Thompson and Russell

About The Collaboration

Russell, left, Thompson, right, with autographed cast photos

Called “… one of the leading teams of writers of theatre for young audiences” by, Thompson and Russell is Emily Clare Thompson, book and lyrics, and Richard D. Russell, music.

Their biggest success to date is a production of It Takes A Rainbow at the 2017 Midtown International Theater Festival in New York City’s Off-Broadway district. Richard won “Best Music” for that festival of over 80 shows, while Emily’s original script was nominated for “Best Book.”

Serving as producers for that festival presentation, Thompson and Russell garnered a further win for “Best Set Decoration,” while picking up additional nominations for “Best Costumes” and “Best Ensemble”. The musical picked up great reviews from BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, and others. (See the Reviews page for more.)

As a team, Emily and Richard participated in musical theater writing courses and workshops at ASCAP, the New School University, and Theater Resources Unlimited. Before they met, Richard had been part of the prestigious BMI Musical Theater Writing Workshop. They are also active clients of Tony Award winning producer Ken Davenport, where Richard is a member of Ken’s Mastermind group. They regularly attend various networking events for theater producers and writers. Both are ASCAPplus award winners for their collaborative efforts.

They met in 1999 at Mannes College of Music. Richard worked in the school’s administration and Emily directed the summer opera workshop program. Emily’s mother, Marian Thompson, a voice teacher at the college, introduced the two. Soon, Emily invited Richard to compose music for some of her original Shakespeare adaptations. (These musicals can be found on Thompson & Russell’s main website by clicking here.)

After three Shakespeare adaptations, Emily decided to try her hand at writing an original story, and the musical To A Muse was born. It was a great success, and the pair followed up with Cupid’s Bow. Continuing in the realm of myth and fantasy, the team decided to tackle the legend of King Arthur next, creating A Knight At The Round Table.

To date, Thompson & Russell have written seven original musicals.

Emily Clare Thompson

Emily Clare Thompson
Emily Clare Thompson

Emily Clare Thompson, trained at Mannes College of Music since a child, has appeared in countless choral groups, operas, concerts, and theater performances since age five, with professionals such as Andy Williams and her mother and primary teacher, soprano Marian Thompson. As a soprano, Emily has performed regularly with the Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey, premiered works by contemporary composers, and performed classics from the standard repertoire.

In addition to performance, Emily has produced and directed classical repertoire and written book and lyrics for seven produced musicals with composer Richard D. Russell. She is the founder executive director of In Mid Air Productions.

Emily graduated from Smith College with a BA with high honors in English Literature and an MA in Creative Writing and Literature from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She is grateful for the support of her family.

Richard D. Russell

Richard D. Russell
Richard D. Russell

A multi-year ASCAPplus win­ner, Richard D. Rus­sell’s music has been per­formed inter­na­tion­ally and at promi­nent venues in New York. High­lights include a Sep­tem­ber 11, 2002 memo­r­ial per­for­mance of “Remem­brances” at Merkin Con­cert Hall, and a per­for­mance of “Design for Light­ning” by trom­bon­ist Haim Avit­sur in Israel. As well, his music has been per­formed in Bul­garia and Japan. In New York, some venues have included Sym­phony Space Thalia, CAMI Hall, the Eth­i­cal Cul­ture Soci­ety, and Mannes Col­lege of Music.

Richard has been com­mis­sioned twice by the esteemed musi­col­o­gist Lawrence Kramer. First, in 2010, a song cycle for Ford­ham University’s “Poets Out Loud” fac­ulty group (with texts by Elisabeth Frost); sec­ond, in 2011, a solo piano com­po­si­tion per­formed in con­junc­tion with a two-day sem­i­nar spon­sored by the jour­nal, 19th-Century Music.

A life­long lover of music, Richard heard Beethoven’s “Moon­light Sonata” at age 13 and soon began his for­mal piano stud­ies. Shortly there­after he began com­pos­ing. Over the years he has also stud­ied gui­tar, trum­pet, vio­lin, and per­cus­sion. He earned his BA in Music Com­po­si­tion from Black­burn Col­lege (Illi­nois), grad­u­at­ing magna cum laude, and earned his Mas­ters at SUNY Empire State. He has pre­sented lec­tures on the inter­dis­ci­pli­nary nature of cre­ativ­ity at Mannes Col­lege of Music, to the New York Com­posers Cir­cle, and to the East Hanover School Dis­trict (NJ).

Richard Rus­sell has been active in the New York Com­posers Cir­cle for sev­eral years, hav­ing served on its Steer­ing Com­mit­tee and acted as Man­ag­ing Direc­tor. Cur­rently, he acts as the NYCC web­mas­ter and In The Loop newslet­ter edi­tor. He is also the artis­tic con­sul­tant for In Mid Air Pro­duc­tions, which has pre­sented sev­eral of Richard’s pieces. He also sings tenor in and runs the website of the Fieldston Choral Society

Richard Russell’s music is pub­lished by Design for Light­ning Music (ASCAP).

August 4, 2017, after It Takes A Rainbow’s New York City premiere as part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival.
East Hanover, New Jersey