2018 Writers and Musicals

Read testimonials about their weeklong residency here!

Postcard American Town

August 5 – August 12

Lynne Shankel and Crystal Skillman, with Lead Support from Liz Armstrong.

Benny & Joon

August 12 – August 19

Mindi Dickstein, Nolan Gasser, and Kirsten Guenther, with Lead Support from The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund.

Pedro Pan

August 19 – August 26

Rebecca Aparicio and Stephen Anthony Elkins, with Lead Support from The Frederick Loewe Foundation

Do No Harm

August 26 – September 2

Ken Davenport, Doug Katsaros, and Amanda Yesnowitz, with Lead Support from Rick Farrar and Jeff Zadroga


July 1 – July 8

Britt Bonney, with Underwriting Support from Michael A. Jenkins

Extended Stay

July 8 - July 15

Scotty Arnold and Jenny Stafford, with Lead Support from The Noël Coward Foundation and Underwriting Support from Alec Stais and Elissa Burke


July 15 – July 22

Andrew R. Butler and Andrew Farmer, with Lead Support from Peter Risafi and Steve Wheeler

The Tattooed Lady

July 22 – July 29

Max Vernon and Erin Courtney, with Lead Support from Amy and Roger Faxon

Monster Hit

July 29 – August 5

Chris Littler and Ellen Winter, with Lead Support from Jacqui and Lew Rose

Britt Bonney


July 1 - July 8

In 1955, two women were arrested on Montgomery buses for violating segregation law. One went on to be called the Mother of the Civil Rights movement, her name taught to every American schoolchild as a symbol of the best of us. The other works as a nurse’s aid in the Bronx. With its blues- and rock-infused score, Montgomery puts you on the ground at the birth of the civil rights movement. When 15-year-old Claudette Colvin is arrested on a bus, Montgomery's civil rights leaders are breaking down her door, intent on using her case as the catalyst for a city-wide bus boycott. But is Claudette too young, poor, and too dark-skinned to unite the community in protest? When the mild-mannered, light-skinned Rosa Parks is arrested, the boycott is on, and Claudette all but forgotten – until a new court case gives her one more chance to make history.

Britt Bonney Writer of Montgomery, 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Britt Bonney, Book, Music & Lyrics

Britt Bonney is a New York-based songwriter whose original work has been performed all over the world, from New York to London, Cape Town, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem. She recently received an honorable mention from the Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award for female composers. Britt has frequently been commissioned to create new musicals for young performers, and her eclectic vocal arrangements have been featured on The Weather Channel, the Fox network, WPIX11, at Lincoln Center, and in Broadway houses.  Britt’s music directing credits include Orfeh & Andy Karl’s Legally Bound concert and the DC premiere of Todd Almond’s Girlfriend at Signature Theatre. Her vocals can be heard on last year’s Beauty and the Beast film as well as the Hunchback of Notre Dame cast album, which she also mixed and mastered together with Stephen Schwartz. BMI Workshop; M.A., Columbia University.


Scotty Arnold and Jenny Stafford


July 8 - July 15

Owen is full of dreams but short on ambition. Years ago he stopped at an Extended Stay hotel in Indiana--and hasn’t left yet.  He finds himself stuck in every sense of the word until Emma, the new front desk clerk, arrives.  She too is desperate to pull herself out of her own “stuckness” and excel at her new job—where she is instructed to evict Owen.  However, when Owen’s adventurous childhood friend Ethan arrives, he upsets the careful balance they’ve found.  Each in the newly-formed triangle struggles to figure out how to move forward from pasts that threaten to swallow them whole.

Scotty Arnold, composer and lyricist of Extended Stay, 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Jenny Stafford, bookwriter and lyricist of Extended Stay, , 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Scotty Arnold, Music & Lyrics

Scotty Arnold’s musical When We’re Gone (words by Alana Jacoby) is receiving its world premiere production at the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma in 2018 after being developed at NAMT, Joe’s Pub, Yale Institute for Music Theater, Emerson College, and Ars Nova. He is a founding member of the Musical Theatre Factory, who has developed his shows That Time We Found A Sasquatch in the Woods (book by Nichole Jackson, lyrics by Brandon Michael Lowden; also developed at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse), Trivøya Gold (co-book and lyrics by Alana Jacoby; also developed at The PiT and NYU Steinhardt), and Extended Stay (book and co-lyrics by Jenny Stafford; also developed at Cap21). He has completed residencies at Space at Ryder Farm, New York Stage and Film, and CAP21


Jenny Stafford, Book, Lyrics

Jenny Stafford’s work includes Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour (2017 Broadway production, lyrics), The Homefront (with Sam Salmond), The Artist and the Scientist (with Brandon Anderson, produced Off-Off-Broadway at CAP21), Extended Stay (with Scotty Arnold), Prodigy (Collaborative Development Project, Two Rivers Theatre Company, Indiana University), Two Bugs are Better Than One, The Mokoenas on Mandela Street (commissioned and produced Off-Broadway by the New York City Children’s Theatre, all with Willem Oosthuysen), Awakening (with Joel B. New and J. Oconer Navarro) and Beating a Dead Horse (winner of the 2017 Reva Shiner Comedy Award, produced through the Bloomington Playwrights Project).  She’s been an Artist in Residence at Village Theatre, Goodspeed Musicals, CAP 21, the Ross Ragland Theatre and the Berkshire Playwrights Theatre.  Dramatists Guild member, MFA NYU.


Andrew R. Butler and Andrew Farmer


July 15 - July 22

It's Spirit Week in Blessing, AL, the town that lives up to its name with sunny skies, friendly faces, and the famous fact that it hasn't been hit by a hurricane in 93 years. Or is it 92? We're shown around by the locals: a charming couple, a bride-to-be plagued with bouts of trance-walking, the younger sister of the town darling--mysteriously murdered, a snake-handling pastor, a high school garage band, a zealous woman crippled by secrets, and the first hurricane in memory-- forcing everyone to reckon with things they'd rather forget and grapple with questions they'd rather not ask. 

Andrew Butler and Andrew Farmer, writers of Blessing, 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Andrew R. Butler, Music & Lyrics

Andrew Butler is a composer, writer, and performer based in Brooklyn, NY. He is a recipient of the 2018 Jonathan Larson Grant. In Ars Nova's Uncharted writers' group, he wrote music / lyrics for Floridian folk-musical Finn the Fearless with Andrew Farmer. FINN has received development at the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Theatre Aspen, and The Polyphone Festival. Also with Farmer: Blessing, commissioned by Playwrights Downtown and developed at Yale Institute for Music Theatre; a musical adaptation of Kate DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, commissioned by TheaterWorksUSA; and the upcoming episodic musical travelogue American Cryptids, developed in The Civilians' R&D Group. Other works: Rags Parkland Sings The Songs Of The FutureThe Dixon Family Album w/Anna Kerrigan; Political Subversities; experimental theatre company harunalee; performer/composer for The Story Pirates. BFA-NYU's Experimental Theatre Wing. www.andrewrbutler.com 


Andrew Farmer, Book
Andrew Farmer is a writer/performer, based in Los Angeles.  He’s a Jonathan Larson Grant recipient with Andrew R. Butler with whom he has written Blessing (Yale Institute for Music Theatre, Playwrights Horizons Downtown), The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (TheatreworksUSA), Finn the Fearless (Ars Nova Uncharted Residency, Theatre Aspen, Polyphone Music Festival) and American Cryptids (The Civilians R&D Group.)  Recent plays include The Gray Man (Pipeline Theatre Company), The Fall of Hotel Mudafier...(Williamstown Theatre Festival), and I Heard Sex Noises (Ars Nova) currently in development as a comedy series with Imperative Entertainment. Andrew's stories have appeared in Vogue, New York Magazine and The Moth. He’s a performer and teaching artist with The Story Pirates and holds a BFA in Drama from NYU.

Max Vernon, composer and lyricist of The Tattooed Lady, , 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Erin Courtney, bookwriter of The Tattooed Lady, 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Max Vernon and Erin Courtney


July 22 - July 29

The year is 1981. We are at oldest living tattooed lady’s final performance at a cheap, derelict sideshow in Kansas. The Tattooed Lady shares the stories and songs behind each of her tattoos, recalling the golden age of freak show and her quest for self-actualization. Spanning roughly one hundred years of forgotten history, The Tattooed Lady is a musical meditation on beauty, perversity, shattering of taboos, and a woman’s right to control her body and choose her destiny. The score, composed on saw, wine glass, pipe organ, vibraphone, cello, accordion, and toy piano, evokes a carnivalesque world that is both whimsical and haunting. 

Max Vernon, Music & Lyrics

Max Vernon is a composer/lyricist, playwright, performer, and brooch enthusiast. Described by the New York Times as "perversely addictive," Max is a 2017 Out100 Honoree, and recipient of the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical, Richard Rogers Award, Jonathan Larson Grant, New York Stage and Film's Founders Award, New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowship, and the JFund Award from the Jerome Foundation. He has been a Dramatist Guild Theatre Fellow, MacDowell Fellow, and an artist in residence at Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat. Musicals include KPOP (9 Lortel Awards Nominations, 2 Drama League Nominations, and 7 Drama Desk Nominations including Outstanding Music, Outstanding Lyrics, and Outstanding Musical) and The View UpStairs, which will have 10 new productions around the world in 2017-2019; original cast recording on Broadway Records.  www.maxvernon.com


Erin Courtney, Book

Erin Courtney's Obie award winning play A Map of Virtue, produced by 13P and directed by Ken Rus Schmoll, was described by the New York Times as "one of the most terrifying plays of the past decade”. Her  play I Will Be Gone, directed by Kip Fagan, premiered at ATL, Humana Festival. Her other plays  Alice the Magnet and Demon Baby were produced by Clubbed Thumb. Brooklyn College. MFA, Brooklyn College. BA, Brown University. She is a member of New Dramatists, a MacDowell Colony fellow, and a Guggenheim Fellow.


Chris Littler and Ellen Winter


July 29 - August 5

From the writer-composers behind the podcast 36 QUESTIONS, comes another musical - this one dipped in the bubbling cauldron of terror. In this synth-fueled thriller, we follow a genius hip hop artist and his former producer who fight to contain a song killing anyone who listens to it. 

Chris Littler and Ellen Winter, writers of Monster Hit, 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Chris Littler, Book, Music & Lyrics
Chris Littler is a writer-composer from the deep suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona. He is best known for writing on the first season of the Limetown podcast and for co-writing and co-directing the podcast musical 36 Questions. He has worked with an amazing variety of incredible human beings, since graduating from Tisch - including a year working as the creative assistant to Canadian funnyman Mike Myers. He wrote a full-length concept album about falling in love and tabletop gaming called Deities. He’s also a staff writer on the Limetown podcast - including the upcoming second season. He does not know what happened to Judith in Sedona. www.chrislittler.com

Ellen Winter, Book, Music & Lyrics
Ellen Winter is a performer, composer and theatre-maker from the woods of Northern Virginia, currently camping out in Brooklyn. In 2017, she co-wrote/directed/composed 36 Questions, a musical podcast in three acts produced by Two-Up, starring Jonathan Groff & Jessie Shelton. She's a proud Story Pirate, and has written songs for their musical podcast. As a songwriter, she’s performed in venues all over the greater New York area, including Rough Trade, The Knitting Factory, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Sofar Sounds, and Ars Nova. Since 2013, she’s performed and written with nerd-rock group Chamber Band. In the realm of theatre, she’s delighted to have worked with Dave Malloy, César Alvarez, The Bengsons, Mark Bennett and Heather Christian. She’s currently in post-production for her debut studio album, Every Feeling. ellenwintermakesthings.com 



Lynne Shankel and Crystal Skillman


August 5 - August 12

In Postcard American Town, the town of Westville prepares for its biggest annual event - the Settler's Picnic. When Emma Reed, whose great-great-great grandfather was an original settler, discovers that Dylan, a newcomer, is accusing the event of exclusion, Emma defends her family. But Emma's own point of view changes when she discovers a deeper story. A new musical about a young woman's awakening to activism in a small town, and a small town that has to choose its future.

Lynne Shankel, composer and lyricist of Postcard American Town, 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Crystal Skillman, bookwriter of Postcard American Town, 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Lynne Shankel, Lyrics & Music

Lynne Shankel is best known as a music supervisor, arranger and orchestrator. She was music supervisor/arranger/orchestrator for Allegiance on Broadway and was the first woman to solely orchestrate a new musical on Broadway. She has written orchestrations and arrangements for everyone from Chita Rivera, the New York Pops and Raul Esparza to Tony Award winner/Bon Jovi member David Bryan 

and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. As a composer, Lynne collaborated with lyricist Jon Hartmere to provide new songs for bare: The Musical in 2012. Her composition has also been featured in the original musical Maya (commissioned by Teach For India) and in The Old Globe’s 2016 production of Red Velvet. In 2017, Lynne released her critically acclaimed album Bare Naked on Yellow Sound Label. www.Lynneshankel.com

Crystal Skillman, Book

Crystal Skillman’s plays include Geek, Cut, Pulp Vérité, King Kirby, and Rain and Zoe Save the World, winner of the 2018 Earth Matters On Stage New Play Competition. She is the recipient of a NY Innovative Theater Award, and her work is a three time NY Times Critics’ Pick. Crystal is the musical theater bookwriter of Mary and Max (Composer/ Lyricist Bobby Cronin), premiering this fall at Theatre Calgary, and Postcard American Town (Composer/Lyricist Lynne Shankel), both with director Stafford Arima. Comic book/TV credits include: “Adventure Time”, Eat Fighter (Line Webtoon), and Paper Heroes (top three pilots, Final Draft Big Break Contest), written with her husband and co-writer Fred Van Lente. Crystal is represented by UTA. http://www.crystalskillman.com/


Mindi Dickstein, Nolan Gasser, and Kirsten Guenther


August 12 - August 19

Benny, a mechanic with his own garage, has taken care of his psychologically troubled sister Joon since their parents died over a decade ago in a traffic accident. He feels he is a master at managing the life (and friends) he and his sister have ended up with. But when Joon loses a weekly Poker game the siblings end up taking a friend’s cousin into their lives -- and find themselves facing unexpected and irreversible changes. Set in Spokane, Washington in 1992, this musical based on the MGM film explores the challenge of navigating life and love in an imperfect world.

Mindi Dickstein, lyricst of Benny & Joon, 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Nolan Gasser, composer of Benny & Joon, 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Mindi Dickstein, Lyrics  

Mindi is an award-winning lyricist and bookwriter perhaps best known for the Broadway musical Little Women (licensed by MTI, original cast album Sh-k-boom/Ghostlight). Benny & Joon, based on the MGM film, was developed at Transport Group, showcased at NAMT, had its World Premiere at The Old Globe, and will have its East Coast Premiere at The Paper Mill Playhouse in 2019. Her work has been commissioned, produced, and developed widely, including by Disney Creative Entertainment (Toy Story - the Musical), Second Stage (developmental reading of Snow in August, based on the Pete Hamill novel), Playwrights Horizons (Steinberg Commission), ASCAP Workshop, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center (“Hear and Now: Contemporary Lyricists”) and at London’s Bridewell Theater. Larson Foundation Award, among others. MFA and current faculty: NYU

Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program. Find her on Twitter @mindidickstein.


Nolan Gasser, Music

Nolan Gasser is a critically acclaimed composer, pianist, and musicologist – most notably, the architect of Pandora Radio’s Music Genome Project and the company’s chief musicologist from its founding in 1999. He holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from Stanford University. His original compositions have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center, among others. Theatrical projects include the musical Benny & Joon —which will next move to the famed Paper Mill Playhouse in spring 2019; an opera, The Secret Garden, commissioned by San Francisco Opera (2013); among others. Nolan’s forthcoming book, Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste, will be released in early 2019 (Macmillan Press). Nolan’s TEDx talk, “Empowering Your Musical Taste” is available on YouTube. @NolanGasser.


Kirsten Guenther, Book

Kirsten Guenther penned the book for MGM’s Benny & Joon, which had its world premiere at The Old Globe, and will open at The Paper Mill Playhouse in 2019. Theatre projects in development include: Bob Fosse’s Rhythm of Life (Fosse Estate), Measure of Success (Rockefeller Grant), and Mrs. Sharp (Richard Rodgers Award: Playwrights Horizons starring Jane Krakowski, directed by Michael Greif.) She wrote the book for Out of My Head (licensed by Steele Spring Stage Rights) and The Cable Car Nymphomaniac (BATA nomination); and book and lyrics for Little Miss Fix-it (as seen on NBC). She is the recipient of a Dramatist Guild Fellowship, Lincoln Center Honorarium, and Rockefeller Grant. She previously lived in Paris, where she authored the popular weekly column, "The Sexy Expat.” MFA: Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, NYU.

Kirsten Guenther, bookwriter of Benny & Joon, 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Rebecca Aparicio and Stephen Anthony Elkins


August 19 - August 26

Based on the real-life events of Operación Pedro Pan, a young boy is sent to the U.S. to escape the growing dangers of post-revolutionary Cuba. To survive, Pedro must learn a new language and a new culture – while hoping to someday be reunited with his parents. With a score featuring the percussive rhythms of Havana to '60s New York soul, PEDRO PAN examines what it means to be a displaced immigrant in America. Named Top 10 Off-Off B'way Shows 2015 (MWAT) and Theatre Is Easy's Best Bet 2015.

Rebecca Aparicio, bookwriter of Pedro Pan, 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Stephen Anthony Elkins, composer and lyricist of Pedro Pan, 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Rebecca Aparicio, Book

Rebecca Aparicio is a writer/director/producer. As a writing team, Aparicio/Elkins were featured by Prospect Theatre’s Musical Theatre Lab (2018) and Musical Theatre Factory’s Writing Group (2017-18). Writing Credits: Pedro Pan (2017 NYMF Developmental Reading Award, 2015 NY International Fringe Festival, commissioned by The TRUF in 2013),  Sweet Tea and Jesus (Best Musical SASF 2010), and Acceptance (EAT'S Illuminating Artists 2010/SASF 2009). As a director, Rebecca was accepted in SDCF’s Observership Class and awarded an SDCF Observership on Desperate Measures. As a producer, she is a founding member of Nasty Women Unite Fest: a week-long festival promoting intersectional-feminism and The Resister Project. Rebecca regularly performs with her band Wild Magnolia and tours with The ShadowBox Theatre. Member of SDC, Dramatists Guild.

Stephen Anthony Elkins, Lyrics & Music

Stephen Anthony Elkins is composer/lyricist from Athens, Alabama. As a writing team, Aparicio/Elkins were featured by Prospect Theatre’s Musical Theatre Lab (2018) and Musical Theatre Factory’s Writing Group (2017-18). Writing Credits: Pedro Pan (2017 NYMF Developmental Reading Award, 2015 NY International Fringe Festival, commissioned by The TRUF in 2013),  Sweet Tea and Jesus (Best Musical SASF 2010), and Acceptance (EAT'S Illuminating Artists 2010/SASF 2009). Stephen’s music has been featured in several indie films, webseries, and a MasterCard commercial. In 2015, Oregon All-State Choir featured his song “May We All Find Home” leading to performances by choirs all over the US. His bluegrass band Wild Magnolia toured Poland last summer and will be releasing their EP in 2018.www.StephenAnthonyElkins.com

Ken Davenport, bookwriter of The Peculiar History of Dr. James Barry, 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Doug Katsaros, composer of The Peculiar History of Dr. James Barry, 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Amanda Yesnowitz, lyricist of The Peculiar History of Dr. James Barry, 2018 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Ken Davenport, Doug Katsaros, and Amanda Yesnowitz



August 26 - September 2

As a little girl in working class 19th-century Ireland, Margaret Bulkley is told how to think, feel, and behave. But this spirited lass refuses to follow the well-worn path of servile women before her. Fueled by ambition, Margaret will practice medicine even if it means sacrificing her womanhood. Reinventing herself as Dr. James Barry, she becomes the first female surgeon to perform a successful C-section, in which both mother and child survive. Tragically, her accomplishments go undiscovered until her death when the world finally learns that Dr. James Barry was a maverick woman. Based on a true story.

Ken Davenport, Book

Writing credits: Off Bway and Regional: The Awesome 80s Prom, My First Time, Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, & Marriage. Somewhere in Time. Broadway:  Gettin’ The Band Back Together.  Productions of his work have been produced in over 25 countries.  Producing credits: Once On This Island (2018 Tony for Best Revival of a Musical), Groundhog Day, The Play That Goes Wrong, Deaf West Theatre’s Spring Awakening, It’s Only a Play, Macbeth starring Alan Cumming, Godspell, Kinky Boots (Tony Award), The Visit and more. Ken is the Executive Producer for North America for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group. He has written an award-winning teleplay, I.C.A., and pilot, The Bunny Hole. His blog and podcast, “The Producer’s Perspective”, has garnered international attention and has been featured in Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, and more.


Doug Katsaros, Music

Emmy Award winning composer whose Broadway work includes Footloose, Rocky Horror, The Life, Hair, and Laughing Room Only. Off Broadway includes The Toxic Avenger, Altar Boyz, A…My Name Is Alice, Diamonds, Just So, and Abie’s Island Rose. TV work includes Mancuso FBI, The Jim Henson Hour, The Tick, Sesame Street, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and 4th of July celebrations. CDs include Rod Stewart, Cher, Donny Osmond, Frank Sinatra, Peter Paul & Mary, Kiss, Aerosmith, and many more. Film work includes If Lucy Fell, and Star Crystal. He conducted the Boston Pops, wrote for the Ringling Brothers Circus, is married to composer Elise Morris and yes, is the guy who wrote “By Mennen.”


Amanda Yesnowitz, Lyrics  

Winner of 2018 Kleban Prize, Jonathan Larson Award, Dramatists Guild Fellowship, Dottie Burman Award, Jamie deRoy and Friends Award, and 8 MAC nominations. Selected: Somewhere in Time (Portland Center Stage; 7 PAMTA noms; NAMT finalist), By the Numbers (ASCAP Workshop; Goodspeed’s Mercer Colony), The History of War (NYMF invited selection), The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Hangar Theatre premiere). RECORDINGS: “Gotta Start Small” (Stephanie Block, PS Classics; Live from Lincoln Center PBS). Notable: Featured writer at the Kennedy Center (ASCAP centennial) and Boston’s Symphony Hall (“No Looking Back” performed by Keith Lockhart and the Pops). Her lyrics have been published in The Dramatist, Time, and the New York Times. Strange but true: competitive crossword puzzle solver and published constructor (NY Times, 08/26/12. . . no ordinary Sunday).

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