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Announcing Submissions Now Open to Musical Cafe's Showcase Fall 2023!

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Musical Cafe is a musical theatre development and education program for Northern California-based writers and composers.

From a juried submission process, our Next Stages program chooses musicals that will each have two full private readings with an excellent cast. At each reading, the creatives receive detailed feedback and support from our team of literary and musical dramaturgs. The creatives then have time for re-writes before the second round of readings roughly two months later.

Eligibility Requirements: 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.


Some of the musicals we work with are chosen for a full length, concert style public showcase.


Our Musical Cafe Showcase Series present new works in progress. Presented in front of an audience consisting of theatre professionals and friends of musical theatre, four shows are chosen for twenty minute semi-staged showcase performances.


Musical Cafe also presents classes, workshop and seminars on the myriad aspects of creating musical theatre through out the year.



Are you a musical theatre composer or lyricist seeking a safe space to share your ongoing projects and build community? Musical Cafe hosts a monthly virtual song salon to honor the craft of creating new musicals!


The goal is to celebrate and support each other's work!  Feedback will only be given at the writer's request. Participants are asked to uplift each other’s work with applause and positivity.  


We are seeking new and original musical theatre songs, either from a show you are working on, or a stand alone / cabaret style piece you would like to showcase. Songs must be five minutes or less. 


The door is wide open, and we would love to see your work whether you are emerging, or are a seasoned professional.


If you would like to be included in the salon, please email us at: 


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.


OCT. 29-30 - FREIGHT & SALVAGE in Berkeley

Submission Information


About the Showcase:

The Musical Cafe Showcase is a production of Play Cafe (, a Berkeley-based nonprofit whose mission is to support the creation and development of new works by San Francisco Bay Area playwrights and composers. The Showcase is an evening of songs and scenes from 3 - 4 new musicals by Northern California writers and composers. Up to 20 minutes of material will be presented from each show. Live music will be provided by a pianist. This is a showcase. While each musical will be rehearsed, typically the performers have music on music stands. Some may be off book.


Musical Cafe provides: 

  • Assistance selecting performers and directors (only non-union will be considered)

  • Dramaturgical script support

  • A Music Director / pianist for the performances and select rehearsals

  • The Venue

  • Promotion

  • Photography & Videography

  • Programs


Participating creative teams are responsible for:

  • Choosing a Director and paying them

  • Casting and paying performers (limit of 8 performers)

  • Schedule and secure venues for rehearsals. 

  • Printing scripts and scores.


Note: even if you have a small cast of 4 performers, participating in this showcase can be quite expensive. Printing scripts and scores can cost hundreds of dollars. Musical Cafe will award $1,500 per selected show for casting, director fees and other expenses. If selected, we suggest that you seek out grants and perhaps do a GoFund Me campaign. 


There will be a limited number of rehearsal times available with Musical Cafe’s Music Directors. Teams must use their time well.


Creatives are expected to assist in producing the Showcase (e.g., helping to promote the event and suggesting volunteers, etc). At least one member of each team must attend all production meetings.

Key Dates:

May 15, 2023 – Submission due date.


June 1 – Applicants notified of status.


June 5th - Orientation Meeting - Creatives share script and score with MC Dramaturgs & Music Directors.


Mid-June - Dramaturgs & Music Directors meet online with Creatives to give feedback & suggestions.


June-July - Creatives work on script and score.


August 15-31 - MC staff meets with Creatives to give feedback & suggestions. 


Early September - Open Auditions (non-Union only).


October – Rehearsals. 


October 29th - Tech and Show #1- Freight & Salvage.


October 30 - Show #2 - Freight & Salvage.


November 5-10  - Post Mortem - Creatives, Dramaturgs, Music Directors and MC staff meet. 

Eligibility & Guidelines

  1. At least one of the creatives of each team (composer, book writer, or lyricist) must be a resident of one of the eleven Northern California counties listed below. At least one creative team member must attend all meetings, rehearsals and performances. See list of key dates above. There will be four key meetings with Musical Cafe personnel (they are in Bold above). Some of these meetings may be on Zoom.


2.  The show must be previously unproduced (other than a workshop production). The submission committee may        consider substantially changed versions of shows that were previously produced. The key word is substantially.”


3. The show may be complete or a work-in-progress. This means that the entire show need not be written.


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


5. The music must be original. No jukebox musicals, in other words, unless the jukebox material is your own.


6.  Creatives must have a written collaboration agreement.


7. Shows of any length are eligible, but the material presented in performance may not exceed 20 minutes. The production team reserves the right to request changes to the final material in order for the material to better fit the presentation timeslot of 20 minutes.


8. Creatives are not permitted to perform in or direct their showcase segments. The point of Musical Cafe is to provide a workshop-style performance of a selection of the material; our credo is that the development process and your hard creative work are best served by handing the work off to other creatives and talents. You are the single most important audience member of your work and you must be in the audience.


9. All creatives must join Play Cafe if selected.  About Play Cafe membership:

Submission Materials 

  1. Completed application form (you can request one by writing to


2. Current draft of 20 minute script in PDF format. Please refer to the Dramatists Guild Script Formats:


3. Three to five songs from the show in mp3 format. Do not supply links to a web page. Please identify where the songs appear in the script (page #). Don’t have to be professionally produced. Demo quality.


4. The notated piano/vocal score for one of the above songs in PDF format.


5. If your work is an adaptation, include the documentation which shows you have the rights.


Incomplete submissions will not be considered. 


Attach files for all of the above materials in one email to:  no later than May 15, 2023 at 12:00 AM Pacific Time.


File names must include the work’s title.  

Subject Line must say:  MC Showcase 2023 Submission


We’re looking forward to reading your materials. You will be notified of the status of your application by June 1, 2023.

List of 11 Northern California Counties:


Contra Costa



San Benito

San Francisco

San Mateo 

Santa Clara





Photos by Marc Sternberger

Videos by John Quick


Photos by Colin Hussey

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