MTC Announces The Studio at Stage II, The Writer’s Room in Partnership with Ars Nova, and Two Productions

Lynne Meadow (Artistic Director), Barry Grove (Executive Producer), and Mandy Greenfield (Artistic Producer) announce Manhattan Theatre Club will launch The Studio at Stage II where bold, new work meets bold, new audiences at New York City Center – Stage II (131 West 55th Street). The Studio at Stage II will launch this fall with the world premiere production of MURDER BALLAD, a new musical by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash, directed by Trip Cullman, and the American premiere of MTC’s commission CHOIR BOY, a play with music by Tarell Alvin McCraney.

The play series in The Studio at Stage II has been partially underwritten with a major grant from The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust and the project will be known as “The Studio at Stage II – The Harold and Mimi Steinberg New Play Series.”

Michael Steinberg, a Steinberg trustee, commented on the gift, “We are pleased to support Manhattan Theatre Club. We applaud MTC’s commitment to new work and are proud to name the new play series.” David C. Hodgson, Manhattan Theatre Club Board Chairman, noted, “The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust has been a generous and loyal supporter of MTC for more than two decades and has been instrumental to our success. We are enormously grateful to the trust for its gift to name the new play series at The Studio at Stage II.”

As part of The Studio at Stage II, MTC and Ars Nova (Jason Eagan, Artistic Director; Jeremy Blocker, Managing Director) will partner on The Writer’s Room a program to commission, develop and support playwrights in the process of creating new work for the stage. MTC and Ars Nova look forward to announcing members of The Writer’s Room later this year.

In order to ensure that these new works are affordable to the widest possible, most diverse audiences, MTC is pricing all tickets for MURDER BALLAD and CHOIR BOY at $30. Additional ticketing information for The Studio at Stage II will be announced in the coming weeks.


In a statement, Mandy Greenfield, MTC’s Artistic Producer said, “Launching The Studio at Stage II affords MTC the opportunity to present thrilling new work in a way which invites audiences into the artistic process. MTC’s producing history in Stage II includes early works from many playwrights who, over time and with many productions across MTC’s campus of venues, became part of the fabric of MTC. The Studio at Stage II will be a place for artists to work and for audiences with an appetite for risk, adventure, and bold theatricality to meet that work.”


A New Musical by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash

Directed by Trip Cullman

First Preview: Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Opens: Thursday, November 15, 2012

A love triangle gone wrong, MURDER BALLAD centers on Sara, an Upper West Sider, who seems to have it all, but whose downtown past lingers enticingly and dangerously in front of her. This sexy, explosive, new rock musical explores the complications of love, the compromises we make, and the small betrayals that can ultimately undo us.

MURDER BALLAD is co-written by Jonathan Larson Award winner and two-time Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist, Julia Jordan and indie rock singer/songwriter Juliana Nash. Trip Cullman (Paul Weitz’s Lonely, I’m Not; Adam Bock’s A Small Fire) will direct.

Casting and additional creative team members will be announced in the coming weeks.


A Play with Music by Tarell Alvin McCraney

CHOIR BOY was commissioned by MTC with support from Time Warner Inc.

First Preview: Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Opens: Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys is dedicated to the creation of strong, ethical black men. Pharus wants nothing more than to take his rightful place as leader of the school’s legendary gospel choir. Can he find his way inside the hallowed halls of this institution if he sings in his own key?

Tarell Alvin McCraney is author of The Brother/Sister Trilogy: The Brothers Size, In the Red and Brown Water, & Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet. His other works include Wig Out! set in New York’s drag clubs and The Breach which deals with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He was the first recipient of the New York Times’ Outstanding Playwright Award, the 2009 Steinberg Playwrights Award, and the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award.

CHOIR BOY was commissioned by MTC with support from Time Warner Inc.

CHOIR BOY will open July 2, 2013. Casting and creative team, will be announced in the coming weeks.


This fall, as part of the overall activity in The Studio at Stage II, MTC and Ars Nova will launch The Writer’s Room, a multi-year partnership between the two organizations drawing on each organization’s strengths and areas of expertise to create a unique, collaborative developmental program for advancing new works from commission through production.

Each year, MTC and Ars Nova will jointly select four playwrights to receive Writer’s Room Commissions. The commissioned writers will then come together to participate in a program designed to offer extensive developmental support. The Writer’s Room will encourage artistic risk taking in an environment that is supportive and sustaining.

In 2008, MTC and Ars Nova enjoyed a close collaboration on the acclaimed world premiere of Liz Flahive’s From Up Here, developed in Ars Nova’s Play Group and workshop programs. From Up Here was produced by MTC, in association with Ars Nova, at New York City Center – Stage I and received the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Playwriting Award and was also nominated for two Drama League Awards and four Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Play. The Writer’s Room is a strategic alliance between these two theatres, modeled on the collaboration they shared on From Up Here.

Mandy Greenfield said, “I approached Jason Eagan and Ars Nova about inaugurating a more comprehensive initiative for supporting the creation of new plays after our deeply gratifying work together on From Up Here. Together, we devised The Writer’s Room and together we will be able to reach, serve, commission, develop, and ultimately produce more new playwrights than we would be able to, without joining forces. Both MTC and Ars Nova are excited by the same brand of bold, theatrical new plays but have focused on different aspects of nurturing them. Ars Nova’s commitment to developing emerging work coupled with MTC’s track record of developing new plays for production makes for a thrilling synergy of talents. I look forward to announcing our inaugural group of playwrights this fall.”

Jason Eagan, Artistic Director of Ars Nova, said, “The Writers Room affords Ars Nova a tremendous opportunity to partner with one of the country’s leading producers of new plays. Mandy Greenfield’s passion for getting this project off the ground brought us to the table and together, with our respective teams, we’ve been able to design a program that will expand both companies’ artist services. Fostering long-term relationships with our artists and seeing more of the work we develop get to first production are ongoing priorities for Ars Nova. To be able to commission and develop more writers through this program each year, and then extend the bridge of support to full co-productions with MTC, is a breakthrough moment for us and certainly for all of the playwrights we look forward to supporting. We are excited to get started this fall.”

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Lynne Meadow and Executive Producer Barry Grove, MTC has become one of the country’s most prominent and prestigious theatre companies. Over the past three decades, MTC productions have earned a total of 18 Tony Awards and six Pulitzer Prizes, an accomplishment unparalleled by a New York theatrical institution. MTC has a Broadway home at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street) and an Off-Broadway theatre at New York City Center – Stage I (131 West 55th Street). Since January 2011, Mandy Greenfield (Artistic Producer) has taken the lead in programming and execution at MTC’s Off-Broadway home. Renowned MTC productions include Venus in Fur; Master Class; Good People; The Whipping Man; Time Stands Still; The Royal Family; Ruined; The American Plan; Come Back, Little Sheba; Blackbird; Translations; Shining City; Rabbit Hole; Doubt; Proof; The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife; Love! Valour! Compassion!; A Small Family Business; Sylvia; Putting It Together; Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune; Crimes of the Heart; and Ain’t Misbehavin.’

Ars Nova(Jason Eagan, Artistic Director; Jeremy Blocker, Managing Director) is committed to developing and producing theater, comedy, and music artists in the early stages of their professional careers, through its myriad of ongoing programs that include: Play Group, Ars Nova’s emerging writers’ collective, Commissioning and Artists-in-Residence programs, its annual festival of All New Talent (ANT Fest), summer music marathon 54/10, a Summer Artist Retreat, the Uncharted series which jumpstarts new musical theater projects, the Out Loud play reading series, a Project Residency program that allows unique projects to get up on their feet, and its world premiere Mainstage Productions. Past Mainstage Productions include: The Lapsburgh Layover; Be a Good Little Widow; Now Circa Then; the Drama Desk nominated musical Bloodsong of Love; the pirate puppet rock odyssey Jollyship the Whiz-Bang; boom, which went on to be the most-produced play of the 2009-2010 season; and Freestyle Love Supreme featuring Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda. Each year, the company serves more than 500 artists and at least 150 evenings of entertainment make it onto the Ars Nova stage.


JULIA JORDAN (Lyrics) plays include Boy, Tatjana in Color, St. Scarlet, Smoking Lesson, Dark Yellow, Astrological Quit Claim Deeds and Jones. Musical books include Sarah Plain and Tall and The Mice, both written with Larry O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin. Upcoming musicals: Storyville, Bernice Bobs Her Hair and Murder Ballad. Currently in development, the film Tell Me Something I Don’t Know with Glen Luchford directing. Kleban Award, Francesca Primus Prize, Lucille Lortel Playwriting Fellowship, Manhattan Theatre Club Fellowship, Jonathan Larson Award, Heideman Award and LeComte Nouy Award, AT&T Onstage Award, The American Spirit Award. She is one of the founders of The Lilly Awards and sits on the Council of the Dramatists Guild. Her work has been produced at Primary Stages, Actor’s Theater of Louisville, Soho Rep, The McCarter Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Prince Music Theater, the Ahmanson, Studio Dante, Wellfleet, Contemporary American Theater Festival, Salt Lake Acting Company and The American Theater among others. Her plays have been developed at Sundance, The O’Neill, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Playlabs at the Mpls. Playwrights Center and Cleveland Playhouse among others.

JULIANA NASH (Music and Lyrics) is new to theater. Her background is in pop music. She was the rhythm guitarist and singer-songwriter for the band Talking to Animals. Talking to Animals was signed to Columbia and Velvel Records. Her songs have been placed in films that include Rob Morrow’s Maze, Eric Schaeffer’s Fall and his television show “Starved. She wrote songs for the play Leave by Courtney Baron. She is the composer and co-lyricist of the musical Murder Ballad (with Julia Jordan). Nash is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and BMI. She is the recipient of the BMI’s 1989 Abe Olman Songwriter’s Award. Juliana is also the proud mother of Ruby and Zane.

TRIP CULLMAN (Director). Select NYC: Paul Weitz’s Lonely, I’m Not (Second Stage); Leslye Headland’s Assistance (Playwrights Horizons); Adam Bock’s A Small Fire (Playwrights Horizons, Drama Desk nomination); Adam Rapp’s The Hallway Trilogy: Nursing (Rattlestick);  Headland’s Bachelorette (Second Stage); Terrence McNally’s Some Men (Second Stage); Bert V. Royal’s Dog Sees God (The Century Center); Bock’s The Drunken City (Playwrights Horizons); Weitz’s Roulette (EST); Jonathan Tolins’s The Last Sunday In June (Rattlestick and Century Center); Bock’s Swimming In The Shallows (Second Stage); Gina Gionfriddo’s US Drag (stageFARM); and several productions with The Play Company including Robert Farquhar’s Bad Jazz, Lloyd Suh’s American Hwangap, and Brooke Berman’s Smashing. Select regional: John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation (Old Globe), Richard Greenberg’s The Injured Party (South Coast Rep), McNally’s Unusual Acts of Devotion (La Jolla Playhouse), Christopher Durang’s Betty’s Summer Vacation (Bay Street Theater), Bess Wohl’s Touched (Williamstown Theater Festival).


TARELL ALVIN McCRANEY (Playwright) is best known for his acclaimed trilogy, The Brother/Sister Plays: The Brothers Size, In The Red and Brown Water, and Marcus; or The Secret of Sweet. They have been performed at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, The Public Theatre in New York, Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, at a trio of theaters in the Bay Area: Marin Theatre Company, ACT, and Magic Theatre, as well as the Young Vic in London (Olivier Award nomination) and around the world. Other plays include The Breach (Southern Rep, Seattle Rep), Wig Out! (Sundance Theatre Institute, Royal Court, and Vineyard Theatre – GLAAD Award for Outstanding Play), and American Trade (Royal Shakespeare Company/Hampstead Theatre). Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where he is an ensemble member, will produce the world premiere of his commissioned play, Head of Passes in the spring of 2013.

McCraney was the Royal Shakespeare Company’s International Playwright in Residence in 2008-2010, where he co-edited and directed the Young People’s Shakespeare production of Hamlet which toured throughout the UK and was presented at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. He is the recipient of the prestigious Whiting Award and Steinberg Playwrights Award, as well as London’s Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright, the inaugural New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award, and the inaugural Paula Vogel Playwriting Award.

He is a graduate from the New World School of the Arts High School, the Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago, and the Yale School of Drama. He is a resident playwright at New Dramatists and a member of Teo Castellanos/D-Projects in Miami.

THE HAROLD AND MIMI STEINBERG CHARITABLE TRUST was created in 1986 by Harold Steinberg to promote and advance American Theater as a vital part of our culture by supporting playwrights, encouraging the development and production of new work, and providing financial assistance to theater companies across the country. Since its inception, the Trust has awarded over $65 million to more than 100 not-for-profit theater organizations. The Steinberg Playwright awards – the “Mimi” awards – were first awarded in 2008 to honor artistic excellence and nurture its continuing development. Given in alternate years, these two awards, by far the most generous of their kind, acknowledge playwrights in two categories: the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright award celebrates the recipient’s entire body of work, and their exceptional, singular contribution to the American theater, while the Steinberg Playwright award recognizes exceptional artistic potential in early and mid-career playwrights. The Trust has also collaborated with the American Theatre Critics Association to create and fund the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, presented annually during the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

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