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Learning From the Masters

Posted in News on December 2, 2003
The Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop conducted its third Master Class on November 19 with Tony Award-winning composers Terrence McNally and Jonathan Tunick. The new program, launched last December, features theatre music "masters" critiquing two projects developed by members of the Librettist and Advanced Composer-Lyricist classes in the Workshop.


Seen here after the third BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop Master Class are "master" Terrence McNally, "Groundhog" writers Jack Lechner and Laurence Goldberg, "master" Jonathan Tunick, "Chasing Garbo" writer Andy Monroe, BMI Workshop Committee member and Master Class moderator David Spencer, and BMI's Jean Banks. Photo: Gary Gershoff

"Chasing Garbo" by Andy Monroe and "Groundhog" by Jack Lechner and Laurence Goldberg were the featured shows critiqued in the Master Class, with each writing team presenting 25 minutes of their work. "Chasing Garbo" is a based on the 1984 film "Garbo Talks," which starred Anne Bancroft, Ron Silver and Carrie Fisher. "Groundhog" is the tale of a community caught in a time-trap.

Orchestrator, composer and conductor Jonathan Tunick, who has worked both on Broadway and for films, was a member of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop during Lehman Engel's tenure. He has a long history of collaboration with BMI Workshop writers, including serving as musical supervisor and orchestrator of the original production of Maury Yeston's "Nine" as well as orchestrator of the current revival. He wrote orchestrations for "A Chorus Line," with lyrics by BMI's Edward Kleban, and won the first Tony Award given for orchestrations for Maury Yeston's "Titanic." Tunick's work can also be heard on "The Maury Yeston Songbook." He orchestrated Michael John LaChuisa's "Marie Christine" and Patrick Cook and Frederick Freyer's "Captains Courageous." Tunick has also orchestrated many works by Stephen Sondheim.

Playwright, librettist and four-time Tony Award-winner Terrence McNally is equally at home in the musical and non-musical theatre. He is the librettist for "The Rink," "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "The Full Monty" and collaborated with BMI Workshop writers Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty on the multi-Tony Award-winning musical "Ragtime" and the Lincoln Center production of "A Man of No Importance." McNally's work for the stage includes "Next," "The Ritz" (also filmed), "Frankie and Johnnie at the Claire de Lune" (also filmed), "Lips Together, Teeth Apart," "Love! Valour! Compassion!" also filmed), "Master Class," "Corpus Christie" and the Emmy winning teleplay "Andre's Mother."

Attendance for the Master Class is limited to members of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. The Workshop, founded by Broadway conductor Lehman Engel, is currently represented on Broadway by "Nine," "Little Shop of Horrors," "Avenue Q" and "Beauty and the Beast."