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This page contains information about the introductory Toronto Writers Workshop. If you are looking for information about the new Advanced Workshop, click here.


The CMTWC Toronto Writers Workshop is Canada’s premier training program for emerging musical theatre songwriters. In this unique course, students will learn the craft of musical theatre songwriting in an intimate and nurturing environment.


Students receive world-class training from renowned Canadian musical theatre legend Leslie Arden and a rotating faculty of other high profile guests.


This exclusive program is open to musical theatre composers, lyricists, and composer-lyricists from across Canada.​


The CMTWC Toronto Writers Workshop

class of 2016-17 with Leslie Arden.


"The CMTWC Writer's Workshop was an exceptional opportunity and helped to fill a significant void in my training (which is limited to classical conservatory music theory and performance). The workshop started off with the basic conventions of musical theatre writing, then became a 'masterclass'-style series of lessons that allowed us to develop our writing voice with immediate critical feedback. They say that the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know. If that is the case, then I am the Jon Snow of musical theatre. ... It has been like a diving board into the deep end: exhilarating, terrifying, and the opportunity for me to stretch outside my comfort zone and see what I am capable of. Leslie is a phenomenal teacher, and our guest instructors each brought their own unique perspective to the program. Leslie is exceedingly patient and generous, but also offers constructive criticism that is tailored to each participant's individual ability. She knows what stage of development each one of us is at, and she encourages us accordingly."


- Deanna Choi (2016/17 participant)

"The workshop was an unbelievable experience! Interacting with the incredible guest artists, and with the other talented participants was both instructive and motivational. My final project even ended up being produced in a National Festival."


- Trevor Curran (2016/17 participant)

"The best thing about the Writers Workshop was receiving insightful, detailed feedback from acclaimed writers like Leslie Arden and guest instructors. The Workshop gave participants the rare chance to be in the room with these experts (thank you, Landon and Joseph, for that). Also, for me personally, I don’t have the triple threat skills to pursue a career as a musical theatre performer, so I was inspired and motivated by the energy, enthusiasm and raw talent of my fellow Workshop participants each class."


- Heidi Stock (2016/17 participant)


LESLIE ARDEN has written and composed over a dozen musicals, including the critically acclaimed and multi-award-winning The House of Martin Guerre, and the Chalmers Award winning The Happy Prince. Leslie also collaborated with Norm Foster on the oft produced The Last Resort and Ned Durango. She’s been commissioned by choirs all across Canada, and she’s spent 3 seasons as a composer with The Stratford Festival. She recently composed the score for Jeanette Lambermont’s production of Goethe’s Faust, and she’s currently at work on a contemporary musical adaptation of Moll

JIM BETTS is a Musical Theatre writer and teacher. He studied in the 1970’s and ‘80’s with Lehman Engel and Gordon Delamont, and was the first President of the Guild Of Canadian Musical Theatre Writers when it was formed to carry on the Lehman Engel tradition in Canada. He has taught the basics of musical theatre writing for the Guild, Theatre Orangeville, ScriptLab, Smile Theatre, the Playwrights Guild Of Canada and Sheridan College. He cofounded the Canadian Musical Theatre History course at Sheridan, co-produced five years of Canadian Musicals at Hart House with The Group Of Several, coordinated the Canadian Musical Theatre Festival for ScriptLab, mentored and produced the work of new and established writers, and published the first ever collection of Canadian Musical Theatre songs in Field Of Stars (Volumes 1 &2). His own musicals include Colours In The Storm (being revived at London’s Grand Theatre in 2017), Little Women, The Shooting Of Dan McGrew, On A Summer’s Night (aka Oberon), Jacob Two-Two Meets The Hooded Fang, Thin Ice, Stagefright, The Moose That Roared, and Extraordinary (The Extraordinary Life Of An Ordinary Women) which he wrote in celebration of his mother’s 90th birthday. His collaboration with composer Marek Norman, Dancer (A Musical In Ten Furlongs), the story of Northern Dancer’s historic win at the 1964 Kentucky Derby, is scheduled to premiere at The Elgin Theatre in Toronto in May of 2017; and his collaboration with composer John Estacio, Bluenose, will premiere soon with Smile Theatre, the company for which Jim is also currently Artistic Director.

NEIL BARTRAM is the composer and lyricist of Broadway’s The Story of My Life with book writer Brian Hill (four Drama Desk Award nominations including two for Neil – Outstanding Music and Outstanding Lyrics). Neil has also written music and lyrics for Clara’s Piano (Stratford Festival), Somewhere in the World (five seasons at the Charlottetown Festival) and The Nightingale and the Rose, and scored productions of Romeo and Juliet, Timon of Athens and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. His adaptation of Carlo Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio was commissioned by Chicago Shakespeare Theater for their 2011 season and is now licensed through the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. His musical The Theory of Relativity, commissioned by Toronto's Sheridan College and their Canadian Music Theatre Project was written specifically for and about college age students. Relativity had its US premiere at Goodspeed Musicals in 2015 and its London premiere in the same year.

Current projects include Senza Luce, commissioned by Michael Rubinoff and the Canadian Music Theatre Project, You Are Here, co-commissioned by Acting Up Stage and the Signature Theater, Spin, directed by Eric Schaeffer (premiered at the Signature Theatre, Arlington, VA), an adaptation of Michel Tremblay's Les Belles-Soeurs, a musical based on Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, and the stage adaptation of Disney’s beloved film Bedknobs & Broomsticks, all with book writer Brian Hill. Neil’s awards include the ASCAP Foundation’s Yellen Award, a Jonathan Larson Foundation Award, a Dramatists Guild Fellowship, and a Dora Award.


Cast albums include The Story of My Life and The Theory of Relativity (PS Classics).

Neil is a member of the Dramatists Guild, ASCAP, and is an alumnus of the BMI Lehman Engel Music Theatre Workshop.​

DAVID WARRACK was born in Calgary, and first performed on radio when he was five. It’s pretty much been non-stop since then. He has a commanding presence in every facet of the arts/entertainment industry. David has a varied career as a Composer, Conductor, Pianist, Vocalist, Lyricist, Librettist, Arranger, Orchestrator, Music Director, Director, Satirist, Comedian, Actor, Poet, Producer, Impresario, Bon Vivant, and Hockey Coach – he has truly done it all! And judging by his project board, “he’s only just begun”. As a writer he has had 66 shows produced professionally and he has been Musical Director for over two hundred productions across North America, including Shenandoah starring John Cullum on Broadway. He won a Dora Mavor Moore Award in Toronto for his production of Toronto, Toronto, and for outstanding Music Direction on the production of Closer Than Ever. David is also the music director/conductor for the Canada Pops Orchestra.


is an award-winning composer, lyricist, and educator from Vancouver, BC. He holds an MFA from Tisch/NYU in Musical Theatre Writing and is currently Writer-in-Residence for Touchstone Theatre, thanks to a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. 

Daniel is the recipient of the prestigious Edward Kleban Prize for Lyrics—a US$100,000 award given annually to “the most promising lyricist in American Musical Theater”—as well as a Jonathan Larson Grant and the ASCAP Foundation’s Cole Porter Award. His work has been presented in a solo concert at the Kennedy Center (DC) and at various preeminent New York City venues. 

Musical works include: The Trouble With Doug (European premiere May 2017, Fredericia Teater, Denmark [Victoria Clark, dir.]); The Longing and the Short of It (5 Carbonell Award nominations; In Tune Festival [Vancouver, June 2017]; Charlottetown Festival Conference [P.E.I., September 2017]); Middle School Mysteries (commission for Two River Theater, NJ); Hansel & Gretl & Heidi & Günter (commission for Chicago Shakespeare Theater, IL). 

Daniel has led songwriting workshops for teens and adults in schools and recovery homes from Brooklyn to South Central Los Angeles. He has also taught college and high school masterclasses and will be the primary instructor for the Canadian Musical Theatre Writers Collective’s first-ever Vancouver Writers Workshop starting this Fall. On occasion, he co-leads workshops with his father, renowned physician and speaker Gabor Maté, and has narrated award-winning audiobook versions of Dr. Maté’s best-selling books. Currently, Daniel lives in East Vancouver with his wife Tanya.


A Newfoundland-born performer, music director, and writer, JONATHAN MONRO's first international appearance of note was as a pianist at Carnegie Hall. He has been featured in over seventy productions for TV, film, and stage, including two shows on Broadway, and seven seasons with the Stratford Festival. As a composer, Jonathan was the recipient of BMI New York’s Harrington Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement in songwriting. He has written over 20 incidental scores for plays - most recently Anne Frank (Stratford) and Alice Through the Looking-Glass (Stratford/NAC), as well as six original musicals, including Variations on a Nervous Breakdown (which won 4 Betty Mitchell Awards, including Best Musical), and A History of Summer (with book and lyrics by Adam Mathias). He is currently working with 8-time Academy Award-winner Alan Menken as Musical Director and cast album producer on his new musical, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. Jonathan recently finished a 2-month writer’s residency in Venice, Italy. He has been working on two new musical commissions, both to be released in 2017.

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