New Musicals From 2021's Across A Crowded Room Writing Program

By Douglas Reside, Curator, Theatre Collection
May 10, 2022
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

For the past eight years the Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has hosted a summer musical theatre writing program we call Across A Crowded Room. As the titular Hammerstein quote suggests, this program seeks to help new musical theatre writers find writing partners, and then support up to ten teams as they write a 20-minute musical.

Last summer, we gathered for a second time on Zoom, and explored the possibility of virtual reality musicals. "CryOvaries" suggests the possibilities of immersive interactive musicals that might someday be adapted to technologies like the Oculus Rift. "The Crane Wife" went through various incarnations over the course of the summer, but is presented here as an audio drama with captions. A third musical, "Cicadas" (written by Goldie Zwiebel), was developed but not actually presented during the summer program but can be viewed on Zwiebel's YouTube channel.

We are now in the process of planning for this summer's Across A Crowded Room which, we hope, will include an incredibly exciting new opportunity made possible by a generous donor. Watch our social media accounts for more information. I didn't want to delay the release of these two pieces from 2021 any longer, though, so enjoy, at last, the final presentations of two of the highlights of last year's musicals.

The Crane Wife

An adaptation of a traditional Japanese folktale.

Book by Keurim Hur
Music by Maria Caputo
Lyrics by A. J. Freeman

Sienna Aczon as the Crane Wife
Jenny Kim-Godfrey as the Sister
Paul Chwe MinChul An as the Man

Maria Caputo (keyboard)
Lily Desmond (violin samples)


Book by Sarah Marksteiner
Lyrics by Briana Harris
Music by Andi Lee Carter

Featuring:Joanie Drago
Laura Cetti
Andi Lee Carter

Executive Producer - Snerth Productions
Producer - Briana Harris
Director - Sarah Marksteiner
DP - Andi Lee Carter
Editors - Briana Harris, Andi Lee Carter