Kit Goldstein Grant Headshot 6-16

#WomenWhoWrite Guest Blog Series: Kit Goldstein Grant

By Gabriella Balsam


Introducing Kit Goldstein Grant!

You have an M.M. from Brooklyn College, studied at Juilliard, and were in the BMI Musical Theatre Writing Workshop. What have all these experiences taught you about writing for the theatre?

I joined the BMI Musical Theatre Writing Workshop directly out of college, and it was an eye opening experience that taught me a tremendous amount about musical theatre conventions and structure.  I had read about all of this in books but the BMI program really helped it click into place!  Also, it was just cool to hang out in a room with other people who cared about perfect rhymes.  Juilliard and Brooklyn College were more about studying music from different angles for me, apart from musical theatre, though of course I manage to bring musical theatre into everything I do!  At Juilliard I took classes in film scoring, music technology, orchestration, and composition – not specific to musical theatre but tremendously helpful to all musical pursuits  At Brooklyn College I actually wrote my most unconventional musical, a mini-musical adaptation of a Chekhov’s story, which my husband and I are now working on turning into a short film, Death of an Underling.  These experiences with different kinds of music are very helpful when approaching my musical theatre work!

You write contemporary adult musicals as well as family-friendly shows, and recently you’ve started to collaborate on new works that are somewhere in-between. What do you find is the difference in your approach to writing for each type of audience?

It’s surprisingly similar, after I find the story!  I write frequently from source material, and typically would choose a children’s story or a fable for a show for young audiences, and a more mature story would turn into a musical for adults – the rest comes naturally!  An exception to this is my musical The Nose, which is adapted from a story by Nikolai Gogol generally considered to be adult literature (and previously adapted into an adult opera by Shostakovich). I loved it as a younger person and always wanted to do something with it but didn’t know what… until suddenly it clicked to approach it as a musical for family audiences.  It’s got lots for both adults and kids to enjoy, politics, corrupt police, a giant nose, etc.  Shows specifically designed for touring to schools obviously have some other restrictions to stick to, including content, cast size and run time limits, but otherwise I mainly just try to write things I would enjoy. 

You also write film scores and concert works. What do you enjoy about writing for these different mediums?  

I’ve loved working with The Composers Collective, an organization I helped to found which does educational and concert programming of new works in NYC.  In musical theatre for me the story and lyrics lead the way, and the music follows, supports and amplifies, so it’s fun to work in a genre where the music is the leader… although stories (and comedy) do tend to slip into my concert works as well.  Film is so much fun, and I love the un-ephemerality of it!  Both genres also give me a chance to stretch my wings in working with instruments – I typically write my musical theatre pieces for piano/vocals, and work with an arranger for the orchestrations, but in film and concert music I enjoy being my own orchestrator! 

You’ve taught playwriting, songwriting, and composition with Broadway Unlimited and Paper Kite Arts, among others. How do you find your teaching influences your writing?   

I LOVE teaching, and find it truly energizes me in my creative life.  Working with young and beginning songwriters also encourages me to keep learning about different genres of music, so I can help them to create the music they want to create, instead of the music that I create.  To be honest, I mostly grew up obsessed with showtunes and folk music, and kinda missed pop music post-1950.  (I feel very up-to-date now that my 14-month-old toddler is super into Elvis, so we pretty much listen to him on loop these days.)  But yeah, teaching songwriting really made me delve into other genres.  I’ll never forget giving myself a crash course in the song “Call Me Maybe” so we could do a thorough analysis of it in a class I was teaching – nothing I would have thought about investigating otherwise, but such a great expansion of my universe!

You have two new works currently in development, The Commuters & Empty Frames. They are two of your first original pieces, and two of your first pieces with collaborators. What made you decide to go in this direction now?  

I’ve actually worked with collaborators quite a few times in the past (including a musical written when I was around 15!), but am not great at updating my website with all the details!  I definitely started working more with collaborators after attending the Across a Crowded Room program at the New York Library of the Performing Arts, where I met my fantastic collaborators Gil Varod and Caleb Damschroder, and we started writing the first act of the The Commuters.  It did so well in that program that it got a production at the Strawberry One-Act Festival where it was voted audience favorite, and we all liked working together so much that we kept on going and wrote acts two and three, and the full show is a triptych of comedic horror musicals set in New York City.  We’re still looking for a production of the full show post-pandemic, so if you’re a producer reading this and it tickles your fancy, check out thecommutersmusical.com for more info!  Another great collaboration I’ve had is working with lyricist Sophia Oberfeld on a short musical, In the Horse!  We had a great time with that!  And now I’m in the midst of collaborating with composer Neil Radisch on an adaptation of The Bee Man of Orn by Frank Stockton.  So this was a long answer, but I guess the short answer is that I lean more toward collaborations when I meet the right people to collaborate with, and our schedules, interests, and working styles align!  If I have a project I have a strong independent vision for and want to tackle on my own schedule and own terms, I’ve spent a lot of time working on my triple-threat writing skills so I can be a one-man band, but I also love working with people!

Kit Goldstein Grant is A Prize-winning New York City-based Composer, Lyricist, Librettist And Teaching Artist.  Her Musicals Have Been Seen In South Africa (The Nose, Anex Theatre Productions) And In New York City At Theatre Row (The Giant Hoax), The Master Theater And The Midtown International Theater Festival (The Nose), The Strawberry One-act Festival (The Commuters), The Players Theatre (Where Angels Fear To Tread), And Theatre For The New City (The Wrong Box).  Five Of Her Musicals For Young Audiences Have Toured Schools With The Schenectady Theatre For Children, Including it’s Raining Tamales!, Which Is Published By Youthplays.  www.Kitgoldstein.Com

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