In New York, where you can see productions originating from Africa to Iceland, you can also see musicals this year that came from your own back yard, Suffolk University.
Three musicals originally developed by the Boston Music Theatre Project (BMTP), a program of the Suffolk University Theatre Department, had professional New York area debuts this season. The incredible circumstances are not the triumph of coincidence, but the result of a carefully crafted model and the tenacity of Theatre Department Chair Marilyn Plotkins.
Plotkins founded BMTP in 1987 as the first professional organization in the Greater Boston area dedicated exclusively to the development of new work in musical theatre. “I have a life-long interest in musicals,” says Plotkins. “BMTP was a natural outgrowth of my training, experience and professional interests.”
For the next 10 years, Plotkins partnered with local and national organizations and artists to develop new work, including Elmer Gantry, produced by the Nashville Opera and the Peak Performances series at Montclair State University in January, 2008, and Look What a Wonder Jesus Has Done, featured in the New York Music Theatre Festival this September.
In 1999, Plotkins integrated BMTP into the academic framework of the newly formed Theatre Department to engage Suffolk students in the development process. Crossing Brooklyn, a new musical by Laura Harrington and Jenny Giering, premiered off-Broadway in the fall at the Transport Group and was the first BMTP piece developed with students—but it certainly won’t be the last.
The hands-on experience of BMTP is a unique facet of the Suffolk Theatre Department and has inspired other in-house professional development opportunities, such as Wesley Savick’s National Theatre of Allston and Richard Chambers’ professional design apprenticeships. As the program continues to grow, so will the opportunities. Plotkins is currently in negotiation with two New York writers for the next BMTP project, slated for spring, 2009.