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Meet the Writers

You're invited to meet 19 musical theatre writers in residence this summer at Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, including the screenwriters for Despicable Me and This is Us, and a Dramatist Guild Foundation Award recipient.

The events take place on 5 Saturdays and are free and open to the public. You'll enjoy food, drinks, and conversation with the writers, and hear a few songs from their new musicals. Email to let us know when you can join us. Once we hear from you, we'll send more info about each event.

This is an amazing chance to meet incredibly talented writers. In past years, we've held "Meet the Writers" events with  Joe Iconis, who was nominated for a Tony for Best Composer this year for BE MORE CHILL; Itamar Moses, who won the Tony for Best Book for THE BAND'S VISIT, and Kyle Jarrow, nominated for Best Book for SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS. 


Janine McGuire, Arri Lawton Simon

July 6 from 5:00pm - 7:00pm

Red Hook, New York near Bard College


BORDERS tells the story of an Israeli soldier named Noam and a Palestinian man named Ashraf, who fall in love after meeting at a border checkpoint. Adapted from the 2006 film THE BUBBLE by Eytan Fox & Gal Uchovsky, this new musical takes place during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s and examines the borders we construct within society and within ourselves.

This residency has Lead Support from Jacqui and Lew Rose.


McGuire & Simon are a NYC-based musical theatre writing team, members of the BMI Advanced Musical Theatre Workshop, alumni of the Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellowship, and 2019 York Theatre NEO (New-Emerging-Outstanding) writers. Earlier this year they presented concerts of their work at The Green Room 42 (NYC) and The Phoenix Theatre (Phoenix, AZ) in addition to a two-week residency at the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals. In addition to BORDERS (in development), their shows include EXPRESS, which was originally performed inside historic subway cars at the New York Transit Museum and was later workshopped and expanded at New York Film Academy, and a TYA musical KIBBY THE SPACE DOG, a commission which premiered at Wichita Children’s Theatre and Dance Center in 2018. Janine holds a B.A. in Music from Barnard College, Columbia University. Arri holds a B.M. in Composition and Voice from Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, and is an AEA performer who has appeared at Carnegie Hall and NY City Center. @mcguireandsimon

McGuire and Simon, Borders, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Operation Mincemeat

David Cumming, Felix Hagan, Natasha Hodgson, Zoe Roberts

July 27 from 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Oblong Bookstore,

6422 Montgomery Street, Rhinebeck, NY  12572



The year is 1943 and right now, England is losing the war. Luckily, they’re about to gamble all our futures on a stolen corpse. This fast-paced, darkly comic musical follows young British Naval Intelligence officer Charles Cholmondeley, and the utterly surreal, totally bizarre intelligence mission he conceived that - despite all the odds - was instrumental in winning World War 2. The question is, how did a well-dressed corpse wrong-foot Hitler into handing over Europe? OPERATION MINCEMEAT rousingly investigates national pride, dumb luck, who writes our histories, and what the hell we’re all fighting for in the first place.  These writers are coming to us fresh from their London production of OPERATION MINCEMEAT in June.

This residency has Lead Support from The Noël Coward Foundation and Underwriting Support from Alec Stais and Elissa Burke.

ZOE ROBERTS, Book & Lyrics
Zoe is a founding member of Kill the Beast theatre company, the UK-based multi-award winning dark comedy troupe whose credits include sell-out national tours and features on BBC Radio 3, as well as a Stage Edinburgh Award 2016, Manchester Studio Theatre Award 2015 and the Peter Brook Fringe Award 2016. With Kill the Beast, Zoe has co-written four productions to date, as well as co-scripting two comedy podcast series, the first of which debuted in the Top Ten iTunes UK Comedy chart Autumn 2018. Kill the Beast have performed over 200 times in the last six years, selling 20,000 tickets and touring to 50+ venues across the UK, and have been Associate Artists at prestigious UK venue The Lowry in Salford, Manchester, since 2011. 

As well as being a founding member of Kill the Beast, Natasha is a television writer, contributing on comedy programmes such as BAFTA award-winning Amazing World Of Gumball and Bravest Warriors, created by Adventuretime’s Pendelton Ward. She has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, as well as performing on BBC Radio 4’s satirical comedy NewsJack. She is a long-term collaborator of Felix Hagan's, touring nationally and internationally with his band Felix Hagan and the Family. 

DAVID CUMMING, Book, Music & Lyrics 
David is an award-winning director, actor and musician specialising in theatre with a musical element, and a founding member of Kill the Beast (see Zoe Roberts biog for credits). A trained singer, David is Assistant Choirmaster to London’s Roundhouse Choir, working with a host of high-profile artists such as Ronnie Spector, Boy George, and Imogen Heap. Most recently he co-devised Battersea Arts Centre’s beatbox production Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster, which won the OffWestEnd 2019 TBC Award for ‘Shows Which Defy Categorisation’. 


FELIX HAGAN, Music & Lyrics 
Felix is an accomplished song-writer & musician, having written and performed with his band Felix Hagan and the Family since 2013. Renowned for their energetic, theatrical live shows, virtuosic musical skills and impressive lyrical dexterity, by 2017, their passionate fan base propelled debut album Attention Seeker to Number 6 in the UK iTunes Rock Chart and to date their music has been streamed over 650,000 times on Spotify alone. In 2016 the band toured nationally supporting Frank Turner, and in 2018 they supported Canadian group The Arkells on their European tour. Felix has experience composing for the stage, co-composing the music for Kill the Beast’s Don't Wake The Damp and Director's Cut, and composing for several plays by award-winning comedy writer Freddy Syborn.

Zoe Roberts, Operation Mincemeat, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Natasha Hodgson, Operation Mincemeat, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
David Cumming, Operation Mincemeat, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Felix Hagan, Operation Mincemeat, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Sherri Eden Barber, EllaRose Chary, Brandon James Gwinn

August 10 from 5:00-7:00pm

Staatsburg, NY near Omega Institute



TL;DR: THELMA LOUISE; DYKE REMIX is a queer, rock musical. It asks "why do strong female characters always gotta die?" then embarks on a fantasy driven, irreverent, meta analysis of queer women in media. The kickass band leads T and L on their post-Grand Canyon jump journey. TL;DR is a celebration of lady love; it takes on the patriarchy and the gaytriarchy; it insists that queer women exist and belong in the musical theater canon (hi, we’re right here). TL;DR looks at the current queer storytelling landscape and says “Let’s keep going.”

This residency has Lead Support from Liz Armstrong.

Brandon James Gwinn, TL DR Thelma Louse Dyke Remix, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Ella Rose Chary, TL DR Thelma Louse Dyke Remix, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Sherri Eden Barber, TL DR Thelma Louse Dyke Remix, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat


Brandon James Gwinn is a composer/lyricist and music producer. His musicals include: Cotton Candy & Cocaine (Ars Nova Uncharted, NAMT Grant, Theatre C) Queer. People. Time. (Dramatist Guild Fellowship, CATWALK Residency), TL;DR: Thelma Louise Dyke Remix (The Tank), Matchmaker Matchmaker, I’m Willing to Settle (ART Club Oberon, NYMF), Small Town Story (American Theatre Group, Finalist Richard Rodgers Award, NAMT Writer’s Residency Grant, Village Originals Seattle, NYTB Commission) and Underwear A Space Musical (Fringe Festival, American College Theatre Festival). As a producer: Alexis Michelle’s LoveFool (Broadway Records) Trixie Mattel’s Two Birds and One Stone (#1 Billboard chart). Composer: George Takei web-series It Takei’s Two. MFA from NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. ASPAC, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, & Dramatists


EllaRose Chary is a writer and an advocate for inclusion in musical theater. Her projects include: COTTON CANDY AND COCAINE (Theater C), TL;DR: Thelma Louise; Dyke Remix (The Tank), THE DOLL MAKER’S GIFT (The Rose Theater), THE LORIKEET (The Flea Theater Commission), MARRYING ME (BOH Cameronian Arts Award Winner), THE LAKE AND THE MILL (Finalist, Kernodle New Play Award, Great Plains Theatre Conference) and The Civilians’ Lobby Project at City Center (Encores! Off-Center). EllaRose is a Dramatists Guild Fellow, Ars Nova Uncharted resident, Catwalk Institute resident, Musical Theater Today Contributing Editor, NYFA Fellowship Playwriting/Screenwriting Finalist, Kleban Prize Finalist, recipient of the Anna Sosenko Grant and a NAMT grant, and a member of ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild. BA: Brown University; MFA: NYU


Sherri Eden Barber is a New York based theatre director and Artistic Director of Ricochet Collective. Recent: TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS (Pasadena Playhouse), GOOD FRIDAY (The Flea Theater), ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT WILDFIRES (Ricochet Collective – Teatro Circulo), HAPPILY AFTER EVER (Ricochet Collective – 59E59, Edinburgh Fringe), GORDY CRASHES (Ricochet Collective – IRT), MR. LANDING TAKES A FALL (The Flea), THE LIGHTNING THIEF (Theatreworks USA), 24 Hour Plays on Broadway with Pablo Schreiber, Laverne Cox, and Melanie Griffith. She has developed new work with Rattlestick, Orchard Project, The Flea, Culture Project, Chautauqua, and The Old Vic. Sherri is a recipient of The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Directors Fellowship, the Core Company Director for The Orchard Project, a Drama League Directing Fellow, and recipient of the US/UK Exchange Award.


Don Nguyen and The Lobbyists: Tony Aidan Vo, Tommy Crawford,
Eloïse Eonnet, Alex Grubbs, Will Turner and
Douglas Waterbury-Tieman

August 17 from 5:00pm - 7:00pm at

Great Song Farm 

475 Milan Hill Road, Red Hook, NY  12571



THE GOLDEN SPIKE is the story of Sun Wu, a Chinese immigrant who worked on the Transcontinental Railroad thirteen years earlier who now finds himself trying to outrun the long arm of the law in hopes of reuniting with his wife and son.  Weaving strong emotional narratives of Chinese and Irish immigrants of the Railroad, THE GOLDEN SPIKE is a story of the pursuit of love, family, truth, and the sparkling light of equality under the otherwise dark shadow cast by the Chinese Exclusion Act.


This residency has Lead Support from Amy and Roger Faxon.

DON NGUYEN, Playwright

Full-length plays include THE SUPREME LEADER (World Premiere - Dallas Theatre Center, 2020), HELLO, FROM THE CHILDREN OF PLANET EARTH (World Premiere - The Playwrights Realm, 2018), SOUND (World Premiere - Azeotrope/ACT Seattle), RED FLAMBOYANT (World Premiere - Firebone Theatre Company, 2015 GAP Prize Winner), THE COMMENCEMENT OF WILLIAM TAN (Yale Cabaret), THE MAN FROM SAIGON (developed at A.C.T in San Francisco, Naked Angels, NYSAF Founders Award).  Don is a current member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, the Public Theater’s inaugural Emerging Writers Group, The Civilians inaugural R&D Group, the 52nd Street Project, and a co-founder of Mission to (dit)Mars, a Queens based theatre arts collective.  For more information, please visit:

TONY AIDAN VO, The Lobbyists

Actor, musician, and entrepreneur. Theater: The Great Leap (Atlantic Theater), SeaWife (Naked Angels, 2016 Drama Desk Nom), 1969:The Second Man (NYTW), Frontieres sans Frontieres (Bushwick Starr), These Seven Sicknesses (The Flea). Regional: Baltimore Center Stage, New York Stage & Film, The Hangar, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and White Heron. Television: THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK, CBS and COMEDY CENTRAL. He is also a co-founder of Audition.Cat, a new startup company that provides analytic tools for the auditioning actor. Follow: @tvo_this, and


Actor, singer, musician, and composer. Recent regional/NYC: Paul McCartney in ONLY YESTERDAY (Northern Stage), Carl Perkins in MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET (Weston Playhouse), SEAWIFE (White Heron; Naked Angels), VEIL’D (WP Theater). As composer/songwriter, recent projects include: SEAWIFE (Drama Desk Nomination Outstanding Music, with The Lobbyists), CRY EDEN, ‘NIA, FROM COLD LAKE. Co-founder, bandleader of The Lobbyists. Lifetime member artist, Ensemble Studio Theater. BA Yale. More at

ELOÏSE EONETT, The Lobbyists

Eloise started her career in France doing American and European film. Since moving to New York, she has worked with various theater companies including Ars Nova, Naked Angels, Ensemble Studio Theater, The Flea Theater, Amios, Exit Pursued by a Bear, NYSAF Powerhouse Theater, Cape Cod Theater Project, The White Heron, and Williamstown Theater Festival. She is a member of the folk band/theater collective, The Lobbyists (Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Music for SeaWife).


ALEX GRUBBS, The Lobbyists

Member of acclaimed New York Folk Band “The Lobbyists” who were nominated for a 2016 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music for SeaWife produced by Naked Angels. Other credits include Spill, Kentucky (Ensemble Studio Theatre) Utility (Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre) SeaWife (Naked Angels) Mary Kate Olsen is in Love, a cautionary tail, These Seven Sicknesses (The Flea Theater) Regional: Miss Keller Has No Second Book (Gulfshore Playhouse) SeaWife (White Heron) The 39 Steps, Barefoot in the Park (Heritage Theater Festival), lifetime member of Ensemble Studio Theater, NYC.  M.F.A in Acting UVa.


WILL TURNER, The Lobbyists

Will received his MFA in acting at Brown/Trinity and his undergraduate degree at Yale University. As a songwriter, he is interested in economy and playing with or against generic structures. As an actor, he is interested in magical realism and American Masculinity.


Actor, musician and writer from Lexington, KY. BM in Musical Theatre: Belmont University. Off Broadway: The Robber Bridegroom, Soot and Spit. Regional; SeaWife, Once.  He recently played fiddle aboard The Disney Magic as well as for Clint Black’s Looking For Christmas at The Old Globe. Proud member of The Lobbyists and The Playbillies he is also the creator of Johnny & the Devil’s Box, recently seen in cabaret at Goodspeed’s Festival of New Musicals.

Don Nguyen, The Golden Spike, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Tony Aidan Vo, The Lobbyists, The Golden Spike, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Tommy Crawford, The Lobbyists, The Golden Spike, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Eloise Eonnet, The Lobbyists, The Golden Spike, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Alex Grubbs, The Lobbyists, The Golden Spike, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Will Turner, The Lobbyists, The Golden Spike, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Douglas Waterbury-Tieman, The Lobbyists, The Golden Spike, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
The Golden Spike
Benny & Joon

Bekah Brunstetter, Cinco Paul, & Stephen Brackett

August 31 from 4:00-6:00pm

Town of Clinton Town Hall in partnership with Clinton Community Library

1215 Centre Road, Rhinebeck, NY  12572

AD 16


A.D. 16 tells the story of what happens when teenage Mary Magdalene falls in love with the boy next door: teenage Jesus. In a culture where women have little to no status, Mary’s efforts to win Jesus’ heart get her in trouble with her father, the local leper colony, and even the ultimate authority in Nazareth, the Jewish Sanhedrin. Which ultimately helps her discover the true meaning of love. Featuring an R&B score that evokes the best of TLC, En Vogue, Prince and more, this comedic coming-of-age story asks the question: what if your first crush was REALLY perfect?

This residency has Underwriting Support from Rick Farrar

and Jeff Zadroga.

CINCO PAUL, Music & Lyrics

Cinco Paul, with Ken Daurio, has written the movies Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2, Despicable Me 3, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, The Secret Life Of Pets, The Santa Clause 2 and Bubble Boy. He also wrote the lyrics for the six songs in The Lorax, and is the recipient of the ASCAP Sammy Cahn Award for lyric writing and the Harold Arlen Award for the score of Bubble Boy, the original cast recording of which was recently released on Ghostlight Records. BA in English, Yale University. MFA in Screenwriting, USC.


Bekah’s plays include The Cake (The Echo Theater; MTC), Going to a Place where you already Are (South Coast Repertory), The Oregon Trail (Portland Center Stage, O’Neill Playwrights Conference; Flying V)  Be A Good Little Widow (Ars Nova), and Oohrah! (The Atlantic Theater). She is an alumni of the CTG Writers Group, Primary Stages Writer’s group, Ars Nova Play Group, The Playwright’s Realm, and the Women’s Project Lab. She is a founding member of The Kilroys, an advocacy group dedicated to achieving gender parity in the theater. She has previously written for MTV (Underemployed), Freeform’s Switched at Birth, and Starz’s American Gods, and NBC’s  This is Us. BA UNC Chapel Hill; MFA in Dramatic Writing from the New School for Drama.



Broadway: BE MORE CHILL (Lyceum Theater). Off-Broadway: BE MORE CHILL (Signature and Two River Theaters), A STRANGE LOOP (Playwrights Horizons), THE LIGHTNING THIEF: THE PERCY JACKSON MUSICAL (Theaterworks USA/National Tour), BUYER & CELLAR (Rattlestick and Barrow Street Theaters/National Tour/London’s Menier Chocolate Factory), THE MAD ONES (Prospect Theater), ULTIMATE BEAUTY BIBLE (Page 73), WRINGER (NYCCT),  Regional: Significant Other (Geffen Playhouse),  I Now Pronounce (Humana Festival), Le Switch (About Face),  The Great Pretender (TheatreWorks Silicon Valley). Upcoming: Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop at Playwrights Horizons and Fall Springs at Barrington Stage.

Cinco Paul, AD 16, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Bekah Photo, AD 16, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Stephen Brackett, AD 16, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
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