 Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellow. Work featured by PBS, The American Theater Wing, Joe’s Pub, and The Dramatist Magazine.
TROY ANTHONY is a Kentucky-born composer, director, and theater-maker based in NYC practicing Black queer joy. He is the founding artistic director of the Fire Ensemble where he focuses on the intersection between music theater, community practice, and social justice. He has presented work at The Shed, Joe’s Pub, Musical Theater Factory (MTF), Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Prospect, and JACK to name a few. Commissions include The 5th Avenue Theater, Public Theater, The Shed, and The Civilians. He has also been seen in the Public Theater’s Hercules, Twelfth Night, and As You Like It. Troy recently received the Vivace Award from the Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation and is currently an artist-in-residence at The Chelsea Factory.
MASI ASARE is a composer, lyricist, and playwright. Shows: Paradise Square (Broadway/Nederlander Theatre Chicago); The Family Resemblance (Theatre Royal Stratford East commission, developed O’Neill Center); Monsoon Wedding (upcoming international tour planned); Sympathy Jones (NYMF/Playscripts); Mirror of Most Value (Marvel/Samuel French); and commissions from Barbara Whitman/Grove Entertainment and Victory Gardens Theatre. Honors: Dramatists Guild Fellowship; inaugural Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award for a woman composer of musicals; Holof Lyricist Award and Haupt Composition Prize from the O’Neill Center; Stacey Mindich "Go Write A Musical" Lilly Award. Masi holds degrees from Harvard and NYU Tisch and is on faculty at Northwestern University.
JEFF BLUMENKRANTZ received a Best Score Tony Award nomination as one of the co-writers of Urban Cowboy. His musical Scaffolding was performed by Rebecca Luker for the 2018 Inner Voices. Jeff is the recipient of the 2011 Fred Ebb Award, as well as commissions from Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Guggenheim Works and Process. His songs have been recorded by Audra McDonald, Sutton Foster, Megan Mullally, Rebecca Luker, and Victoria Clark, among others. To listen: The Jeff Blumenkrantz Songbook Podcast (iTunes), I’ve Been Played: Alysha Umphress Swings Jeff Blumenkrantz. Jeff is also a performer. www.jeffblumenkrantz.com
DERRICK BYARS is a professional writer, composer, director, and theatre artist. He is currently a part of the Tony Award-winning BMI Musical Theatre Advanced Workshop. His work was featured most recently in Prospect's 2021 REIGNITE concert. Derrick is also the Director of Music at Park Avenue UMC and the founder of Mosaix, an organization whose mission is to advance the world’s evolution towards diversity and accessibility in the arts. As a composer, lyricist, and bookwriter, Derrick wants his work to be diverse and have a strong message that helps us move forward. Diversity is the key to moving forward.
GEORGIE CASTILLA is an NJ/NYC-based lyricist, production designer, and costume designer for film and theater. Born and raised in Yucatán, Mexico, he has a BFA in Theater and an Associate’s Degree in Historical Fashion. An active member in the Latinx community, his work in musical theater includes Mitos (Mexico), Songs by an Immigrant (Broadway Records), Late Bloomer (Lewis Center for the Arts), and Canciones Para Navidad (Lucille Lortel Theatre).
GRETCHEN CRYER is most well known for writing the book and lyrics and starring in I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road (with music by Nancy Ford) which won the Joseph Jeﬀerson Award for Best Musical, Best Actress, and a Grammy nomination for the album. Gretchen has written numerous other shows with Nancy Ford which have won the Obie Award, the Best Musical Drama Desk Award, and the Outer Critics Circle Award. She is currently writing book, lyrics, and music for a new musical, House On Fire. Gretchen is on the Dramatist Guild Council and is President Emeritus of the Dramatists Guild Foundation
TIA DESHAZOR is an actor, lyricist, and librettist. She is in the Advanced BMI Lehman-Engel Musical Theatre Workshop where she developed The Pact. Her short musicals The Rocket Thrower and The Slow Movement were featured in Prospect's Musical Theater Lab. She has also written for Girlhood, the Musical and is currently adapting the children’s book Hula Hoopin Queen for New York City Children’s Theater. Tia produced a sold-out show of her own work, The New Black Leading Lady, featuring songs from musical comedies. She’s the co-founder of BOLD.
ALEXANDRA ELLE is an author, certified breathwork coach, and writing to heal facilitator living in Maryland with her husband and children. Writing came into her life by way of therapy and the exploration of healing through journaling. The intention behind Alex’s work is to build community & self-care practices through literature & language. Quarterly, Alex teaches workshops, online courses, and retreats centered around assisting others in finding their voices through storytelling rooted in truth without shame.
ADAM GWON Off-Broadway: Scotland, PA (Roundabout - Drama Desk nomination, NYT Critics Pick), Ordinary Days (Roundabout, Keen Company revival - Drama League Award nomination); Regional: String (Village Theatre), Cake Off (Signature Theatre - Helen Hayes nomination), Cloudlands (South Coast Rep), The Boy Detective Fails (Signature), Bernice Bobs Her Hair (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma); West End: Ordinary Days (Trafalgar Studios). Honors: Kleban, Ebb, Loewe, Richard Rodgers Awards, 2ST Donna Perret Rosen Award, Weston Playhouse New Musical Award, ASCAP Adamson Award, MAC Wallowitch Award. Recordings: Ordinary Days, Audra McDonald's Go Back Home, Artists in Residence, The Essential Liz Callaway, Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Album.
JAIME LOZANO Considered by Lin-Manuel Miranda as the “next big thing” on Broadway. Joe’s Pub Working Group 2021-2022. The Civilians’ R&D Group 2020. JACK Resident Artists 2021. Selected: The Yellow Brick Road (Off-Broadway & National Tour), Carmen La Cubana (European Tour), Children of Salt (NYMF 2016), A Never-Ending Line (Off-Broadway), Savage, Present Perfect, Desaparecidas. Albums: R.Evolución Latina’s Dare to Go Beyond, A Never-Ending Line, Songs by an Immigrant, these last two released by Broadway Records. Film: In the Heights (orchestrator). MFA: NYU/Tisch, Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. Proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America, BMI and Grammy and Latin Grammy voting member.
DOUGLAS LYONS is an actor, writer, director, composer-lyricist, and playwright. This season he made his Broadway playwriting debut with Chicken and Biscuits and TV debut as a writer & composer on Apple TV's “Fraggle Rock.” Douglas’ music and lyrics have been featured on BET Plus, CBS's “Sunday Morning” Show, Carnegie Hall's Voices of Hope Festival, and Lincoln Center’s Broadway Songbook Series. As an actor his Broadway and touring credits include Beautiful (OBC), The Book of Mormon, Dreamgirls, and Rent. He's the founder of The Next Wave Initiative, a scholarship program dedicated to future Black artists. All the love.
PETER MILLS is a composer/lyricist and bookwriter, whose most recent show The Hello Girls was nominated for 3 Drama Desk Awards and 4 Outer Critics Circle Awards. Other works: Illyria, Golden Boy Of The Blue Ridge, and The Honeymooners (lyrics). Awards include: the Kleban Prize, the Fred Ebb Award, the Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, the Cole Porter Award, a Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation grant, the Donna Perret Rosen Award, and two Drama Desk Award nominations for The Pursuit Of Persephone. ASCAP member, NYU's Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program alum, and a founding member of Prospect Theater Company.
RYAN SCOTT OLIVER was called “the future of Broadway… a major new voice in musical theatre” (Entertainment Weekly). He wrote the music and lyrics for Jasper in Deadland (Prospect NYC Premiere); 35mm: A Musical Exhibition; We Foxes; Darling; Mrs. Sharp; and others. He’s currently at work on an adaption of Hugo (based on the 2011 Martin Scorsese film) with Christopher Wheeldon and Brian Selznick, Tethered with Adam Chanler-Berat, and Heart and Souls with Kirsten Guenther for Universal Theatricals.
ETHAN PAKCHAR is a composer, guitarist, and writer. He is half of the music/theater team “Lyons & Pakchar”: Five Points world premiere (MN Theatre Award for Exceptional New Work, Theatre Latte Da), Beau (Adirondack Theatre Festival). Commissions: '64 (The 5th Ave), The Funeral (Prospect), and The Hamlet Remix. Pakchar, along with Lyons and Relentless Award-winning playwright Harrison David Rivers, is currently developing Five Points with Hamilton's Andy Blankenbuehler. As a guitarist, Ethan has played for Sara Bareilles, Jennifer Hudson, Billy Porter, Cynthia Erivo, the Radio City Orchestra, the house band of the Apollo Theater, and the Broadway productions of Hamilton, Wicked, The Book of Mormon, Lion King, and Dear Evan Hansen.
MICHELLE J. RODRIGUEZ (she/her) performs and writes in the worlds of music and theater, exploring kids-of-immigrants stories, divine femininity, intuition, joy as resistance, healing and spaces in-between. Her music project MICHA became a finalist for NPR’s 2018 Tiny Desk Contest with her song “Nena Nena Nena,” with a “bilingual set spanning laid-back southern soul and Latin pop flare” (NPR). Rodriguez is a commissioned artist at Portland Center Stage and Black Cap Productions, a Van Lier Fellow at Ars Nova and a member of their Makers Lab. She is represented by WME.
STEPHEN SCHWARTZ wrote music and lyrics for the current Broadway hit Wicked. Other shows to which he has contributed music and/or lyrics are Godspell, Pippin, The Magic Show, The Baker’s Wife, Working, Rags, and Children of Eden. For film, he wrote the songs for DreamWorks' The Prince of Egypt and the lyrics for Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, both of which have been adapted for stage. Other films include lyrics for Disney's Pocahontas and Enchanted. Awards include the Theatre Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame, Hollywood Walk of Fame, three Academy Awards, four Grammy Awards, and the Isabelle Stevenson special Tony Award.
ANGELA SCLAFANI is an NYC-based composer and performer. Theatrical projects include her song cycle Passion Project and her original musical The Other Side of Paradise, which premiered in Ars Nova's ANTFest. She has released three EPs of original music as well as a collection of reimagined Stevie Nicks songs. Angela is a 2019 Fred Ebb Award Winner and a 2018 Richie Jackson Artist Fellow. She is a two-time first-place winner in the Great American Songwriting Contest and a 2020 finalist in the Unsigned Only Music Competition. Prospect 2021 Musical Theater Lab, Rule of Three. She earned her BFA at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
PAULO K TIRÓL is a composer, lyricist, and bookwriter who mostly draws inspiration from his Filipino immigrant roots. This time, though, he draws inspiration from his husband Jeremy, a high school chemistry teacher of 23 years in the Jersey City public school system, and all other teachers who have kept on keeping on since school went remote in March 2020. So much gratitude to Prospect for yet another collaboration, and for this opportunity to honor educators, as well as all other heroes throughout this pandemic. More about Paulo's work at www.paulophonic.com; IG @pauloktirol; also www.onthissideoftheworld.com.
AMANDA YESNOWITZ Winner of the Kleban Prize, Jonathan Larson Award, Dottie Burman Award, Jamie deRoy Award, Dramatists Guild Fellowship, Berklee Outstanding Alumni Award, and 8 MAC nominations, all for excellence in lyric writing. Musicals: Christmas in Connecticut (Broadway Licensing commission), Somewhere in Time (Portland Center Stage), Do No Harm (Davenport Theatrical), By The Numbers (Goodspeed Mercer Grove), The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Hangar Theatre), The History of War (NYMF), May/December (Oldcastle Theatre). Featured lyricist: ASCAP Centennial at the Kennedy Center, Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall, ”Gotta Start Small” (Stephanie Block; PS Classics, PBS/Live from Lincoln Center). Amanda is also a published NY Times crossword constructor.