2017-2018 Commission Writers Announced!

Next year’s writers for the Musical Theatre commissioning project have been announced—Mike Reid and Sarah Schlesinger. Mike and Sarah will be on campus in April to meet with the junior MT class and get to know them as artists and humans. They will be back in September with a draft of a musical for them! 

MIKE REID (composer) has been both one of the most-feared defensive linemen in the NFL and the writer of more than 30 top-10 country and pop hits, including Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me"—a song that has been recorded by 538 artists (including Adele) and is #8 on the list of the 100 Greatest Songs of All Time. Son of a railroad worker from Altoona, Pennsylvania, Mike was an All-American defensive tackle at Penn State; the #1 draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1970; an All-Pro in ’72 and ’73; inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame; and recipient of the Outland Trophy.

Reid gave up football to pursue a career in music in 1975. His journey took him from rock to folk to country. As a classical pianist, he played with the Utah, Dallas, and Cincinnati symphony orchestras. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005. In addition to his Grammy-winning pop hits, he is a composer of musicals and dance and chamber pieces, as well as the opera Different Fields.

 Different Fields, the first collaboration of Mike's long-term partnership with lyricist/librettist SARAH SCHLESINGER, was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. It concerns the ethics of the American Football hero. Since its New York premiere it has been performed throughout the United States and Australia. As a team, the pair has also written The Ballad of Little Jo, which premiered at Steppenwolf as the theatre's first musical and subsequently had a successful run in London. A revival of the show will premiere at Two River Theatre Company in Red Bank, New Jersey, in June 2017. They are also the creators of Casanova Returns, which was produced as a developmental workshop last summer in Hamburg by Stage Ent. Inc. Mike and Sarah's other joint works include In This House (premiered in 2011) and Wind in the Willows (premiered in 2013).

Sarah is chair of the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and associate dean of performing arts at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. In addition to her work with Mike Reid, she has also been the lyricist/librettist for True Love—produced at the George Street Playhouse by Daryl Roth and at Sharon Playhouse, directed by John Simpkins. She was the lyricist/librettist for Swing Shift at the Manhattan Theatre Club. With Reid she has received the Kleban Award, The Richard Rodgers Award, the Gilman-Gonzalez Falla Theatre Foundation Award, and Chicago's Jeff Award for Best Original Musical.

Writing about the team’s work for The Ballad of Little Jo in The New Yorker, John Lahr called the show the best piece of musical storytelling in a decade. He described the score as "refreshingly muscular and filled with passion" and the narrative as one where "barbarity and blessing can coexist as they do in life." Domenic Cavendish in The Daily Telegraph described it as "two-and-a-half hours of unmitigated brilliance that examines the damage we do to others and the damage we do to ourselves to triumphantly stirring effect."

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