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2022 Writers and Musicals

16 writers of 8 new musicals joined us for 8 sequential week-long residencies to focus solely on writing their musical.

Click below to learn more about the writers and their musicals!

Join us for our Meet the Writers events

live this summer at Rhinebeck!

The Loophole

July 3 - July 10

Zeniba Now and Jay Adana, with Lead Support from The Noël Coward Foundation, in honor of Geoffrey Johnson, and Underwriting Support from The John Levin & Diane Keefe Fund

On This Side of the World

July 10 - July 17

Paulo K Tiról and Noam Shapiro, with Lead Support from Molly McEneny

That Hell-Bound Train

July 17- July 24

Lisa DeSpain and David Simpatico, with Lead Support from Rick Farrar and Jeff Zadroga

Salaam Medina: Tales of a Halfghan

July 24 - July 31

Rona Siddiqui, with Lead Support from The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund

Here and Their

July 31 - August 7

Jasmine Joshua and Heather Ragusa, with Lead Support from Steve and Paula Reynolds

Dear Mr. C

August 7 - August 14

Tidtaya Sinutoke, Lily Ali-Oshatz and Naomi Matlow, with Lead Support from Liz and Bill Mills

How the White Girl Got Her Spots and Other 90s Trivia

August 14 - August 21

Shayok Misha Chowdhury and Laura Grill Jaye, with Lead Support from Paul Feuerman & Bruce Grivetti

Lost City Radio

August 21 - August 28

Joel Perez and Benjamin Velez, with Lead Support from Liz Armstrong

Zeniba Now & Jay Adana 


July 3 - July 10

Zeniba Now
THE LOOPHOLE Jay Adana.jpg
Jay Adana

Show Synopsis

It’s 1864. The Confederate Army just won The Civil War… and something ain’t right about that. As her interracial home in Georgia is threatened with exposure, Polly Danfield is forced to choose between safety in hiding or freedom and love on the run. This folk/rap sci-fi musical explores the concept of freedom and the transcendent power of love. 

Peer Advisor: Natasha Sinha

Associate Artistic Director

Playwrights Horizons

JAY ADANA (Music & Lyrics | she/her )

Jay Adana is loud and shy. THE LOOPHOLE (Public Theater Studio, music and lyrics), THE WOODSMAN (New World Stages, lyrics), FINGERPAINTINGS (Playwrights Horizons Downtown, music and lyrics), LEFAY (Musical Theater Factory, book and lyrics), THE LAST TIGER IN HAITI (Berkeley Rep/La Jolla Playhouse, contributed music and lyrics). Currently developing several musical movies. 2020 Richard Rodgers Award, 2021 Vivace Award, 2018 Jonathan Larson Award, 2019 Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellow. Work featured by PBS, The American Theater Wing, Joe’s Pub, and The Dramatist Magazine. Residencies: Public Theater #BARS residency writer under Jeanie O’Hare, SPACE on Ryder Farm. Education: #BARS workshop founded by Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs, BFA SUNY Purchase.

ZENIBA NOW (Book & Music)

Zeniba Now is an award-winning creator from Los Angeles, CA. Her work aims to inspire magic and possibility in human consciousness. Z is a highly collaborative artist working in a variety of mediums with subject matters ranging from quantum liberatory sci-fi to gynecology slapstick. You can connect with her productions, performances, and releases on Tiktok, YouTube, music streaming services or by visiting her website

The Loophole
On This Side of the World
Paulo K Tiról
Noam Shapiro

Paulo K Tiról & Noam Shapiro


July 10 - July 17

Show Synopsis

Six Filipinos board a flight from Manila to New York with a one-way ticket and a dream in hand: to support their family; to attend their dream school; to escape persecution; to start a lucrative job; to marry their fiancé; to reunite with their mother. When severe turbulence strikes, the travelers weather the storm by trading stories about the different immigrants who have preceded them: Overseas workers, young lovers, gossipy church ladies, and undocumented immigrants. Suspended in mid-air, each traveler wonders, “How will this journey change me?” ON THIS SIDE OF THE WORLD is a new Filipino-American musical for anyone who has ever left their home for someplace new.

Peer Advisor: Kent Nicholson

Director of Acquisitions and New Works, Broadway Licensing

PAULO K TIRÓL (Book, Lyrics & Music)

Paulo K Tiról is a composer, lyricist, and bookwriter from Manila, Philippines. He received the inaugural Benjamin Indick Award for lyricists and bookwriters in 2021, and was a Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellow from 2019 to 2020. Projects include ON THIS SIDE OF THE WORLD (NAMT Festival ’20, Prospect Theater Co.’s IGNITE concert series, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat ‘22, all dir. Noam Shapiro); CALLED (DGF Fellows showcase, dir. May Adrales); Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, adapted from journalist Jose Antonio Vargas’ acclaimed memoir (Drama League Next Stage Residency, dir. Noam Shapiro); and commissions for Prospect Theater Co.’s NOTES FROM NOW and Rattlestick Theater’s GEN SPEAK. Training: Ateneo de Manila University, Berklee, NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program (full-tuition scholarship), BMI.

NOAM SHAPIRO (Book, Director)

Noam Shapiro is a New York and DC-based director and the Producing Artistic Director of Three Hares Theater. He is The Drama League’s 2022 Next Stage Director in Residence, the SDC Foundation’s inaugural Kurt Weill/Harold Prince Directing Fellow, a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, an alumnus of Manhattan Theatre Club’s Directing Fellowship, and a winner of OPERA-America’s Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Prize for THE LITTLE PRINCE. Projects include ON THIS SIDE OF THE WORLD (music & lyrics by Paulo K Tiról, NAMT Festival ‘20, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat); SWEENEY TODD (Yale Dramatic Association), GONZO (by Laura Winters, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center), THE LARAMIE PROJECT (Johns Hopkins Barnstormers), and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Lyra Theater). Associate Member of SDC. BA Yale.

That Hell Bound Train

Lisa DeSpain & David Simpatico


July 17 - July 24

Show Synopsis


Martin, a young hobo, wanders the rails seeking happiness. One night, “The Conductor” arrives and offers Martin his heart’s desire – in exchange for his soul. Armed with the power to stop time and live forever in a moment of perfect happiness, Martin begins his search. Is happiness found in a bottle of muscatel and a dry cot in a flophouse? In a series of one-night stands? The moment Martin meets his wife or holds his newborn son? Is happiness found in wealth, status, or the arms of a mistress?


THE HELL-BOUND TRAIN is a distinctively American take on the classic Faustian myth. 

Peer Advisor: Neil Bartram


THAT HELL-BOUND TRAIN Lisa DeSpain Photo by Leslie Hassler.jpg
Lisa DeSpain
THAT HELL-BOUND TRAIN David Simpatico Photo by Charles Chessler.png
David Simpatico

DAVID SIMPATICO (Playwright/Librettist)

David’s work has been presented at major theatres around the globe, including London’s Hammersmith Apollo, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the New York Shakespeare Festival. Career highlights include: the stage adaptation of HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL (Disney Theatricals); the opera, THE LIFE AND DEATH(S) OF ALAN TURING (Justine F. Chen, composer); the music drama, THE SCREAMS OF KITTY GENOVESE (Will Todd, composer; Edinburgh Fringe Festival; Jonathan Larson award); and the libretto for Pulitzer Prize-winner Aaron Jay Kernis’ GARDEN OF LIGHT (NY Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall, conducted by Kurt Masur). David earned his MFA in Creative Writing from the MountainView Writers at Southern New Hampshire University. David is an alumnus of the Composer Librettist Development Program at American Lyric Theater, and a graduate of Northwestern University.


LISA DESPAIN (Composer) 

Lisa DeSpain is the recipient of an OPERA America Discovery Award for Female Composers and a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts Award for THAT HELL-BOUND TRAIN (Libretto – David Simpatico.) She is the winner of the 2020 Zepick Modern Opera Commission (Opera Kansas) for STAGGERWING about the historic win of female pilots in the 1936 Bendix Trophy Air Race, NO LADIES IN THE LADY’S BOOK (Utah Opera) highlighting the hidden stories of women who built the Transcontinental Railroad, and MEN I’M NOT MARRIED TO (Cleveland Opera Theatre) based on a short story by Dorothy Parker (libretti by Rachel J. Peters). THE NIGHTINGALE (libretto – Melisa Tian, commissioned by On Site Opera) premieres in 2023 at the Winter Garden Atrium, NYC.  She is the choral arranger of Broadway hits (HAMILTON, IN THE HEIGHTS, NEXT TO NORMAL) for Alfred Music and Professor of Music at LaGuardia Community College – CUNY.

Salaam Medina
Rona Siddiqui

Rona Siddiqui


July 24 - July 31

Show Synopsis

SALAAM MEDINA: TALES OF A HALFGHAN is a zany fantasia of bi-ethnic identity exploration. Triggered by an interview question pressing her to talk about her "otherness," writer Medina Eskandani is whisked down a rabbit hole of memories dealing with with body hair, racist cousins, airport security, and pesky head scarves as she questions what it means to identify as a person of color. Through confronting the complexities of gender roles, cultural expectations, and racialization, Medina finds power through understanding the fluidity of her identity.

Peer Advisor: Anika Chapin

Director of Artistic Development, Signature Theatre, DC

RONA SIDDIQUI (Book, Music & Lyrics)

Rona Siddiqui is a composer/lyricist based in NYC. She is a recipient of the Jonathan Larson Grant and Billie Burke Ziegfeld award and was named one of Broadway Women's Fund's Women to Watch. Her show Salaam Medina: Tales of a Halfghan, an autobiographical comedy about growing up bi-ethnic in America, had a reading at Playwrights Horizons (dir. by Raja Feather Kelly). Other musicals include One Good Day, Hip Hop Cinderella, and THE TIN. She has written pieces for Arena Stage, WICKED's 16th anniversary commemoration FLYING FREE, 24 Hour Musicals, Prospect Theater Company, The Civilians, and has performed concerts of her work at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Feinstein's/54 Below. She is the recipient of the ASCAP Harold Adamson Lyric Award, the ASCAP Foundation Mary Rodgers/Lorenz Hart Award and ASCAP Foundation/Max Dreyfus Scholarship. Rona is also the Music Director of the Broadway show A STRANGE LOOP.

Here and Their
HERE AND THEIR Jasmine Joshua.jpg
Jasmine Joshua

Jasmine Joshua & Heather Ragusa

July 31 - August 7

HERE AND THEIR Heather Ragusa.jpeg
Heather Ragusa

Show Synopsis

Sam O’Malley of Butte, Montana is happily engaged and running the family pizza parlor when a carefully guarded family secret is unearthed. Not only does Sam have an estranged aunt no one has ever mentioned, but it turns out she's lesbian punk rock icon Vikki Vektor! While online stalking, er, research, Sam stumbles across the term "nonbinary" and digs deeper into a world that is simultaneously completely unknown and innately familiar. Is thirty-three "too old" to learn something new about yourself?

Peer Advisor: Donna Lynn Hilton

Artistic Director, Goodspeed Musicals

JASMINE JOSHUA (Book, additional Music & Lyrics | they/them)

Jasmine Joshua is a writer, producer, actor, and director.  Jasmine’s solo show BREAD CRUMBS premiered at ACT’s Solo Fest and was included in Ars Nova’s ANTFest in 2021. Their nonbinary musical HERE AND THEIR is currently being workshopped at the Seattle Rep. Jasmine graduated magna cum laude from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Jewish Studies. They also studied with the Larry Moss Studio and the Groundlings. Directing: Intiman; Reboot Theatre; Cafe Nordo; assistant director at 5th Ave; associate director at Village. On stage: SPT, Book-it, SMT. Jasmine is the Artistic Director of Reboot Theatre Company.

HEATHER RAGUSA (Music & Lyrics | she/her)

Heather Ragusa has worked as songwriter and recording artist for over a decade, including fronting Heather Rae and Tumbleweed and opening multiple times for punk legend Exene Cervenka. Heather’s freshman album “Slow Down Woman” inspired the queer country musical LET’S BE SILVER, another collaboration with writing partner Jasmine Joshua. Heather has roots in both musical theater and commercial music production, and has collaborated and performed with members of Social Distortion, Steppenwolf, The Abiders, The Pullmen, The Side Show Preachers, Whiskey Chimp, and more. Also, not to name drop, but she once rode on the back of Nick St. Nicholas’s motorcycle, stole beer from Hoobastank’s green room, and squatted in Glenn Danzig’s trailer. Heather raises chickens and children in Eagle Rock with her husband, Jon-Paul.

Dear Mr C
DEAR MR C Tidtaya Sinutoke.jpg
Tidtaya Sinutoke
DEAR MR C Lily Ali-Oshatz.jpg
Lily Ali-Oshatz

Tidtaya Sinutoke, Lily Ali-Oshatz & Naomi Matlow

August 7 - August 14

Show Synopsis 


A story about love, family, grief, immigration, and cancer.


DEAR MR. C, is an intimate, verbatim, indie-pop memoir with a hint of traditional Thai lullaby. It is a memory musical that tells the story of a Thai immigrant musical theatre writer who's trying to find peace after one phone call turns her world upside-down.


Peer Advisor: Maria Goyanes

Artistic Director, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

DEAR MR C Naomi Matlow.jpg
Naomi Matlow

TIDTAYA SINUTOKE (ฑิตยา สินุธก) (Book, Music & Lyrics)

Tidtaya Sinutoke is a Thailand born, NYC-based composer. Composition credits include HALF THE SKY (The 5th Avenue Theatre's First Draft Commission & 20/21 Digital Season, Weston-Ghostlight New Musical Award, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat); SUNWATCHER (The Civilians R&D Group, Weston Playhouse's Songs for Today, Ancram Opera House Play Lab, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater Global Forms Festival); and DEAR MR. C (NYFA’s City Artist Corps Grants, Polyphone Festival, The Crossroads Project). She was awarded the 2017 Jonathan Larson Grant, the 2020 Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award, the 2021 International Theatremaker Award and the 2021 Fred Ebb Award. Her works have been supported by the American Opera Project, Composer-Librettist Studio at New Dramatists, Yale Institute for Music Theatre, Johnny Mercer Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Residency, EtM Con Edison Composer-in-Residence, MTF's Makers Cohort, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and the Kurt Weill Foundation. A proud member of ASCAP, the Dramatists Guild, Maestra, MUSE, and Thai Theatre Foundation. MFA: NYU.


Naomi Matlow is a musical theatre lyricist, writer, and mindfulness educator. Her theatrical writings include A DAY AT THE ZOO with Tidtaya Sinutoke and DEAR MR. C with Tidtaya Sinutoke and Lily Ali-Oshatz (Polyphone Festival). With composer and co-bookwriter Teresa Lotz, she has written ThreeTimesFast (AEA Industry Reading, Florida Festival of New Musicals, O’Neill NMTC semifinalist), and together they have contributed songwriting to Letters to the President (The Great Hall at Cooper Union) and Engineers Not Found (Honest Accomplice). She earned her BA from the University of Toronto and her MFA from NYU Tisch’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

LILY ALI-OSHATZ (Lyrics | She/Her)

Lily Ali-Oshatz is a Brooklyn-based creator with a focus on composing, writing and performing new musicals. Her shows written with Mark Galinovsky have played Off-Broadway and often deal with queerness, love, and consent. An audio version of her solo Me Too musical, SHE SAID, played at the 2021 Edinburgh Fringe.  Lily is a founding producer on the philanthropic national campaign, THE LESBIAN BAR PROJECT. DEAR MR. C is her first writing collaboration with Tidtaya Sinutoke and Naomi Matlow and represents the beauty that can come from supportive and loving friendships in the theatre community. BFA NYU Tisch.

How the White Girl

Shayok Misha Chowdhury
& Laura Grill Jaye



August 14 - August 21

HOW THE WHITE GIRL Misha and Laura 2.jpg
Shayok Misha Chowdhury
& Laura Grill Jaye

Show Synopsis

When a keloid scar appears on her shoulder, a White Girl discovers she isn't as white as she thought. The scar is a genetic gift from her great-grandfather, who came from India and dissolved into white society. The Narrator is Indian American. In his telling, White Girl's story is a fable about the dangers of forgetting where you come from: a buried Indianness resurfacing as a Brown Scar, which grows into something monstrous. The Narrator grew up in 90s Suburbia, jacking off to pictures of white men. In telling White Girl's story, he is working through his desire for—and fear of disappearing into—whiteness.

Peer Advisor: Mara Isaacs

Founder and Director of Octopus Theatricals


Shayok Misha Chowdhury is a many-tentacled writer, director, performer, and music-maker. A Jonathan Larson Grant awardee, Misha collaborated on the Grammy-winning album CALLING ALL DAWNS. Next: PUBLIC OBSCENITIES (Soho Rep & NAATCO); SPEECH (Philly Fringe). In process: RHEOLOGY (HERE Arts). Recent: BROTHER, BROTHER (New York Theatre Workshop); MUKHAGNI (Under the Radar @ The Public). Misha created VICHITRA, a series of sound-driven experiments including ENGLANDBASHI (Ann Arbor Film Festival), ANTHOLOGY OF QUEER DREAMS (Audio Unbound Award Finalist), THE OTHER OTHER (Ars Nova), and IN ORDER TO BECOME (Bushwick Starr), which he is developing into a Carnatic opera. Residencies & Fellowships: NYSAF, Sundance, Fulbright, NYSCA/NYFA, NYTW 2050, Hermitage, Ucross, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Soho Rep Project Number One, Ars Nova Makers Lab, Drama League, and elsewhere. MFA: Columbia.


LAURA GRILL JAYE (Music & Lyrics)

Laura Grill Jaye is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, improviser, educator, performer, and music director. She is half of the musical-writing duo “Grill and Chowder” with Shayok Misha Chowdhury. They were awarded a 2021 Jonathan Larson Grant, and their work has been seen or developed at Ars Nova, New York Theatre Workshop, SPACE on Ryder Farm, NYMF, HERE Arts Center, and Joe’s Pub @ The Public Theater. With the Laura Grill Band, Laura has written and produced two albums, NEVER BEFORE and TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS, and toured nationally. The Boston Globe called her music “jump jazz, barroom rock, chamber folk, and downright infectious.” She is on faculty at Meridian Academy in Boston and MIT’s Music and Theater Arts program. MM in Jazz Studies: New England Conservatory.

Lost City Radio
LOST CITY RADIO Benjamin and Joel Photo by Full Out Creative.jpg
Joel Perez & Benjamin Velez

Joel Perez & Benjamin Velez


August 21 - August 28

Show Synopsis

Norma is the on-air voice of consolation and hope for a country whose people are broken by war's violence with her radio show, Lost City Radio. In the aftermath of the decade-long bloody civil conflict, Norma’s own life is about to forever change—thanks to the arrival of a young orphan, Victor, who brings with him from the jungle a cryptic clue to the fate of Norma's vanished husband, Rey. Together, they embark on a journey that weaves  in and out of their memories to piece together a puzzle of two psyches ripped apart by war.

Peer Advisor: Maria Goyanes

Artistic Director, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company


Joel Perez is an award-winning actor and writer living in NYC. His theater work includes FUN HOME (Broadway), Kiss My Aztec! (La Jolla Playhouse) and SWEET CHARITY (New Group; Lortel Award). Screen work includes TICK, TICK… BOOM! (Netflix), Jesus Christ Superstar Live! (NBC), PERSON OF INTEREST (CBS) and ODD MOM OUT (Bravo). His writing includes The Black Beans Project (The Huntington Theatre), PLAYING WITH MYSELF (Ars Nova), The Church of the Holy Glory (Ars Nova ANTFest). His short film, “Beautiful, FL” is a selection of Disney Launchpad and will premiere on Disney+ in 2023. He received a WarnerMedia 150 Artist Grant for his comedy pilot “You’re Tired, You’re Poor”. He is the winner of the 2021 Miranda Family Voces Latinx National Playwriting Competition for his play “From the Fountain”. He is a 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Playwriting from NYFA. Follow him at @misterjoelperez and visit

BENJAMIN VELEZ (Music & Lyrics)

Benjamin Velez is a composer/lyricist and Columbia graduate (114th Varsity Show), born and raised in Miami, FL. Proud member of the Advanced BMI workshop (2012 Harrington Award), his work has been at MTF, Ars Nova, NAMT, NEO, the Civilians, 4@15, and Joe's Pub. He was a Sundance Artist at the UCROSS Foundation, and his musical AFTERLAND, was developed at the Yale Institute for Music Theater and the York Theater. He developed STARBLASTERS at Dixon Place and at Manhattan School of Music in 2021. His musical BORDERLINE, won the 2018 Weston Playhouse New Musical Award, and opened the 2019 O’Neill Musical Theater Conference. He was a 2018-2019 Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellow, the 2019 Fred Ebb Award Winner, a 2020 Thom Thomas Award winner, and a 2020 Jonathan Larson Grant recipient. His musical KISS MY AZTEC, written with John Leguizamo, Tony Taccone, and David Kamp, had a reading at the Public Theater (2018), before premiering at Berkeley Rep (2019), followed by a run at the La Jolla Playhouse (2019) and Hartford Stage (2022). More information at

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