Musical Theatre Songwriting Challenge -

National Endowment for the Arts


CÉSAR ALVAREZ – Mentor, Aaron Richert

César Alvarez is a New York-based composer, lyricist, and writer. His work lives in the intersection of music, theater and participatory performance. César has written four full-length musicals, released four albums with his band The Lisps, and composed scores for contemporary dance, plays and film. His musical FUTURITY received the 2016 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical, four other Lortel Nominations. César has received two Drama Desk Nominations, a Sundance/Ucross fellowship and a Jonathan Larson Award. Recent composition credits: FURURITY (Soho Rep/Ars Nova, A.R.T, Walker Art Center, Mass MoCA); The Elementary Spacetime Show (FringeArts/UArts); Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' An Octoroon (Soho Rep, TFANA); Washeteria (Soho Rep); The Foundry Theater's Good Person of Szechwan

(LaMaMa, The Public Theater); In development: The Universe is a Small Hat, a multi-player participatory musical (Berkeley Rep Ground Floor, Civilians R&D Group, PRELUDE NYC, Babycastles, Sarah Lawrence College) and NOISE (NYU/Playwrights Downtown). César is a 2018-20 Princeton Arts Fellow and the founding Artistic Director of Polyphone, a festival of new musicals at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory and received his MFA at Bard College.


TY DEFOE – Mentor, Eliza Corrington & Braxton Carr

Ty Defoe (Giizhig) (He| Him | They | We | Us) Oneida and Ojibwe Nations. Recent Off-Broadway credit: Masculinity Max (Directed by Dustin Wills, The Public Theater). Recent Television: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix). Grammy Award and 2017 Jonathan Larson Award winner. Book and lyrics, Clouds Are Pillows for the Moon with composer Tidtaya Sinutoke (Yale Institute for Musical Theatre, ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop); Hart Island Requiem (The Civilians R&D Group, GoodSpeed Musicals); Red Pine (Native Voices at the Autry; IAIA of Santa Fe); The Way They Lived (by Micharne Cloughley with The Civilians at the Met).


J. OCONER NAVARRO – Mentor, Fritz Hager

J. Oconer Navarro is an award-winning writer, music director, arranger, pianist, vocal coach, and educator based in NYC. He is a recipient of the American Theatre Wing Jonathan Larson Grant, and an alumnus of the Composer-Librettist Studio at New Dramatists. AWAKENING, his musical based upon the novella by Kate Chopin (Book by Jenny Stafford, Lyrics by Joel B. New) was a Finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Music Theater Conference, the Yale Institute of Music Theatre, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, and the recipient of the Margo Lion Award. His one-act musical BIRTH DAY (conceived with Diana Glazer) was developed and produced by Prospect Theater Company and was also presented for National Asian Artists Project’s inaugural Discover: New Musicals series. ONWARD, a musical triptych (Words by Katie Kring) was developed by Prospect Theater Company and played Off-Broadway’s 59E59 Theaters. THE NEW PEGGY (Book by co-lyrics by Drew Larimore) played a successful concert at The Green Room 42 and will be released in radio play format in Summer 2018. He is currently penning a new musical about a family living through the collapse and gentrification of  Detroit with Van Lier fellow Keelay Gipson; a cross-historical and international examination at how women’s fashion enhances, masks, and manipulates women’s sexuality with playwright Cheri Magid; and a Filipino-American chamber piece that delves into the loss of culture through generations, and how looking back helps and hinders moving forward. J. is widely recognized for his work in Music Direction. Broadway Music Department: CURTAINS, THE HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES, MARY POPPINS, NEXT TO NORMAL Off-Broadway: FIRST DAUGHTER SUITE (The Public Theater; Cast Album: Ghostlight/Sh-K-Boom Records), iOW@ (Playwrights Horizons), ADDING MACHINE (Minetta Lane Theatre; Lortel, Obie, and Outer Critics Circle Awards; Cast Album: PS Classics), SUMMER AND SMOKE (Transport Group/Classic Stage Company), WE THE PEOPLE (Theatreworks USA; Lortel Nomination), WHIDA PERU: RESURRECTION TANGLE (Primary Stages), TWELFTH NIGHT (The Public Theater/Public Works/ Shakespeare in the Park) Regional: MY SCARY GIRL (Barrington Stage Company), THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, RAGTIME (Hangar Theatre), BARRIO GRRRL! (The Kennedy Center; Helen Hayes Nomination), BENNY AND




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