Theatre Workshop Application Requirements


  • Composers/Lyricists: August 1, 2021.
  • Librettists: June 1, 2021.
  • Applicants will be notified by August 21, 2021.

Application Materials

  • Composer: Three contrasting compositions - uptempo, comedy song, ballad. Please include copy of score which includes lyrics.
  • Lyricist: Three contrasting lyrics in PDF format - uptempo, comedy song, ballad.
  • Composer/Lyricist: Three contrasting songs - uptempo, comedy song, ballad. Please include copy of score which includes lyrics.

Note that if you apply as a composer and a lyricist, you will be accepted as one or the other (that is, as either a composer or a lyricist) and you will be assigned different collaborators over the course of the year. If you apply as both a composer/lyricist and a librettist and are accepted as both, you will spend your first year as a composer/lyricist only, as the two groups meet at the same time.


Select applicants will be invited to audition in early September. Librettist are accepted on the basis of their written materials and are not required to audition.

At the auditions, composers and composer/lyricists will be asked to perform at least two contrasting theatrical compositions; lyricists will be asked to recite samples of their theatrical lyrics. All auditions must be done live, using a piano.

Program upon Acceptance

The Workshop runs September through May in New York City. Prospective members must make their own living arrangements in the city or be able to commute weekly.

During the first year, composers and lyricists are paired off and are asked to create appropriate songs based on scenes from various sources. The writers perform their assignments, which are then discussed by the other writers and the moderators. There are analyses and discussions of current and past musicals, with an eye to understanding form and structure. Every effort is made to insure that each writer retains his or her individual style.

In the Workshop’s final phase (Second Year), teams work on a musical. The Workshop functions as a forum and a sounding board for works in progress, as music and lyrics are critically evaluated and open dialogue is encouraged.

At the end of each Second Year, the Workshop Committee determines which writers from the group are invited to join the Advanced Workshop. Not everyone is asked. This Workshop is intended for writers of professional caliber who are expected to contribute to the vitality of the musical theatre scene.


The First Year Workshop meets Monday at 6:15 p.m. The Second Year Workshop meets Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. The Advanced Workshop meets Monday at 4:00 p.m.

Musical Theatre Bookwriting Basics

A new prologue to the established Librettists Workshop, Bookwriting Basics explores the fundamentals of writing book for the musical theatre through a series of lectures and assignments. This is a one-year course.

  • Fall Semester

    Award winning bookwriter Adam Mathias unlocks the toolkit for musical theatre librettists. Through lecture, discussion and assignments students learn how to apply the fundamentals of playwriting to the craft of creating musicals.

  • Spring Semester

    David Spencer, award winning bookwriter/lyricist and author of The Musical Theatre Writers’ Survival Guide, leads exploration through a series of masterworks to uncover what makes them work...and through analysis of promising source material for unsuccessful shows that had the potential to work…in which the class endeavors to solve inherent challenges that the original creative teams didn’t.

Librettists Workshop

After completing the Bookwriting Basics program, writers may apply to join the established Librettists Workshop group. Not all writers who apply will be invited to join.

Nancy Golladay, veteran Broadway literary manager and dramaturg, moderates a writers’ roundtable focused on developing the skills unique to musical theatre bookwriters. Members read and critique each other’s work as their material evolves from one-page synopses to fully scripted scenes — including occasional cold readings of an entire show. In a yearly collaborative project, the Librettists Workshop engages with the First Year Songwriting Class. Librettist Workshop members are also eligible to participate in Collaborator Connections events with members of the Songwriters Workshops.


Applicants must submit two writing samples, at least one of which must include comedic content.

Either or both acceptable samples could be:

  • a 10-page or longer excerpt from a script or other genre,
  • a complete one-act,
  • a full-length script.

Any of these may be in-progress, produced and/or published material.

Scripts from genres other than playscripts or musical theatre scripts – such as screenplays, TV specs or opera libretti – are also acceptable. The comedy excerpt may be from any literary genre, including articles or essays. However, theatrical comedy scenes are preferred to stand-up or sketch material.

In addition, writers must include a bio or resume.


Musical Theatre Bookwriting Basics — Tuesdays 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Librettists Workshop — Mondays 6:15 - 8:15 p.m.

All sessions take place at the BMI Offices in lower Manhattan from September through May. All prospective members must arrange to live in the greater New York City area or be able to commute weekly September through May. Please do not apply if this is not possible for you.

Applications must be submitted by June 1st.

The Faculty

  • Nancy Golladay

    Nancy has served as a literary consultant with the New York Shakespeare Festival, Paul Sills, the O'Neill Playwrights Conference, Ellis Rabb, Warner Brothers Films, Punch Productions, the Nederlander Organization, Tenterfield Productions, the La Jolla Playhouse, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and Davenport Theatrical. Nancy was actively involved in the founding of the U.K.'s Book, Music, and Lyrics (BML) Workshop, a group focused on the development of musical theatre writers and choreographers. She was an invited speaker at Mercury Musical Developments writers' conference in London, and appeared on the original Dramatists Guild "Art of the Synopsis" panel in New York. After joining the Workshop as a Librettist member herself, Nancy has served for many years on the Drama League/Drama Desk/Tony-Honored BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop as a member of its faculty and Advisory Committee as Moderator of the Librettists Workshop. In recent years, she has created a popular program of in-house table readings of its members' new projects.

  • Adam Mathias

    Adam received the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book, the Richard Rodgers Award, and the Jerry Bock Award for See Rock City & Other Destinations (Brad Alexander, composer — Off-Broadway Cast Recording on Yellow Sound Label, licensed by Samuel French.) Adam’s musical history of Fire Island, A History of Summer (Jonathan Monro, composer) has been seen in Toronto (Summerworks) and Chicago (Pride Films & Plays). A graduate of the DePaul University Theatre School (BFA, playwriting) and NYU Tisch (MFA, musical theatre writing), Adam has been a member of the BMI Workshop since 2002.

  • David Spencer

    Won a 2000 Kleban Award for excellence in theatre lyrics, plus a 2002 Richard Rodgers Development Award and 2002 Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Commendation Grant for his work as composer-lyricist on The Fabulist (book by Stephen Witkin based on the novel by John Vornholt). He is also librettist and lyricist to composer Alan Menken, for The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (based on the novel by Mordecai Richler), which had its sellout-extended 2015 world premiere in the story’s locale, Montreal (Original Cast Album on Ghostlight Records); and the 1992 science fiction musical Weird Romance (co-librettist: Alan Brennert, Original Cast Album on Columbia Masterworks, published version by Samuel French). Also as lyricist-librettist: the colloquial English-language adaptation of La Bohème for the Public Theatre (1984, professional debut). As composer-lyricist: Theatreworks/USA’s award-winning versions of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables (1996 and 1999 respectively, book & direction for both, Rob Barron). As author: The Musical Theatre Writers’ Survival Guide (Heinemann Drama, 2005 and still actively in print); and the original TV series tie-in novel Alien Nation: Passing Fancy (Pocket Books 1994, out of hard-copy print, but not hard to find — and impressively ebooked for the new millennium by unknown parties; also not hard to find).


There is no fee to apply for or participate in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop.

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