|Tom Attea, playwright and lyricist, has had eleven musicals and two plays produced Off Broadway. A recent work, Living in a Musical (TNC, 2010) was reviewed by The Village Voice (Leslie Minora), who wrote, "... as appealing and enjoyable as the vintage glass bottles of Coca-Cola in its lead character's fridge," adding, "Naturally wholesome but nonetheless hilarious, Living in a Musical is plain and simply charming." Since then, he has had a number of new musicals produced at Theater for the New City, The Capitalist Ventriloquist (2011), Digital Dilemmas (2012), and Samantha and the Glass Ceiling. His play, Benedictus, is about a pope who resigns and was written two years before the actual event. Tom's recent musical, An American Worker, is about the closing of a steel mill in a small Pennsylvania town and the effects on the workers and their families. TheaterMania.com reviewed it as "Compelling ... with good story telling." The musical, Heather Smiley for President, a satire on the current election, was reviewed as "Inspiring" by INNewYork.com, "Fun and funny" by The New York Beacon, and "Written with a great understanding of today's politics" by AXS.com. The latest musical he wrote the book and lyrics to is The Folk Singer, which will run for four weeks at Theater for the New City, from September 29, 2016, to October 23. It's about the struggle of a young folk musician to find a wider audience. He gets other local folk singers together and they stage "A Folk Festival for Today," which they plan to put on the Internet and publicize through social media. The festival provided Tom with the opportunity to write the lyrics to numerous new and timely folk songs.
Tom was a member of the Playwrights Unit at The Actors Studio for ten years. During that time, he and composer Arthur Abrams enjoyed a ten-year collaboration and apprenticeship with Charles Friedman, the original director of the stage classics Pins and Needles, Sing out the News, the musical version of Street Scene, Carmen Jones and other shows. Just before the collaboration began, Friedman had been collaborating with Oscar Hammerstein, who had died. The trio collaborated on the revue, Brief Chronicles of the Time, which premiered as a showcase at The Actors Studio in 1982.
Subsequently, he developed a long relationship with Theater for the New City, which has produced all of his other musicals and two plays. Life Knocks, a play produced at TNC, was reviewed by Kessa De Santis, Punchin International: "Great humor and ebullience ... good, genuine laughs ... Attea's talent as a playwright is evident." He first came to TNC at Abrams' urging to contribute skits for a revue he would name It's an Emergency, Don't Hurry, about the world's lethargy in responding to urgent issues. Attea went on to write a musical a year with Abrams, all of which were directed by Mark Marcante. Attea says of the theater's artistic director, "Crystal Field deserves credit for being a steady champion of us and of all people who write for the theater and hope to make a distinguished contribution. She has been kind enough to be a steady champion of mine. In fact, I don't know another person in the Off-Broadway venue who is as supportive of emerging talent, and I don't know, in this competitive and political world, if I could have found another artistic director or theater nearly as inviting and supportive as the one she administers." He is the recipient of a grant from The Jerome Foundation/TNC as an emerging playwright.