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The BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop

Musical Theatre is America’s natural treasure, and BMI’s support for this cherished form is but one more example of its commitment to the writers and publishers of all genres of music.

In 1961, BMI joined forces with the late Lehman Engel, dean of American musical theatre conductors, to create a setting in which new writers for the musical theatre could learn their craft. An innovative program at its inception, the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop continues to flourish in its fiftieth year, and is considered to be the foremost training ground for new writing voices, nurturing shows like A Chorus Line, Little Shop of Horrors, Nine, Once On This Island, Ragtime, Avenue Q, Next To Normal, and The Book of Mormon.  The Workshop received a special Tony Award in 2007, and a Drama Desk Award in 2006.

During the First Year, songwriters explore the basics of writing for the musical theatre through a series of assignments, which culminates in the creation of a 10-minute musical presented at the conclusion of the year. This class is moderated by Patrick Cook and Frederick Freyer.

The Second Year concentrates on the creation of a complete full-length musical, emphasizing the relationship of the libretto (“book”) to the score. At the conclusion of the Second Year, participants present excerpts from their musicals in progress. The year is moderated by Patrick Cook, Frederick Freyer, and David Spencer. A limited number of writers from the Second Year group are invited into the Advanced Workshop.

The Advanced Workshop combines members who have come up through the ranks as well as seasoned professionals presenting work from ongoing musicals.  Participation is by invitation only. Moderators include Lynn Ahrens, Michael Korie, Robert Lopez, Richard Maltby, and Maury Yeston.


In addition to crafting scripts for the musical theatre, members of the Librettists Workshop collaborate with members of the songwriting workshops in a series of assignments which link book and song. Veteran Broadway literary manager and dramaturg Nancy Golladay serves as Librettists Workshop moderator.

(All faculty and moderator positions are subject to professional commitments.)

The Workshop is operated by BMI free of any cost to participants. In addition to completing an application form, admission for the composer-lyricist workshop is based initially on submission of CDs by composers and composer/lyricists, lyrics by lyricists and composer/lyricists, and set-ups by all applicants for each song. Lyricists can also supply CDs. Admission for the Librettists Workshop is based on the submission of a writing sample in a theatrical script format as well as the application form. Finalists for the composer-lyricist workshops will be asked to audition their materials in person. Writers need not be affiliated with BMI. The competition for Workshop membership is open to all.