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A Concert Presenting the Winners of the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students

Livestreamed & Live on June 17 at 7:00 pm ET

The Irene Diamond Stage, The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 W. 42nd Street, Jim Houghton Way)

NAMT has been excited and honored to partner with the National Endowment for the Arts on the 2023-24 Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students. This unique opportunity gives high schoolers across the United States the chance to submit, workshop, revise and re-submit original musical theatre compositions.

Meet the Winners here!

Please email events@namt.org if you have any questions!


challenge accepted!

a CONCERT presenting the WINNERS of the

Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge

Premiering the winnings songs of:


11th grade
Fairhope High School in Fairhope, Alabama


11th grade
Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas


12th grade
Miami Arts Studio 6-12 @ Zelda Glazer in Miami, Florida


12th grade
The Nueva School in Palo Alto, California


12th grade
Davidson Day School in Mooresville, North Carolina


11th grade
Dewitt High School in Dewitt, Michigan


12th grade
Valley Stream Central High School in Valley Stream, New York

And songs by Program Mentors:


June 17th, 2024


The Irene Diamond Stage
The Pershing Square Signature Center 480 W. 42nd Street, Jim Houghton Way

Concert Lineup

In order of appearance:

Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD

Chair National Endowment for the Arts

Betsy King Militello

Executive Director National Alliance for Musical Theatre

“Live Before Life’s Gone”

Music & Lyrics by Isabella Nguyen & Maya Johnson
Program Mentor: Joey Contreras
Orchestrator: Teresa Lotz
Featuring Amy Keum & Katryna Marttala


Music & Lyrics by Owen Yeh-Lee
Program Mentor: Joey Contreras
Orchestrator: Jesse J. Sanchez
Featuring Telly Leung

“First Sign of Forever”

Music & Lyrics by Joey Contreras
Featuring Senzel Ahmady
Music & Lyrics by Luisa Paraguassu

“Talk Pretty”

Program Mentor: Timothy Huang
Orchestrator: Jesse J. Sanchez
Featuring Shereen Pimentel & Stephanie Machado

“What Did Love Do to You?”

Music & Lyrics by Tabitha Moore
Program Mentor: Timothy Huang
Orchestrator: Teresa Lotz
Featuring Dominic Dorset & Ashley LaLonde

“Shi Ni”

Music & Lyrics by Timothy Huang
Featuring Timothy Huang

“How Long Does it Take to Drown?”

Music & Lyrics by Dylan Glatthorn Book & Lyrics by Will Lacker
Featuring Desi Oakley

“Little Miss Heard But Not Seen”

Music & Lyrics by Sydney Gray
Program Mentor: Zeniba Now
Orchestrator: Jesse J. Sanchez
Featuring Amy Keum with Ashley LaLonde, Katryna Marttala & Shereen Pimentel


Music & Lyrics by Ale Fonseca
Program Mentor: Zeniba Now
Orchestrator: Teresa Lotz
Featuring Stephanie Machado, Dominic Dorset, Telly Leung & Katryna Marttala

“The Cost”

Music & Lyrics by Gwendellyn Doerfler
Program Mentor: Zeniba Now
Orchestrator: Anessa Marie
Featuring Desi Oakley with Amy Keum & Ashley LaLonde

“Choosin the View”

Music & Lyrics by Zeniba Now and Rodney Bush
Featuring Zeniba Now

The Band

Anessa Marie, Music Director & Keys
Mike Rosengarten, Guitar
Magda Kress, Bass
Adrianna Mateo, Violin
Laura Masferrer, Cello
Morgan Parker, Drums & Percussion
Dylan Glatthorn, MTSC Music Supervisor

For Challenge Accepted

Casting by Michael Cassara Casting, CSA
Livestream & Capture provided by Apples & Oranges Arts
Will Bennett, Audio Supervisor
Skye Cone Ivey, Associate Producer
Theo Karras, Line Producer

For Songwriting Challenge

At the National Endowment for the Arts:
Greg Reiner, Theater & Musical Theater Director
Elizabeth Auclair, Assistant Director of Public Affairs (Press)
Carolyn Coons, Public Affairs Specialist
Ouida Maedel, Theater & Musical Theater Specialist
Ian-Julian Williams, Theater & Musical Theater Specialist

At the National Alliance for Musical Theatre:
Frankie Dailey, New Works Director
Skye Cone Ivey, New Works Associate
Emily Vortherms, Operations & Communications Associate
Amanda Freedman, Project Coordinator


From the songwriters:
Erin Langley at Eastern Shore Repertory Theatre, Meredith Petersen, Tyler Butler and Linda Diane Ham at Fairhope High School, Charlotte Guilian, co-writer with Sydney Gray on her first original musical Heard. Jenny Moses and Chelsea Allman at Mount St. Mary Academy, Jackson Ray, the Less Than Perfect Workshop cast back in Arkansas, Noel Freidline, Maria Howell, Joanna Gerdy, Melissa Moon, Steve McGill, Meghan Eldred-Woolsey, Nicole Quintana, Osvaldo Quintana, Rey Bode, Chris Sampson, and Hannah Corneau, Patrick Tirino, Amy Neuner and Shirley Bastien.

From the staff:
The team at The Pershing Square Signature Center including Jake, Debby & AJ, Mac Ingram, Jaime Lozano, Florencia Cuenca, Emma Cordray, Pearl Studios, Boulevard Carroll Entertainment Group, the Carnes-Brinkley family, Rob Rokicki, Joey Contreras, Andrea Daly, Mindi Dickstein, Christopher Dimond, Rebekah Greer Melocik, Andrea Grody, David Hein, Joe Iconis, Jeanna Philips.



Joey Contreras is a New York based, Mexican American musical theatre and pop songwriter. His various projects, performances, and studio album releases have amassed millions of streams. He is a two-time Fred Ebb Award finalist, three-time Jonathan Larson Grant finalist and an alum of the Johnny Mercer Project. His musical In Pieces was a National Alliance of Musical Theatre (NAMT) finalist and is currently licensed and performed worldwide with a commercial run in the works. The highlights album was released by Broadway Records. His other musicals include FORGET ME NOT, ALL THE KIDS ARE DOING IT (O’Neill National Music Theater Conference finalist), HEARTBREAKERS IN HELL, ROBBY GREEN IS ALL GROWN UP and a bio-musical about American actor Montgomery Clift with Storyboard Entertainment. Additionally, he has written and developed work for the Walt Disney Company, Prospect Theatre Company, 5th Avenue Theatre as well as songs and scores for various short films. He regularly teaches private songwriting coaching and masterclasses at universities and musical theatre training programs. Follow along on all socials: @joeycontreras.

Timothy Huang is a New York based composer/lyricist/librettist. His musical American Morning (Prospect Theater, Playwrights Horizons, BMI Master Class hosted by Stephen Sondheim, ASCAP Musical Theater Workshop with Stephen Schwartz, NAMT 2015) was the winner of the 2015 New American Musical Award, and 2016 Richard Rodgers Award, making its author the first and only Asian American to win the latter as a triple-threat composer/lyricist/librettist. Other works Peter and the Wall, Death and Lucky, The View From Here, And the Earth Moved, LINES: A Song Cycle (NYMF 05, 04, 08), A Relative Relationship (SoundBites, Best Musical) Missing Karma (City Theater of Miami, Theater Elision) and Koi Story (Sam French OOB SPF). Tim serves on the NAMT Alumni Writers committee, the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat Sounding Board, and the Creative Committee of the AAPI Caucus at the DNC. Proud husband to Laura and father to Haven. www.timothyhuang.net

Anessa Marie (she/her) is a music director, conductor, orchestrator, arranger, and composer/lyricist based in the NYC area. Broadway: Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club, Moulin Rouge, Aladdin, Chicago; Off-Broadway/Regional: Showtime! (Edinburgh Fringe), White Girl in Danger (2ST), The Griswold’s Broadway Vacation (5th Ave), A Beautiful Noise (Emerson Colonial), The Dark Lady (O’Neill), The Wizard of Oz (Geva), Wonderboy (NAMT, 5th Ave), Interstate (NAMT), The Gunfighter Meets His Match (Goodspeed), Far From Canterbury (Barnstormers), Into the Woods (OOTB), Elevator Heart (Moxie Arts).

Zeniba Now A 2024 Woman to Watch on Broadway, Zeniba Now is an award-winning musical storyteller, performer, and vocalist from Los Angeles, California. As a writer of musicals, her work includes the musical shorts: Beloved (PBS, #BARS at The Public) and To Be on Hold Forever/Stay on The Line from HUMAN RESOURCES (St. Louis Rep, Woolly Mammoth) and full lengths: THE LOOPHOLE (Richard Rodgers Award Winner, Headliner Pass The Mic Hip Hop Festival, Public Studio), TAKE THE LEAD (Paper Mill Playhouse 2025), THE THIRST TRAP (Dramatist Guild Foundation 60th Anniversary Gala, Songbyrd Demo Grant) and a new musical in development with Disney Theatrical Productions! Clips from her one-woman specials have received millions of views online, you can watch iQuit: Millennial Retirement Gala, Sincerely, Z, and April Fools on TikTok, IG or Youtube. You can listen to her music on the streaming service of your choice, including her new meditative EP, Wholly Chill. She is the winner of The Jonathan Larson Grant, The Richard Rodgers Award, The Vivace Award, The Thom Thomas Award, and is West High’s Funniest Senior. To stay up-to-date on shows and releases, please follow her on social media @zenibanow or subscribe on her website www.ZenibaNow.com


TELLY LEUNG Broadway & national touring performing credits include Aladdin in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway, In Transit, Allegiance (with George Takei & Lea Salonga), Godspell, Rent (final Broadway company), Wicked (Boq, original Chicago company), Pacific Overtures, and Flower Drum Song. Most recently, he starred as Wei Tung in the musical version of Ang Lee’s film, The Wedding Banquet, in Taipei, Taiwan. Television audiences will remember him as Marcel in season 3 of Warrior (HBO Max) and Wes the Warbler on Glee. Telly is featured as a performance coach for the Jimmy Awards in the PBS documentary, Broadway or Bust. He holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama. Instagram: @tellyleung. Website:www.tellyleung.com

DESI OAKLEY is a stage, screen and voice artist in NYC. She originated the role of Jenna on the 1st National Tour of WAITRESS, and also starred in the role on the West End. She was most recently seen on Broadway as Roxie Hart in CHICAGO. Other Broadway credits: WICKED, ANNIE, LES MISERABLES. She’ll be appearing in the third season of Only Murders In The Building later this year. Other TV credits: Gotham, The Gilded Age. Desi has voiced feature films like Dear Evan Hansen, Tick, Tick, Boom! and Spirited. All of Desi’s original music can be found on all streaming platforms and her original musical, The Light Effect, is currently in development. She loves coaching & mentoring young artists and works as an activist promoting mental health support. She happily lives in her favorite city in the world with her amazing husband. Follow her on social: @desioakley

SENZEL AHMADY recently completed an almost two year run as Princess Jasmine in Disney’s National tour of Aladdin. She was born and raised in the Bay Area and studied Vocal Performance for 2 years at NYU Steinhardt until she left to tour with Aladdin. She has performed in multiple 54 below concerts here in NYC and performed at the MET Museum on behalf of the White House Historical Association for their 60th Anniversary Historical Gala. She is so excited to be here with NAMT and to celebrate the work of these amazing high school students!

KATRYNA MARTTALA (they/them) is an NYC-based actor, musician and comedian originally from Cibolo, TX. They are a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association and Ring of Keys, an artist service organization that fosters community and visibility for musical theatre artists who self-identify as queer women, transgender, and gender non-conforming artists. Favorite credits include Medusa: A New Musical, Finding Helena (NYC Industry Reading) and “Jax” in the upcoming film Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary. You can find Katryna this Fall in SKYSCRAPER at Urban Stages. #supportneeworks Represented by YOU Management. @katrynamarttala www.katrynamarttala.net

AMY KEUM is a Korean American conservatory-trained actor and singer. Film credits include Honor Society (Paramount+), Death Name (Tubi/MarVista Entertainment), and The Kill Room (Shout Studios) co-starring with Uma Thurman. In 2022, she made her Broadway debut in KPOP the Musical (Circle in the Square Theatre) and she recently starred in Hello Kitty Must Die (Edinburgh Fringe Festival) as well as Vanities (York Theatre Company) in NYC.

SHEREEN PIMENTEL was last seen as Eva Perón in ART & STC’s co-production of Evita. Her other credits include West Side Story (2020 Broadway revival as Maria), Young Nala in The Lion King on Broadway, Guenevere in Camelot at The Muny, and New York City Center’s Encores! production of Into the Woods as Rapunzel. Shereen is a graduate from the Juilliard School with a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance.

ASHLEY LaLONDE Most recently, she was seen in the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, where she covered all three Schuyler Sisters (Eliza, Angelica, and Peggy/Maria) on the national tour. Ashley has appeared in several world premiere musicals, including The Black Clown (Lincoln Center), Burn All Night (A.R.T.), and Punk Rock Girl (Argyle Theatre). She’s performed at Carnegie Hall, Sony Hall, 54 Below, and more, recently debuting her solo show to a sold out audience at the Green Room 42. Ashley’s making her TV debut in an upcoming highly-anticipated Netflix series. She made history as the first Black woman to star in Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Show. Ashley received her B.A. in Sociology from Harvard University, with a minor in Theater, Dance, and Media, a certificate in Spanish, and an award for Artistic Excellence in Musical Theater. @ashleylalaa

STEPHANIE MACHADO is a Brazilian-American actor and singer based in NYC. Recent credits: Two Sisters and a Piano (Miami New Drama), Laughs In Spanish (Denver Center), Sabina (Portland Stage), The Gradient (Repertory Theater of St. Louis), Measure for Measure (Actors Theater/Fiasco Theater), An Enemy of the People, Indecent and Assassins (Yale Repertory Theatre), For A Brief Moment I was Something Else (Here Arts). Educational: Passion, Amy and the Orphans, The Winter’s Tale, Blood Wedding, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cloud Tectonics (Yale School of Drama). TV: Evil (CBS). MFA Yale School of Drama, BFA SMU. www.stephaniemachado.me

DOMINIC DORSET Dominic Dorset is a multi-hyphenated artist that recently just finished his run as Kristoff in the North American Tour of Disney’s Frozen. Other credits include Gavin Creel’s Walk On Through, Confessions of a Museum Novice at the O’Neill, as well as performances with Broadway Backwards (He Plays The Violin) and the 2023 Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta. Proud graduate of the University of Michigan Musical Theatre Department. Glory to God!

This page was last updated on 06/20/2024