[Richard Rodgers (music), Agnes De Mille (director and choreographer) and Oscar Hammerstein II (book and lyrics) at rehearsal for Allegro], Digital ID PSNYPL_THE_4533, New York Public LibraryMusical theater is an exceptionally collaborative art form, and finding the right collaborator can be as complicated as dating. Although New York City is filled with hopeful musical theater writers and composers, it is also, as Sondheim's Marta sings in Company, "a city of strangers" where making connections of any kind can be difficult.
However, part of the mission of the New York Public Library is to "strengthen our communities," and so today I am pleased to announce Across A Crowded Room a summer project that I hope will strengthen the community of musical theater makers. Around every two weeks this summer, I will post a songwriting prompt (often from a celebrity contributor) to the Across A Crowded Room website. You can contribute either music or lyrics in response, or provide music/lyrics to someone else's submission. If you're a singer, and you find a finished song you like, you can perform the song on YouTube or SoundCloud and link to it in the comments.
Throughout the summer, we will hold in-person events at the Library for the Performing Arts where you can meet your virtual collaborators and see if creative sparks fly. At the end of the year, we may hold a concert in the Bruno Walter Auditorium (where the Tony Award nominations are announced!) to present some of the collaborations.
You don't have to be in New York to participate, though! We will use Google Hangout and Youtube to try to bring as many remote participants to the live events as possible.
For now, though, get to work! The first challenge (submitted by musical theater composer, lyricist, and director, Jason Robert Brown) is available on the site. Have fun and make beautiful musicals together!
Start collaborating: Across a Crowded Room