To be a premier musical theatre development program focused on new works that elevate underrepresented ideas and marginalized voices by providing time, space, and expert theatrical insight to writers innovating form and content through interrogating and celebrating the flaws and beauty of our collective humanity.
The American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University supports the development of new musicals. AMTP’s goal is to provide artists and their works with the proper time, space, and resources to realize their intended vision and shepherd them through the next step of their developmental journey. By inviting artists and pieces to our campus, we allow Northwestern students to engage with new work in a rewarding and illuminating way through performance opportunities, assistantships, and observation. AMTP strives toward becoming a fully inclusive, equitable, and anti-racist program through the pieces we select, the artists with whom we choose to work, and how we engage the Northwestern, Evanston, and Chicago communities.
In 2005, housed in Northwestern University’s highly esteemed School of Communication, the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) was founded by professor emeritus Dominic Missimi and Broadway producer Stuart Oken to answer the industry-wide need for the development of new musicals. In its first five years, AMTP supported full productions and developed new work by artists such as Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, Tina Landau, Andrew Lippa, Sheldon Harnick, and Michael Friedman (full production history). AMTP also began a partnership with the Johnny Mercer Foundation, supporting burgeoning songwriters through a yearly summer mentorship program.
In the fall of 2010, David H. Bell was named the next Artistic Director of AMTP. With this change in leadership, the goals of AMTP shifted toward works in more nascent stages and less on full-scale productions. Mr. Bell brought well-established writing duos such as Claude-Michel Schönberg & Alani Boublil, Paris & Lamont Dozier, Joshua Salzman & Ryan Cunningham, and Michael Kooman & Christopher Dimond to campus to workshop their newest material. In 2016, Brannon Bowers was named Producing Director and AMTP artist Ryan Cunningham was named Associate Artistic Director, serving from 2016 to 2021. During this period, AMTP also began partnerships with the American Theatre Wing’s Jonathan Larson Grant award program, and with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to commission, develop and produce new musicals at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Over the past 16 years, AMTP has developed over 65 new musicals.
In its seventeenth year, AMTP welcomes new Artistic Director, Alexander Gemignani, to help shepherd innovative musical theatre writing and create a new vision for the future.
MR. ALEXANDER GEMIGNANI (Artistic Director) is an actor, music director, orchestrator, conductor, composer/lyricist, and educator. As an actor on Broadway: My Fair Lady (Doolittle), Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel (Enoch Snow – Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Grammy Nominations), Violet (Father), Chicago (Billy), Les Misérables (Valjean – Drama League nomination), Sweeney Todd (Beadle – Drama Desk nomination), Assassins (Hinckley – Theatre World Award), The People In The Picture (Moishe), Sunday in the Park With George (Boatman/Dennis). Off-Broadway: Road Show at the Public (Addison Mizner – Drama League nomination), Headstrong at EST (Nick) and Avenue Q at the Vineyard Theatre (Brian). Favorite Regional: Hamilton in Chicago (King George III, original cast), The Three Sisters (Andrei) at Cincinnati Playhouse, The Boys From Syracuse (Sergeant) at The Shakespeare Theatre of D.C. and the title character in the world premiere musical Saint-Ex at The Weston Playhouse. Concerts: The N.Y. Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall, The N.Y. Pops at Carnegie Hall, The L.A. Philharmonic at The Hollywood Bowl and the American Songbook Series at Lincoln Center. His solo show, All At Once, premiered at the Kennedy Center as a part of Barbara Cook’s Spotlight Series. As a music director, he was represented Off-Broadway with Fiasco Theatre’s production of Merrily We Roll Along at the Roundabout (also penned new orchestrations) and is made his Broadway conducting debut as Music Supervisor for the 2019/2020 revival of West Side Story. TV/Film: Servant (Apple TV), Empire (FOX – Recurring), Chicago Fire (NBC), Homeland (Showtime – Recurring), The Good Wife (CBS), Empire State (ABC Pilot), the film The Producers (Universal), three appearances on The Tony Awards (CBS) and upcoming on season 5 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (AMAZON – Recurring). Additionally, he made his conducting debut with the New York Philharmonic New Year’s Eve 2019 with the concert, Celebrating Sondheim, featuring symphonic suites and guest soloist, Katrina Lenk which aired on Live From Lincoln Center. As a composer/lyricist, he is currently developing two new musicals, Diamond Alice and swingset/moon, and has composed the incidental music for several plays. As an educator, he recently accepted accepted a position Northwestern University as Associate Professor of Instruction and Artistic Director of the American Music Theatre Project and has served on the faculty of the National Theatre Institute at The O’Neill and NYU Steinhardt. He has also served as guest faculty or guest artist for the University Of Michigan, Texas State University, Syracuse University (Tepper) and NYU Tisch School Of The Arts. He is a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Writing Workshop and a proud graduate of The University of Michigan. 2018 marked the beginning of his tenure serving as Artistic Director for the National Music Theater Conference at The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, CT where he has helped shepherd over 20 new musicals. His greatest joys are his beautiful daughter and his incredible wife, Erin Ortman.
MX. BRANNON BOWERS (Producing Director) is a creative theatrical producer dedicated to new work and unexplored forms of performance, bridging genres, artistic mediums, and communities to make theatre accessible to all audiences. They joined the American Music Theatre Project in 2016 and during their tenure has developed over 40 musical projects & produced 6 shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe through an ongoing partnership with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Brannon was a co-producer on the Wirtz Center’s mainstage productions of The Battlefields of Clara Barton and Something In The Game, and just completed their seventh year producing the Johnny Mercer Foundation’s Songwriters Project. Brannon recently produced the concert We Are Here: Songs from the Holocaust at Carnegie Hall in January 2023, and is the creative producer of Get Out Alive, an autobiographical afrogoth musical by Nikki Lynette which they developed into an award-winning independent film in 2021 and is still in development for the stage. Brannon is on the Board of Directors of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) and is in their second year as co-chair of the NAMT Festival of New Musicals. They were a judge of the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival and has spoken at several NAMT conferences, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and the Segal Centre in Montreal, Canada. Prior to their time at AMTP, Brannon worked at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ, under Artistic Director Emily Mann where they coordinated readings and assisted on productions of new works by Emily Mann, Christopher Durang, Ken Ludwig, Nilo Cruz, Heather Raffo, Dipika Guha, and Sharyn Rothstein. Brannon has also produced work in the Chicago nightlife community and has held internships at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and Redmoon Theater. Brannon is a proud graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in Theatre, Gender & Sexuality Studies, and Integrated Marketing Communications.