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RIO UPHILL takes audiences to Rio de Janeiro, fusing contemporary musical theater with Brazilian rhythms. A chance encounter on New Year’s Eve brings together Daniel, a young man from the wealthy neighborhood of Leblon, and Miguel, born and raised in the favela (slum) of Morro do Lado.


Daniel bails Miguel out of jail in exchange for the chance to experience “the real Rio” in Miguel’s neighborhood. Seeing how family and tradition survive and in the face of constant injustice, Daniel grows closer to the favela community and falls in love with Miguel’s sister, Julia. During his stay, he witnesses first-hand the corruption between Sergio, a police officer, and Bolade, the community’s crime kingpin and drug lord. Problems escalate when Daniel films a video on his phone of Sergio ruthlessly beating Miguel, which goes viral on the Internet. Fearful of the repercussions, Miguel is determined to protect his community and fight back against the corrupt establishment. 

The show was a 2021 Richard Rodgers Award finalist, presented in the 2019 ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop led by Stephen Schwartz and featured as a "Show You Should Know" in the NAMT Festival. It has been performed at Off-Broadway workshops and as staged readings at The York Theatre Company, the Dramatist Guild and Feinstein's/54 Below.

Book by

Juliana Pedroso &  Matt Gurren

Music by

Nanny Assis & Matt Gurren

Lyrics by 

Matt Gurren


In a strange turn of fate, the three most powerful theater critics, who have taken countless shows off the stage, must now put one on. With time running short, they enlist the help of a struggling Broadway writer, Nathan Wood, who has had a string of critically panned flops and needs a comeback. Can the critics pull through and succeed despite their overly critical natures? Can cooperation, harmony, and perhaps even love exist between an artist and a critic? Find out if poetic justice will be served cold or in a warm review in WHAT DO CRITICS KNOW?

The show had a sold-out Off-Broadway run at the New York Musical Theatre festival at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre (in the Pershing Square Signature Center). It won the NYMF Next Link Award, "Best Music" (Honorable Mention), Best Choreography, Best Featured Actress and was listed in several of “Top Shows Not to Miss at NYMF” including, Ken Davenport’s Top 5, New York Theatre Guide’s Top Shows of the Week and  It has been optioned by commercial producers and has had performances at Feinstein’s/54 Below, Brookfield Theatre and Center Stage, with plans for a full production.  


Music & Lyrics by

James Campodonico & Matt Gurren

Book by

Matt Gurren

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