Manuel vs. Statue Dates and Times!

Manuel_square_webIt’s so close!

Opening Night: Tuesday July 21 at 8 PM

Wednesday July 22 at 5 PM

Saturday July 25 at 5 PM

Sunday July 26 at 8 PM

Monday July 27 at 12 PM

All shows are at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center – 480 West 42nd Street (near 10th Ave).

This is a NYMF Next Link Production. NYMF selects 10 shows a year to give extra artistic, logistical, and general support to the emerging writer/producer teams. You can’t get more “emerging” than me – this is my first full length musical.

Tickets go on sale June 1st for NYMF pass holders. The cheapest pass is $119 and gets you four tickets plus other perks like preferential seating, discount at local bars and restaurants. More info here. The general public gets to buy tickets starting June 15th. Individual tickets are $27.50. NYMF shows do sell out so don’t wait!

You want to be the one who can say “I saw that show when …”!

More about the show at the website

Mucha Mierda! (the Spanish equivalent of “break a leg”)

Why it’s been a while…

NYMF_LOGOIt’s been a long time. I’ve been busy! “Manuel versus the Statue of Liberty” is a #NYMF2015 #NextLink show  – all the work that goes into the show before you see it on stage – that’s what’s been keeping me so busy. Rewriting, fundraising, finding a choreographer, more rewriting, the fantastic Next Link Weekend that NYMF put on for all us emerging writer/producer teams. Now we are casting.

I wrote an article for Howlround/Café Onda (article link here) about the process of the musical, I made a website (, I did some fun fundraising events with the help of dear friends (Blue Door Studios, Tom and Doug, and Melanie – save the date June 6th! another musical bash!). This sounds so small when I write it out, but the amount of time, and planning that each event takes requires energy. No small feat when this is your first musical. Add to it the winter we’ve had, and oy….I don’t have to tell you….so here I am writing on my own blog for the first time in months.

The show is taking on a life of its own: it has its own Facebook Page (, its own Twitter account (@ManuelvsStatue). Soon it will have more friends than I do.

And of course, I just finished a major rewrite: I cut two actors from the previous version, and I improved the Statue of Liberty’s character – made her stronger. David Davila and I have been hard at work on new songs. The beginning of the show is clearer. Major milestones accomplished! More boxing, more fun, more music, more madness!

But I still need help with the fundraising – every donation is an important step forward. My goal is to raise $66,000 and I’ve raised $13,000 so far with the help of generous friends and family. I am hoping even more generous friends help make this dream come true. You can donate through the secure NYMF site. All donations are tax deductible. NYMF is my fiscal sponsor – just one more of the many things they do for teams like ours.

And just because a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few fun pictures from the last fundraising concert (special thanks to Tom and Doug, and Sharyn Alice Murray and Joe Bezek)…

L-R: Tom, Sharyn, me, Doug, Joe
Doug, Joe, and Tom with their puppet clones.
The same people with a more vogue outlook.
20150321_195833 Naughty puppets and Sharyn above, the Band in action below.




Yip Harburg Foundation Support for the show!

money 2

Tales of generosity, and grant application gore…..

In the “great grant race of 2014-2015” where I scramble to get support, the Yip Harburg Foundation is the first one to support the show. Thank you Yip Harburg and your enduring legacy! I hope you are proud of the show you have supported when you see it at NYMF in July 2015. If I am half the lyricist he was, I will be doing just fine! I hope the story is the perfect blend of humor and social justice that opens hearts.

It’s an honor to receive support from the legacy of the lyricist who wrote “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and “Brother Can You Spare a Dime”, and many other amazing songs. There was always an element of social justice in his songs. You can learn more about Yip Harburg and his work at the foundation website:

Here are the gory grant stats so far: I’ve applied to 23 places. I’ve received 3 rejections, 1 yes, 2 letters have been returned to sender, and I have about $85,000 in outstanding requests for funding, for a production with a budget of about $67,000. Remember that not everyone is going to say yes, so I have to ask a lot of grant makers. I have 15 more applications/Letters of Inquiry (LOI in grant-speak) to go. To get my list I had to spend 3 afternoons at the fabulous Foundation Center Library at 79 Fifth Ave (near 16th street). I have about a 2 1/2 hour threshold before I start seeing double, and have to put aside the incredible search engine and catalog of grant givers the library has. So the list took me about 7 1/2 hours to compile. In addition, I have the blessing of NYMF’s Development Director who has helped me craft a proposal to send out, plus she’s helped me prioritize my list by “most-likely-to-love-and-support-Manuel vs. Statue“. That way, if I can’t get to all of them, then I at least get to the most important ones first. NYMF is my 501 (c) 3 fiscal sponsor and they are going above and beyond to help me find money for this wonderful project.

More tales of personal generosity: my coach Andrew Frank has also shared his considerable grant writing experience with me and helped me craft the LOI that I am sending out. I have another friend who is having a birthday party and in lieu of presents she is asking for donations to be made to the show. Two friends have stepped up to have fundraising parties for the show. Another friend is willing to do an “all or nothing match” of $1,500 for the fundraisers – it’s kind of like a real time, in person Kickstarter. Other friends are planning a benefit concert for the show. So things are getting into high gear here after the holidays. I’m glad because they kind of have to get into high gear: I have about $9,000 raised or committed, and I have to get to $67,000. Miles to go….

If you want to be part of the “tales of generosity”, please donate using the link, and remember to use the “Earmark Your Donation” pull down menu and select Manuel versus the Statue of Liberty as the show. Here’s the link:

This is what it looks like:


If you have any questions about the “tales of grant application gore”, let me know – happy to pass along what little I know to others.



Looking for grants to support the musical – a strategy

foundation center interior
Interior of the Foundation Center Library, New York City

I am looking for grants like a “crazy woman” – searching high and low for any foundation that will support the musical. So I may look “crazy” but I have a strategy:

– go to the Foundation Center with my own laptop and flashdrive

– look up as many foundations as I can (if you bring your own laptop you can stay as long as you want, if you use one of their terminals you have a time limit of 1.5 hours)

– get the guidance of the brilliant librarians that help with search terms

– go home and contact each foundation in the way they request

– follow foundation instructions in their applications, and ask as many of them as possible for money

So I found over 20 foundations in my last trip to the Foundation Center. I am now plowing through them and making a list of what to do with each one. Then I’ll contact all of them one way or another. Then I’ll put out letters or applications based on my findings. Then I’ll start over, and go to the Foundation Center again, and get more help from brilliant librarians and do more searching, and “lather, rinse, repeat.”

How do you do research for grants?

Donate on line! Tax deductible!

Screen shot of the actual web form for donations. Note the “Earmark Your Donation” tab at the top.

It’s official – NYMF is the fiscal sponsor of the show “Manuel versus the Statue of Liberty”, and you can donate on line to support this musical comedy about illegal immigration.

The link is:

Make sure to use the pull down menu at the top to specify “Manuel versus the Statue of Liberty”. The pull down menu is called “Earmark Your Donation” – the very first thing under “Make a Donation”. If you don’t specify the show, the money goes to NYMF in general (who is lovely and deserving of every donation, but I need it more right now!) All donations are tax deductible because NYMF is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


November 9th – double blessing!

The unofficial photo of me practically exploding with joy about the award.

Sunday November 9th, at 1 PM I sat down with Lisa Dozier King at the Theatre Row Diner, and we went through the budget for “Manuel versus the Statue of Liberty” for NYMF 2015. I filled her in on our progress to date, our creative team, the concept for the show. In an hour and a half she gave me an incredible education on the business of producing a musical. And this is just the beginning. She’s got a ton of experience with NYMF and Off Broadway productions. It is a blessing to work with such a talented line producer/general manager!

The page in the NYMF 2104 Awards gala program!

Then at 6 PM my husband and I went to the NYMF Gala, and I accepted the 2014 Developmental Reading Series Award that comes with an automatic Next Link Production, and a grant for $5,000 towards the show! It was my own fairytale evening: my husband dressed up and wore a suit, and looked amazing; the food was incredible; the entertainment included a song from one of my favorite 2014 NYMF productions “Bayonets of Angst”; the awards presentations were funny (esp. Kevin McCollum and Douglas Carter Beane), and I got to receive the award for “Manuel versus the Statue of Liberty”, our musical comedy about illegal immigration. Receiving the award is a huge blessing that energizes me even more! The validation, the support (artistic, technical, emotional) that NYMF is giving me on this project is invaluable. I am blessed because NYMF is brave enough to believe in this show and in the creative team of the show. Like Manuel sings: “fortune favors the brave”; so may the Goddess Fortune smile down on this humble show, and smile down on NYMF and shower all of us with more blessings!

The official photo with the very brave Dan Markley, Executive Director and Producer of NYMF.

The Business side of producing your work

When I hear similar advice from different people it is time to take heed. So I did, and I formed Mannyville LLC for the production. I had never formed an LLC before, so I got help from the great folks at They help small business owners. And I was surprised that they adapted well to the business needs I had in terms of musical theatre. They helped guide me through the online application, and gave me tips on which bank to use for checking, and how to keep my accounting clean for the LLC. Then they gave me some literature on how to write a business plan, and I have started working on a prospectus kind of thing to show donors. I will also share it with some friends who have graciously and enthusiastically volunteered to help me raise money for the NYMF production of “Manuel versus the Statue of Liberty” for next July (special shout out to Melanie, Blanca, Dora, Kim, Tom, Doug, and Matt!). I am super grateful to have these folks behind this effort! And special shout out to Tina who is going to help me hone my “ask”.

Ok – back to the business plan. My first draft was “ask everyone I know for money.” That was it. Now it is more sophisticated. I have a timeline, and some goals. Plus I am applying for grants. It really does help to write it all down. That’s another piece of advice quite a few people have given me. So I’m taking that advice too.

Winner of Bryce Harper signed Baseball!

Part of the support for our developmental reading of “Manuel versus the Statue of Liberty” came from an online raffle of a Bryce Harper (Pitcher, Washington D.C. Nationals) signed baseball. The raffle closed on July 5th, and of course I was incredibly busy with the NYMF 2014 reading, and life afterwards, and the excitement of being invited back to NYMF in 2015 with a full production. But I am a woman of my word, and I just drew the lucky winner’s name from a completely randomized, shaken-up-many-times box of names (as witnessed by my husband who videoed this). So congratulations to Jonathan Libman on winning this coveted prize, and thanks to all who supported the reading.

Special shout out to Michael and Erica for providing this prize!

Manuel versus the Statue of Liberty invited back to NYMF 2015!

Our developmental reading went so well that NYMF has invited us back for 2015 as a full production! This is really great news! Howard (the composer) and I have already started rewriting based on all we learned from the reading experience, and the audience feedback.We plan to have a table reading of the piece again in October to test out the improvements. We are looking for producers that want to take a chance on this show! It got a warm welcome from audiences, inspite of the flaws in the material, so we know it has potential. People really got behind the character of Manuel, and enjoyed the unfolding of his amazing journey. Howard and I have to raise even more money for this one (yikes! – donate here) but we are more prepared now, having been through the reading process.

I saw 9 shows and 3 readings at NYMF 2014 and learned a lot from every single show and reading. Ticket prices are $25 per show, and the readings are free, so I didn’t go broke either. We may go broke doing this musical though, if we don’t raise the money…oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. We have til some time in early March to secure financial commitments. So send lots of positive energy our way!

The Excitement Builds!!

We start rehearsals on Monday! So excited to see how the actors and the director shape the moments in the script. Thank God it is a beautiful day out today, so I could go for a bike ride and distract myself. I keep replaying all the funny parts of the script and the songs in my head, and giggling for no apparent reason. We’ll see what the audiences have to say about this. Hopefully it will be funny to more than just me. And we do have audiences – my block of tickets from NYMF is almost used up. I am also excited because the Princeton Alumni New York City (PANYC – best acronym ever) may come as a group on Sunday the 13th! That would be amazing!

We got some good exposure in with a very nice write up here. Wow! More excitement because this is new to me – other people (not just me) writing about my work!

I have been keeping financial track of what we’ve raised and what we’ve spent for the show (part of my responsibility as the producer), and I’ve raised a bunch of money thanks to the generosity of friends and family, but I still need to raise a bit more. As Andrew Frank put it “It’s like negotiating for a parachute on the way down.” I need to raise about $3,000 more and I will meet all my expenses.

So I am still raffling off a Bryce Harper (#Nationals) signed baseball. You can find out about the raffle, and buy tickets here. Three tickets for $10, and seven tickets for $20. The raffle ends on July 5th. There is still time. I need to connect with a bunch of baseball fans to make this work: that’s a lot of tickets I have to sell. Or, if you are not a baseball fan, you might consider making a donation to this “little show that
could” !

I do have a plan B, so any of my cast who is reading this post, don’t worry, you will be paid the agreed upon amount. I would sell a kidney on ebay if it came right down to it. Don’t worry, that is not plan B. That is plan C.