Super excited to share that “Kiss My Aztec,” my musical with John Leguizamo, David Kamp, and Tony Taccone, will move to La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego in Fall of 2019 after premiering at Berkeley Rep this coming May! Can’t wait to bring it there and honored for the chance to work with everyone at La Jolla!
I’m thrilled to be joining the Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellows program for the 2018/2019 year along with my Borderline collaborator Aryanna Garber! Led by Fellows Program Chairs Michael Korie, Laurence O'Keefe, Diana Son, and Sheri Wilner, I’m excited to be joining this community of artists to workshop new material for the next year.
Check out the announcement on Broadway World!
I'm so excited that this musical I've been working on for over 4 years with Book writer John Leguizamo and Co-lyricist David Kamp (previously "Pain In The Aztec") is finally making it to the stage! The incredible Tony Taccone is bringing our musical to Berkeley Repertory Theater for his final season and it's going to be lit! Check out the write up in Playbill and stay tuned for more updates.
Our Studio Recording of "Borderline" demos have been featured by the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM, along with a shout out to our Music Director Dan Green! Thanks again to the Weston Playhouse for producing this recording along with Grammy winner Kurt Deutsch of Sh-K-Boom Records and our sound engineer Angie Teo.
Check out the article on their website, and listen to the demos HERE where you can hear the incredible work of our performers Margo Seibert, Derrick Baskin, Stephen Bogardus, Leo Ash Evens and Katie Thompson. And of course thanks to our Director Michael Berresse and Steve Stettler of Weston who made it all possible!
Excited to share that our first reading of "Pain In the Aztec", produced by the Public Theater, was a success! With Book by John Leguizamo, Music by myself, Benjamin Velez, and Lyrics by John, myself, and David Kamp, this draft has been in development since 2014 and it was wonderful to hear it out loud for the first time!
Thanks to David Gardos, our incomparable Music Director, and our stellar cast: JOEL PEREZ, CARIDAD DE LA CRUZ, CHAD CARSTARPHEN, JESSE J. PEREZ, ELISEO ROMAN, MARIA ELENA RAMIREZ, SOL MARINA CRESPO, JUSTIN GREGORY LOPEZ, and our fabulous Director Tony Taccone!
Excited for what's next!
It was an honor to get to present "Crazy Wonderful" from Borderline at the March 8th BMI Smoker, performed by the fantastic Stephen Bogardus, with David Gardos on piano.
Congrats to everyone who presented, it was a fantastic concert, and thank you to BMI for giving me a chance to showcase the song! Check out the write up on Broadway World HERE.
I'm incredibly excited to announce that our first ever reading of Starblasters will be Tuesday, March 13th at Dixon Place @ 7pm.
We've got an amazing team together and after 3+ years of writing this piece, it'll be amazing to finally hear it out loud.
Music & Lyrics by Benjamin Velez | Book by Katie Hathaway |
TEAM: Director Danny Goldstein | Music Director David Gardos | Produced by Aaron Sanko & Vicki Abeles
CAST: Alysha Umphress, Jeanna De Waal, Dan Domenech, Jon-Michael Reese, Lauren Villegas
I'm honored to share that Borderline has been selected as the 2018 recipient for the Weston Playhouse New Musical Award! Aryanna and I are incredibly excited to get to showcase music and book from the show at two concerts up in Weston and one in NYC.
We're lucky to have an incredible team helping us bring these concerts to life!
Weston Associate Artistic Director Michael Berresse will direct the project with Music Director Daniel Green. The cast includes Margo Seibert (Boardwalk Empire, Broadway’s ROCKY) as Anna, Derrick Baskin (25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, MEMPHIS), Stephen Bogardus (BRIGHT STAR, WHITE CHRISTMAS), Leo Ash Evens (SCHOOL OF ROCK), and Katie Thompson (City Center’s PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES).
Super excited to be presenting 15 minutes of Starblasters through the Musical Theater Factory's 4x15 Presentation, this coming Monday, January 22nd @ 440 Lafayette Street White Box Theater. Working with a phenomenal group of actors as well as Director Sarah Hartmann and Music Director Fernanda Douglas!
Tickets are on sale on the MTF website!
I was lucky to be a part of the recent NAMT Conference (National Alliance for Musical Theater) as part of a mid-day cabaret where Katie Hathaway and I presented 4 songs from Afterland and Starblasters alongside our infinitely talented cohorts, Ben Moss and Emily Skeggs!
Video coming soon, but enjoy this adorable picture of the four of us next to our billing in the meantime!
Excited that "Erica Save Me" from Starblasters was performed at 54 Below on September 7th as part of the 3rd Annual Harvard/Yale Cantata, with alums from Columbia and Princeton partnering up with Harvard/Yale respectively this year to showcase wonderful songwriting work from alums of all four schools! I'm lucky to have Harvard grads Yasmeen Audi and Ben Moss performing the song and they absolutely knocked it out of the park! Thank you to Fernanda Douglas for music directing and accompanying.
Check out the video below!
I had a blast performing several songs from my musical Starblasters as part of the American Popular Song Society's ongoing series. Thank you to the wonderful Yasmeen Audi for bringing my songs to life and for belting duets with me! And thank you to the other writers there, including Joe Iconis and Drew Gasparini.
It was an honor to perform "Prom Was A Promise" from STARBLASTERS last night at the BMI Showcase, an event featuring fantastic work from the last five years of the workshop. Thank you to my incredible cast, including the show's Book writer Katie Hathaway, and my ferociously talented ensemble of Jenny Rose Baker, Joey Goldberg, Sam Balzac, Jenny Singer, Jonah Weinstein, and Devin Lloyd.
It was truly an honor to get to have my first full concert last month at Ars Nova, showcasing music from 2 Original Musicals I'm writing with Katie Hathaway, Afterland & Starblasters, and accompanied by a remarkable slew of talented musicians and performers. Thank you to everyone who helped make it possible, including Music Director David Gardos, Producer Susan Griffin, Associate Producer Lilla Goettler, & Orchestrator Solomon Hoffman.
Please check out some of the videos below!
David Gardos (Piano), Joe Nero (Drums), Ben Gallina (Bass), Hideaki Aomori (Reeds), Monica Davis (Violin), Adrian Aiello (Guitar)
Alysha Umphress, Emily Skeggs, Arielle Jacobs, Lilli Cooper, Van Hughes, Robert Ariza, Benjamin Velez, Katie Hathaway, Joey Goldberg, Chris Silverberg, Jenny Rose Baker, Shannon Mullen, Yasmeen Audi, & Emma Hathaway
I had an incredible three weeks at the UCROSS foundation thanks to Sundance and met a group of inspiring artists while getting a lot done on my new Einstein musical. Thank you to Mame Hunt, and Philip Himberg for their wisdom! Here's the gang all together:
I'm excited to be invited as an artist in residence at the Sundance Institute Retreat at UCROSS Foundation in Wyoming from January 23rd to February 10th!
I'll be there with 5 other artists: Tony Award winner Billy Porter, Theresa Rebeck, Leah Nanako Winkler, Kurt Carr, and Kamal Khalladi.
Couldn't be more excited for the opportunity to write and get to know these incredible people! Check out the write up on Playbill.com.
Happy to be featured on Latinos@Sundance, by Cesar Arredondo.
I was honored to have "Prom Was a Promise" featured at the latest BMI Smoker concert November 17th, 2016! Thanks to David Gardos, Emily Kaplan, Joey Goldberg, Molly Heller, and of course Katie Hathaway for bringing it to life!
STAR BLASTERS follows 5 friends in their late twenties who are spending the summer working at the same local theme park where they spent their summers in high school. Neil has just returned to work at the park for the first time since leaving for college and is immediately confronted by his ten-year-old feud with his ex-concessions colleague and former best friend, Freddie. Neil and Freddie were inseparable growing up, but after Senior Prom, the two stopped speaking and haven’t spoken since. What was all the bad blood about? Listen as each shares their side of the story…
I'm excited to partner up again with 4@15, this time working with students from the University of California, Irvine. Written with the talented Tim Duncheon in the course of a week, it's been a whirlwind and a blast to get this piece up so quickly.
A satire of the current republican primary, we couldn't have timed it better seeing as the New York Primary is coinciding with this premiere. You can reserve your tickets here and check out the write up in Broadway World!
Check out the video below or click through to read more about the piece here!
I had the honor of working with the Civilians Theater Company on their concert series "Let Me Ascertain You" where they take interviews and use them to create new songs and monologues around a certain theme.
This concert was all about ANARCHY, and I had the privilege of writing a song about a man named Kerry (Weishin) who emigrated from China at the age of 9 after the Tiananmen Square riots in 1989. In his interview he compares the police brutality he witnessed as a child with what he saw happen in Ferguson, and raised questions about how Democracy and Communism can look so similar despite their core fundamental differences.
I had the honor of having Cindy Cheung perform the song with me. Video is on it's way!
This past Friday the CenterStage Theater Company in Boulder, Colorado performed 6 songs from Afterland and 2 more from other projects as part of their show 40 Degrees North: A Cabaret of New Work and Great Talent, Directed by Jeanie Balch and Music Direction by Daniel Graeber.
Katie and I couldn't make it out to Boulder for the concert, but it was truly an honor to have them performing our work, and luckily they filmed it and put them on their YouTube Channel.
Here's Chanel Karimkhani singing "Philly Philly Philadelphia" from Afterland and absolutely NAILING it.