WHY WRITE MUSICALS?
I love writing musicals because I love telling stories. No matter who you are or where you come from, when you step into a dark theater and the orchestra starts to play, you suspend your disbelief and give in to a world where anything is possible. Unlike film and television, musicals are inherently further from reality, which in turn allows them to comment more freely upon it.
My goal as a storyteller is to entertain and move audiences by telling stories with compelling characters that really speak to people. It doesn’t matter if those characters are Martians or magicians, everyone can relate to characters who are committed to pursuing their dreams, however daft and dangerous they may be.
Benjamin Velez is a composer/lyricist, a Miami native, and Columbia University graduate where he studied film and wrote the 114th Annual Varsity Show "Morningside Hates." He has been a member of the BMI workshop since 2010 and won the Jerry Harrington Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement in 2012. His original musical "Afterland" has been workshopped at the Yale Institute for Musical Theater in 2014 and had a reading at the York Theater in 2016, both directed by Mark Brokaw. Two of his short musicals have been presented by 4@15, "Mars One" as a collaboration with the NYU Steinhardt School of Music in 2015, and "Anyone But Gio" with the University of California Irvine in 2016.
His music has been featured at NYMF, Joe's Pub, Cutting Edge Composers, the Civilians, 54 Below, Compose Yourself, and the York Theater, where he had a NEO residency in ‘15 - ‘16. He was honored to be a 2017 Sundance Artist in Residence at the UCROSS Foundation, and in April 2017, he premiered a concert of his music at Ars Nova titled “Seriously Serious” featuring songs from his original musicals.
His musical Borderline, about Borderline Personality Disorder, written with Aryanna Garber, was the 2018 recipient of the Weston New Musical Award, and was selected to be developed in the 2018-2019 Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellows program. It was recently the first musical at the 2019 O’Neill National Musical Theater Conference, directed by Jaki Bradley and music directed by David Gardos. His new musical Kiss My Aztec, written with John Leguizamo, Tony Taccone, and David Kamp, had its world premiere at Berkeley Rep in May of 2019 and later premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse in September 2019.