On April 30 in New York City, BMI staged its semi-annual Spring Smoker showcase, where industry executives enjoyed performances from participants in the Tony-honored BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. The Smoker, now in its eleventh inception, was inspired by the Cambridge University gatherings of Workshop alumnus and mentor Maury Yeston.
Twenty-two featured participants presented sections of twelve new musicals during the event, including The Suicide by Raymond Bokhour and Simon Gray; The Thing About Joe, by Randy Klein and Matthew Hardy; Dan Isreal, Pheobe Kreutz and Adam Mathias’ The Dirty Hippie Jam Band Project; Peter Yarin and Justin Warner’s The Masked Zinfandel; Greenbrier Ghost, by Clay Zambo and Susan Murray; Craig Baldwin and Kathy Lombardi’s adaptation of Strindberg’s The Stronger; The Diller Killer, by Phillip Chernyak; and The Wasp Woman, co-created by Chernyak and Blake Hackler.
Previous Smoker participants include Best Musical Tony Award winners Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx (Avenue Q), Nancy Ford and Gretchen Cryer (I’m Getting My Act Together… ), Eric Rockwell and Joann Bogart (The Musical of Musicals, The Musical) Amanda Green and Tom Kitt (High Fidelity), and Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal).
Founded by Lehman Engel in 1961, the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, fully funded by the BMI foundation at no cost to its participants, was created in order to nurture the craft of musical theatre by providing new writers with a testing ground for their work under the guidance of experienced professionals within the industry.
Notable alumni and members include Maury Yeston (Titanic, Grand Hotel, Nine), Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal), Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid), Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), Edward Kleban (A Chorus Line), Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Once on This Island, Dessa Rose), Gerard Alessandrini (Forbidden Broadway) and Michael John LaChiusa (Hello Again, Marie Christine, The Wild Party).