Listen to an interview with Drew & J
J. Oconer Navarro
Music & Lyrics
J. is a recipient of the American Theatre Wing Jonathan Larson Grant and an alumnus of the Composer-Librettist Studio at New Dramatists.
AWAKENING, his musical based upon the novella by Kate Chopin (Book by Jenny Stafford, Lyrics by Joel B. New) was a Finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Music Theater Conference, the Yale Institute of Music Theatre, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, and the recipient of the Margo Lion Award. His one-act musical BIRTH DAY (conceived with Diana Glazer) was developed and produced by Prospect Theater Company and was also presented for National Asian Artists Project’s inaugural Discover: New Musicals series. ONWARD, a musical triptych (Words by Katie Kring) was developed by Prospect Theater Company and played Off-Broadway’s 59E59 Theaters. During the pandemic, J. wrote the score for ORGANIZING IN THE TIME OF COVID-19 AND OTHER LESSONS MEMBERS OF GENERATION Z HAVE LEARNED, ARE LEANING, WILL LEARN BEFORE EVERYTHING IS SAID DONE … OR, ALSO TOO, MAYBE NOT, A Partially Devised Zoom-Adjacent Play with Music, with playwright Keelay Gipson, which was commissioned and produced by Drama Department at Western Connecticut State University. F.L.I.P.PED, his new musical about the Filipino-American experience, was recently showcased by New York Theatre Barn’s New Work Series and will be featured at 54 Below in February 2022.
J. is widely recognized for his work in Music Direction. Additionally, he is Music Supervisor and Arranger for CAMP BROADWAY, long-time Music Director for the Education Department at LINCOLN CENTER THEATER, and Composer-in-Residence for THE CHURCH OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE, NYC. J. is part of the Founding Faculty of the New Studio on Broadway at NYU-Tisch School of the Arts, where he is currently a Visiting Assistant Arts Professor and Head of Music and Vocal Performance, and on faculty at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting – Musical Theatre Intensive. He holds his MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU. J. is currently working on Broadway as Vocal Associate and Rehearsal Pianist for Roundabout Theater Company’s Revival of CAROLINE, OR CHANGE at Studio 54.
J. is currently developing BREATHE, a musical documentary based on the Photoville NYC Exhibit honoring the Filipino healthcare heroes who stayed by the sides of the victims of the pandemic, to bring focus to the #StopAsianHate movement. Alongside director Orlando Pabotoy, members of the larger Filipino theatre community, and the Filipinx talent at the New Studio on Broadway, this commissioned work will be produced in Spring 2022 at NYU.
Book & Lyrics
Produced in the U.S. and internationally, Drew is originally from the South with a focus on crafting strong, fallible, and complex female protagonists in seemingly unreal circumstances. His work has been highlighted in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Theatrius, This Week in New York, TheatreMania, Australian Stage, Aussie Theatre, and Theatre in the Now.
His play, SMITHTOWN, starring Michael Urie, Constance Shulman, Ann Harada and Colby Lewis was adapted for the screen and premiered digitally in 2021 through the Studios of Key West. As described by Michael Shulman of The New Yorker, “In ‘Smithtown,’ the playwright Drew Larimore probes the cracks of our digital lives in four chatty, unsettling monologues revolving around the same tragedy in a small college town.” Patricia Morin of Theatrius claims it’s “a must see for the precision acting and its revelations on social responsibility.”
Drew made his Off-Broadway debut with OUT OF ICELAND, which starred Lea Delaria, at Walker Space in early 2012. His play, THE ANNIVERSARY, is published in Vintage Press’ anthology of new work, Shorter, Faster, Funnier. THE CANNIBALS OF MCGOWER COUNTY, the first in a trilogy about the changing American South—was developed with Asolo Repertory’s Unplugged New Works Festival and featured in Denizen Theatre’s New Play Development Series. He has been a semi-finalist at the O’Neill Theatre Conference, The Lark Playwrights’ Week, the Heidman Award, P73 Playwriting Fellowship and a writing residency at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland.
His musical THE NEW PEGGY (co-lyrics and music by J. Oconer Navarro) was featured in concert The Green Room 42 in concert and produced by the Micro Musical Theatre Podcast on iTunes starring Ann Harada. Drew wrote and co-created the six-part original scripted series, JANICE GUNTER GHOST HUNTER, which is available for streaming on Roku’s Whohaha. C U @ ED’s, a short film for which he the screenplay, screened in dozens of festivals around the country and won the “Audience Award” at the DC Shorts Fest. He’s currently developing a new irreverent anti-holiday holiday musical co-written with Billy Recce, THE BESTEST OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY EVER, which partially premiered online in December of 2020 through The New York Theatre Barn.
Additional writing residencies include Djerassi, Key West Literary Seminar, Studios of Key West, and Telluride Playwright’s Festival. A former member of Ensemble Studio Theatre-LA’s Playwrights Coalition, he is based out of New York only when he’s not aggravated with New York—developing new plays, musicals, as well as original and adapted work for the screen.