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Broadway and Television Writer Winnie Holzman Kicks Off Musical Theater Conversation Series


Steve Runk    
Director of Communications
Lewis Center for the Arts

(Princeton, NJ) Winnie Holzman, dramatist, screenwriter, actress, and librettist for the hit Broadway musical Wicked, will speak about her career at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts on February 9 at 1:30 p.m. at Taplin Auditorium in Fine Hall.   This conversation is the first of a series of talks with prominent artists currently working in the musical theater field. The talks will lead to a Musical Theater Symposium, “Making Broadway Musicals: Artists and Scholars in Conversation,” on April 21, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. in the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau St. The series of talks and the symposium are free and open to the public.

A renowned writer, Holzman has spent the last twenty years as in the entertainment industry. Her book for the 2003 Stephen Schwartz musical Wicked, based on the novel of the same name by Gregory Maguire, earned her the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. In 1995 Holzman received an Emmy Award nomination for writing for the hit ABC television series My So-Called Life, which she created and which starred a young Claire Danes.   She also wrote episodes for several other television series including The Wonder Years, thirtysomething, Once and Again, and, with her writer-daughter Savannah Dooley, created the ABC Family series Huge. In addition to her work as a writer, Holzman has appeared in acting roles in a number of films and television shows including Curb Your Enthusiasm and had a cameo role in the 1996 film Jerry Maguire.

A graduate of Princeton who studied English and Creative Writing, Holzman received her Master’s in Musical Theatre Writing from New York University where she studied with musical theater giants such as Stephen Sondheim, Hal Prince, Arthur Laurents, Betty Comden, and Leonard Bernstein.

Stacy Wolf, Professor of Theater and Director of the Princeton Atelier at the Lewis Center for the Arts, will moderate a Q and A session with Holzman, with an eye to exploring Holzman’s career, the ins and outs of the musical theater industry, and the craft of storytelling as exemplified by Wicked.

The series of talks and the symposium are part of a Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies course Wolf is teaching this semester called, “Isn’t It Romantic: The Broadway Musical from Rogers and Hammerstein to Sondheim.” The course, which is cross-listed with Theater, American Studies, and English, and the talks, will explore how musical theater artists – composers, lyricists, directors, choreographers, actors, and designers – work to create this quintessentially American form of art and entertainment built on the basics of love and romance.

“We are very excited about this next step in developing the Music Theater Lab at the Lewis Center,” states Wolf. “We are pleased to bring some of the most prominent artists working in the field to our students and to open this opportunity up to the wider community. It greatly deepens our understanding as audiences of musical theater to have this insight into the creative process behind what we see on stage.”

The series will continue on March 13 with a conversation with theater director John Doyle, who recently staged revivals of Sondheim hits Sweeney Todd and Company on Broadway; on March 15 with Jenny Slattery, assistant stage manager on Broadway’s hit Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark; on April 3 David Román, Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, who will talk about the recent Broadway productions of In the Heights and West Side Story; and on April 16 with Tony Award-winning actress Montego Glover.  All four talks will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio.  The free, day-long symposium on April 21 will feature a series of interviews and roundtables with other musical theater artists and scholars.   

Link to photo:
Photo caption:  Musical theater and television writer Winnie Holzman opens a Musical Theater Conversation Series at Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton
Photo credit:  Courtesy of Winnie Holzman

The Lewis Center for the Arts is part of a major initiative announced by President Shirley M. Tilghman in 2006 to fully embrace the arts as an essential part of the educational experience for all who study and teach at Princeton University. The Lewis Center for the Arts will have a significant impact on the University and the larger community it serves. The public is welcomed to a full range of lectures, exhibitions, concerts and performances at the Center. Many of the Center’s events are free or charge a nominal admission fee.

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