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#WomenWhoWrite Guest Blog Series: Elspeth Collard and Sam Rosenblatt

By Gabriella Balsam


Introducing Elspeth and Sam!

Be sure to check out our Virtual Launch Party for their upcoming album “Little Love Notes from Collard & Rosenblatt.”  here.

You met at the NYU Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing program in 2018. In a crowd of so many talented people, how did you know that this pairing was meant to be? 

We like to joke that fate brought us together in the form of a galaxy skirt and backpack, but really, we’ve just always clicked in a really special way. We were paired together in early October 2018 to write a song based on the play Gem of the Ocean, and found ourselves writing not only the assigned song but also a motivational song about a leaf who thinks he’s a dragon. It’s ancient history from there! 

You’ve recently started a podcast together, the Latest Draft, which spotlights emerging musical theatre writers and performers, as well as a custom audition cuts business, Beyond Measure. What has it been like working together on projects beyond writing? 

We’ve definitely found that the connection and synchronicity that we’ve developed as a writing team has helped a lot when branching out into other projects. For The Latest Draft, it’s been helpful that we’re so in tune with each other’s tastes and styles, because as the programming directors, it’s our job to put together a balanced and varied season of shows and songs that we both agree should be showcased on this platform. Much like our collaboration as writers, we’ve found that we mostly share the same opinions, and where we differ, we’re good at talking through our opinions and finding a solution that works for both of us. It’s also helpful that we have slightly different yet complementary skillsets, since it makes it very easy to divide up the workload on all our projects: as well as being a composer-lyricist team, Sam has been expanding her graphic design portfolio, and Elspeth has been working on her audio editing skills, so for both The Latest Draft and Beyond Measure we’ve been able to take on equal amounts of work on different sides of those projects in a way that feels very natural and easy! 

You talk about the importance of both queerness and mental health in your work, and invoke themes of both in your songs together. What makes writing about these issues so important to you? 

We’re both queer women who have found themselves challenged by mental health issues and the stigma surrounding mental health. We always try to infuse hope and positive messages into our pieces to help break down the stigmas that we found (and sometimes still find) stifling. In October 2020, we produced a new song entitled, “You’re Gonna Be Okay” in honor of Mental Health Day to accompany our fundraiser for Mental Health America because we know that mental health is so important all the time but especially right now, in these unusual COVID times.

Your first full-length show together, A Princess Story, showcases a different kind of feminism in a new breed of fairytale. What was your inspiration for the musical? 

We both have a background in education (Sam especially, since her undergraduate degree is in educational theatre), and are both big fans of movies and musicals “meant for children”, especially anything Disney! At the same time, those classic fairytale stories that we all grew up with have a very mixed record for how much agency they give their female characters, and as queer women we never really saw our stories represented in that format. We wanted to write a show that has all the fun, joy, and magic of these stories, but also focuses on a love story between two women and lets them call the shots! We love thinking about the possibility that one day, children and young people could see A Princess Story, or be involved in a production of it, and feel seen, represented, and empowered. 

You’re now back at the GMTWP as alumni collaborators, writing an new thesis musical with current student and bookwriter Amber Delaluz called The Girl With The Rose-Colored Eyes. How were you inspired by your source material for this piece? 

The Girl with the Rose-Colored Eyes actually spiraled out of Amber’s idea of using the ballet, Coppelia, as inspiration. That said… we’ve definitely spiraled pretty far away from our source material! Our thesis features a Greek chorus of three dolls, as well as two feuding friends and a doll that comes to life to repair their broken relationship. The Girl with the Rose-Colored Eyes challenges the idea of being broken and celebrates the differences and “cracks” that every individual has. It’s an exploration of feminism, queerness, and individuality… in other words, it’s right up our alley!

Elspeth Collard & Sam Rosenblatt are a female writing team who met at the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU Tisch, where they received their MFAs. They’ve written over sixty songs together, as well as two musicals (A Princess Story and Twenty-Six Percent); a third musical (The Girl with the Rose-Colored Eyes) with bookwriter, Amber Delaluz, is currently in development. Collard & Rosenblatt prioritize writing stories with women at the helm, hoping to illuminate queer experiences and end the stigma surrounding mental health. Both are members of the Dramatist Guild and Maestra. www.collardandrosenblatt.com

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