For Emerging Leaders in Musical Theatre


Members of the 2022 Directing Observership Cohort at the Conference Cocktail Party. (From left to right – Rohan Dhupar, Hayley Goldenberg, Mayah Lourdes Burke, Irvin Mason Jr. and Mary Tomei.) Photo by Ric Kallaher.



The National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) Festival Creative Assistantship offers a distinctive opportunity for early-career professionals to participate as departmental assistants in the development of new musicals. This is a reimagining of the NAMT Festival Observership for Early-Career Directors. Now in its seventh year, this program, which is dedicated to supporting the next generation of leaders in musical theatre, provides eight early-career theatre-makers from underrepresented groups the opportunity to be a part of the NAMT Festival process from start to finish.

Each Festival musical will be matched with a Creative Assistant that focuses in one of three categories: Directing, Script or Music. The Creative Assistantship is facilitated by NAMT’s New Works Associate, and one assistant will be assigned to each of the participating projects of the Festival of New Musicals in an intern capacity and to support the relevant department of that creative team. They will be added to creative conversations including casting, rehearsals and the other needs for a staged reading presentation. Creative Assistants are expected to be present for all rehearsals, sound check and presentations for their Festival musical in October in New York City. Creative Assistants also conduct onstage interviews with their Festival Writers at the Fall Conference Meet the Writers Preview Event. Creative Assistants will begin in late August. The Festival is October 24-25 and rehearsals take place for 20-hours as scheduled between October 13-23.

Previous Observership Cohorts


This program aims to foster diversity, equity and professional growth within the departmental aspects of the musical theatre industry by focusing on three specialized areas: Directing, Script & Music.

  • Directing, Script & Music: each of the eight Festival shows will be matched with a Creative Assistant that focuses in one of these three categories.
  • Front Row Experience: Creative Assistants will have the opportunity to gain first-hand exposure to the new musical development process.
  • Skill Development: Creative Assistants will immerse in the techniques that experienced directors, writers and music directors employ while working to bring a new musical to life.
  • Networking Opportunities: Creative Assistants will be invited to attend select NAMT Fall Conference panels (curated by NAMT),during the Fall Events Week in October in New York City. Participants may attend and audit Conference panels, as well as utilize the event as an opportunity to network with industry leaders from around the globe.
  • Creative Assistants are expected to be present for all rehearsals, sound check and presentations for their Festival musicals in October in NYC.


Creative Assistants are invited to virtual pre-production meetings beginning in late August, and then must be in person for rehearsals, sound check and Festival performances in October. Rehearsal dates and times vary per show assignment. Rehearsals take place in Midtown Manhattan, and presentations are at New World Stages. The Festival is a live event and must be attended in person. The NAMT Festival Creative Assistantship Program is dedicated to nurturing talent, promoting diversity, and advancing equity within the musical theatre community. By empowering early-career professionals through tailored experiences in directing, script/literary management and music, NAMT is committed to shaping a more inclusive and innovative future for musical theatre.

Key Dates

  • Applications Due: July 26th
  • Interviews: End of July
  • October 13-23: Rehearsal
  • October 21: Sound Check
  • October 22 & 23: Fall Conference
  • October 24 & 25: Festival


Creative Assistants will receive a small stipend. ($325) They will be financially responsible for their travel to and stay in NYC during that time.


Who is eligible to apply for this program?
The program is open to early-career theatre-makers with a focus in any/all of directing, writing or music who also identify as early-career professionals of color, early-career professionals with disabilities, women early-career professionals, and LGBTQIA+ early-career professionals. Non-US citizens are welcome to apply.

What is expected of the Creative Assistants once they have been selected?
Creative Assistants are expected to work in an intern learning-meets-assistance capacity and to support the relevant department of that creative team. Once a Creative Assistant has been selected, they will be added to all creative conversations including casting and the other needs for a staged reading presentation. The majority of pre-Festival work is done via email and Zoom and there is a great deal to glean from observing these communications.

How will the final Creative Assistants be selected?
Once the applications have closed, the NAMT staff will review applications and schedule short interviews with semi-finalists. Interviews will be held at the end of July/early August and will be conducted by NAMT’s New Works Associate Skye Cone Ivey.

Who has participated in the NAMT Festival in the past?
Directors such as Stephen Brackett, Stafford Arima, Christopher Ashley, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Sarna Lapine, Lonny Price, Rebecca Taichman, Schele Williams, Victoria Bussert, Jerry Dixon, Kent Gash, Kent Nicholson, Peter Rothstein, May Adrales, Sherri Barber, Sam Buntrock, Marlo Hunter. Music Directors such as Andrea Grody, Patrick Sulken, Kurt Crowley, Anessa Marie, Lily Ling, as well as writers such as Heather Christian, Shannon Burkett, David Hein, Irene Sankoff, Anna K. Jacobs, Michael R. Jackson, Ross Baum, Angelica Chéri, Bekah Brunstetter, Melis Aker, Tatiana Pandiani and Jacinta Clusellas.

Do I have to be a member of NAMT to apply for this program?
No! This program is open to all early-career professionals with an interest in directing, writing or music who identify as BIPOC, a person with disabilities, a woman, and/or LGBTQIA+

Additional Questions?
Email us if your question wasn’t answered here!


Applications for Creative Assistants open in July.

Apply Now