Cheryl Coons

Sandy Asher

Plays in progress instructor: musicals

“I have the utmost respect for the individuality of the creative process. While I will always point to timeless craft principles in responding to your work, I feel it’s equally- if not more important to honor the places where you have broken with tradition and created something astonishing. I’ve had the joy of teaching, coaching or mentoring several hundred musical theatre writers, ranging from seasoned professionals to complete beginners. I’ve worked with writers who are adapting their real-life experiences, writers who are adapting their own previously written plays or novels, writers who are creating original fictional stories, and writers who are adapting stories from history or literature. My strength is responding to big picture questions, the overall structure and song plot of the piece, and how the book and score interact to tell the story. I would love the opportunity to reflect back to you what I see in what you have created, and help you achieve your goals for your musical.”

Interests: musical theatre, plays with music, musical revues, original stories, adaptations, structure and song plot

CHERYL COONS (playwright/lyricistlLibrettist) has co-written more than a dozen musicals that have received professional productions, including River’s End (ASCAP Foundation Harold Arlen Musical Theatre Award, Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards for Original Script and Score, Theatre for the American Musical Award, NYMF and NAMT Festival selection), At Wit’s End (Carbonell Award for Best New Work), Sylvia’s Read Good Advice (Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work), Female Problems (After Dark Award for Best Music) and Phantom of the Country Opera, published by Music Theatre International. She contributed lyrics to Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s award-winning productions of Merry Wives of Windsor and Measure for Measure. Her work has been produced on the stages of Northlight Theatre, the Marriott Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Florida Stage, and Marin Theatre Company, as well as other theatres across the US, and internationally in the UK, Canada, Kuwait, and Russia.

Cheryl’s musicals have been developed and showcased at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center’s National Music Theatre Conference, the National Alliance of Musical Theater’s Festival of New Works, and the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), Berklee College of Music, and the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University. Projects she has written have twice been selected for the ASCAP/Disney Workshop in Los Angeles and Chicago, and for further development by ASCAP at the Perry Mansfield New Noises Festival in Steamboat Springs, CO. A revue of her work was produced at the Royal George Theatre and was honored as one of Chicago’s 10 Best Cabaret Shows of the year by Cabaret Scenes magazine and Cabaret Online. Her original novelty songs have been featured on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, and NPR’s Morning Edition. Cheryl has appeared at Carnegie Hall, performing her original material in an evening hosted by Michael Feinstein.

Cheryl has been a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists since 2008, where she designed and teaches a curriculum of five classes for musical theatre writers. Since 2009 she has taught 38 sections of these classes, serving more than 275 students. She has also designed and taught musical theatre writing and musical theatre appreciation courses for Columbia College and Porchlight Music Theatre. She has worked since 2015 as a mentor and instructor for the Writing the Musical class at Northwestern University.

Cheryl served as an animateur (liaison/dramaturg/curator) for Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Chicago Voices Project, developing two original musicals with a group of Chicagoans who had experienced homelessness, and a collective of youth artist/activists. She is a Program Manager for Storycatchers Theatre, assisting the court-involved youth at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center to write original musicals based on their real life stories.

Cheryl is the Chicago Regional Rep for the Dramatists Guild.