Online Workshop: Musical Theatre - Writing the Book

taught by Core Writer Crystal Skillman
Saturdays, March 6th, 13th, 20th, and April 3rd from 12 pm - 2 pm CST
Online via Zoom
$150 for Members, $175 for Non-Members (only 15 slots available)

Class Type: Playwriting Craft                         Class Level: Beginner to Intermediate

When: Saturdays, March 6th, 13th, 20th, and April 3rd from 12 pm - 2 pm CST

(10am PST, 11pm MST, 1pm EST)

Where: Online via Zoom, check out this quick video on the process.

Structure: Lecture, discussion, writing exercises, workshopping including small groups, guest artist(s)

Participants must register to join this class, Sign Up at the bottom of the page


The secret to writing the book of a musical is a unique recipe of conquering structure, creating clarity for each character’s motivation, and setting the rules of your world. Add to that a strong dose of harnessing the creative soul, which is always completed by that very important dash to the stew - the art of collaboration - and we are cooking with gas!

Over these four active sessions, led by dramatist Crystal Skillman, through dynamic writing exercises you will be guided to explore the full-length structure of scene-writing for musicals. We’ll dive into directing openings and finales, how the “I Want” approach can be used in surprising, unique ways, how the scene and the song literally work as one scene to drive action forward, and how working backwards from your climax can help you  discover the “heart” of your show. Writers will leave the class with a strong plot/short treatment of the show they want to work on, or the new idea they want to flesh out, as well as with new or rewritten pages. There is room to explore and come up with new ideas each week, and to engage with fellow writers in break-out rooms. The class will address the art of collaboration and how to drive forward your own process in writing and developing your show.  

This is the class for you if you:

  • You are a composer seeking to learn how to improve your own bookwriting skills/or working with a book writer.
  • You are a writer who writes plays with music looking to take the leap into musicals or strengthen that work. 
  • You are a writing team looking for guidance on your musical, and ways to strengthen your work together.

Important Things to Note:

  • Crystal is also teaching a one-time Musical Theatre seminar prior to the class
  • There are 4 scheduled sessions (see dates/times above)
  • Payment plans are available as needed, please contact Alayna to discuss


Crystal Skillman is an award-winning dramatist. Plays include: NYTimes Critics Picks OPEN (The Tank/AFO), GEEK (Vampire Cowboys), CUT (Theatre Under St. Marks), as well as PULP VÉRITÉ (Kilroys List), and RAIN AND ZOE SAVE THE WORLD (EMOS Prize). Her new play with music, THIS SHOW IS MONEY (Music/Lyrics Gaby Alter), is currently being developed in The Civilians R & D Group. Crystal is the bookwriter of the musical MARY AND MAX  (Composer/Lyricist Bobby Cronin), which just had its European premiere and recently livestreamed to great acclaim. POSTCARD AMERICAN TOWN, with Composer/Lyricist Lynne Shankel, is currently a finalist for the 2020 SDSU New Musical Initiative. A two time finalist for the McKnight Fellowship, Crystal has been granted two Alfred P. Sloan commissions, received a Clifford Odets Ensemble Play commission, and won the NY Innovative Theater Award for Outstanding Play (THE VIGIL OR THE GUIDED CRADLE). She has cut her teeth in playwriting groups such as Youngblood, Soho Rep’s Writer/Director Lab, WP Lab, and is a member of Ensemble Studio Theater and Rising Phoenix Rep. This summer she will work on two commissions: SEEN and THE ROCKET MEN. TV/Comic Books include: ADVENTURE TIME (Boom! Studios), EAT FIGHTER (WebToon), and OVERNIGHT SUCCESS (Kampfire Films). 

Instagram @crystalskillman

 Sign Up Below! 

Questions? Email Membership Programs Associate, Alayna Barnes, at