Monthly Archives: October 2010

Courtney Sullivan

Courtney Sullivan with her debut book, Commencement.

J. Courtney Sullivan is a writer, journalist, and New York Times best-selling author with her debut novel, Commencement. Commencement is a clever and grippingly fun book that follows the lives of four best friends through their many experiences at Smith College and afterwards. Since its release in January 2009, Commencement has been extremely well regarded by critics all around, who have deemed it as an “intelligent,” “inviting,” and “compulsively readable” novel with “warmly believable” characters.

Not surprisingly, Courtney is a proud graduate of Smith College, where she says she met “some of the most incredible women in the world.” The four women and their accounts in her novel, however, are not based on reality. Instead, only bits and pieces of Commencement come from her real experiences.

One of Courtney's awesome must-reads.

In addition to Commencement, Courtney has written Dating Up: Dump the Schlump and Find a Quality Man, a guide helping women find the right man, co-edited Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists, a compilation of people’s accounts that led them to feminism, and contributed to The Secret Currency of Love, an essay anthology about women’s money relationships with loved ones. She has also written numerous articles for The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, New York Magazine, Elle, Allure, Glamour, and the New York Observer, to name a few.

Courtney just finished working on her second novel, Maine, which tells the stories of a New England family’s last summer at their beach house. She also worked in the editorial department of The New York Times and currently serves as a member on the advisory board of Girls Write Now, a non-profit organization helping underserved high school girls in New York City develop their creative writing skills. Also, if you have some free time, check out You may browse through some of Courtney’s funny contributions to the site!

For more information, visit:

-Lilly Chow


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Otto Penzler Squared

Otto Penzler, editor, writer, and bookshop owner, is the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop located in Tribeca.  His contributions to the genre of mystery and suspense literature are outstanding, and he is recognized as an exceptional member of the publishing field in general.

Born in 1942, Mr. Penzler is nothing less than a household name for mystery lovers.  He has won several prestigious awards, including two Edgar Awards (one in 1977 and another in 2010), the Raven Award in 2003, and the Ellery Queen Award in 1994, all from the Mystery Writers of America.  His editing credits include, among many others: The 50 Greatest Mysteries of All Time (1998), Dead Man’s Hand: Crime Fiction at the Poker Table (2007), The Lineup: The World’s Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives (2009), and Black Noir: Mystery, Crime, and Suspense Stories by African-American Writers (2009).  He was the founder of The Mysterious Press, which he sold and recently reacquired, created the publishing firms of Otto Penzler Books and The Armchair Detective Library, and has imprints at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Atlantic Books.  He was also the writer of a weekly column for The New York Sun, called “The Crime Scene,” which lasted for five years.

Mr. Penzler has also written about noir fiction for The Huffington Post, saying:

“Noir fiction has attracted some of the best writers in the United States (mostly) and many of its aficionados are among the most sophisticated readers in the crime genre. Having said that, I am constantly baffled by the fact that a huge number of those readers don’t seem to know what noir fiction is. When they begin to speak of their favorite titles in the category, they invariably include a preponderance of books and short stories that are about as noir as strawberry shortcake.”

He continues with the idea that “Noir is about losers.”

(For more on his opinions of noir fiction, this is a pretty neat Q&A: Library Journal w/ Otto Penzler)

Mr. Penzler also wrote 101 Greatest Movies of Mystery and Suspense, and is the Series Editor of The Best American Mystery Stories of the Year, which features guest editors such as Joyce Carol Oates, James Ellroy, and Sue Grafton, and is the co-Series Editor of Best American Crime Reporting.  He now lives with his wife in New York and Connecticut.

~~ Logan Hasson

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Otto Penzler, The Mystery Man

Mr. Otto Penzler is a celebrated publisher and editor of mysterious fiction. He also is the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop, which recently celebrated its 31st anniversary on April 13, 2010. As a publisher and editor he founded The Mysterious Press in 1975, which was later sold to Time/Warner Book Publishers and recently reacquired by him. He has published The Armchair Detective, an Edgar winning quarterly devoted to mystery and suspense fiction, for seventeen years. Mr. Penzler still publishes The Armchair Detective Library, which reprints classic detective fiction for collectors and libraries. He also continues to publish books through his very own publishing firm, Otto Penzler Books. Mr. Penzler currently has imprints at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the United States and Atlantic Books in the U.K., publishing authors such as Thomas H. Cook, Andrew Klavan, Thomas Perry and Joyce Carol Oates.

Throughout his years within this industry he also wrote a weekly column, “The Crime Scene,” for The New York Sun. One of his own titles includes 101 Great Movies of Mystery and Suspense, and he has published a number of mystery collections for some very well-known authors. Mr. Penzler’s tremendous contribution to the publishing and editing industry has enabled for his work to be recognized and for him to win a variety of awards for his works. In 1977, he won an Edgar Award for the Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection. The Mystery Writers of America gave him the prestigious Ellery Queen Award in 1994 for his exceptional contributions to the publishing field. He was also honored with its highest non-writing award, the Raven, in 2003. In 2010 he won the Edgar Award from Mystery Writers of America again for The Lineup.

Even though Mr. Penzler has won all of these awards, he has been the Series Editor of The Best American Mystery Stories of the Year since 1997. He also has been a co-series editor of The Best American Crime Writing, which has been an annual series since 2002. Mr. Penzler’s most recent work includes a century’s worth of noir fiction that he edited along with James Ellroy titled, The Best American Noir of the Century.

-Sydney Alston

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Presenting: Bill Brohn

Bill Brohn



Many of us have heard the sonorous opening notes of the award-winning musical Wicked. The songs “Popular” and “Defying Gravity” have a cult following around the world. However, few know that the real force behind the music is none other than Bill Brohn, the talented orchestrator who takes a simple melody and turns it into a Tony-winning Broadway hit. His lengthy and successful career began with a stint at as a conductor for the American Ballet and Royal Ballet, and has since expanded to creating arrangements for musical sensations like Liza Minelli and Fredericka von Stade, and to orchestrating Broadway shows. However, the initial classical training proved useful in creating some of Broadway’s “new classics”. His most recent project was the “Ragtime” revival in 2009, which during its first run in 1998 won the Tony for Best Orchestrations. His other masterpieces include Miss Saigon, Carousel, Show Boat, Ragtime, Oklahoma, Curtains, Mary Poppins, and Rodgers and Hart, among many others. He has received many achievement awards for his work including the 2004 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Orchestrations for Wicked, the  Tony Award® for Best Orchestrations for Ragtime, the Drama Desk Award Outstanding Orchestrations for Ragtime, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Orchestration for Miss Saigon, and the  Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Orchestration for The Secret Garden. Though he states his particular style of musical is a dying breed, making way for more synthesized sounds and less live orchestration, Brohn has made sure to modernize his work with the changing styles and times. He uses a range of instruments depending on the needs of the composer and others involved in the show, and additions such as E-bow attachment for an electric guitar (an addition which makes it unnecessary for one to use a pick or one’s fingers for the instrument) and a number of different musical modes to increase complexity within the songs. Despite the changing industry, Bill Brohn’s beautiful orchestral arrangements will endure as classics.


-Tyler Atwood



  1. 1. Wikipedia: Bill Brohn.
  2. 2. IBDB-Internet Broadway Database: Bill Brohn.

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Emanuel Azenberg

First thing you should know about Emanuel Azenberg. He likes to be called Manny. He grew up in Bronx, an origin that he is proud of and has clearly affected his personality. He became to be interested in theater after seeing his uncle in a Broadway play.But it was only after serving time in the American Army, he actually worked in the theater industry. He started as General Manager and became one of the most successful Broadway producers. His work span over musicals such as Rent, The Wiz, Sunday in the Park with George and great play as Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing. His productions have received 134 Tony Award nominations and won 41 Tony Awards, numerous Drama Desk Awards.  In 2009 He was elected to the American Theater Hall of Fame.

In an interview with the New York Times, Azenberg observed, “I am not a deep thinker. I am not a writer, though I recognize good ideas when I see them. I am there to service people. A producer creates an atmosphere — or tries to — that is genuinely comfortable, so the best creative work can take place.” I believe that it is because of his respect for playwright that Manny has been able to retain great friendships with the playwrights he has worked with.

He has a long-standing professional relationship with Neil Simon, one of the great American Playwrights.  Their professional association began with The Sunshine Boys in 1972 and continued with The Good Doctor,God’s Favorites, Chapter Two, They’re playing our Song, I Ought to be in the Pictures, Brighton Beach Menoirs,Broadway Bound, Lost in Yonkers, Jake’s Women, The Goodbye Girl among others.

In addition, he has a strong connection with Tom Stoppard and produced many of his theatrical plays as well as being a producer with his film Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead. With Tom Stoppard’s work, Manny considers Arcadia as one of the great plays in 20 century. To Manny, The Real Thing reveals more about people’s relationships then any other “psychology theory.” On a personal level, he described Tom Stoppard as “a true gentleman.”

Although Manny has had a thriving career theater, he does have a pessimistic view of theater industry now. “Broadway is a theme park now…people go to the theater to be entertained. When we bought a ticket to a play, we knew we would get depressed.” I can see his point when looking at Broadway’s playbill features shows such as Addams Family and Rock of Ages. Manny blames the capitalism within theater now. It takes a large investment to produce a theater production, and thus the ticket prices are higher. He argued that theater isn’t as accessible to society anymore, so the economics of theater has to change.

Although he has worked in the industry for a long period, he clearly still has a passion for theater. He still continues to read scripts and often reread his past productions. He can easily recite from Tom Stoppard and Neil Simon at a moments notice. His favorite quotation is from Tom Stoppart’s The Real Thing. “Happiness is equilibrium. Shift your weight. Equilibrium is pragmatic. You have to get everything into proportion. You compensate, rebalance yourself so that you maintain your angle to the world. When the world shifts, you shift.”

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Christopher Jahnke

Christopher Jahnke, orchestrator and music supervisor, has previously admitted that he has always been interested in “how music helps an emotion dramatically.” He goes on to say that, “as an orchestrator, one is the voice of the composter and a music geek.” Chris did the orchestration for Legally Blonde on the West End in London in 2010 as well as on Broadway in 2007. He also did the orchestration for the shows Toxic Avenger (2009), Cry-Baby (2008), Grease (2007), Les Miserables (2006 New Orchestrations) among many others. Chris’ new orchestrations for Les Miserables are currently being performed on the 25th Anniversary international tour and can also be heard on the 2008 Dutch recording of Les Miserables. He has worked very closely with orchestrator William David Brohn and recently conducted From Broadway to West End- By Special Arrangement, a tribute concert to his mentor. In 2001, he began a 9 year long project working alongside David Bryan, keyboard player and founding member of Bon Jovi, as music supervisor and music producer for Memphis: A New MusicalMemphis won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Musical.

Below: Pictures of Christopher Jahnke at Memphis premiere and at Les Miserables premiere-

To see a full list of Jahnke’s credits please visit:

By: Danielle Genet

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Gene Scheer, the librettist

Moby-Dick, Scheer's most recent opera, has been a worldwide success.

Erik Chamberlin

Mr. Gene Scheer is a widely respected librettist and songwriter in today’s operatic and theatre world.  For those who are not opera-savvy, the librettist is responsible for writing the text, or libretto, of an opera.  This includes all words and stage directions, somewhat like the script of a play.  Scheer’s work is noted for its scope and versatility, often appealing to a wide audience.  His large portfolio has been increasingly recognized as “remarkable,” “bold,” and “poignant.”

Scheer has worked as librettist for the opera “Therese Raquin,” as well as “An American Tragedy,” which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005.  His songs have gained much acclaim as well, and have been performed by artists including Renee Fleming, Denyce Graves, and Nathan Gunn.  Scheer’s song “American Anthem” was featured in Ken Burns’ World War II documentary entitled “The War,” and was first performed by Denyce Graves for President and Mrs. Clinton.  The song was also quoted during the memorial service for Senator Edward Kennedy in 2009.  His songs have also been performed alongside many of the nation’s most prestigious orchestras, including the National Symphony, Chicago Symphony, and Colorado Symphony.

His more recent work, “To Hell and Back,” was based on the Greco-Roman myth of Persephone, and starred Patti LuPone and Isabel Bayrakdarian.  Scheer has also written two song cycles (a group of songs intended to be played in sequence) in collaboration with Jake Heggie.  Currently the two are working on a new song cycle based on the film “Paragraph 175.”  Scheer’s work has been described as a “tapestry of overlapping streams of consciousness” (New York Times, 2008), and “deeply moving music and lyrics that pull no punches” (Seattle Times, 2007).  Gene Scheer has already enjoyed a fulfilling career and will undoubtedly continue to create wonderful libretti, songs and lyrics that are thought provoking and compelling.

Christine Ko

Gene Scheer

In an article from Dallas Magazine, Gene Scheer said:

“I’ve heard Stephen Sondheim say that the thing all good songs share is a sense of surprise.  It’s a way of awakening listeners to remember what they’ve forgotten, or, to learn something new.  I think that’s what we’ll be looking for in each one of these songs, the opportunity to take the audience on a personal journey. If the moment works and you feel like you’ve been able to say something—and say it beautifully—it’s incredibly rewarding,”

Just like he said in his quote Mr. Scheer is a renowned librettist, lyricist and songwriter in the world of music who allows us to remember things that we’ve forgotten.

For me, the opera that Mr. Scheer talked about in class and the opera that he played for us in class were very different from the opera which we had the privilege of attending at the Met. His “Petals on a Rose” were nothing like any of the songs in Das Rheingold. Perhaps it was the language or the atmosphere but the two pieces took me on two completely different journeys. It made me realize that much like genres in music or theater, opera also has a wide range and a versatility that I did not know existed. Personally, I think I would have enjoyed one of Mr. Scheer’s operas more than Das Rheingold because I believe that I would have been able to relate to his pieces more than a mythical tale about a magical ring (although I did relate to Lord of the Rings very well).

I hope to be able to catch “Moby Dick” or his new song cycle in the near future, just so I can compare the two different experiences.

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