Johnny Mercer Foundation Partnership

Musical Theater Composition Video Series, Grades 9-12

Presented by the Johnny Mercer Foundation and the Alliance Theatre, the Musical Theater Composition Video Series is comprised of two distinct sections: Introduction to Musical Theater and The Songwriting Process.  Each section is designed to stand on its own or as a complement to the other, offering educators the flexibility to explore, modify, and utilize these tools to best serve each individual learner and classroom.  Additionally, each section includes a video component and a fully developed unit plan.  The videos are available for free via Vala, an innovative musical theater streaming platform.  

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Designed for high school educators, students, and caregivers, the video series includes:  

Introduction to Musical Theater – a 1-hour resource video 

  • Advisory: original lyrics containing adult language are used in the songs “Millwork” (21:22) and “Zazz” (30:26)  

The Songwriting Process – (4) 10-15 minute instructional videos  

  • Video 1 – Concept 
  • Video 2 – Lyrics  
  • Video 3 – Music  
  • Video 4 – Production

Program History

The Johnny Mercer Foundation’s partnership with the Alliance Theatre launched in 2018. With the Foundation’s support, the Alliance Theatre Institute developed and implemented its first Musical Theater Composition residency program for high school students, serving (2) classes (50 students and 2 teachers) at Frederick Douglass High School (Atlanta Public Schools).

During the 2019-2020 school year, the Musical Theater Composition residency program expanded to include an additional (2) classes (50 students and 1 teacher) at Benjamin E. Mays High School (Atlanta Public Schools). Through this program, 100 students had the opportunity to examine the history of musical theater and create an original musical theater production. The program kicked off with a full-day special event comprised of two workshops including an Introduction to Musical Theater Performance & Lecture and an exclusive meeting with a professional playwright to engage with a source text that would inspire their own musical work. Then, under the mentorship of two professional teaching artists, each participating class composed, rehearsed, and refined a section of a common story, including both dialogue and song — first within the context of a single classroom before coming together to build a complete story.

In 2019-2020, the residency program connected to the Alliance Theatre’s production of Seize the King, a modern reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Richard III by award-winning playwright Will Power. To culminate the residency experience, students visited the Alliance Theatre to meet with representatives from the creative team, experience the performance, and share their work and interpretations with the cast.

About The Johnny Mercer Foundation

The mission of The Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF) is to support the discipline of songwriting in the tradition of the Great American Songbook as exemplified by the life and work of Johnny Mercer: lyricist, composer, performer, collaborator and producer. The Foundation continues Johnny’s legacy by partnering with individuals and organizations dedicated to celebrating and nourishing the disciplines he mastered, and the causes he and Ginger Mercer championed.



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