Paulette Haupt Steps Down as AD of Eugene O’Neill National Music Theater Conference

by Jacob Coakley
Paulette Haupt has led the National Music Theater Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center for 40 years
Paulette Haupt has led the National Music Theater Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center for 40 years

WATERFORD, CT— Paulette Haupt, founding Artistic Director of the National Music Theater Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center will step down following the 2017 season, after 40 years leading the program. The program began in 1978 after George C. White, founder of the O’Neill, invited Ms. Haupt to launch a new development program for musical theatre, in a similar mold to the O’Neill’s National Playwrights Conference. The O’Neill will launch a national search for the next Artistic Director of the National Music Theater Conference – one of the O’Neill’s six Artistic Directors – in the coming weeks.

More details from www.theoneill.org

Under Ms. Haupt’s guidance, NMTC quickly distinguished itself as a leader in the field, and was among the first new music theater development labs in the nation. Its prominence and relevance remains unmatched today with dozens of its artists currently represented on Broadway and beyond. Through NMTC, the O’Neill was the first professional theater company to support Lin-Manuel Miranda, with his and Quiara Alegría Hudes’ IN THE HEIGHTS (NMTC ’05, Tony Award ‘08); Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx, and Jeff Whitty’s AVENUE Q (NMTC ’02, Tony Award ‘04); and IN TRANSIT (NMTC ’08) co-written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Sara Wordsworth, James-Allen Ford and Russell Kaplan will open on Broadway at the Circle in the Square in December.

Notable projects developed since the first year of the Conference included NINE (NMTC ‘79, Tony Award ‘82) and the opera DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS (NMTC ‘78, City Center ‘89). Along the way, artists who launched their careers at the O’Neill with NMTC include: writers Jeanine Tesori (VIOLET, NMTC ‘94), Kirsten Childs (THE BUBBLY BLACK GIRL SHEDS HER CHAMELEON SKIN, NMTC ‘98), Andrew Lippa (THE WILD PARTY, NMTC ‘97), Rachel Sheinkin, Ed Dixon, Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond, Adam Gwon, Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik; actors Kristin Chenoweth, Julia Murney, Steve Kazee, Betsy Wolfe, Javier Muñoz, Christopher Jackson, Wesley Taylor, Lauren Worsham, Laura Benanti, John Tartaglia, Laura Bell Bundy, Hunter Foster, Cheyenne Jackson, Kate Wetherhead, Andrew Samonsky, John Lloyd Young; music directors Stephen Oremus, Alex Lacamoire, and Tom Kitt; directors Jerry Mitchell, Jason Moore, and Tommy Kail; among hundreds of others.

"Paulette’s impact on the American musical is immense,” stated O’Neill Executive Director Preston Whiteway. “Through her leadership of the National Music Theater Conference, over 180 new music theater works have been launched and hundreds of new writers and composers have been nurtured and given the opportunity to develop their unique voice. Many of these writing teams continue to push the music theater form forward, and the O’Neill and the American theater community owe Paulette a great debt for ensuring these voices are heard.”

Paulette Haupt added, “My decision to leave the O’Neill was difficult to say the least. But I think that a change of leadership for the Conference will be exciting and timely. My years of experience at the O’Neill has given me great artistic joy, and I look forward to a move to different surroundings where I will be freshly challenged to continue making an imprint in the field of new music theater. And I look forward to expanding my New York company Premieres and our very successful ‘Inner Voices’ series beyond what it is now.”

“The O’Neill is an extraordinary organization and it has been my honor to work with George C. White, Amy Sullivan, Howard Sherman, and Preston Whiteway during my time here. And most certainly a great honor to work with all of the emerging and established creative artists whose works we have developed and have made and continue to make a lasting impression worldwide.”

NMTC annually selects three musicals from hundreds of submissions, inviting each writing team for a two-week residency in the summer. During the developmental residency, authors are paired with major professional directors, actors, and creative teams, and projects are revised and fine-tuned with four public performances. Submissions for the 2017 summer season recently wrapped, and selections for Ms. Haupt’s final season will be announced in the spring.