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TWP Spring 24: From Playwriting to Writing Musicals

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Theatre503 Writers’ Programme Course: From Playwriting to Writing Musicals, Rachel Bellman

What’s the difference between playwriting and book writing for musical theatre? Would that story idea of yours work better as a play or a musical? Should you try writing lyrics, or leave that to a songwriter? When and how should you work with a composer, and how on earth do you start working with one? In this session, we’ll explore what makes musicals unique as a theatrical form, discuss why and how to craft a story with songs at the heart of it, and look at how to find the song moments in a show.

We’ll read and listen to examples from musicals that tell their stories in unexpected ways, take a look at musical theatre lyrics vs poetry vs lyrics for standalone songs, and try some writing exercises that dive into constructing a story that ‘needs’ songs to complete it. There’ll also be a chance to discuss the practicalities of working with a composer and of writing musicals in the UK.

If you have any access requirements, you can let us know here. If you would rather discuss any access requirements and how we can accommodate them prior to booking, please get in touch with us here.

Dates: Tuesday 27th February

Time: 7pm – 9:30pm

Running time of workshop: 2.5 hours – delivered online. Maximum class sizes are 16.



Rachel Bellman is a London-based writer and lyricist who writes across plays and musical theatre. Her debut play These Demons was produced at Theatre503 in 2023, published by Concord Theatricals, and was longlisted for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Playwriting.

As a book writer and lyricist she won the 2019 New Music Theatre Award for The Dickens Girls, commissioned and produced by BYMT at the New Wolsey, Ipswich. Current projects include the musical Game Theory developed by Perfect Pitch and produced in concert at The Lowry in 2021; 90 Seconds to Midnight, a collaboratively written musical with Timelapse Theatre; and the musical How to Escape developed with young people at Liverpool Empire.

Other writing includes the musical So-Called Gen Z produced by PQA at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe; two mini musicals for children The Knights Before Christmas and Elf Spies, commissioned by Perfect Pitch and performed in the UK, Ireland and Portugal; a short commission for JW3; and various short plays produced in London. She is a three-time finalist for the Stiles + Drewe Best New Song Prize and has workshopped her musicals at Arts Ed, Mountview, University of Winchester, the Liverpool Empire and the Birmingham Hippodrome. Rachel has been part of the BOOK Music & Lyrics advanced composer/lyricist workshop, MMD writers’ lab, and Soho Writers’ Lab.

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