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Annual Competition Guidelines

Since the inception of The Ten-Minute Musicals Project, over sixteen hundred submissions have been received, from librettists, lyricists and composers in fifteen nations: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, Uruguay, Ireland, England, France, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Ukraine.

Stories 1.0 is the full-length musical comprised of works selected in the first several rounds. Several works in Stories 1.0 were workshopped in San Francisco, New York City, Miami, and Nashville over the years. Individual segments have been independently workshopped in Dallas, Chicago, London, and Boston.

SEEKING: Complete original stage musicals which play between seven and twenty minutes. Works which have been previously produced are acceptable, as are excerpts from full-length shows, if they can stand up on their own.

MUSICAL STYLE AND THEATRICAL FORMAT: Any musical style: pop, rock, C&W, show, opera, etc; or theatrical format: comedy, mystery, drama, etc.

CAST SIZE: Maximum of ten performers—five women and five men.

SUBMISSIONS SHOULD INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

1. A printed script. (Note: printed on paper; not sent as a computer file on disk.) And please make sure your POSTAL ADDRESS appears on it.

2. Lead sheets or piano score. (This need not be at all elaborate; very basic is fine.)

3. A CD or DVD of either the entire piece or just the musical material.

4. A stamped self-addressed large envelope if you want the work returned. (Submissions from outside the USA should enclose four INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE COUPONS to cover postage. These can be obtained at your post office.)

CONCERNING THE ABOVE, PLEASE NOTE:  NO ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS -- HARD COPIES ONLY

DEADLINE: Simply postmarked by August 31st. (Do not waste money on overnight express, registered, or certified mail. All that's requested is that the package be postmarked by August 31.) Response will be by November 30th.

FINANCIAL REMUNERATION: $250/US royalty advance for each piece selected, with an equal share of licensing royalties when produced.

SEND TO:

The Ten-Minute Musicals Project

Michael Koppy, Producer

P.O. Box 461194

West Hollywood, CA 90046 USA

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” — Orson Welles

“The more restrictions you have, the easier anything is to write.” — Stephen Sondheim

The single most important piece of advice we can offer is to caution that it will surely take much time and effort to create a quality work. (Occasionally a clearly talented and capable writer and composer seem to have almost “dashed” something off, under the misperception that inspiration can carry the day in this format. But all the works selected in previous rounds clearly evince that considerable deliberation, craft, and time were invested.)

We’re seeking short contemporary musical theater material, in the style of what might be found on Broadway, off-Broadway or the West End. Think of shows like Candide or Little Shop of Horrors, pop operas like Sweeney Todd or Chess, or chamber musicals like Once on this Island or Falsettos. (Even small accessible operas like The Telephone or Trouble in Tahiti are possible models.) All have solid plots, and all rely on sung material to advance them.

Of primary importance is to start with a strong story, even if it means postponing work on music and lyrics until the dramatic foundation is complete. This is one reason we suggest (but do not require) that musicals be based on a short story, play, film, poem or teleplay—either in the public domain (usually meaning it was originally published more than seventy-five years ago) or for which adaptation rights have been obtained. (While we’d love to have pieces based on works by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Rod Serling, or Stephen King, getting the rights to adapt a work still in copyright can sometimes be difficult. Stories by writers like Ambrose Bierce, Jack London, and Guy de Maupassant, among many others, are in the public domain and can be freely adapted.)

We prefer works using larger casts. If from six to the maximum of ten voices are used it’s a big plus. (Think “Production Number”.)

Fast-paced comedy material has an advantage.

If adapting a story, you might consider setting it in another time or place, or even changing the character genders.

We’ve found that fairy tales generally end up being too cute and trite.

A narrator often slows things down. Trust audiences to get the story through what characters say, sing and do. And it’s better for a character to share his or her reactions to what is happening than to simply describe events—we can see them unfolding with our own eyes.

Be wary of writing only introspective musical “moments,” as they usually stop the progression of the plot. Solo ballads should be thought of as icing on the cake, as you'll surely still need other sung material—much of it uptempo—which advances the plot in duets, trios, and production numbers.

Don’t worry if an idea seems “unstageable”. That’s what directors, designers, choreographers—and rehearsals—are for.

Finally, please understand that NONE OF THESE OBSERVATIONS ARE GOSPEL. They’re simply recommendations based on what we've learned from seeing works submitted previously. Given that, please take them seriously. However, nearly every one of these recommendations has been ignored by at least one of the works so far selected. In the end what matters most will be the idea and aim of your piece and how effectively they are realized.

Suggested reading:

Beating Broadway by Steve Cuden (2013, Createspace, New York City) The American Musical Theater by Lehman Engel (1967, MacMillan, New York City) The Making of a Musical by Lehman Engel (1977, Limelight, New York City) The Musical from the Inside Out by Stephen Citron (1992, Dee, Chicago) The Musical Theatre Writer's Survival Guide by David Spencer (2005, Heinemann Drama, New York City) On the Street Where I Live by Alan J.Lerner (1978, Norton, New York City) Sondheim & Company by Craig Zadan (1986, Harper & Row, New York City) Songwriting: A Complete Guide to the Craft by Stephen Citron (1985, W.Morrow, New York City) Tunesmith by Jimmy Webb (1998, Hyperion, New York City) Words with Music by Lehman Engel (1972, MacMillan, New York City) Writing Musical Theater by Allen Cohen and Steven Rosenhaus (2006, MacMillan, New York City) Writing the Broadway Musical by Aaron Frankel (1977, Drama Book Specialists, New York City)

                                                  The Ten-Minute Musicals Project    PO Box 461194    West Hollywood, CA 90046  USA      Email us