Composers/Lyricists for Despicable Me, Tangled, Anastasia and Top Studio Executives Offer Career Advice for Aspiring Music Creators

ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Librettist Workshop Slated for May 18 – 21

LOS ANGELES, April 18, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Fest returns for a second year to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts from May 14 – 21. This year’s Fest, which is geared to aspiring musical theatre writers, will focus on music for film and TV animation, and features award-winning composers and top executives from film and TV animation studios.

With support from the Gary Geld Musical Theatre Foundation, the event showcases opportunities for musical theatre songwriters and composers, whose ability to craft music that establishes mood, develops characters and advances narratives is essential for animation. Sessions will cover the lifecycle of a song from pre-production to screen, the art of collaboration, how a work can journey from stage to screen and vice-versa, what studios look for when hiring and working with composers and lyricists, and more.

Fest attendees will hear from accomplished ASCAP composer members including Glenn Slater (Tangled, Sister Act: The Musical), Heitor Pereira (Puss in Boots, Despicable Me franchise), Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (lyricist and composer, Anastasia), plus Michelle Lewis (The Loud House, Doc McStuffins), Future Vega (Doug Unplugs, Fast & Furious Spy Racers), Jeannie Lurie (Mira, Royal Detective, Kinderwood, Cleopatra in Space), Layla Minoui (Vampirina, Ridley Jones), Vidjay Beerepoot (Superkitties, Minnie’s Bow-Toons), and Raye Zaragoza (Spirit Rangers).

Panel discussions with music executives from some of today’s biggest film and TV animation studios offer an inside look at how film and TV studios make decisions and work with music creators. Executives will talk about how they work with composers and lyricists on their animated projects; the specific steps it takes to bring a project to life, from music cues to final master; and present a mini-workshop with the opportunity for previously selected songwriting teams to write a song based on an assigned brief.

On Friday, May 17, Fest attendees will be treated to an evening of performances and interviews celebrating the life and impact of the legendary Howard Ashman, the lyricist who defined animated movie-musicals for an entire generation with his songs for such beloved films as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.

Esteemed ASCAP member Gary Geld was a successful pop songwriter, record producer and musical theatre composer. Geld’s major songwriting credits include “Sealed with a Kiss,” “Hurting Each Other” and “Save Your Heart for Me.” Purlie marked his Broadway debut in 1970, followed by Shenandoah. Both shows received multiple Tony nominations.

The inaugural 2024 ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Librettist Workshop will also take place at The Wallis, from May 18 – 21. Applicants previously selected for the workshop will present and receive feedback on the musical book and songs from their original musical from a panel of composers, producers and librettists. This workshop is generously funded by the Kenward Elmslie estate.

The panels and workshop sessions are free and open to the public. Reservations are required for all events and are available at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills.

Below is the program schedule. For more information, visit

Tuesday, May 14
11:00 AM
Coming Soon!

2:00 PM
How the Team Works to Make the Dream Work
Panelists: Studio executives Alexandra Nickson (SVP of Music, Dreamworks) and Vivian Buff (Director of Music, Dreamworks)

Wednesday, May 15
11:00 AM
Untangling a Thriving Career: In Conversation with Glenn Slater
Panelist: Glenn Slater (composer)
Moderator: Michael Kerker

2:00 PM
Musical Journey to the Past: A Conversation with the Creatives Behind Anastasia
Panelists: Lynn Ahrens (lyricist) and Stephen Flaherty (composer)
Moderator: Kevin Bannerman

Thursday, May 16
11:00 AM
One in a Minion: The Singular Vision of Heitor Pereira
Panelist: Heitor Pereira (composer)
Moderator: TBA

2:00 PM
ASCAP’s Music Creators Roundtable
Panelists: Composers Jeannie Lurie, Layla Minoui, Vidjay Beerepoot, Future Vega and Raye Zaragoza
Moderator: Michelle Lewis

Friday, May 17
7:30 PM
Part of Our World: Celebrating the Life & Lyrics of Howard Ashman
Howard Ashman was the brilliant lyricist behind many of Disney’s most beloved songs of all time. This musical tribute will celebrate Ashman’s unparalleled talent and contributions to musical theatre, from the charming standards of The Little Mermaid to the unforgettable ballads of Beauty and the Beast and the doo-wop sci-fi satire of Little Shop of Horrors.

Saturday, May 18
3:00-5:30 PM
The ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Librettist Workshop
Librettist: Kira Stone

Sunday, May 19
3:00-5:30 PM
The ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Librettist Workshop
MUSICAL PROJECT #2 – Esperanza Rising
Librettists: Jimena Caballero & Emma Cordray

Monday, May 20
10:00 AM
Songwriting for Animation Challenge (Part 1)
3:30 PM
Songwriting for Animation Challenge (Part 2)
Panelists: Studio executives Joe D’Ambrosia (EVP & General Manager, Sony Pictures Television – Kids) and Jay Stutler (Vice President of Music for Walt Disney Television Animation)

7:00-9:30 PM
The ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Librettist Workshop
Librettist: Paul Hodge

Tuesday, May 21
7:00-8:30 PM
The ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Librettist Workshop
A Storied Evening with the Icons
This evening will feature a 90-minute roundtable discussion with distinguished librettists.
Panelists: to be announced

About The ASCAP Foundation
Founded in 1975, The ASCAP Foundation is a public charity dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education, talent development and humanitarian programs. Included in these are songwriting workshops, grants, scholarships, awards, recognition and community outreach programs. The ASCAP Foundation is supported by contributions from ASCAP members and from music lovers throughout the United States. Learn more and stay in touch at, on Twitter @ascapfoundation, and on Facebook.

About the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, located in the heart of Beverly Hills, CA, is a dynamic cultural hub and community resource where local, national, and international artists share their artistry with ever-expanding audiences. Distinguished by its eclectic programming that mirrors the diverse landscape of Los Angeles and its location in the entertainment capital of the world, The Wallis has produced and presented more than 400 theater, dance, music, film, cabaret, comedy, performance arts, and family entertainment programs, boasting nominations for 79 Ovation Awards and nine L.A. Drama Critic’s Circle Awards as well as six architectural awards. Since its doors opened in October 2013, The Wallis has been committed to robust and distinctive presentations and education programs curated with both creativity and social impact in mind. Hailed as “au courant” (LaLa Magazine), The Wallis was lauded by Culture Vulture, which proclaimed, “If you love expecting the unexpected in the performing arts, you have to love The Wallis.” Broadway legend Patti LuPone, who was The Wallis’ 2015/2016 Season Artistic Advisor, described the venue as “one of the best in the country, allowing for an unparalleled intimacy between [the artist] and the audience.” A recent patron survey produced audience comments about The Wallis ranging from “amazing, engaging, inspiring!” to “fun. entertaining. educational.” The breathtaking 70,000-square-foot facility, celebrating the classic and the modern, was named after philanthropist Wallis Annenberg, who’s original $25-million-dollar donation was instrumental in transforming the former Beverly Hills post office building into an arts complex. Designed by acclaimed architect Zoltan E. Pali (SPF: architects), the restored building features the original 1934 Beverly Hills Post Office (on the National Register of Historic Places), whose eight towering fresco murals are one of two sets of WPA frescos remaining in the entire California Federal Building system. The Wallis’ lobby, now known as Jim and Eleanor Randall Grand Hall, serves as the theater’s dramatic yet welcoming entryway to the contemporary 500-seat, state-of-the-art Bram Goldsmith Theater; the 150-seat Lovelace Studio Theater; an inviting open-air plaza for family, community and other performances; and GRoW @ The Wallis: A Space for Arts Education, where learning opportunities for all ages and backgrounds abound. Together, these elements embrace the city’s history and its future, creating a performing arts destination for L.A.-area visitors and residents alike. Michael Nemeroff is Chairman of The Wallis’ Board of Directors and Robert van Leer is Executive Director and CEO.

SOURCE The ASCAP Foundation

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