National Music Theater Conference 

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The mission of the National Music Theater Conference (NMTC) is to provide a supportive and challenging environment in which emerging and established creative artists can take huge risks in order to refine and illuminate their work’s vision during its formative stages. Each summer, the National Music Theater Conference includes several playwrights, lyricists, and composers endeavoring to create fresh and bold work from an array of music theater genres.

The open submissions process begins each fall. A panel of professionals reviews projects received and names Finalists before Conference selections are made in April (See all 2017 Finalists). During the summer Conference, the O’Neill provides artistic and administrative resources to explore the material with a staff of directors, musicians, and Equity performers. Several script-in-hand public readings of each work are presented between daily rehearsals and rewrites. Each work also receives a dream orchestration of one selected song, which is designed by a leading professional in the field and presented at the end of the artists’ residency. The Artistic Director and invited professionals guide the process by participating in private, informal dramaturgical discussions with the artists.

The criterion for selecting works begins with the demonstrated talent and skills of its creators; and projects must be ready to be performed in their entirety, though significant work must still remain.

Since its inception in 1978, NMTC has developed well over 110 works.  Countless worldwide productions of musicals and operas have advanced the careers of NMTC authors and composers.  Broadway audiences have seen the premiere and revival of Arthur Kopit, Mario Fratti, and Maury Yeston’s Nine (NMTC 1979), which won six Tony Awards in 1982 and Best Revival of a Musical in 2003.  They have also seen Jeff Whitty, Jeff Marx, and Robert Lopez’s Avenue Q (NMTC 2002) which won the 2004 Best Musical Tony.  In addition to hundreds of regional productions, New York audiences have seen Brian Crawley and Jeanine Tesori’s Violet (NMTC 1994), John Jiler and Ray Leslee’s Avenue X (NMTC 1992), Kirsten Child’s The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (NMTC 1998), Frederick Freyer and Patrick Cook’s Captains Courageous (NMTC 1990), Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party (NMTC 1997), Tan Dun’s MarcoPolo (NMTC 1993), and Polly Pen’s Christina Alberta’s Father (NMTC 1992).  Quiara Alegría Hudes and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights (NMTC 2005) won the Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle Awards, as well as four Tony Awards, including Best Musical; a film is now in production.  NMTC has also supported the talents of Joel Derfner, Ed Dixon, Sheldon Harnick, Walter Edgar Kennon, Howard Marren, Joe Masteroff, Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik, Rachel Sheinken, Edward Thomas, and Jack Eric Williams, to name only a few of the artists whose works have since been seen in regional, New York, and international venues.

For information on how and when to submit a work, visit our Submission Info page.


From Script to Stage



Three years after the O’Neill, VIOLET opened off-Broadway, winning Drama Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel Awards. In 2014, VIOLET opened on Broadway and was nominated for four Tony Awards. 

One year after the O’Neill, AVENUE Q opened on Broadway in a production that won three Tony Awards and was nominated for a Grammy. AVENUE Q currently runs off-Broadway at New World Stages.



Three years after the O’Neill, IN THE HEIGHTS opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway. The production won four Tony Awards, a Grammy Award, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. 



Two years after the O’Neill, IN TRANSIT opened off-Broadway, winning Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, and Outer Critics Circle Awards. In 2016, IN TRANSIT opened on Broadway.

Funding for the National Music Theater Conference provided by: Time Warner Foundation Inc, The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc., and O'Neill annual fund donors.