The following note was written for the Cutting-Edge Composers 3 program by Brian Yorkey, book writer and lyricist of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, Next to Normal.


Hey and hello to Cutting Edge Composers, and all those who support them:

First, to the composers: Congrats on tonight's concert, and on all the great work, patience, and perseverance it took you to get here. It's not the end of any road, I know -- it's somewhere near the beginning. But it's an important stop. Maybe you've had tons of shows produced, have three commissions going, and awards and accolades up the whatever, and if so, good on you. Good luck with all that, and work on being simple and modest about it all. But maybe, like most of us when we're just starting out, it's all a struggle, and being a part of tonight's concert is a much-needed signal that you're doing something right, that you should keep writing, that there might be a life in this yet.

Celebrate that. And keep writing.

Laura P. asked if I might have some words of wisdom to include in the program, and I don't, really. I'm just telling you what to do, and you are free to ignore me, because I don't fucking know any more than anyone else does. I only know what happened to me, and what I learned looking back on it. I can't tell you how many times I quit musical theater for good in the past fifteen years -- though Tom Kitt might have kept count, because I addressed all the resignation emails and calls to him -- but I kept coming back. I kept writing. So it would be completely dishonest of me to tell you not to quit when it gets hard, but I can say this: Nurse your wounds, call your Mom, complain to friends, go to the Broadway show written by people younger than you and seethe with resentment, and then go home and keep writing.

Keep writing. And keep writing. And no one knows just what will happen for you in musical theater, but nothing will happen at all if you don't keep writing.

Now, a quick note to the rest of you, the supporters, the friends, family, and fans, present and future. Thank you. Thanks for being passionate about new music, and shelling out the door and drink minimum time and time again to watch new musical writers being born and taking their (sometimes stumbling, sometimes glorious) first steps. You can't know how much your applause means, or a word or two of support, or a positive post on one of those treacherous chat boards. As for those of you close to the action, family and friends and lovers, give everything you can to these composers. Love, time, money, alcohol, a sympathetic ear, constructive criticism (only when they ask for it, and then very gently), money, love, food, and when that's all been given, give them a little tough love, an instruction, a demand:

Keep writing.

In awe and admiration,
Brian Yorkey