“Merman’s Apprentice: Musical Theater’s Golden Age”

January 12, 2024 @ 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Hermitage Beach
6660 Manasota Key Rd. Englewood

“Merman’s Apprentice: Musical Theater’s Golden Age”
with Hermitage Fellows Stephen Cole and David Evans

Friday, January 12 at 5pm


Presented in partnership with Venice Theatre

Hermitage Beach (entrance at 6660 Manasota Key Rd. Englewood, FL, 34223)

Register here.
Registration is required. $5 per person.

It’s 1970 and the “Golden Age” of musical theater is drawing to an end… but twelve-year-old Muriel Plakenstein doesn’t know that! So she runs away from home to become a theater star and meets the Queen of Broadway, Ethel Merman. What ensues is a musical fable created by Hermitage alumni Stephen Cole and David Evans that recreates that magic nostalgia of the brightest stages in the country. Join this collaborative team on the Hermitage beach to hear selections of this original work and to learn more about what inspired the musical’s journey.

Book writer, lyricist, and Hermitage alumnus Stephen Cole is an award-winning musical theater writer whose shows have been recorded, published, and produced from New York City to London to the Middle East and Edinburgh, Scotland. Cole’s creations include After the Fair, The Night of The Hunter (Goodman), Saturday Night at Grossinger’s, Casper (with Chita Rivera), Dodsworth (with Dee Hoty and Hal Linden) and The Road to Qatar. In 2014, Cole wrote and directed Inventing Mary Martin, which played Off-Broadway. Other produced shows include two family musicals commissioned by Walden Media: Merlin’s Apprentice (Music by Matthew Ward) and Rock Odyssey (Music and Lyrics by Billy Straus). Rock Odyssey has been annually produced the last ten years. Cole is also a published author with four books to his credit including That Book about that Girl and I Could Have Sung All Night, the autobiography of the late Marni Nixon, and Noel Coward and Charles Strouse’s memoir Put on a Happy Face. In addition, Cole has written special material for Marlo Thomas, Phil Donahue, Liz Smith, Liza Minnelli, Michelle Lee, and Bernadette Peters, to name a few. He is honored to be the winner of the prestigious Edward Kleban Award for his musical The Night of the Hunter, written with the late composer Claibe Richardson. StephenColeWriter.org

Hermitage alumnus David Evans received a Drama Desk Nomination for his score for Birds of Paradise (written with Winnie Holzman, directed by Arthur Laurents), which ran Off-Broadway in 1987 and has since had many regional productions. His Drama Desk nominated musical Children’s Letters to God (written with Doug Cohen and Stuart Hample), completed an Off-Broadway run at the Lamb’s Theater, and has had subsequent productions around the world. Bye, Bye Big Guy (written with Faye Greenberg and Michael Slade) was part of The New York International Fringe Festival. Another show, Love Comics (with Sarah Schlesinger) has had several regional productions since its premiere at the George Street Playhouse. He has presented a star-studded concert of his music at Lincoln Center, featuring Barbara Walsh, J.K. Simmons, Marybeth Peil, Jose Llana, and others. He has written songs for many Off-Broadway revues, including A… My Name is Alice, and for television shows, including Sesame Street and Square One TV; also scores for animated films, two shows for TADA, and nine shows for TheatreworksUSA. Current projects: Super Sunday (with Sarah Schlesinger), Bed (with Faye Greenberg), Merman’s Apprentice (with fellow Hermitage alumnus Stephen Cole). A prominent musical director and conductor, Evans is currently Associate Conductor of Wicked on Broadway. His conducting credits include revivals of Flower Drum Song and Bells are Ringing on Broadway, Marie Christine and Hello Again at Lincoln Center, and Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh, Sills and Company, and As Thousands Cheer Off-Broadway. He has conducted at major regional theaters around the country, with many shows at the Goodspeed Opera House and Sacramento Musical Theater. He is the Artistic Director of ASCAP’s Marvin Hamlisch Broadway Conductor’s Program and Co-Artistic Director of Broadway Triple Threat, a musical theater summer program.