On the surface, Lovewell might seem like just a theatre workshop. But Lovewell is really a theatre workshop that teaches you by awakening your creative brain. By conceiving and writing a musical that will happen in three weeks, you learn what it means to let creativity fly and to be a part of something greater than yourself. Collaboration is so critical in everyday life because every single person thinks in a different way than you, and Lovewell teaches you what it means to collaborate towards a common goal and to do it in a positive way. And more importantly, Lovewell teaches you the value of human creativity and of humanity itself. Without the global community of Lovewell, you would not value what the program means to the world or to hundreds and thousands of people all supporting one goal: to Listen Well. Create Well. And to Lovewell.
“Lovewell in a dictionary would be described as a summer workshop where students and staff come together to conceive, write, and perform an original mew musical. However Lovewell is so much more than that. The process shows the students the power of creativity. It forms special friendships that last a lifetime. Lastly, it empowers students to strive for their goals and be the best version of them they can be.”
My name is Jacob Jeffries and I participated in my first Lovewell program in 2002 . When I walked in on my first day of the summer program I had just turned 13 and had no idea what to expect. Never did I anticipate that the creative process of Lovewell would shape my life so definitively. Now, nearly a decade later, I am a professional singer/songwriter published by Warner Chappell. I am endorsed by Baldwin Pianos . I tour the country nationally sharing the stage with a decorated list of performers. I feel accomplished, but still striving . I feel successful, but still grinding. My work ethic, my approach to songwriting, and my ability to collaborate with other artists are qualities I am proud to possess. Beyond pride, I am grateful that my mentor Ryan McCall and the rest of the Lovewell staff members were able to see the potential in me when I was young and ambitious. Lovewell gave me a canvas to paint and I am forever thankful.
I first found out about Lovewell from my high school drama teacher. I was so nervous to go to a workshop with such talented people – not knowing a single person there! Immediately I was welcomed – by the staff and by the other students. I had never written music or scenes before and it was such a cool experience. I was even able to collaborate and write a song about an artist going blind; a song that I wrote for my grandmother who lost her ability to see when I was eight years old. She was ill during the performance and couldn’t attend so the cast and staff were gracious enough to have the cast party at my house – and we got to sing the entire score to her, crying and laughing the entire time.
Lovewell gave me one of the most beautiful memories and experiences I have ever had. The song even got to the greatest hits list! (“Beautiful In Me” on iTunes) I know my grandmother is proud. Since then, I’ve continued to perform and even write some of my own music and lyrics. Every time I return to a Lovewell event, its as if I never left. Lovewell is a wonderful organization dedicated not only to the creation, production, and performance of art, but to the process of learning, growing, and succeeding as a human being. Best summer I’ve ever spent – hands down!
I feel so proud when I work on a group project or on a creative team and I can help solve a problem or help people to focus on how to fix something instead of going on and on about what is wrong with an idea or why an idea won’t work…other people are always like, “how do you always have an idea?…how do you keep from letting other people in the group drive you crazy?” And I just kinda smile to myself and think,”Lovewell. I learned that from working at Lovewell.”
People say, “Oh the Lovewell method of creating a show sounds great, but collaboration and sharing ideas and not being out for yourself isn’t the way the real world works” but to me, if that’s they way you work, then that’s the way your world works.
Jamie Johnson McCall
Studies Drama Therapy in the Masters Program at
Kansas State University and teaches undergrad courses
Lovewell Alumni and Staff
Lovewell has been part of my creative life since 1996 when I was 14 year old student in the pioneering Lovewell Sweden program. I count Lovewell as a true life defining experience- the start of a journey that today has lead me to being a professional composer and arranger working in movies, theater and the recording business. I continue to come back to work for Lovewell because it is so rewarding to see the students go through this wonderful process that I myself went through when I was a young dreamer. As my journey continues, I hope to return to Lovewell every chance I get because it is so much more than a wonderful summer workshop; it is a worldwide community of creative people that is making a real difference for everyone involved.
Lovewell Alumni, Staff and President of the Lovewell Sweden board of Directors
As a Lovewell Board Member and a participant in two Lovewell Theater Projects—The Gloaming and Let There Be Balloons–I’ve had many opportunities to observe and experience Lovewell first-hand. I have seen remarkable growth in the young people who have entered the various programs both in Fort Lauderdale and Dayton, Ohio. The changes in most were a maturing and an increase in their confidence during the challenging years of adolescence. The bonding and group energy that the programs inspire has long term and powerful empowerment. For those participants who have ambitions and talent in the musical theater arena, Lovewell has focused their determination and honed their skills.
My experiences as an LTP participant have helped me expand in many ways. Working with a team of inspired collaborators on an intensive creative project is elating and extremely productive. I have learned to negotiate my ego for a common purpose. I have learned invaluable lessons in group process. The LTP projects have instilled powerful new energy in my life, brought uplift and perhaps most of all given birth to two exceptional new works.
Member of the Lovewell Theatre Project
Board member of Lovewell Institute
My love for the arts led me to the Lovewell Institute for the Creative Arts, a program where students collaborate to create, write, and perform a full-scale original musical in just a three week period. Participating in this program was not only the ultimate creative experience, but it was an incredible life experience in general. Lovewell is a supreme test on an individual’s creativity, faith, and ability to work with others, and proof that if you truly set your mind on achieving something, everything is possible. One of the most special things about Lovewell is the affirmations that we recite everyday during the workshop. Some of them are “Within me there is boundless creative power,” “I am now at this moment all that I need to be,” and “I visualize perfection daily
until I breathe it into expression.” Ever since I joined this Lovewell family, I have found myself reciting these affirmations whenever I need reassurance, and I know I will hold the seven statements close to me in all my endeavors. To me, they are the guide map to each day.
Lovewell found me in 2008. I’ve heard from Lovewell friends and family that Lovewell tends to turn-up in people’s lives right when they need it most. For me this couldn’t be more true. Trying to balance a crumby job, full-time school and a desire to pursue music was on the verge of falling apart for me and I was about to make a decision that I didn’t want to make. Either give up school or music in order work enough to pay the bills. Around that time some important friends told me about Lovewell. It was through them that I was able to work at Lovewell for my first summer and it was through Lovewell that I discovered the path for the rest of my educational and professional life.
Now I have Lovewell in my summers and throughout the entire year. During the school year I get work in education and music at a wonderful school that is giving me the support I need to finish school, all thanks to recommendations from my Lovewell family. Lovewell found me at my darkest moment and led me to the brightest happiest time of my life. I need to thank my Lovewell family. They changed my life, helped me find my future and we did it all through art.
Lovewell Staff Member
I am currently a Masters candidate in Educational theatre at New York University. Lovewell is most of the reason I chose to attend this program, and not just because the programs are similar in philosophies. Lovewell has built up my learning and social skills. My first experience with the process was as a student at the age of 16. My first session opened up my eyes to see my potential in this world, both as an educator and an artist. I am studying to be a drama teacher in the New York Public school system. I believe that programs like Lovewell should be part our public school curriculum. The Lovewell process provides skills to our students that can be transferred to many other fields. This process helps our students gain skills like collaboration, time management, responsibility, writing skills and self-confidence. These are just a few of the skills that I have gained from this program, and these have helped me as go through my educational career. I know that these are skills that I will use in my future career, and that I am thankful for that. Shouldn’t our youth be given the same opportunities?
Masters Student NYU
Lovewell Alumni and Staff
Lovewell didn’t change my life – Lovewell blessed my life. I met my best friends there. I met some of the most amazing musicians on the planet there. I found my sound there, my inspiration there, my belief in others. And as cliché’ and as much like movie plot as it sounds, I met my wife there. Lovewell truly blessed my life.
I started with Lovewell in the summer of 1992 and have not missed a summer since. As a student, I was one of the only students to gravitate toward the music staff. I felt like a member of the “band” and I have played in every pit since my first. I gained the most knowledge by watching, listening to and talking with Tamir Hendelman. The things he taught me I have tried to pass on to every budding songwriter that has come through Lovewell – the most important idea being believe in your talent and keep writing. Those five summers as a student have shaped me more than any other experience that I have had in my life.
As a staff member, I have tried to pass on the collaboration aspect to each student that I have worked with. The world runs much smoother when we are all working in unison and the Lovewell method is the perfect breeding ground for this idea. I believe that every student that comes through the program gains a greater understanding of this theory. Music is changing everyday and at Lovewell I hope to teach students that every style, from country to heavy metal, will help the composer in the long run. Listen to everything and let it help you find your sound.
This year marks a milestone for me. 20 years of Lovewell. 20 years of believing in boundless creative power. 20 years of collaboration. 20 years of laughter and tears. 20 years of the greatest people in my life. Here’s to 20 more.
Lovewell Alumni and Staff
Growing up in Salina, Kansas, I was an early Lovewell devotee. I saw every Lovewell show (sometimes multiple times), and I idolized everyone involved. I looked forward to the day that I would be old enough to be in my own Lovewell. The closest I got was running a mock spotlight for the last Salina show in 1997. I continued to be involved in performing arts programs within the community, working with some of those Lovewell alumni I so admired. Believing Lovewell had passed me by, I never imagined that I would be given a second chance to be a part of the Lovewell magic. (And at the time I thought it was magic, because how else does a two-act musical get made in three weeks?)
Continuing in the performing arts, I received a BA in dance and sociology from Barnard College in 2007. In New York, I danced with various modern choreographers including David Neumann, Keely Garfield, and Ori Flomin as well as in the off-Broadway production of The Rocky Horror Show. I also worked as a freelance choreographer creating dances for theatre. In 2009, as luck would have it, my opportunity to be a part of Lovewell came in the form of being a staff member. Twelve years later than I had expected, I was finally on the inside of the process. I quickly realized it’s more hard work than magic that makes Lovewell shows happen. Never I have been a part of something that is so creatively taxing while simultaneously inspiring! After all my Lovewell endeavors, I return back to New York believing that everything is truly possible and cling to that spirit each and every day. Currently, I am getting my masters in performing arts administration at New York University and working in development at Parsons Dance Foundation. For me, the Lovewell principles are just as applicable in arts fundraising as they are in creating musicals.
When I began Lovewell as a student, I had no idea that I was beginning an experience that would change me for the better as a person, mold me as a collaborator and a musician, and open up a whole new world of creativity. I had never written a song before I started my first program six years ago, and I feel incredibly lucky to have stumbled upon this wonderful group of people that opened me up to an art that has become one of my greatest passions. Lovewell not only illuminated a path in theater and songwriting that I have followed along with all of my academic studies in Music at Princeton University as an undergraduate and NYU as a graduate candidate in Music Composition, but it has also provided an outlet to bridge the gap between my musical knowledge and its practical applications. It has been a more than necessary part of my education.
Lovewell has given me confidence in myself as an artist, and it gives me immense pride and happiness to pass that along to students in my role as a staff member. It has given me the chance to learn from a talented group of peers, refine my own skills and knowledge, and share that knowledge with others in a positive, supportive environment. As I graduate and continue to pursue a career as a musician and songwriter, I carry the skills I’ve learned and the friendships I’ve made in Lovewell with me as some of the most valuable that I have.
Lovewell Alumni and Staff
My Lovewell story began in the summer of 2001 as a student. Lovewell opened my eyes to a world of creativity that I had never known. It allowed me to explore the world around me as well the grounds for expressing myself, as I was. When I was a student, Lovewell gave me a voice and when I graduated from High School I continued to use that voice as an intern and then later as a staff member. I explored all aspects of the arts through Lovewell; It is where I feel most comfortable as an artist. In recent years, Lovewell has brought me closer to my family and friends. My connections through Lovewell have assisted me in being hired as a director for the University School, Ft. Lauderdale, Lower School theater arts.
For me, as an Alumni and Staff member, Lovewell is a place where artists, of all ages, can come together and express themselves with no limits. Lovewell builds confidence and truly teaches the art of loving, creating and living well.
Lovewell Alumni and Staff
I entered the Lovewell universe as a younger sibling of a Lovewell veteran. I was only 12 years old and sitting among outgoing teenagers and welcoming staff members. Little did I know, that was the first day of friendships and bonds that I’m sure will last a lifetime, these were now my people. I remember going back to school after that unbelievable summer and doodling lyrics and inside jokes that had been created throughout the process. Months had passed and I had counted down the days until I could see everyone in my new found Lovewell family again. When we all came together the next summer for a new Lovewell journey, it was as though no time had passed. I was with my people. After two outstanding summers, I entered high school and somehow got lost in the whirlwind of life as a teenage drama queen. Although I never lost touch with the best friends that I had made those summers…I found myself in a, much regretted, Lovewell hiatus. In my senior year of school, I lost my father to a heart attack. At the most emotionally draining time of my life, my people were with me again. My Lovewell family had taken my blood family under their wings and offered words and love that I am eternally grateful for.
Even after a few missed Lovewell years, these were the friends that were there for me. Now, as an adult, I can look back and see how much Lovewell has given me…my people. It is hard to verbally express the bond that forms between Lovewellites, but anyone that has experienced it will agree, you will never find anything like it.
I am now a staff member and the Lovewell circle of life has welcomed me back with open arms. I’m in my 9th year as a Lovewell family member, and I hope that the whole world will soon be hip to what the Lovewell Institute has done for all that have ever been involved.
Lovewell Alumni and Staff
I first became a student at Lovewell in 2005. Since then I’ve been a student and musical director for over a dozen Lovewell productions. The experience is nothing short of miraculous and downright incredible. It’s an environment full of smart, creative, and loving people all working towards a common goal. Coming to NYU for drama, I was shocked by how much the collaborative process that Lovewell utilizes is actually replicative of the creative process for working in theatre in New York. Not only does Lovewell continue to help me grow as an artist and person, but it also has instilled within me a value of possibility. Several times a year, Lovewell creates something out of nothing and proves that it is completely possible to turn an idea into a reality. Now living in New York, I’ve maintained this sense of “the possible” by not only composing/writing my own shows, but making it possible to have full productions of them here in Manhattan, collaborating with other people on exciting new projects, and even self-producing a professional recording of my music with a 23 piece orchestra. I’m proud to say that I’ve gained the skill of making something out of nothing and for that I owe the friends and family that I call Lovewell, who continue to teach me that everything IS possible.
Lovewell Alumni and Staff
Lovewell’s magic began for me as a student in ‘91’s Blown Away in Salina, Kansas. I soon after returned as staff and musically directed Tribe and State of the Art, making life-long friends in the fellow students and staff- the experience is a touchstone of creativity, collaboration and love, bringing the best in everyone involved and showing what is possible when we focus on positive creative energy and creating as a group.
In my musical life as a jazz pianist, arranger and recording artist, I have toured the world and recorded with my own trio, the Jeff Hamilton Trio, Natalie Cole, Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Barbra Streisand, Roberta Gambarini and others. On the faculty of UCLA, I teach improvisation, composition and harmony. At the center of all these activities is the spirit of artistic collaboration, something that is at the heart of jazz, and also at the heart of my Lovewell experience, which I will always cherish.
Professional Jazz Pianist
Lovewell Alumni and Staff
Watch an interview with Tamir Hendelman:
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