This spring has been incredibly challenging (the pandemic), changing (#BLM!), and finally prideful for us all. Here are a few RSO updates.

Applications Are Open for Rhinebeck Writers Retreat's NEA and ...


The new collaborators are at work revising Rope together during a digital retreat this summer. Find out more, including who the other recipients are, here.


RSO was thrilled to join Duncan Sheik and an incredible roster of writers for SIGNAL IV, a concert on YouTube presented by Adam Lenson (who directed RSO’s 35MM at the Other Palace in London in 2017). Kerstin Anderson performed “Bleed You Dry” from Three Points of Contact. Check out more about the event here, and watch Kerstin’s performance below at the 2’00″00 (2 hour) mark.


RSO, Alan Menken, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Adam Gwon, and many others wrote songs for Artists in Residence, songs by writers during the quarantine. RSO penned “What a Thought” for his upcoming EP based on tales by the queen of classic horror Shirley Jackson, and the shocking, murderous comedy song was performed by Jay Armstrong Johnson. You can listen to it here on Spotify (and stay tuned for upcoming news about the Jackson project).

Artists in Residence [MP3] — Broadway Records

Here’s to Summer 2020 during a global pandemic!

Ideal Cuts for RSO Songs

Below you can find RSO’s suggested audition cuts for some of his most popular tunes.

A BALL OF GOLD IN A BLOOD SKY: Start at “What do you make of us” and go to the end. Cut the 3 bars between “and you know what I think?” and “I forgot,” so that there’s no dead air.

A HYPOCHONDRIAC’S SONG: Start at “these pills, this problem” and go to the end. You could also just start as “Get me out of my mind” to the end.

AWFUL PEOPLE: From “These days the kiddies” through end of first chorus “pavin’ the road to Hell.” You can also do just the first chorus.

BLEED YOU DRY: From “Your woman is something” through end of first chorus (ending on the B major chord.)

BROKEN MACHINE: Start at “with a ruptured spout” and go to the end; take the last note up the octave.

CARALEE: Start at “Caralee likes spaghetti” and go to the end.

CLEVER: Start at “And I think I love you boy,” and go to the end—but! Cut the four empty bars between “feelings seem to well, stick” and “My heart got stolen.”

CRAYON GIRL: From “And now I’m in a world off starving artists” to the end.

CUT YOU A PIECE: Not an ideal cut, but you could start at the top and after the first chorus, you could jump to the ending playout (last three bars).

GIRL IN CAMOUFLAGE: The second verse through the chorus, adding a button “G” chord.

GOOD LOVE: Start at “My love for you is why, why I’ve come back” (verse 2) through that chorus (“who’d have guessed.”)

GROUND: This one is very hard! Start at “You will always  be a child” and go through first chorus, “Never tied to the ground.” If you have time with your accompanist to work it, you could do the B-section “Oh if life were just easy, easy,” through “but somehow I’ll get through on the ground” and end.

HALFWAY: I would sing “Now I’m here in this Kansas town” (lower line) and sing through the  final “stay,” but resolve it to G major instead of Gsus (don’t sing the ending).

HEMMING AND HAWING: Start at “I’m tired of  hemming and hawing” and go to the end, but only sing “Goddamn I hate you heart” once.

HOW WE GROW: From “Unknown muscles” through end of the first chorus “and now we go.” (singing all parts as a solo.) You can also just do the chorus.

I DON’T WANT TO BE SAD ANYMORE: Not an ideal cut for an audition.

I GO ON WITH YOU: Either verse into its chorus.

I HAVE SEEN THE AFTER: Start  at “This time in the after” and go to the end. Don’t do the accent.

LEAVE LUANNE: Start at “Luanne’s fat lip is drying” and sing through first chorus.  If you have time with your accompanist you could start near the end, “Someone’s howling” and sing through the end (if a screaming dark song is what is best for your audition??? EEK).

LOST BOY: Start at “But doesn’t every person” and go to the end. You could also begin at “But there’s some new kid” to the end. Don’t forget to play the positive—it’s not a sad song—and don’t worry about the high Bb.

MAKE ME HAPPY: Start at your preferred verse, but when it gets to the chorus, skip to the end and sing your preferred line as a solo.

MAP OF SCARS: Start at “Blood now boils in my veins” and go to the end, but at the end jump to the final today instead of the first one (ending on the C the first time you sing it, and trimming it a bit).

MAMA, LET’S MAKE A PORNO: Start at the top and sing through the chorus.

MRS. SHARP: If you’ve purchased the music from this site, contact RSO, subject “Mrs. Sharp cut” and he will send you the cut version.

MY LASS, SHE TIED HER LACE TO ME: From m. 19 to the end, singing all parts like a solo. Tell your accompanist to jam like an old Irish folk song.

ON MONDAY: Start at “You are cute but juvenile” and go to the end—BUT, make a few tiny cuts. Cut the fourth system of page 9, and  the first bar of page 10, so you sing “But I uh I uh  I, I wanna kiss you now.” Cut the 3rd-6th “and kiss you” (and their bars) so you only sing the first, second and last. Tighten it up!

OUT OF MY MIND: Start at “For now I’ll still cook every meal” to the end. You could also start at “’Cuz soon I won’t care, dear” and go to the end.

PLEASURE IN THE DESERT: Start at “But man this pleasure in the desert brings a sort of guilt” and go to the end.

RECOVERY: Start at “So she waters the plants” and sing through the end.

ROOTS DIG DEEP: Start at page 7, “Yes the roots dig deep,” and go to “grow what’s good once again” before the final recit. Have your accompanist end on A major instead of A minor, and add an octave bass button.

RUINATION: Dicey for an audition due to content, but hey! Start at the bridge (“Our ilk ties the tether”) and go to the end.

SORROW DONE:  From “Free my heart from the drawer” to the end. Feel free to take the second phrase (low!) up the octave.

STEPS IN THE SNOW: Start at “When I return it’s cloud number 9” and continue through the top of page 9 (singing the melody in the chorus as a solo).

STROKE BY STROKE: From “So let’s jump!” to the final “by stroke.” You don’t need the final lines. I also recommend listening to John-Michael Lyles’s version, who has the best optional notes.

STUPID BOYS: Start at “He loved me Sunday” through the end.

THE BALLAD OF SARA BERRY:  If you’ve purchased the music from this site, contact RSO, subject “Sara Berry cut” and he will send you the cut version.

THE FORGETTING: Start at “Now it isn’t uncommon” and go to the end. It’s a rarer song so make sure your accompanist sees the time and tempo changes or it could be a disaster!

THE KILLING: From “Agnes showed me more than a killing” to the end. You could also begin at “See the corpses after a killing” to the end.

THE LAST LOVE SONG: Start at the second verse through the first chorus. You could also just do the chorus.

THE MAD DOG: Start at “Now I’m changing shape before an empty moon” and sing through the  end, skipping the ensemble hum.

THE PARTY GOES WITH YOU: From “And when we’re dancing nose to nose” through the ending.

THE SERAPH: Final verse (“I don’t believe in God”) through first “I’ll be blessed.” (You don’t need  to repeat them.) You can also just do the final chorus.

TO DO: Start at “All the time that I’ve waited” and sing to the end.

TWISTED TEETH: Do page 6 and 7, but instead of the final bar or 7, have them end on a C octave button.

WE JUST WORK TOGETHER: Start at the top and go through the first chorus.

WHAT I WOULDN’T DO FOR YOU: Start at “My life was school weekend and summer” and go to the end.

WHAT YOU  CALL FREEDOM: Begin at “Maybe I’ll change my clothes,” and go to the end.

WHEN LILY CAME: Start at “Round Lily came near a dozen girls” and sing through the end.

WHEN YOU GO: Start at “You who live in your private light” to the end. You could also just do the final chorus.

WHY MUST WE TELL THEM WHY: From “Why excuse each deviation” through “Look closely” and conclude the passage with a C5 chord to button it.


On February 27 and 28th, 2020, the first workshop of The Invention of Hugo Cabret (based on the novel by Brian Selznick and film, Hugo, by Martin Scorsese) was held at the Dominion Theatre in London as part of the show’s ongoing development. See the images attached for the cast and crew, and stay tuned for more news about the show.


Tony Award-winners Nikki M. James, Lindsay Mendez, and Ruthie Ann Miles star in RSO AT F/54, an evening retrospective of musicals by multi-award-winning composer-lyricist Ryan Scott Oliver at Feinstein’s/54 Below. Show time will be 7:00pm on March 31, 2020. 

The evening will also feature Tony nominee Kate Baldwin, plus Christy Altomare, Kerstin Anderson, Katie Rose Clarke, Ben Fankhauser, Drew Gehling, Jason Gotay, Troy Iwata, Jay Armstrong Johnson, John-Michael Lyles, Katie Thompson, and Natalie Walker.

Also featured during the evening are Ethan Carlson, Caitlin Doak, Ian Fairlee, Mary Claire Miskell, David Park, Bethany Perkins, and Donté Wilder.

Joshua Zecher-Ross music directs Max Grossman on Keyboard 2, Allison Seidner on cello, Coco Taguchi on Violin, Joseph Wallace on basses, Jeremy Yaddaw on drums, and Andrew Zinsmeister on guitars. Orchestrations are by Ryan Scott Oliver.

Audience members can expect to hear tunes from the prolific list of Oliver’s work, from Mrs. Sharp; Darling; 35mm: A Musical Exhibition; Jasper in Deadland; We Foxes; Rope; Otherbody, a brief musical allegory; Three Points of Contact, and world premieres from Oliver’s latest work.

You can purchase tickets at Feinstein’s/54 Below’s website.


Very Intensive Productions is pleased to announce the release of Rope: Fibers, a new E.P. featuring songs from RSO’s musical, ROPE. The new recording is available now via Spotify, Apple Music, and all streaming platforms.

Rope: Fibers features Ethan Carlson, Ben Fankhauser, Troy Iwata, Cory Jeacoma, Max Kumangai, John-Michael Lyles, Mary Claire Miskell, David Park, and Daniel Yearwood, with Devon Chandler, Caitlin Doak, Ian Fairlee, and Byron Martin Turk.

The band features Joshua Zecher-Ross on keyboards and additional instruments, Virginia Luke on violins, Tom Jorgensen on percussion, and Andrew Zinsmeister on guitar, mandolin, and banjo. Joshua-Zecher Ross served as music director and co-producer, and orchestrations are by RSO and Solomon Hoffman.

The track list is as follows:

1: “My Lass, She Tied Her Lace to Me” — Cory Jeacoma, David Park, John-Michael Lyles and Daniel Yearwood

2: “The Stranger” — Ethan Carlson and Cory Jeacoma

3: “All Men are Tied Together” — Max Kumangai

4: “What You Call Freedom” — Mary Claire Miskell

5: “I Have Seen the After” — John-Michael Lyles

6: “I Go on with You” — Ben Fankhauser and Troy Iwata

Check out the liner notes below.