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Jenny Schwartz

Jenny Schwartz’s (Playwrightplays include God’s Ear, Somewhere Fun, Cause for Alarm, and 41-derful.  Jenny directed 41-derful for Clubbed Thumb's Summerworks 2014. Somewhere Fun premiered at the Vineyard Theatre in 2013, directed by Anne Kauffman.  God’s Ear was produced in New York by New Georges and the Vineyard Theatre, also directed by Anne Kauffman.  God's Ear has been produced nationally and internationally from Lisbon, Portugal to Boise, Idaho to Sydney, Australia.  With Todd Almond, Jenny was the 2012 recipient of the Frederick Loewe Award for Musical Theatre to support the development of Iowa at New Dramatists.  Iowa was also developed at Sundance Theatre Institute Theatre Lab at Mass / MoCA. Other awards and honors include the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Benjamin H. Danks Award in Drama, a Kesselring honor, two grants from Lincoln Center’s Lecomte Du Nuoy Foundation, and Soho Rep’s Dorothy Streslin Playwriting Fellowship. God's Ear and Somewhere Fun were both finalists for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award.  Jenny chairs the Soho Rep Writer / Director Lab with Ken Rus Schmoll and teaches playwriting at Playwright’s Horizons Theatre School / NYU Tisch. She received an MFA in Theatre Directing from Columbia University, is a graduate of Juilliard’s playwriting program, is a member of both The Clubbed Thumb Writers Group and New Dramatists.   

Todd Almond

Todd Almond (Music & Lyrics)  is a composer, lyricist and playwright. He most recently wrote the music for and performed in Kansas City Choir Boy, a theatricalized concept album, and last season at Playwrights Horizons, wrote the music for and performed in Sarah Ruhl’s Stage Kiss. He has also collaborated with director Lear deBessonet on an adaptation of The Tempest at the Delacorte Theatre for the Public Theater’s Public Works program; Todd wrote music and lyrics, and played “Ariel” in this production, which featured a cast of 200 people, and received rave reviews. Todd’s musicals include the book of Girlfriend (using new arrangements of Matthew Sweet’s eponymous cult album) which premiered at Berkeley Rep and subsequently at Actors Theatre of Louisville; a musical version of Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy Play with 13P; music and lyrics for We Have Always Lived In The Castle (adapted from the Shirley Jackson novel) with Adam Bock at Yale Repertory Theatre; On The Levee with Marcus Gardley and Lear deBessonet at LCT3; and his own musical adaptation of The Odyssey at the Old Globe under Lear deBessonet’s direction. He was the music director/arranger for Laura Benanti’s acclaimed solo show at 54 Below (NYC) and for Sherie Rene Scott’s lauded Piece of Meat also at 54 Below, and at the Hippodrome (London).

Todd Almond

Todd Almond (Music & Lyrics)  is a composer, lyricist and playwright. He most recently wrote the music for and performed in Kansas City Choir Boy, a theatricalized concept album, and last season at Playwrights Horizons, wrote the music for and performed in Sarah Ruhl’s Stage Kiss. He has also collaborated with director Lear deBessonet on an adaptation of The Tempest at the Delacorte Theatre for the Public Theater’s Public Works program; Todd wrote music and lyrics, and played “Ariel” in this production, which featured a cast of 200 people, and received rave reviews. Todd’s musicals include the book of Girlfriend (using new arrangements of Matthew Sweet’s eponymous cult album) which premiered at Berkeley Rep and subsequently at Actors Theatre of Louisville; a musical version of Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy Play with 13P; music and lyrics for We Have Always Lived In The Castle (adapted from the Shirley Jackson novel) with Adam Bock at Yale Repertory Theatre; On The Levee with Marcus Gardley and Lear deBessonet at LCT3; and his own musical adaptation of The Odyssey at the Old Globe under Lear deBessonet’s direction. He was the music director/arranger for Laura Benanti’s acclaimed solo show at 54 Below (NYC) and for Sherie Rene Scott’s lauded Piece of Meat also at 54 Below, and at the Hippodrome (London).

Jenny Schwartz

Jenny Schwartz’s (Playwrightplays include God’s Ear, Somewhere Fun, Cause for Alarm, and 41-derful.  Jenny directed 41-derful for Clubbed Thumb's Summerworks 2014. Somewhere Fun premiered at the Vineyard Theatre in 2013, directed by Anne Kauffman.  God’s Ear was produced in New York by New Georges and the Vineyard Theatre, also directed by Anne Kauffman.  God's Ear has been produced nationally and internationally from Lisbon, Portugal to Boise, Idaho to Sydney, Australia.  With Todd Almond, Jenny was the 2012 recipient of the Frederick Loewe Award for Musical Theatre to support the development of Iowa at New Dramatists.  Iowa was also developed at Sundance Theatre Institute Theatre Lab at Mass / MoCA. Other awards and honors include the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Benjamin H. Danks Award in Drama, a Kesselring honor, two grants from Lincoln Center’s Lecomte Du Nuoy Foundation, and Soho Rep’s Dorothy Streslin Playwriting Fellowship. God's Ear and Somewhere Fun were both finalists for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award.  Jenny chairs the Soho Rep Writer / Director Lab with Ken Rus Schmoll and teaches playwriting at Playwright’s Horizons Theatre School / NYU Tisch. She received an MFA in Theatre Directing from Columbia University, is a graduate of Juilliard’s playwriting program, is a member of both The Clubbed Thumb Writers Group and New Dramatists.   

Reviews

Trailer

Iowa Trailer

Mom found her soul-mate on Facebook, and he lives in Iowa. So Becca says goodbye to her beloved math teacher, bulimic best friend, neighborhood pony and her mildly deficient teenage life, and she follows her wayward mother to a new, uncharted beginning. But in this fanciful, absurdist, and intoxicating musical play from the imagination of Jenny Schwartz and Todd Almond nothing can prepare them for what they’ll find.

Trailer

Tweets about #IowaPH

#IowaPH is wonderful and wacky, but don't just take our word for it—read what others on Twitter are saying about this new musical play!

Interview

io...wh@t? Word Game

‘Iowa’ cast members partner up to guess key words from the play. The challenge? No lines or songs from the script allowed. Oh, and they've gotta put a cork in it. Let the games begin!

Interview

Artist Interview with Jenny Schwartz and Todd Almond

Tim Sanford: And where did [the song "Coastal Erosion"] come from? Jenny Schwartz: The scene with Becca and her dad. He tells her that Indonesia is sinking because of coastal erosion. I wanted to highlight the fact that the world is turning to shit in general, not just for Becca. Todd Almond: We were in Williamstown, and I went to a little cafe and I wrote the song and brought it into rehearsal. Jenny Schwartz: And I wept. Uncontrollably. Because of its beauty.

Interview

Iowa In Process: The Cast

Todd Almond, composer, talks about ‘Iowa’ and the amazing cast that's helped shape this daffy and unpredictable musical play.

Playwrights' Perspectives

Todd Almond and Jenny Schwartz on Iowa

Jenny Schwartz: Which character in Iowa do you relate to most? Todd Almond: Hmm... JS: If it’s too hard of a question you can say pass. TA: Well, I don’t relate to the cheerleader.

Essay

Tim Sanford on Iowa

The formal zaniness of Iowa, from its footloose characterizations, to the playful quicksilver of its language and its loosey-goosey narrative, bears a passing resemblance to work sometimes described as “Theater of the Absurd.” Yet while it is true that Iowa certainly runs giddily away from the clanking chains of realism, it takes no measure of the meaninglessness of reality. It takes delight in its over-the-top characters and finds them as fascinating as they are confounding. These include Sandy, a motor mouthed, scattered single mom, who has found a fiancé on Facebook, a singing pony, a made-over Nancy Drew who comes in four different races, and a janitor named Jesus, but at its root, Iowa is a sweet coming-of-age story of Becca, a teenaged girl trying to survive high school and a spectacularly daffy mother.

Essay

Backstory: A Musical Species

In his seminal 2007 book Musicophilia, neurologist Oliver Sacks describes humans’ relationship with music in very powerful terms. “Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion,” he writes. “It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does–humans are a musical species.” Sacks goes on to explain that as much as humans communicate through language, they communicate through music. Certainly this will come as no surprise to Jenny Schwartz and Todd Almond, whose piece Iowa embodies this idea both literally and figuratively.

Playwrights' Perspectives

An Excerpt from God's Ear By Jenny Schwartz

Jenny Schwartz’s 2007 play God’s Ear floored audiences nationally and internationally, establishing her place among the most innovative and virtuosic writers in the contemporary landscape. The story of how the death of a son shatters a marriage, this haunting, funny play manages to turn language into a spectacle, a reward unto itself, while also accessing the sharp yearning in the hearts of a family coping with loss. In this scene, Ted is on an extended business tripaway from his wife, Mel.