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Michael Hollinger

The Art of Musical Collaboration with Michael Hollinger

640 433 Play Penn

The process of creating a musical is all about forging strong creative partnerships.

Led by PlayPenn regular and The Foundry co-founder Michael Hollinger—who has authored more than two dozen plays, including comedies, dramas, musicals, and plays for children—the course will bring playwrights, lyricists, composers, and book writers together in a “speed-dating”-style introduction to musical theater collaboration. Through written exercises and open conversation, the class will delve into how music and text can work together to tell complex and theatrically rigorous stories.

October 14 and 18: 6-9pm, October 19 and 20: 2-5pm

TBD in Center City, Philadelphia

Michael Hollinger is a playwright, librettist, lyricist and composer whose works have enjoyed numerous productions around the country, in New York City and abroad. Plays premiered at Philadelphia’s Arden Theatre Company include the recent musical TouchTones (co-authored with Robert Maggio) and the plays Opus, Red Herring, Incorruptible, Ghost-Writer, Under the Skin and others. Work premiered elsewhere includes the musical A Wonderful Noise (co-authored with Vance Lehmkuhl) at Colorado’s Creede Repertory Theatre, Hope and Gravity at Pittsburgh’s City Theatre, a new translation of Cyrano (co-adapted with Aaron Posner) at the Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C., and Sing the Body Electric at Philadelphia’s Theatre Exile. Awards include the Frederick Loewe Award for musical theatre, a Steinberg New Play Citation from the American Theatre Critics Association, a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, a Mid-Atlantic Emmy, an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award, four Barrymore Awards (including the F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Theatre Artist), nominations for Lucille Lortel and John Gassner awards, and fellowships from the Independence Foundation, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Michael holds degrees from Oberlin Conservatory and Villanova University, where he is currently Professor of Theatre and Studio Art, as well as Artistic Director of Villanova Theatre. He is a proud alumnus of New Dramatists and the PlayPenn new play conference.



Register Here

Click the link below to visit our Reservation Page, where you can view all classes and register for this course. For questions or to inquire about payment plans, please email

When you register for a PlayPenn class before September 20, 2019 you’ll be invited to submit your unproduced, full-length play for consideration for a professional staged reading. PlayPenn will produce one student’s play as a reading with a professional director, professional actors and a PlayPenn dramaturg in Philadelphia in early 2020. Only plays that have not had a professional production or reading will be considered. PlayPenn will cover the cost of the reading, but the student is responsible for their own housing and transportation. If you register for a class by the deadline, additional details will be emailed to you along with a submission form.

“If you like expanding theatre’s depth and breadth, you’ll love PlayPenn, a unique and exciting Philadelphia program to develop plays, playgoers, and playwrights, appealing to today’s diverse audiences and helping create tomorrow’s artistic communities.”

-Tasha Maria T., 2019 student

“If you are thinking about taking a class from PlayPenn, do it.”

-Stacey, 2018 Student

Writing Lyrics for Musical Theatre with Michael Hollinger

640 433 Play Penn

Playwrights and songwriters of all experience levels welcome!

Musical theatre is one of the most challenging – and rewarding – types of dramatic writing, with more moving parts and collaborators than any other form. In this hands-on workshop, playwrights and songwriters will develop their skills as lyricists, from the macro (song plots, types, and structures) to the micro (prosody, meter, rhyme). Students will explore how sung text relates to spoken dialogue, how character is revealed through words and music, and how songs can advance, rather than stop, the narrative. Assignments and in-class exercises complement a shared inquiry into the many jobs theatre songs must accomplish – among them, simply delighting the ear.

July 11, July 17, & July 24 from 6pm-9pm

The Bluver Theater at The Drake, 302 S. Hicks Street, Philadelphia, PA

Reading: Craig Lucas’ Reckless. If you do not have a copy of this play please email PlayPenn Education ( and we can help you find one.

Michael Hollinger is a playwright, lyricist and composer, the author of hundreds of songs and over a dozen plays and musicals, including TouchTones (with composer Robert Maggio), Opus, Incorruptible, Red Herring, An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf, Cyrano (co-adapted with Aaron Posner), and A Wonderful Noise (with Vance Lehmkuhl), among others. These works have been produced around the country, in New York City, and abroad. Michael is the recipient of four Barrymore Awards, an ATCA/Steinberg New Play Citation, an L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award, a Mid-Atlantic Emmy, nominations for Lucille Lortel and John Gassner awards, and multiple fellowships from the Independence Foundation and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.  He is a Professor of Theatre at Villanova University, a proud alumnus of New Dramatists and PlayPenn, and (with Jacqueline Goldfinger and Quinn Eli) co-founder of The Foundry, a core program of PlayPenn.



Register Here

Online registration has been closed. If you would like to sign up, please email

“PlayPenn is a wonderful organization that works on providing resources and knowledge for playwrights and dramatists in the Philadelphia area. It really is a great organization that focuses on bringing like-minded people together to ironically think differently in order to bring out creativity and individualism. It’s a wonderful organization that I’ve just gotten into in the past half year, and plan to stick with for the unforeseeable future.”

-Devin, 2018 Student

“Gave me an instant cohort of writers to provide feedback, encouragement and inspiration – I was hearing my own voice, and it was great.”

– Ross, 2017 Student