Submissions Guidelines

Musical Cafe’s Next Stages 2020


Submissions open February 1st, 2020

Musical Cafe will provide: venue for two developmental readings (mid April - late June to early July, 2020), as well as a dramaturg and a composer-mentor for those readings.  Musical Cafe can assist with casting and/or with identifying a potential director, if requested.


The Creative Team will be financially responsible for: paying honoraria for actors and director (if any), printed copies of script and score, and snacks for actors. The estimated cost of participation is $500-$1000 for your show’s two table readings.  The Creative Team will also provide recordings of music to be played during the readings, or will arrange for suitable live performances -- members of the Creative Team may sing/play for songs, but should not otherwise be actors for the readings.


Eligibility Requirements:


1. At least one member of the creative [i.e. writing] team must be a resident of one of the following Northern California counties:  Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, or Yolo.


2. If your show is selected for the Next Stages program, all team members become Play Cafe members prior to your first table reading. (Play Cafe membership is open to all interested theatre artists- see


3. Your script and story must be substantially complete. Music and lyrics should be at least 50% complete.


4. Your show must be previously unproduced (other than developmental productions).


5.  If the show is an adaptation of another work, you must own the rights to underlying material, unless it is in the public domain.


6.  The music must be original.


7.  Unless book, lyrics and music were all written by the same person, you must have a written collaboration agreement.


What to Submit:


1.   A short synopsis of the show (maximum one page).


2.  A numbered list of songs, showing the titles and which character(s) sings. Please insert the song numbers in the synopsis to show where they occur.


3.  25 pages of the libretto, properly formatted, with a cover sheet giving your contact information. Please send as a pdf.*


4.  Recordings of three songs, in mp3 format or streamable from a web service.


5.  The written score of one of the three songs in pdf format.*


6.  A statement of the show’s developmental history and your plans and goals for the show, both with the Musical Cafe development process and long term (maximum one page).


7.   A short biographical statement for each member of the creative team (no more than 300 words each).


8. Links to the show’s web site and the creative team’s individual web sites, if any.


*Formatting guidelines for a musical script and/or score are available at


Send the above materials to Richard Jennings:

Questions may also be sent to the same email address.

Please send everything in one email.

Incomplete submissions will not be considered.


The submission deadline is midnight Pacific Time, February 28th, 2020.

Photos by Marc Sternberger

Videos by John Quick


Musical Cafe is a musical theatre development and education program for Northern California-based writers and composers. Our prime offering, the Musical Cafe Showcase Series, alternates between San Francisco and the East Bay. Each Showcase is a public presentation of new, original, locally-sourced musical theatre works-in-progress. The creatives behind projects selected for the Showcase cast local actors and singers then collaborate with Musical Cafe to prepare and perform dramatic and musical material in front of an audience consisting of theatre professionals and friends of musical theatre.
















Musical Cafe is a program of Play Cafe, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help San Francisco Bay Area playwrights develop their work. The Musical Cafe team includes several production managers and a group of volunteers who sell concessions, usher, photograph, and make numerous other contributions of time and effort to ensure the success of each Showcase performance. Creatives and casts selected for a particular Showcase become an essential part of that team, and are encouraged to become part of our ongoing effort to make new, original, locally-sourced musical theatre in the Bay Area.


Many of the Bay Area's wonderful actors and singers have participated in Musical Cafe to date, and we are always looking for the newest, freshest actors and singers to audition for and perform with us.


Most importantly, our enthusiastic, energetic Musical Cafe audience members and behind-the-scene supporters have been and remain a key part of this program and whatever success we've achieved.

Listen to the interview with KPFA's Program Director and host of Bauersfeld Playhouse, Kevin Cartwright and The Paper Raincoat writers Devon Copley, Amber Rubarth and Richard Jennings. May 26th, 2019


Congratulations to “THE PAPER RAINCOAT”
A New Musical in Concert Format
by Devon Copley, Amber Rubarth, Alex Wong

Musical Cafe's Next Stages Inaugural Production 



Thank you to everyone involved. 


Excellent Houses, Standing Ovation! Great Feedback, A Strong Production.




Photos by Colin Hussey

© 2020 Play Cafe, Inc.

Serving the Northern California musical theatre 

and theatre communities since 2014