The Broadway Producer Pick List for 2018!

It’s that time of year, readers!  It’s Producer Pick List time!

Don’t have a @#$%ing clue what I’m talking about?

Ok, let me recap.

We get a ton of scripts submitted to us here at the office from all sorts of folks . . .  agents, friends, investors, PROs, and cold submissions too (although we’ve had to turn those off for a bit as we catch up on all of the ones that have come in from years past).

We can’t produce them all.  Heck, it’s hard to produce even a few.  (Truth be told – more often than not submissions don’t end up getting produced.  Instead, writers from submissions go on our list of folks to track and meet with for future projects – and we’ve hired a bunch of people that way.)

But just because we don’t produce them doesn’t mean the submissions aren’t good!  In fact, we’ve stumbled on some GREAT ones.

We hated not giving some recognition to these unproduced plays and musicals, so . . .  we started a list of the Top 10 Unproduced Plays Or Musicals We’ve Read This Year . . . also called The Producer Pick List!  (See here for the original post about The List from back in 2016.)

And so . . . our list for 2018 is below, along with links to the material from each show, all for your reading pleasure.

Our hope is that while we can’t produce these right now . . . one of you just might!

Congratulations to everyone on the list and here’s to productions for all of them in 2019!

  1. A Green Umbrella by Loren Lester and Jeffrey Silverman
  2. Bonhoeffer the Musical by Scott Wilkinson and Richard John Lewis
  3. Girl from Treblinka by Leonard David Stone
  4. Leveling Up by Deborah Zoe Laufer (directed by Wendy C. Golberg)
  5. Mary Marie by Chana Wise and Carl Johnson
  6. Michael Collins by Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham
  7. Poor Players by Ron Kaehler
  8. Scotland, PA by Adam Gwon and Michael Mitnick
  9. The Secret Court by Tony Speciale and members of Plastic Theatre
  10. The Sycamore Street Kite Flying Club by Juliana Jones and Roy M. Rogosin


Want to submit your script?  Click here to sign up to be notified when we are accepting scripts again.

What Marie Kondo can teach you about rewriting your script.

If you don’t know who Marie Kondo is, then you’re probably living under a very untidy rock.

Marie Kondo is the author of the bestselling The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and the star of the new Netflix series “Tidying Up” which has become the hot water-cooler conversation of late.

Ms. Kondo is an organizational guru who changes lives by changing how you keep your home clean.

So, my Type A peeps out there?  You’re going to love her.  And the non-Type A’s?  She’s just what your cluttered closet ordered.

Her basic principle of “tidying” is pretty simple.  Instead of looking at what is in your closet and saying, “What should I throw away,” she turns the question around to ask a positive one . . . “What should I keep?”  And her rule about what stays around is . . .

Only hold on to items that “spark joy.”

So vivid, right?

A sweater that sparks joy stays.  If you don’t feel joyous when you put on those jeans, out they go.  Same with trinkets or books . . .  or even people.  🙂

This got me to thinking about how to apply it to the development of shows and more specifically, how Authors should deal with the notes they get on a script.

If you’re a writer then you know . . . everyone has an idea on how to rewrite your script, right?  And every time you do a reading or send it around, you probably get so many notes, you don’t know where to start . . . and end up not starting at all.

Feedback can be overwhelming, which is why I suggest following the Marie Kondo approach.

See, too many writers I know (especially new ones) take ALL the notes they are given by all the various people who give them . . . and the next draft ends up looking like some kind of collage of a show with no singular vision.

Writers need to know how to filter the feedback they receive, so the show gets better and remains the same show the writer wants to write.

How do you filter?

You Kondo your feedback.

Writers should only take notes that “spark joy.”

When you get a note, you should think about it, roll it around, debate it if you must, and wait for it to give you a burning desire to get back to the keyboard to make the change.

If it doesn’t even get you excited about doing the rewrite?  Forget the note altogether.  Because even if you take it, you won’t write it well, so why bother?

To be a successful rewriter, you must be enthusiastic about the process if you’re going to improve your script.

But you should never sacrifice the story that you want to tell just because someone else has ideas on how they would write it.

They are not you.  The script is not theirs.  It’s yours.

So write the show you want to write, and let Marie Kondo make it even tidier.

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Want to learn how to self-diagnose your own script so you don’t have to hear from anyone else? 🙂  Download our “How To Self Diagnosis Your Script” execution plan today and get your script better by tonight! Click here.

Looking for expert feedback on your script from my Director of Creative Development or Ken Davenport? Click here to apply for our script coverage services.


Podcast Episode 176 – Two Time Tony Award-Winning Composer/Lyricist, Maury Yeston

There was one disappointing thing that I kept thinking during the recording of my podcast with Maury Yeston.

During the recording of my podcast with the two time Tony winner, I kept thinking how disappointed I was . . . that I didn’t have him on sooner.

You’ll hear what I mean from the get-go of this episode.

Because not only is Maury a super-talented genius of an artist and a Grand Master of the Musical Theater form, he has a passionate positivity for our business that few can match.

And it wasn’t always easy for the man who dreamed up Nine and wrote the “other” Phantom . . . not to mention writing one of my favorite musical theater songs of all time.

We talked about his struggle to “make it” along with . . .

  • Why he wrote Nine before he even had the rights to the film on which it was based.
  • How critics have changed, and how he believes they should write their reviews (this one is not only for the critics out there, but for anyone who has asked for advice on a show, or tweets, etc.)
  • The most important thing he learned in his decades with the Lehman Engel BMI Workshop, both as a student and as head of the program.
  • How bad reviews for an out of town tryout can actually be a blessing in disguise.
  • What he thinks is the biggest mistake writers make today.

Enjoy this podcast, and I wish you the same joy in your work as Maury takes in his.

Click here for my podcast with Maury!

Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)

Download it here.

A Tip Of The Hat To Hollywood for Their Latest Heroes.

Over the last few years, Hollywood has taken a lot of slings and arrows for its lack of diversity and inclusion, in front of the camera as well as behind.  (And while I’m proud to say that Broadway is doing better . . . we’ve still got a ways to go. Please don’t think I’m letting us off the hook!  Also, listen to Lynn Ahrens school me on how each one of us can play a part in this initiative here.)

But recently, I watched two movies from our sister industry that made me think something is changing for the better.  And I see it as a trend that will affect story-telling on both coasts and all over the world.

Those films?

A Quiet Place and Birdbox, two flicks that surprised everyone with their out-of-nowhere success.

Warning:  this blog contains spoiler alerts, so if you’re thinking of seeing either film, come back to this blog after you do.  (Or, shameless plug alert – just join our list of subscribers to get the blog emailed to you so you can be reminded to come back.)

What do these films have in common?

Yes, both are of the suspense-horror genre.

Yes, both were medium budget properties under $20mm.

And yes, the people who held the secrets to the problems of both films were people with “disabilities” . . . or as I think they should be referred to in futures scenarios . . . “superabilities.”

In A Quiet Place, the daughter of our protagonist (who ends up losing his fight with the “monster”) believes she’s putting the family in jeopardy because she’s deaf but ends up saving the day . . . because she’s deaf.

In Birdbox, Sandra Bullock reaches the end of her harrowing and blindfolded journey down rapids toward a group of people who have found a way to survive despite this movie’s monsters . . . she discovers that the reason they all survived is . . . because they were blind.

What these movies and hopefully the many more that follow (along with tv shows, books, and yes, Broadway, Broadway, Broadway) show is that the ability to fly, turn into an Iron Man, wave a wand, chant “Expecto Patronum,” or make a Dementor disappear . . . ain’t the only superpowers out there to tell stories about.

A superpower can be anything, including what so many people might think is not a superpower at all.

So as you look to tell stories, look for those with superabilities as well.  Like Birdbox and A Quiet Place, you’ll stand out.  (Just hopefully not for long, because we need these niche stories to become more mainstream.)

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Have a script in your desk drawer that you’re looking to dust off and take to the next level?  Before you rewrite it, click here to learn how to self-diagnose any issues it may have, so you can fast track it to success.

GUEST BLOG: An American in the U.K. by Jessica Rose McVay

Johnathan Larson wrote it best in Rent: “New York City. Center of the Universe…” So why, after 5 years in New York, did London call me away to start over from scratch? Here are the five reasons Big Smoke called me away from the Big Apple.


1. Public Funds

Unless you are 501(c)(3) registered, it is nearly impossible to get public funding in the U.S. There are one-off grants every year, but there is no major funding for small, unregistered companies. In the U.K., the Arts Council accepts applications on a rolling basis and for an application up to £15,000, you receive a decision within 6 weeks. These grants are not only important in funding the work but are also helpful in building your producing skills. You have to match the amount you apply for in either in-kind donations or other money. So don’t think we’re only using national funding, but it’s great to know that the government believes in us as much as we believe in ourselves.


2. Equity Isn’t Prohibitive

Every actor I have worked with from readings to full productions is part of Equity. There isn’t the great divide between actors who have accrued enough points to get their card and those who haven’t; a divide which seems to deepen the farther from 16-25 playing age we get. However, hiring all Equity actors haven’t made it cost prohibitive for me to produce. No one is getting rich on these shows, but it feels good to pay everyone a living wage!


3. A Great Artistic Melting Pot

I am a Director as well as a Producer. I have always wanted to work on an adaptation, but the theatrical model in the U.S. is still dominated by the playwright driven script, and the stories I wanted to tell didn’t have scripts that I loved. When I came to the U.K. for graduate school, I met the incredible Sally Cookson whose work I had admiredShe taught our class part of her adaptation process, which was led by herself and her company. It freed me and it opened my eyes to more models of theatre-making. The U.K theatre is a great melting pot of makers and processes- you can find the one that fits, or make your own.



We have a long way to go in moving away from an older, white, male-centric model of theatre-making, but I can see the changes happening. And here I have many models of women who are making their work both within institutions and freelance, on every scale and in every corner of the country. (I am still waiting for the year that we have an entirely female docket of Creative Team nominees at an awards show.) Until then, I am encouraged and excited by the women creating work and that our visibility is increasing daily.


5. The Right Fit

I’ve lived and worked in Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York before settling in London. There is something here, an excitement in myself and in my work that never sparked elsewhere. Producing and directing, especially as an emerging artist without a home institution, can be a lonely endeavor. I didn’t want a city which made me feel even more lonely. London is just the right fit. So find the city, town, or village where you feel the spark!


I hope you find the place that enhances your spark. And if you come to London and want to talk work, moving across the pond, or want to see a show, shoot me an email.

Jessica Rose McVay is a London based director, movement director, producer, and founder of Jessica Rose McVay Productions Ltd. She is a graduate of UCLA’s School of Theater Film and Television with a BA in Theater Arts with a specialization in direction, and a minor in Asian Humanities, and of Bristol Old Vic Theatre School where she earned her MA in Drama Directing and won the Elsa Roberts Directing Award for her production of Sarah Kane’s Crave. She is an Associate Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society in the U.S., and a Member of Stage Directors U.K.