Monday, May 31, 2010

ELDERS: Big Shout to those mentoring & teaching us

Aite... this may sound like name droppin, and yeah, I guess it is in a way lol…but we think its important that our Roofheadz, fans & followers know the names of those professionals who have taken time to review “Roofless” and offer us critiques, notes & most important, their encouragement to stay on tha grind. This type of generous help by professionals often goes unheralded.  So now that we've got a blog, we're heralding!!!  Much respect to our Musical Theatre Elders!
(note to self: take better pic with SS so you can finally stop using that weak, washed out yearbook lookin' joint.)

STEPHEN SCHWARTZ & MICHAEL KERKER have served as our mentors since 2004:

In a career spanning over four decades, Schwartz has written such hit musicals as Godspell (1971), Pippin (1972) and Wicked (2003). He has also contributed lyrics for a number of successful films, including Pocahontas (1995), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), The Prince of Egypt (1998; music and lyrics) and Enchanted (2007). His well-known film songs include the Academy-Award-winning "Colors of the Wind" and "When You Believe," and date back to the 70s with "Day by Day," "Beautiful City," and "Butterflies Are Free."

Schwartz has won almost every major award in his field, including three Oscars, three Grammys, four Drama Desk Awards, one Golden Globe Award and a self-described "tiny handful of tennis trophies." He has received five Tony Award nominations, for Wicked, Pippin, and Godspell, music and lyrics; Rags, lyrics; and Working, music, lyrics, and book.

In April 2008, Schwartz was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In the 2009, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in January of 2010 he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.

Schwartz's star is in front of the Pantages Theatre, where WICKED is in its second year. WICKED, which opened on October 30, 2003 in New York, is truly a worldwide phenomenon with four companies in North America, as well as productions in London, Tokyo, and Stuttgart, and a fourth international production opening next summer in Melbourne.

When WICKED plays its 1900th performance in New York later this year, he will become the only writer of any kind ever to have three shows – WICKED, "Pippin" and "The Magic Show" run more than 1900 performances on Broadway. He also wrote music and lyrics for the worldwide phenomenon "Godspell."

In addition to his own accomplishments, Schwartz is a tireless supporter of new composers and lyricists. Through his work with The ASCAP Foundation, with the support of Disney, he has been artistic director for a musical theatre workshop in Los Angeles for over 10 years, in addition to leading an annual workshop in New York. Schwartz also serves as a member of the Board of Governors on the ASCAP board and is a member of the Council of Dramatists' Guild. (Bio courtesy of &
(Michael Kerker, left and Stephen Schwartz, right) 
MICHAEL A. KERKER has been Director of Musical Theatre for ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) since 1990. In addition to coordinating ASCAP's Musical Theatre Workshop in New York (which is led by composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz), he works with Disney Theatricals to produce the ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop in Los Angeles (also led by Stephen Schwartz). Together with Michael Feinstein, Kerker produces a regular series of concerts at Carnegie Hall highlighting the catalogue of both legendary and contemporary songwriters. Michael is also producing a regular series of interview programs entitled Broadway: Up Close and Personal for the Kennedy Center. Michael's onstage conversations with some of our nation's most prominent songwriters have included evenings with Jerry Herman, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Charles Strouse, Sheldon Harnick and Stephen Schwartz. Michael produces an annual songwriter's cabaret as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival. Michael produced the ASCAP Foundation Jerry Herman Legacy Program, which is a series of seminars, master classes and concerts featuring the legendary composer/lyricist. The program has been presented nationwide in such cities as Chicago, Sundance, San Francisco, Savannah, Miami and Pittsburgh. Michael is proud to be a member of the Boards of the American Theatre Wing, the Johnny Mercer Foundation and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. (Bio courtesy of

BELOW are the professionals who have made up our critique panels.  Their resumes let you know how incredibly invaluable their advice has been to us as burgeoning writers.  Thank you guys sooo much for spending time on the Roof!  We’re working hard to make your generous investments of 
time and knowledge pay off!
(l to r: Michael Kerker, Stephen Schwartz, Kevin Bannerman, David Lee) 

(listed in chronological order of their involvement)
KEVIN BANNERMAN  Feature Animation Development at Disney:  Working as a storyman on Pocahontas, Lion King and Hunchback of Notre Dame. He helped create the New Songwriter’s Workshop.  For 7 years he was over Development of Animated Musicals at FOX: overseeing the animated “Anastasia,” the live action “Ever After” (with Drew Barrymore) & the digital comedy “Ice Age.”    Currently an independent producer, he has produced “30 Days Until I’m Famous” for VH1,  and the movie musical “Forever Plaid.”

DAVID LEE Co-creator, director, writer, & executive producer of “Frasier” and “Wings,”   He has directed over 25 musicals. Has been awarded 9 Emmys, a Golden Globe, a Director’s Guild Award & a Peabody Award for his work. (Bio courtesy of ASCAP/DISNEY THEATRICALS)

MARC JACOBS Director of conservatory programs for “Broadway by the Bay” which has a 40 year history of producing large-scale musicals in San Francisco. He was Director of New Works, American Musical Theatre in San Jose, and received an NEA award for his program “How to Make a Musical” a program to teach high schoolers how musicals are structured. (Bio courtesy of ASCAP/DISNEY THEATRICALS)

SHARE STALLINGS has over twenty years experience working as an executive in the Entertainment Industry. She has worked for such companies as Disney, Nickelodeon and Kings Road Entertainment producing television and feature films. (Bio courtesy of ASCAP/DISNEY THEATRICALS)

DEAN PITCHFORD is a screenwriter and songwriter who entered American film in 1980 after appearing as a replacement in “Pippin” on Broadway in the 1970s.

He wrote the screenplay for “Footloose” (1984) and adapted it to the Broadway stage for the 1998-1999 season. He also wrote the lyrics for the Broadway production of “Carrie” (1988). Other writing credits include “Sing” (1989) and “The Washing Machine Man” (1991). He wrote the theme song for the TV series “Solid Gold” (1980) and “Fame” (1982), as well as the lyrics for the song “The Man in the Mask” for “The Legend of the Lone Ranger” (1981). His song “Holding Out for a Hero” was used in Bandits (2001).  

Pitchford's work has been heard in films including “Ice Princess,” “Shrek 2,” “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” and “101 Dalmations II: Patch's London Adventure.”  He received both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for his theme song for the film “Fame.  (Bio courtesy of

JEANIE WEEMS is ASCAP's Assistant Vice President, Creative & Film/TV Special Projects -- a title that only touches upon her many responsibilities within the organization. She heads ASCAP's R&B creative staff and works extensively as a liaison with the film/TV and R&B, rap dance, hip hop and reggae music communities. Jeanie joined ASCAP in 1988. In 2000, she was named Vice President and head of ASCAP’s Rhythm and Soul membership group where she developed an exceptional creative team covering R&B, rap, hip hop, dance and reggae with offices in New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. She has also played a major role in helping to define the synergy between R&B and Film & TV. (bio courtesy of

The R&B staff have also attended our table readings at the ASCAP LA Offices. (L to R, Alonzo Robinson, Jay Sloan, Jeanie Weems, Keith Johnson)
The silver haired dude to tha left of JD & the right of Timbaland is Todd Brabec, one of the top Entertainment Lawyers in LA, author of the book I studied for years to understand the Music Industry.  Although he never attended our readings, they took place next door to his office.  Pretty cool for me.  I'm easily impressed. Lol
(had to include one more pic from this set cause I love the way Marilyn Bergman, ASCAP President, is lookin at Fiddy as she presents him with the Songwriter of the Year Award. hahaha.  Is that the look of love in her eyes?)

STUART ROSS In addition to directing the original New York production of “FOREVER PLAID,” Stuart Ross has directed PLAID in major cities in the U.S. and around the world, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, London-West End, Washington D.C, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Detroit, Tokyo, and Las Vegas—currently in its 12th year, among many others. Stuart also holds the name of Creator and Director of the holiday sequel PLAID TIDINGS—which is currently in its 7th year of Christmas chicanery. Aside from his contributions to the Plaid cosmos, his list of accomplishments is unremitting. In New York, this past season, Mr. Ross directed IT’S A BIRD IT’S A PLANE IT’S SUPERMAN, ENTER LAUGHING: THE MUSICAL, AND MINNIE’S BOYS all at the York Theatre Company. Currently Mr. Ross is doing a new adaptation of SILK STOCKINGS for the Cole Porter estate and penning the book for BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT/BOGUS MUSICAL for MGM. (bio courtesy of

DONNA LYNNE CHAMPLIN Currently in the Broadway company of Billy Elliot, OBIE Award winner Donna Lynne Champlin has received critical acclaim for her work in the original Broadway companies of Sweeney Todd, By Jeeves, James Joyce's The Dead and most notably for her portrayal of "Older Helen" (based on a young Carol Burnett) in Hollywood Arms written by Carol Burnett and directed by Harold Prince. Other NYC/Off-Broadway credits include Master Class at the MET, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (OBIE Award), Bury The Dead, Flight of the Lawnchair Man (NYMF award, "Outstanding Performance"), Love Jerry (NYMF award, "Outstanding Performance"), First Lady Suite, My Life with Albertine, City Center Encores! Bloomer Girl, and Carnegie Hall's Very Warm for May. . A Princess Grace Grant winner and Presidential Scholar in the Arts, DL graduated with high honors from CMU and studied at Oxford on scholarship with an emphasis on Shakespeare and Chekhov. Her Upcoming work includes: an Off-Broadway production of Working and the Broadway bound musical of Pride and Prejudice. Besides recording, TV and film work DL also performs her own one-woman show Finishing The Hat regularly in NYC and around the country. (Biography courtesy of

KEN DAVENPORT Recently hailed as the "P.T. Barnum of Off-Broadway" in the New York Times, featured on a national commercial for the iPhone, and named one of Crain's Forty Under 40 for 2008, Ken is the only independent producer to have three shows running simultaneously Off-Broadway: Altar Boyz, The Awesome 80s Prom and My First Time. Ken also produced the Broadway Productions of 13, Speed The Plow with and without Jeremy Piven, Will Ferrell's You're Welcome America, Blithe Spirit with Angela Lansbury and Oleanna with Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles. Prior to his career as a Producer, Ken was a Company Manager and General Manager for many Broadway productions and National Tours including: Gypsy, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Chicago, Jekyll & Hyde, Cinderella, Ragtime, Showboat, Candide, and many others. Ken is currently adapting the novel and film Somewhere in Time into a Broadway musical and filming a documentary on one of the top unsigned rock bands in the country, Red Wanting Blue. Ken also runs a number of theatrical websites including,, the new social networking site, and his blog about commercial producing called, which has been featured in NY Magazine, Vanity Fair, Gawker, The Gothamist and may others  (Biography courtesy of

KIMBERLY GRIGSBY Music directing/conducting credits include, on Broadway, The Light in the Piazza (lyrics & music by Adam Guettel); Caroline, or Change (music by Jeanine Tesori); The Full Monty (music by David Yazbek); You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown; and Twelfth Night (music by Jeanine Tesori); and Off-Broadway, Spring Awakening (music by Duncan Sheik), Two Gentlemen of Verona; Songs From an Unmade Bed (various composers, lyrics by Mark Campbell); Junie B. Jones (music by Zina Goldrich); The Immigrant (music by Steven Alper); Radiant Baby (music by Debra Barsha); and Twelfth Night (music by Duncan Sheik). For her work on Caroline, or Change in Los Angeles, she received the 2005 Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle Award for Music Direction; and for The Philadelpha Theatre Company's production of Elegies (lyrics & music by William Finn) she received the 2005 Barrymore Award for Music Direction. Additional regional credits include Floyd Collins (music by Adam Guettel) and The First Picture Show (music by Jeanine Tesori). Other collaborations include My Life Is A Fairy Tale and Orphan of Zhao, both with lyrics & music by Stephin Merritt for Lincoln Center Festival; Love's Fire (Adam Guettel); O Pioneers! (Kim Sherman); Fools Rush In (Steve Marzullo); Telaio: Desdemona (Susan Botti). Ms. Grigsby holds degrees from Southern Methodist University and Manhattan School of Music.
(bio courtesy of

BEVERLY MACKEEN Executive Director, New World Stages (Bio not yet available.)

THOMAS MEEHAN won the 2003 Tony Award for Hairspray as well as the 2001 Tony Award for co-writing the book for The Producers. He received his first Tony Award in 1977 for writing the book of Annie, which was his first Broadway show, and has since written the books for the musicals I Remember Mama, Ain't Broadway Grand and Annie Warbucks. In addition, he is a long-time contributor of humor to The New Yorker; an Emmy Award-winning writer of television comedy; and a collaborator on a number of screenplays, including Mel Brooks' Spaceballs and To Be or Not to Be. He and his wife, Carolyn, divide their time between a home in Nantucket and an apartment in Greenwich Village, near which, on Hudson Street, she owns and presides over the long-running and near-legendary children's store, Peanut Butter & Jane. Mr. Meehan is a member of the Council of the Dramatists Guild.  (bio courtesy of

JACK VIERTEL Artistic Director of Encores!, is also the creative director of Jujamcyn Theaters, in charge of creating and identifying new projects for the company's five Broadway theaters. Current and recent productions include Doubt, The Producers, Jersey Boys, Sweeney Todd, Proof, Gem of the Ocean and The Wedding Singer. He has helped shepherd five of August Wilson's plays to Broadway, worked on Angels in America, Into the Woods, and M. Butterfly, among others. He conceived and co-produced the long-running musical revue Smokey Joe's Cafe, served as dramaturg for The Wedding Singer and Hairspray, and is the coauthor of the musical Time and Again. He spent two years as dramaturg of the Mark Taper Forum in L.A., and began work in the theater as a critic for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.
(bio courtesy of

SCOTT WITTMAN received Tony, Grammy and Drama Desk Awards for Hairspray. On Broadway, in concert, for television and in many a boite, Scott Wittman has conceived, written and/or directed and collaborated with the following: Kristin Chenoweth, Jayne County, Sandy Duncan, Christine Ebersole, Dame Edna, Ellen Foley, Annie Golden, Debbie Gravitte, the High-Heeled Women, Allison Janney, Madeline Kahn, Lainie Kazan, Laura Kenyon (as Lainie Kazan), Nathan Lane, Ute Lemper, Darlene Love, Patti LuPone, Lypsinka, Ann Magnuson, Andrea Martin, Lonette McKee, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zora Rasmussen, John Sex, Martin Short, Elaine Stritch, Bruce Vilanch, Rufus Wainwright, Raquel Welch, Holly Woodlawn. Scott is currently co-writing Catch Me If You Can with Terrence McNally and Marc Shaiman to open on Broadway next season. (bio courtesy of

A NOTE OF TRIVIA – We REALLY regret the circumstance that kept 2 people from sitting on our critique panels, the brilliant JIMMY JAM, (Prince, Janet Jackson, Sounds of Blackness…I mean really…, need I say more?) who had a scheduling conflict and the equally brilliant Marc Shaiman who got held up in LA Traffic on his way to our presentation. I LOVE this dude’s scores. They run the gamut of my diverse tastes…from That’s Entertainment III to South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut. Need I say more? Why tha hell not? - MARC SHAIMAN received Tony, Grammy and Drama Desk Awards for Hairspray (Best Score). He has toiled on more than 50 films including South Park, Patch Adams, The First Wives Club, The American President, Sleepless in Seattle, Broadcast News, When Harry Met Sally, Beaches, City Slickers, The Addams Family, A Few Good Men, Sister Act, In & Out and George of the Jungle. He has been nominated five times for an Oscar and lost every time. He started his career as vocal arranger for Bette Midler, eventually becoming her musical director and producer. Their collaboration on her Emmy Award-winning performance for Johnny Carson's final Tonight Show will always remain a dream. He auditioned but was not chosen to play himself on her sitcom. Marc was an Emmy nominee for writing on Saturday Night Live (the Sweeney Sisters) and is an actual Emmy Award winner for co-writing Billy Crystal's "Oscar Medleys." He has been nominated for two Grammy Awards for his arrangements for Harry Connick Jr., and he has worked with many other artists including Peter Allen, Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, Nathan Lane, Patti LuPone, Martin Short and Barbra Streisand.  (bio courtesy of

Hopefully they’ll eventually see our work and I’ll eventually shake their hands & thank them for helping shape decades of my creative growth.


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