SEAN MAHONEY is a musical theater writer, guitarist, and DJ. He holds an MFA in Musical Theater Writing from NYU-Tisch School Of The Arts and a BA from UNH. As a songwriter, his work has been performed at Joe’s Pub, 54 Below, Birdland, Ars Nova, Merkin Hall, Bruno Walter Library at Lincoln Center, The Laurie Beechman Theater, ACT- Tokyo, and Symphony Space. Shows include FACTORY GIRLS (with Creighton Irons); Prep School Musical (with Sam Forman) Sweetwater (with Patricia Noonan), The Invincible Three – The Origin of Butch Cassidy (book, music, and lyrics), Sweet Cassandra – A Greek Rock Opera (with Amy Burgess) and the ten-minute musical Diaper Derby (with Janet Allard). He plays in a few bands, DJs at the Liberty once a quarter, and coaches U12 soccer for the Telluride Soccer Club.

We asked Sean a few questions:

Ideas and Inspiration?

I tend to follow my heart whether it’s picking new projects or finishing old ones. I honestly tend to wormhole down into Wikipedia topics that I find interesting. I’ve found a few great ideas in there. 

Creative Heroes?

Musically - Stephen Sondheim; The Beastie Boys; Robyn; Duane Allman

Spirit Animal?

Locally- Porcupine. Globally - Butterfly

Favorite thing about Telluride?

Knowing that we all appreciate this magical place and actually knowing everyone here as well. The longer I’m here, the more I appreciate off-season and getting to catch up with all of the locals and iconoclasts who still roam the streets once the laminates fade away.

What can you not live without?

The love of my family; fresh air; Stratocasters; friends around a fire; dumb dad jokes.

Favorite saying? / Motto?

“Let my inspiration flow, in token lines suggesting rhythm, that will not forsake me, til my tale is old and done.” RIP Robert Hunter

If you could blink your eyes and be in a favorite place right now, where would that place be?

Sitting on the big rock in my front yard growing up in North Conway, NH, with an ice cold New Coke after having mowed the lawn listening to Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti at full blast.

Best advice you've received? Given?

The best advice I received was from a former teaching colleague to finally leave the teaching field where I wasn’t thriving and to commit to theater writing as full-time as I could. Best I’ve given – “Are you sure you want another round of Flatliners?”

What is your greatest challenge as an artist?

Corralling big ideas for musicals into more manageable pieces and not getting too ‘lost in the clouds’ on any idea.  I also struggle at times being so far from the heart of my craft in NYC, but after a few days of slogging around back there, I’m hungry for the mountains again. 

Do you get writer's block?

I try to lean into my ADD nature and do something active, like going for a quick lap on the Wiebe or taking a few runs by myself, when I get stuck creatively. Luckily, our idyllic setting here in Telluride lets me off the hook pretty quickly. 

What's Next?

I just returned from the world premiere of one of my shows in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan; a rock musical about the Industrial Revolution called FACTORY GIRLS which was my thesis in grad school 12 years ago.

Next up, I am deep into re-writes for my Butch Cassidy bank robbery show The Invincible Three, which will be staged as a radio play (co-sponsored by Telluride Arts Small Grants) At the Palm Black Box Jan. 17-18. It’s super exciting to get to work here at home with a bunch of my friends and fellow musicians to tell a story that is relevant both geographically and historically. I’ve never written a radio play either, so it’s forcing me to really focus on the power of sound as opposed to theatrical staging, lights, costumes, etc. I can’t wait to share it with all of you.


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