13 Fascinating New Plays at GTC and 5 Off-Broadway Premieres

The GTC New Play Initiative (NPI) began during the 2003-04 season. It codified GTC’s approach to our earlier work on world premieres. The NPI had two tracks. The first was a development program in contest form which included open submissions, then four plays receiving readings, two receiving staged readings, and the winning play receiving a full production. The second track was a more personalized development process designed for playwrights that had worked with GTC before. The program transitioned into the Moss Hart & Kitty Carlisle Hart New Play Initiative in 2016.

These GTC NPI shows were produced by GTC at GTC Burbank and/or the GTC Gem Theater. Shows produced in New York City follow after.

Rick Batalla and Vince Cefalu

Blake…da Musical!
by Rick Batalla and Henry Phillips

Winner! L.A. Ovation Award for
Best World Premiere Musical!
(and nominated for Lead Actor, Director and Musical in an intimate theater)
Critic’s Pick
by Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Today, ReviewPlay.com, Backstage West, Burbank Leader, LA Weekly.

Batalla and co-director Kevin Cochran take full advantage of Batalla’s proudly outrageous book in their antic staging. Phillips’ rocking combo catapults his and Batalla’s blithely trash-talking songs, and the unfettered cast shoots across the itty-bitty venue like a button popped off packed designer jeans…
Blake … da Musical! is da bomb!”
-Los Angeles Times

Sam Mak, Joyce Liu and Frank Simons

Film Chinois
by Damon Chua

Winner! L.A. Ovation Award for
Best World Premiere Play
(and nominated for Best Set & Best Costumes)
Published by Samuel French.
Produced in NYC by Pan Asian Repertory Theatre.

“This first U.S. production of Singaporean playwright Damon Chua’s work reveals an imaginative voice, with deft turns by stars Elizabeth Pan and Sean Dougherty. . .admirable!” -LA Times

Terri Homberg-Olsen, Rick Batalla, Frank Simons, Vince Cefalu, Anthony Palermo and Meleney Humphrey

by David Hogan

Winner of the very first GTC New Play Initiative!
Performed in both the the Gem Theater and GTC Burbank

“Hogan has a unique ear for tersely funny dialogue and marches to his own strange drummer. At its best moments, this script feels like a tart and vicious Orton-esque diatribe, aiming its arrows at several juicy targets at once….wickedly funny!” – The Orange County Register

Ryan McCann and Sondi Kroeger Foley

A Brief History of Penguins & Promiscuity
by James McLindon

LA Times Recommended!

“As intelligent as it is goofy, James McLindon’s extravagantly silly sex farce about a woman who is not quite sure which of three men fathered her child is a distinctive blend of craft and crudity that yields plenty of laughter.” –Los Angeles Times

Patrick Livingston and Katie Thompson

The Redhead Musical Manifesto
Music & Lyrics by Katie Thompson
Book by Adam Jackman, Katie Thompson & Patrick Livingston

LA Weekly Theater Awards nominations for
Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Musical Director.

LA Weekly Pick of the Week.
Critic’s Pick Backstage West
Produced in NYC at the DR2 Theater

“Thompson and Livingston carry the show effortlessly with their powerful voices, their acrobatic piano playing, and their spot-on comic timing… The songs, with their bawdy, satirical lyrics, are a treat, and Kevin Cochran’s direction is appropriately over-the-top, bringing out the best in his actors’ skills at physical comedy.” -LA Weekly

Pauline Yasuda, Kennedy Kabasares
and Jon Jon Briones

Sweet Karma
by Henry Ong

Ovation Recommended!
LA Weekly Pick of the Week

“Henry Ong’s latest riveting drama, “Sweet Karma,” gets its well-mounted West Coast premiere at the Grove Theater Center, with a strong cast led by Jon Jon Briones, grippingly sensational as Vichear,…As Pauline Yasuda plays Devi, she’s at all times teasing, encouraging and deliciously mysterious…Rainbow Dickerson gives full three-dimensionality to what could be the stock role of the subservient, submissive Cambodian woman…Jully Lee shines in her many distinctly different characters.” -Culture Spot LA

Frank Simons and David Allen Jones

Bobby & Matt
Passing Notes Through Life

by Kevin Cochran

Ovation Recommended!
“It’s a great play…engagingly written and strongly acted.” – KPFK 90.7 FM

“ If ever there were a time for this play it is now…fascinating … affecting … a lovely story… they make Bobby and Matt’s friendship come alive so beautifully and so well-rendered, your imagination fills in every piece of their story as if it was visually unfolding in front of you.” – Frontiers

Justin Ellis, Christopher McFarland and Gillian Doyle

Eternal Equinox
by Joyce Sachs

LA Ovation Award nomination for Best Set

“Complex relationships, sexual politics and dynamic performances come together for a great night of theater in “Eternal Equinox” at the Grove Theater Center in Burbank….“Eternal Equinox” explores bedroom politics and the dynamics of a unique relationship. Couple that with a solid cast, costumes and a stage that take you back in time, and a script that is both fun and a little naughty, and you have the ingredients for a great night at the theater.” -Los Angeles Times

Patricia Place

by James McLindon

Los Angeles Times Recommended!

An issue play with a poetic soul...Director Kevin Cochran and his actors make everything seem a consequence of one family’s need to shatter a stifling silence. Macfie makes Marie even-tempered and open-hearted, even as grief presses down with an almost literal weight. It’s a nicely modulated performance, but the truly irresistible force on this stage is Place’s playful, resilient Nana. She helps to lighten the somberness as McLindon pushes ahead with a topic that has become part of the national conversation.” -Los Angeles Times

Sean Faye, Kate Danley, Colin Simon and Alexandra Wright

Building Madness
by Kate Danley

Winner Panowski Playwriting Award

Produced in Washington, Michigan, California, Tennessee, Illinois and Canada.

Paul Stroili

Straight Up with a Twist
by Paul Stroili

LA Ovation Award nomination for
Best Solo Show
5 month run in NYC at The Players Theater

“Sensitive’ Comic Is a Geek God….Paul Stroili’s one-man show is a funny look at guys who know too much about ‘the wrong things.’ Insightful and affectionate portraits fill out the evening.” -Los Angeles Times

Jesse Sharp and Janet Song

A Book By Its Cover
by Damon Chua

“A great cast of performances by obviously seasoned professionals, a great story and a very intimate setting at the Grove Theater Center makes this a production worth seeing.” -Asiansonfilm

“Chua’s script is at times somewhat audacious given the scope of story, travel, and time covered, but his inventive use of narration, flashback, and even rewound scenes … allows director Kevin Cochran and a uniformly excellent cast of five to shine . . . Rounding out this quintet is David Allen Jones in an exquisitely understated performance as the Narrator.” -Backstage

Frank Simons, David Allen Jones & Jenna Augen

A Christmas Carol
adapted by Kevin Cochran

Ovation Recommended!
Stage Raw Top Ten!

“The Grove Theater Center in Burbank has focused on the classic tale’s language — rich, thought-provoking and resonant — delivered through the deft performances of three professional actors … each design element had to be spot-on, too, and that is the case here, from Cochran’s dynamic use of the small stage to Hunter Stephenson’s pristine and atmospheric sound design, David Darwin’s expressive lighting — haunting shadows, sunlight and firelight — and the starkness of Ogden’s set design” -Los Angeles Times

These shows were produced by Grove Theater Center in New York (other NPI plays that moved to NYC were produced by other entities).

Christian Pedersen, Hollis McCarthy and Michael Gabriel Goodfriend

Eternal Equinox
by Joyce Sachs

Eternal Equinox, a GTC New Play Initiative Winning Play by Joyce Sachs, was first produced successfully at GTC Burbank. A few years later, GTC produced the play Off-Broadway at the beautiful 59E59 Theaters.

“Engrossing . . . A tense triangle of attraction and jealousy” The New York Times

“A fascinating journey . . . a sterling cast . . . a tantalizing glimpse into that distant world.” –nytheatre.com

“A delicious look at love, jealousy and commitment . . . Eternal Equinox takes this triangle, and explores it in fascinating and unexpected ways.” Reviews Off Broadway

“High-toned, steamy drama . . . Leonard Ogden’s wonderfully detailed set . . . skilled, steamy work by Pedersen, McCarthy and Goodfriend”. New York Post

“Provocative, grown-up entertainment . . . Dialogue is smart, scintillating, bitter and character specific . . . An articulate play about relationship trade-offs . . . Leonard Ogden’s Set Design is an eloquent cottage of artistic dishabille. Costumes by Tracy Christensen are perfectly conceived”. –Womanaroundtown

“Seductive and alluring . . . a juicy soap opera . . . Kevin Cochran’s direction is solid . . . The set design by Leonard Ogden is gorgeous” –theateronline.com

Stephen Hope and Gary Marachek

Bobby & Matt
Passing Notes Through Life
by Kevin Cochran

“Bobby & Matt, Passing Notes Through Life” premiered at GTC Burbank as a Special Event of the GTC New Play Initiative. GTC then produced a successful run at The Players Theater in NYC.

Pick of the Week. – Backstage New York.
Multiple Critic’s Picks and Top Ten lists.

“As moving as it is funny, complex yet truthful in its simplicity and directed with keen insight by Cochran, the show is an absolute gem . . . writer Kevin Cochran has given us a gay Love Letters. And here’s hoping that it gets produced just as often and as widely as A.R.Gurney’s classic two-hander . . . But thanks to Cochran’s specificity and sharp eye for detail, Bobby & Matt has an appeal that goes much wider than the gay community. This vibrant portrait of a changing America may be about two gay men, but audience members are bound to recognize themselves in the rich history and humanity of this wonderful tale.” –Backstage New York

“There are several gay-themed shows in FringeNYC, as usual, and the one I enjoyed so far is Kevin Cochran’s “Bobby and Matt” — the earnestness and importance of the issues presented here makes it worth our attention.” -NYTheatre.com

Bobby & Matt was a Critics Pick at BroadwayStars.com and named one of the “Ten Most Promising FringeNYC plays” by Chelsea Now, The Villager and Gay City and a “Hot Queer Pick” by Edge New York and Edge Fire Island.

A Best Bet
“An incredibly beautiful and well-done new play . . . This is more than a gay play or simply an oral history of the gay American experience.This endearing and often times heart wrenching tale is about the beauty of the human experience and the ability of a friendship to survive and persevere against all obstacles.” -Theasy