Staff Member Sarah Congress to Present Portion of Musical 'Lars’s Hostel' with New Work Series

BY Gina Hackett, April 21, 2020

Staff member Sarah Congress will present a portion of her new musical, Lars’s Hostel, as part of the New Work Series’ Emerging Artist Theatre program this fall. 


Lars’s Hostel centers on a young Finnish man who dreams of becoming a famous surfer but has never been to the ocean. Swindled by his surfing hero into purchasing a one-star, bedbug-infested hostel in Barcelona, Lars’s dream is revived when he meets Camilla, a failing flamenco dancer.


Originally scheduled for early May, the staging of Congress’ piece will be postponed until October due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will center on the performance of a 25-minute excerpt of Lars’s Hostel at the Tada Theatre in Manhattan.


According to the New Work Series’ website, the three-week developmental program offers “theater artists of different disciplines the opportunity to present one performance of a polished ‘work-in-progress’ with audience feedback.”


Congress, who serves as Executive Assistant to the Deans and Manager of Academic Administration at Columbia’s School of the Arts, outlined the musical book under Associate Professor David Henry Hwang’s mentorship during her independent study. 


The production’s music was composed by Sean McVerry, who has performed alongside artists ranging from Karen O to Danger Mouse and Princess Nokia.


The event is being produced by current student Xan Russell Weiser and directed by alumna Miriam Grill ’19. 


Weiser, a current student in the Dramaturgy MFA program, is a trained actress and singer who works as an educator bringing the arts to young learners and recently served as co-producer on the West End Transfer of A Christmas Carol








A recent graduate of Columbia’s Theater Directing MFA program, Grill has directed and produced numerous theatrical productions, including Pass Over at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and Medea at Lenfest Center for the Arts. She also served as producer on Associate Professor Lance Weiler’s acclaimed interactive installation Frankenstein AI, which premiered at Sundance 2018. Grill has consulted for Cirque du Soleil founder Franco Dragone and assisted the Scenic Designer David Korins on Broadway shows such as Annie and Motown.





Congress’ work has been publicly staged at such organizations as The Road Theatre, The Manhattan Repertory Theatre, and The Dramatist Guild. She has also served as a Resident Playwright at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre and attended the HBMG National Winter Playwright's Retreat in Creede Colorado last year.