Julia Riew is a Korean-American musical theater composer-lyricist, librettist, and songwriter. A senior at Harvard University, she has composed over 15 original songs for her Korean Disney musical, which she campaigns for through the popular platform, Tiktok, which has garnered much attention in the short span of one month.
In this episode, Riew discusses the making of musicals and the significance of adaptation of old stories that allows her to bring her own personal experience to it. She also discusses her experiences as a 2.5 generation Asian-America, how they’ve shaped her stories and songs. She also discusses the importance of having Asian protagonists, not just secondary characters, as well as the conflicting sense of unbelonging that many POC communities face.
Julia’s recent works include Alice’s Wonderland, an original musical a collaboration with J Quinton Johnson (Hamilton on Broadway, In the Heights at the Kennedy Center) that was workshopped in a 29-hour developmental reading in New York City at AMAS Musical Theater and will be premiering in Kansas City at the Coterie Theater this summer. Her other works include the TYA show Jack and the Beanstalk: A Musical Adventure was commissioned for the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.)’s 2020 Family Musical, Thumbelina: A Little Musical (The A.R.T. 2019 Family Musical), and The East Side: A New Musical, which is currently being developed under a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) at Nora Theater Company in Central Square.
At Harvard, Riew co-founded the Harvard College Asian Student Arts Project (ASAP), a club created to provide the resources and community for Asian student artists, and was the recipient of the 2020 Radcliffe Doris Cohen Levi Musical Theater Prize, as well as a John Harvard Scholar. She is currently a nominee for the 2022 Louis Sudler (Music Composition) Prize for the Arts.