Miller-Coffman Productions, LLC exists to produce professional theatre works in NYC, and to share the joy of theatre with everyone, including a specific reach to atypical students who may be excluded from mainstream outings and theatre opportunities. The vision is to deeply impact our audiences in a way that cultivates empathy and fellowship for all humans. To make the world a kinder place, and more welcoming for anyone who feels they are unwelcome or relegated to the outskirts of society. To produce accessible theatre works at the highest level of artistry, with incredible detail to set, costume, props and historical accuracy.
Stephen Miller, recalls the power of watching The Phantom of the Opera when he was a young child at the age of four and half. It was a life- changing experience for him, and he knew immediately that this was what he wanted to do. He was able to train in theatre and opera, and performed. Theatre gave him an outlet to express himself into adulthood. It was a way to feel accepted as a gay male, especially in conservative New Hampshire. Eventually, he worked with children in Special Education; and built a theatre program for Newfound Memorial Middle School, Newfound Area School District, NH.
In 2016, Rori Nogee, a long-time friend, asked him to produce her musical in NYC. Siren’ s Den intrigued Stephen, as it dealt with sexual repression and identity crisis. Stephen moved back to NYC and formed his company, named in part for his step- grandfather David Coffman, a very supportive person to his theatrical endeavors. Miler-Coffman Productions, LLC started with the success of Siren’ s Den, and since then we have continued producing. We could not have known it at the time, but as I reflect four years later, all of the works we have produced are the plays and musicals that call to me because they deal with a character in identity crisis. We think this is a culmination of Stephen's experience as a gay male, and also my experience working with atypical children who are struggling to mold to society’s expectation of what is “normal.”
We produce both known and new work, both plays and musicals, surreal and naturalistic. We create artistic opportunities and collaborations throughout our field, from Off-Off- Broadway to Off-Broadway. The through-line is always compelling stories about a character in crisis who surmounts their circumstances; produced with highly detailed sets, props, and costumes. Our productions serve the general public and reach teen groups through the High 5 ticketing program. We want to do so much more, and the next step is providing autism-friendly performances. We are in the process of making this a reality for our first time, during our production of the musical, The Green Room.
A future goal is to produce on Broadway. Meanwhile, short-term goals are to bring financial stability to my company, become a non-profit (currently fiscal sponsored by Fractured Atlas), and also expand our service to students, both typical and atypical.
Miller-Coffman is a new, growing, production company. So far, the programs have been productions. Annually, we bring forth one or two quality productions at the Off-Off- Broadway level. However, we have just made the transition to an Off-Broadway Mini Contract for the musical The Green Room and we are booked for five weeks of performance from September 25th-October 27th, 2019. During this production we plan to transform two Saturday matinees into autism- friendly performances. We are eager and excited to add these engagements, fulfilling on part of our vision that has not been able to happen due to limited administration.
To-date, I have fulfilled upon the company vision by staging five shows that cover a range of characters and circumstances of struggle, from sexual repression, to women’s issues, to racial oppression. Three of our productions have been based on true stories: “Blood Boundary,” about racism in America; “The Cover Of Life” about women left home during WWII; and “The Belle of Amherst” about Emily Dickinson.
The NYC debut of the comedic musical The Green Room (book by Rod Damer, Music and Lyrics by Chuck Pelletier and C. Stephen Foster) is my sixth production and second musical. It is a comedy about the struggle of actors and socio-economics: young thespians reaching for giant dreams.
My hope and need in 2019 is to make theatre accessible to teenagers on the spectrum. By creating two special performances with modification (lower volume, access to free snacks, fidget devices), over 100 teens with autism will be able to experience the fun of The Green Room. They will have the freedom to leave their seats, take a respite in the foyer under supervision, and still absorb the joys of both a live theatre experience, and the story of college students overcoming struggle.
Having worked in Special Education, Stephen know's first-hand the struggles and lost opportunities faced by these kids and their families. Often, they are left out of experiences such as theater because they cannot sit still or due to sensory issues cannot tolerate the sounds or the bright lights. Parents become reluctant to bring their kids into these social settings. Providing autism-friendly experiences is very close to my heart, brings my experiences together, and would fulfill on my mission.
In addition to growing in our capacity this year with autism-friendly shows, the future of Miller-Coffman programming will include: performances at schools, theatre workshops for children, and a division of children’s theatre (for typical and atypical children) to have an opportunity to perform.
To take these steps we are in need of CAPACITY BUILDING and planning. In 2019 we will file papers to become our own 501(c)3, develop a Board of Directors, and provide these autism-friendly performances. These first steps will further our vision and pave a path into our next four years.