Takeaways from Day 3 of the ASCAP/Dreamworks Musical Theatre Workshop

Tonight's panelists were Michael Weiner and Alan Zachary, the writing team responsible for Broadway's First Date among many other impressive projects.

  • Solve the problem of your story's superstructure before you tackle its musicalization.
  • Don't take the path of least resistance when it comes to your song moments. There are moments that write themselves, but there will be times that require etching and digging to find the songs that have yet to be.
  • "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." - George Orwell, Animal Farm. Some characters have to be more important than others in order to give a solid through-line for the story to fall back on. Answer the question - "Whose story is this? Who am I rooting for?"
  • Don't leave vague empty gaps in your writing when it comes to action/staging. Even if the director changes it eventually, give her something to start with (I thought of Mrs. Lovitt's opening solo in Sweeney Todd and how it's very clear musically that she's busy pounding dough with very specific musical figures).
  • Don't rely solely on your lyrics to get the point across. Your music itself provides emotion, subtext and other storytelling elements. Don't ignore the effect your music is having on a scene's mood or premise.