Interview with Thomas Hodges, Composition Mentor for Trash! The Musical and former Plays by Young Writers playwright

Playwrights Project will produce its 34th annual festival of Plays by Young Writers at The Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre in the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center at The Old Globe on January 10 – 12 & 22 – 26, 2019. The festival will feature winning scripts from its California Young Playwrights Contest for ages 18 and under.

Contest winners were selected from 415 plays submitted by students from across the state. Three scripts will receive full professional productions, and two scripts will receive staged readings in this highly regarded festival of new voices.

Thomas Hodges is a New York based composer from sunny San Diego. His newest musical Sonata 1962 with collaborator Patricia Loughrey was part of the 2018 New York Musical Festival and received three awards including “Outstanding Musical Arrangements and Orchestrations”.  In 2015 his music song cycle The Things We Never Say won “Outstanding Original Score” at the San Diego Fringe Festival.  The production was done by Breakthrough Workshop Theatre and a cast album is available on iTunes and Spotify.  His score for Patricia Loughrey’s Dear Harvey is available from Playscripts. Other projects of his include Dorian an adaptation of The Picture of Dorian GrayUnderground (book by John Viscardi) a new musical about street kids living in the NYC subway tunnels, and various solo albums available on iTunes and Spotify.

Photo credit: Karli Cadel

Please tell me about work in theatre outside of this festival and how your work in Plays by Young Writers differs from your other work.

I am a composer and music director working in New York City. My newest musical with playwright Patricia Loughrey, Sonata 1962, was part of the 2018 New York Musical Festival and is being workshopped now. I also play cabaret’s and auditions around the city.

Can you share with us any details about your vision for the musical?

My “vision” is just in full support of Naomi and the creative process.

Thomas virtually congratulates this year’s winning playwrights at Lights Up! Playwrights Take the Stage

What caught your attention most when you first read the script?

I loved the music! Naomi is an excellent songwriter and the songs are catchy and clever. The characters coming alive in the way they do resonated with me as a writer and exemplified some of the frustration that I too face while writing a new story.

Can you elaborate on your role as Composition Mentor to Naomi and describe the mentorship process? 

My role was to be there for any questions Naomi had in forming the score for the Music Director and cast. There is a lot that goes into formatting a score and making the music readable. Naomi would send me songs through a notation program called Finale and I would edit the keys, format the pages, create audio files, and give suggestions in order for her to achieve the sound she had envisioned.

thmoas hodges 2
Thomas at age 17, when his play Stage Directions was produced during Plays by Young Writers

As a past winning playwright, how did your experience with PBYW shape your journey as a professional theater maker?

When my play Stage Directions was produced and I worked with Ruff on its development at the age of seventeen, it was my first time bringing other people into the creative process, which is scary and so necessary. Then to go from receiving and giving creative input into production- it was magical. I think it made me a writer for life. I’ll never forget that experience and how it shaped me.

Trash! The Musical can be seen during Program A of Plays by Young Writers, on  Saturday Jan. 26th at 7:30 PM.

For more information, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or



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