Stephen Bishop Seely on Sound Bites 4.0 / by Declan Maloney Drummond

How did you get your start in theatre?

My mother was a retired opera singer and taught me to sing at an early age.  By the time I was eight years old, I auditioned and was cast as the leading role in the local Tonganoxie, Kansas, musical production of “Oliver!”.  Living close to Kansas City, I could take advantage of the opportunities the city had to offer and was able to perform in about fifty shows before I turned fourteen.  I continued to perform in plays and musicals throughout high school and college.  Once I received my MFA in Acting, I moved to NYC.

What is Sound Bites and what is your involvement in it?

Sound Bites 4.0 is Theatre Now New York's annual musical theatre benefit which presents ten new 10-minute musicals by ten outstanding musical theatre writing teams all in one evening.  Sound Bites 4.0 offers a unique opportunity for talented writers, composers, and lyricists, to showcase their produced work performed in front of a live audience.  I created Sound Bites and produce the festival along with the Producing Artistic Director, Thomas Morrissey, of Theatre Now New York, a theatre company which develops and produces new plays and musicals.

What is the development process like for new musicals?

Each musical is different and has its own path of development with its own set of challenges.  A musical can go from a few table-reads and then move into a staged reading or a workshop or workshop production and then find a venue to present the legitimate full-scale production.  Currently, in the theatre world, it takes a long time to develop a musical from the initial idea to the end point of a full-scale production, about seven years plus on average.  Theatre Now New York’s goal is to decrease the developmental process of plays and musicals and focus on getting the work on stage in front of an audience.

What are your future plans?

We are in our 4th year of Sound Bites and the talent of the writing teams is incredible.   As Sound Bites continues to get larger and larger, we attract a bigger audience.  I would love to see us grow in a broader scale that in a few years we take over a Broadway Theatre and sell out.  We also have been talking about having a Sound Bites festival in Los Angeles or Miami or even London.  We take it one step at a time and are blessed we can be an outlet to promote new musicals from up and coming writers, lyricists, and composers.