How to Write for Musical Theater - Returns SPRING/SUMMER 2024! Thursdays 7pm Pacific - Class Starts 5/30/24!

Special FREE & Open Workshop: • Monday 5/20, 5pm PT/8pm ET
Free 40-minute workshop From Scene to Song: All About the Story in Musical Theater, 
with instructor Bob Garrett and special guest Songwriting School student with multiple productions written and staged, Richard Castle.

The SUMMER 2024 round starts on Thursday 5/30, 7pm PT over zoom! We will meet online over zoom with full replays available--and have some optional in-person gatherings/meetings for LA people as well. And we have added an 11th meeting as a bonus (normally 10 meetings)!

NOTE: there will be no class 5/23, so please go here to watch this video about the main songs in a show and how they support the concept. At that link you can download a handout on those materials, work on your concept, and arrive for class 5/30 ready to dig in. 

• Watch the free event from February with Bob Garrett and 6 alums of this class as special guests: Learn How to Write for Musical Theater -- all in a conversation about how to come up with an idea for your original show, or how to develop your idea into a show, with the great Bob Garrett. 


There are 10 meetings in the class. At that time class members will decide whether they'd like to continue to meet with Bob in a smaller group in 4-week blocks. A core group from the most recent round of class from Winter '23 is STILL meeting. The Fall '21 group met 66 times(56 wks past the 10 wk class, and all members completed their full musicals!)! Continuing is entirely optional and the cost of each additional meeting is simply a pro-rated class meeting cost ($60 per meeting).

ANNOUNCEMENT: We are proud to share that Courtney Leigh, graduate of this class and a member of an ongoing workshop with fellow classmates and Bob Garrett, was named a FINALIST for the Jonathan Larson Grant 2022!

Musical Theater is no longer simply the province of the traditional stage. Popular music of all genres has expanded the conversation, from the hip-hop of Hamilton to the Irish pop-folk of Once. This 10-meeting class on-campus or online will guide you through the key elements of the development process to write your original musical for the stage, film, and television.  How to Write for Musical Theater will show you how to turn your concept into a fully realized musical.

Instructor Bob Garrett is uniquely positioned to lead this class, as his career highlights include hit songwriter (Heart, Tina Turner, etc), Motown staff writer, recording artist (A&M records), Broadway star (GreaseGodspell, etc.),vocal coach (Katy Perry, Big Time Crush, cast of Glee, Vanessa Hudgens, Janet Jackson, American Idol, The Voice, etc.)--and contributor to musicals like The Color PurpleModern Love (Hall & Oates), Stars in Your Eyes (Mark Taper Forum) and more. He has written the book and lyrics to SING!, a new contemporary production co-written with 10 top hit writers of the day. From the concept to the stage, the songs to the book, and the arc that ties it all together, Bob Garrett understands how to guide you on your unique path toward writing and selling a successful musical.

Special Guests from previous iterations with Bob Garrett:


  • the late Allee Willis  (The Color Purple, Friends Theme, "Boogie Wonderland," "September")
  • Franne Golde (Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston cuts and currently "SING!"  with Bob Garrett)
  • Stephen Bray  (The Color Purple,  Madonna's "Into the Groove", "Angel." et al...)


I see great value for someone just beginning on this path, but Is this class for me if I have already been working on my musical? 
Our ambition is to put creative people in rooms that best serve them. Yes, someone further along in the development will receive great value from the experience because of the extent and types of feedback opportunities along the way. If you are not sure and want to determine if this is a good fit for you, please call the School at 818-848-7664 or fill out the CONTACT form and we will speak with you or put you in touch with Mr. Garrett to make the best decision. This is the first class offering in what will become a full catalog of classes aimed at helping songwriters develop successful musical theater productions.

Sample Syllabus Points: Writing and Selling the Successful Musical
Please note that Bob will meet each student where you are in the process. Some of you might come to the class already having an outline for your show and some of the numbers; others of you might be just dreaming up what the show might be about. While covering these important points to equip you for all the stages, the class focus is on workshopping and developing your ideas week to week. This is not a lecture class how-to; it's very much learning by doing and receiving insightful notes on how to keep moving toward your goal.

• The History of the American Musical
Audio and video excerpts of the best and worst of American Musical Theatre (Film and Television) will be played and Bob will cover and analyze the whys of the successes and failures thereby helping to comprehend the do’s and don’ts of the creative Musical process. Bob will also cover the evolution, musical icons and trends of this genre for the past four decades and focus on what constitutes a workable Musical concept… and what would make a concept possibly unworkable for the musical theatre. Examples and discussion of same will follow… focusing specifically on the major elements of a successful musical in all genres. Members will be asked to present possible new Musical concepts, original or adaptation, at this and/or the next meeting.

• Taking the First Musical Steps
We will focus on how to begin work on the musical: from optioning previously seen material for adaptations and with original or adaptations, outlining the emotional and visual arcs of the piece.  Specifics about writing the musical’s book, finding collaborators and the collaborative process with book writers will also be discussed.  Next up:  a discussion of  the specifics of the structural differences of writing for the Pop field and the musical theatre.. The purposes of creating each song will also be explored: from the “I Want” song to the 11 o’clock number.  Members will then present their Musical concepts and Bob will discuss the step by step process of taking each concept to fruition.  Positive aspects of the concepts will be discussed as well as possible obstacles that could be faced with each concept.  The overall possible plot of teach musical concept will be discussed.  Participants will then be asked to create a title and concept for a song for the next meeting.

• Characters and Song Placement
Bob will explore possible characters and their traits for presented concepts: how to create three dimensional characters in song, structure a storyline around their relationships, create obstacles to advance the plot, storyboarding and the vital approach of co-ordinating song placement and scenes.  Most importantly, we will focus on the importance  of how the song  must advance the plot,  deepen understanding of the characters and how the song emerges when words alone cannot capture the emotional moment… thus the song.  Members will present their song concepts and a critique and discussion will follow.  The assignment for Session Four shall be to write a first draft of a Theatre song – at least a verse and chorus…  complete with the idea of the set-up of the scene, for presentation the following week.

• The First Song : What’s Right and Wrong
We will present songs followed by critiques and a discussion. The processes and approaches to song re-writes will be explored as well, from character development through plot analysis and message support. We will also discuss the Workshop Process: How to produce one from venue selection and director choice to casting, the impact of the staging of the workshop, rehearsal re-write process and co-ordination of the invite list and showcase night presentation.  The assignment will be to re-write the song presentation for the following week.

• Re-Writes
We will dedicate time to the re-write process:: What have you learned from the presentation and how you can fix it – from lyric and scene re-writes to incorrect song placement, structure and necessary additions to script and score to insure the play’s message is more impactfully communicated.  Audio examples shall include songs cut from famous musicals with a discussion as to why the songs didn’t work and was replaced. Re-written songs by each member shall also be presented.  The assignment will then be to compose a second song for your concept for the next session. 

• Moving the Musical to Production
We will address the business side of creating the new musical. Topics will include: Option and composer/lyricist agreements, requirements for score demos and presentation packages for producer submissions and how to pitch new projects for pitches for options and development money. The second round of songs shall be presented by composers, followed by notes. The assignment shall be the re-write of Song #2.

 • Preparing the Presentation & Connecting the Dots
Following the presentation of the Rewrite of song #2, we will discuss how to mount a presentation:  From casting to venue… From staging to rehearsal process.  What is your goal for presentation and who should and should not be invited.  From director and choreographer choice – to the decision of doing an under the radar reading to a 29 hour reading or workshop.  All issues as to how to make the  best decisions for the future of your musical will be discussed.

• The  Dress Rehearsal Process
The Dress Rehearsal process will be in full swing here.   All composers and lyricists will present their songs (and scenes when available) … and Final notes and issues will  be addressed  in preparation for the Presentation in Week Ten.

• The Presentation
We will discuss how to best approach the showcase aspect in both a Zoom and in-person world. We will set up how to prepare for and present showcase materials. For students who are able to create a presentation, critiques can be in writing or in private meetings following the showcase.

• Conclusions and Results > Iteration and Revision
Through this program,  members will learn how to create musicals for all genres, from concept to opening night.  With the ever-changing state of the music industry, this is a program whose time has come – a golden opportunity for amazing talents to channel their energies in a most positive and exciting new direction.

• Beyond Session Ten
Previous classes voted to continue to meet further in blocks of 4 sessions at a time. No student is required to, and if students agree, class will be extended an agreed upon number of meetings at a pro-rata tuition.


BOB GARRETT began studying voice at age 13 with world famous teachers Rose Allen and Sue Seaton, whose students included Pavarotti, Donna Summer, Bernadette Peters and many, many others. As a result of his studies, Bob starred on Broadway in GREASE (as Teen Angel), GODSPELL (playing 7 of the 10 roles), FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (Motel The Tailor),  BEAUTY and the BEAST, THE PRODUCERS, PLATINUM BENT  (Rudy) et al.  As a singer-songwriter, Bob has recorded for A&M Records, was a song staff writer for the legendary Motown Records, as well as staffing for Columbia Pictures Music and for the television series FAME.  His chart topping songs have been recorded by HEART, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Tina Turner, Rockwell,  and many others.  In 1978, Rose Allen and Sue Seaton deemed Bob, the only person ever so designated, to carry on their legacy and teach their vocal technique.

For the past thirty years, Bob has vocal coached countless clients in all phases of show business. His client list includes Katy Perry, Big Time Rush, Cast of “GLEE”, Vanessa Hudgens, Rebel Wilson, Janet Jackson, Channing Tatum (“The Vow”), Drew Barrymore,  Jessica Lange (“Grey Gardens” and “American Horror Story”), Evan Peters and Kathy Bates (“American Horror Story”), Cameron Diaz, Gerard Butler (“Phantom of the Opera” film), Wilson-Philips and for “ME AND MY SHADOWS: LIFE WITH JUDY GARLAND” Emmy winners, Judy Davis and Tammy Blanchard.  Bob has been the on-camera vocal coach for Fox’s “AMERICAN IDOL”, “So You Think You Can Dance,”, and “THE VOICE.”  Mr. Garrett teaches private classes and his highly acclaimed Musical Theatre And Film Master Classes. His students currently grace the Billboard charts and the stages of every musical currently running on Broadway.

Mr. Garrett has also written lyrics for the Mark Taper Forum production of  “STARS IN YOUR EYES”,  the HALL and OATES musical Modern Love,  Access Theatre’s “FLAVIA AND THE DREAMMAKER”, and countless songs for many films, including “THE FIGHT CLUB”, and many television themes including NBC’s “GIMME A BREAK.”   Bob has also written teleplays including:  for NBC, “REUNION”, for CBS,  “Tim Conway’s Funny America” and “Seinfeld”, for Fox TV, “Power Rangers”, for Lifetime, “ORDEAL” and the syndicated “All New Captain Kangaroo.” Bob also starred in an ABC pilot, SCRUPLES for director, Michael Suczy (“Grey Gardens” and “the Vow.”)

In addition, Bob has also directed the highly acclaimed “FRIED CHICKEN and LATKES” starring Rain Pryor (Best Director winner for both the Ovation Awards and NAACP Awards) and the Young Playwright’s Festival smash, DARK HORSE. Mr. Garrett was a consultant to the composers of Broadway’s, “THE COLOR PURPLE”, and is currently writing the book and lyrics for ”SING!”  a new Broadway musical composed by ten of the music industry’s best Top 40 composers. In addition, he is producing and vocal coaching a series of global charity concerts for HBO, his original concept, starring many of the world’s biggest film and music stars.

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