Meet the Fellows: Madeline Myers
What was your first experience with Theater?
Growing up in a rural town in Georgia, my access to live theater was very limited. My earliest exposure to theater was through the classic MGM videos that my great aunt and uncle who lived in New York City would give my sister and me. The first musicals I saw on these MGM videos were The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma!, Carousel, An American in Paris, Singing in the Rain, Gigi — all the great classics! I am sure that watching these movies at a young age is what made me fall in love with musical storytelling. My parents also took my sister and me to see our first professional show, the first national tour of the Annie Get Your Gun revival, at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, and I remember having a truly magical experience seeing the national tour of Chicago also at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. Looking back on these experiences, I feel extremely lucky to have been introduced to music and theater at such a young age, and I have been in love with it ever since.
When did you recognize you were a writer?
I grew up with a ferocious appetite for books and reading: it afforded me access to the world beyond my small hometown of a thousand people. Trained as a classical pianist, I began writing (very cheesy, very bad, very embarrassing) pop songs in middle school and began composing contemporary art music in high school. In late high school, I realized the marriage of my love of music and my love of reading was, in fact, something I had loved all along: musical theater. I began writing musicals in late high school and majored in composition/theory at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, where I continued to compose contemporary art music and musical theater and formally studied composition for the first time.
Where does your inspiration come from? Or who do you look to for inspiration?
Last year I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, where she discusses at length the unusual entity we call inspiration. She describes inspiration as an energetic force of enchantment that we cannot control or understand, and Gilbert’s writing has hugely influenced my own set of beliefs about inspiration. My experience as a writer has taught me that inspiration cannot be summoned on command. It may visit rarely, and those visits may not last very long. Knowing that to be true, knowing that I cannot control inspiration, there is one thing I can control — my own writing discipline — which is why I write daily. Inspiration does not visit often, so when it does, I want it to find me hard at work.
What do you find most rewarding about being a dramatist?
One of my composition professors in college once said that if I could imagine myself doing anything else other than being a composer, then I should go do that. I heard that same trope many times since: in interviews with renowned artists, from peers and mentors, on television and in magazines. Be an artist only if that is the one thing you could possibly do with your life.
I used to believe that that was why I was a writer — because I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else — but I quickly realized that I was a writer because I could imagine myself doing everything else. That I had so many interests and passions and curiosities. That I actually wanted to do a million different things, and that I couldn’t choose just one. That I could easily and happily see myself being a social entrepreneur or a physicist or a chef or a litigator or an educator or a marketing manager as I could see myself being a writer. But that, for me, is the point: being a writer gives me permission to be all of those things. Being a writer is my passport to pursuing all of my varied interests and passions. I love that being a dramatist allows me to be so many different things and pursue all of my diverse interests and passions. Beyond that, I love that writing means I get to invent, explore, innovate, discover, engineer, problem-solve, research, and engage with my creativity each day.
Madeline Myers is a composer and lyricist for musical theater based in New York City. Placing first in the 2014 inaugural Ken Davenport Songwriting Competition, her songs have been featured in concerts and cabarets including 54 Below, the 2014 and 2013 New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), Joe’s Pub, Don’t Tell Mama NYC, the Metropolitan Room, the Laurie Beechman, and the Signature Theater.
Madeline is currently writing a new musical, MASTERPIECE, with director Emily Maltby and playwright Meridith Friedman, which was developed in residence at the Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals (2015). Additionally, Madeline is co-writing THE RUMOURED LYFE AND CERTAIN DEATH OF DELIA BACON with Elise LeBreton, Zdenko Martin, Ted Moller, and Matthew Russell.
Madeline’s musical LEGENDS & LORE was named the winner of the NMI & Disney Imagineering New Voices Project (2015) and has been workshopped at the Musical Theatre Factory (2015), the New York Theatre Barn (2014), and the Fingerlakes Musical Theater Festival (2013).
A semi-finalist for the inaugural Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award for female composer-lyricists, Madeline received her education in composition at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Musical Theatre Writing Program, and the Royal Academy of Music in London. She was selected to participate in the 2014 New Dramatists Composer-Librettist Studio and in the 2014 and 2015 Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project.
A passionate advocate for arts education, social action, and service through music, Madeline is the founder of Music in the Clinic at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center & Children’s Hospital (Nashville, TN), the Chair of Education Through Music-Los Angeles Associates Board, and a new volunteer with Musicians on Call in New York City. When not writing music, Madeline enjoys volunteering, reading, running, and cooking. Madeline is a proud member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, ASCAP, and the Dramatists Guild. She is represented by Katie Gamelli at Abrams Artists Agency.