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To Collaborate or Not To Collaborate

I wanted to take a moment today to talk about collaboration, specifically among writers in musical theatre.

Now to clarify a very important point: All theatre is collaboration. Even when a writer is responsible for the entire book, score and lyrics. Once the script is in a draft form, the director, the actors, the producer and even the theatre owner may contribute to the project in its final form. Even the way an audience responds will affect the final project potentially beyond the scope the writer envisioned.

But, still I think there's a place for triple threat writers. Even history has shown us that triple threat writers have been successful on Broadway, Off Broadway and throughout the various off shoot niches for staged productions. Meredith Wilson, responsible for The Music Man and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Jason Robert Brown who wrote The Last Five Years. Michael R. Johnson with the recent A Strange Loop. Lin Manuel Miranda with In The Heights and Hamilton.

There are many other examples, but the one thing that stands out amongst most of them is that they only did it once or twice before they started to work with other collaborators.

That's a little scary to me, because that's what I do. Now, admittedly, I'm not 100% solid on lyric writing but I'm a killer book writer and can definitely put together a hooky song.

So I'd like to propose a thought. For those of you like me that prefer to write alone, I think it's a great way to get noticed. Especially if you can get a show fully staged and reviewed.

This could open the doors to potential collaborators.

Now, I personally would love to be a triple threat writer for the rest of my career. I just feel like stories with foundations that are built by a single writer tend to have the best immersive stories - nothing out of character and nothing that doesn't make sense in the story. Unfortunately, I believe my thoughts on this are in the minority.

So, how does someone like me continue to work in the industry when the typical pathway is based on collaboration. New tools make it so much easier - YouTube, Facebook, Tik Tok and all of the AI tools currently flooding the internet.

With these tools, you can release your songs - which may open the door to a potential collaborator.

With these tools, you can upload readings of your story - which may garner the interest of a producer, streaming platform or even a Hollywood producer.

With these tools, you can stage a local production - which may lead to further productions around the world.

And with these tools, you have every opportunity to have your work heard and critiqued which can help you become a better writer.

And in the end, you can still be that triple threat writer, just make time to understand how all these new technologies can provide you the boost and connections that you might have with a collaborator!

Alan Saunders,

Friends told me I was late to the game for writing musicals, even though I've been writing them almost my entire life. so this blog is my journey into writing professionally for the stage.

Check out for how-to articles and resources for writing your own musical for the stage!

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