Melissa Leilani Larson

Melissa Leilani Larson is a Filipino American playwright and screenwriter whose work has been seen on four continents. Originally from Hau’ula, HI she has called Utah home for 31 years. She has received commissions to create new plays for Plan-B Theatre Company, Creekside Theatre Fest, Utah Valley University, and Brigham Young University. Recent productions include: Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon (commissioned by Utah Valley University), Pilot Program, Rabindranath Tagore’s The Post Office (commissioned by Plan-B Theatre, Gandhi Alliance for Peace, and Granite School District), Bitter Lemon (commissioned by Creekside Theatre Fest), The Edible Complex (commissioned by Plan-B Theatre), Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (commissioned by Brigham Young University), Little Happy Secrets, Martyrs’ Crossing, Persuasion, Lady in Waiting, and the book for Erica Glenn’s musical The Weaver of Raveloe (adapted from George Eliot’s Silas Marner). Feature films include Jane and Emma and Freetown.

In 2018, Mel was selected by the Association for Mormon Letters to receive the 2018 Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters. She is the only woman to receive more than one Association for Mormon Letters Drama award and is the youngest person to win three. Other honors include: the Ghana Movie Award for Best Screenplay; the IRAM Best New Play award; two Salt Lake City Weekly Best of Utah Arts Awards; the Mayhew Playwriting Award; winning the Lewis National Playwriting Contest for Women; placing as a Trustus Playwrights Festival top five finalist; and being named an O’Neill National Playwrights Conference semi-finalist.

Mel is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America, serving as the Utah Regional Rep. She is also a member of The Lab, Plan-B Theatre’s incubator for new plays, and was a 2018 Art Access Mentor. She holds a BA in English from BYU and an MFA from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop.



Produced Plays (most recent productions) 

  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon (adapted from Kelly Barnhill; commissioned by Utah Valley University; produced at UVU, November 2019) 
  • Pilot Program (Sackerson/Sunstone), September 2019)
  • The Post Office (adapted from Rabindranath Tagore; commissioned by Plan-B Theatre Company, Gandhi Alliance for Peace, and Granite School District; produced at Plan-B, August 2019)
  • Bitter Lemon (commissioned by Creekside Theatre Fest; produced at Creekside, June 2019)
  • Sweetheart Come (PYGmalion Theatre, May 2019)
  • Mountain Law (staged reading, Script in Hand Series, Plan-B Theatre)
  • The Edible Complex (commissioned by Plan-B Theatre; produced at Plan-B, November 2016)
  • Pride and Prejudice (adapted from Jane Austen; commissioned by Brigham Young University; produced at BYU in March 2014 and at Miami University Ohio in February 2016)
  • The Weaver of Raveloe (musical libretto adapted from George Eliot; music/lyrics by Erica Glenn; workshop production at ART Oberon, May 2014)
  • Little Happy Secrets (Echo Theatre, February 2013)
  • Persuasion (adapted from Jane Austen; produced at College of St. Benedict|St. John’s University, April 2014)
  • Martyrs’ Crossing (Echo Theatre, December 2012)
  • A Flickering (Leilani Productions, April 2010)
  • Standing Still Standing (Blue Light Productions, July 2009)
  • Lady in Waiting (Cal State Los Angeles, June 2003)

Feature Films

  • Jane and Emma (Clearstone Films, 2018)
  • Freetown (Three Coin Productions/Go Films, 2015)

Published Plays

  • Third Wheel: Peculiar Stories of Mormon Women in Love (BCC Press, 2017)
  • Martyrs’ Crossing is included in the Saints on Stage: An Anthology of Mormon Drama (edited by Mahonri Stewart; Zarahemla Books, 2013)
  • Little Happy Secrets is included in the anthology Out of the Mount: 19 from New Play Project (edited by Davey Morrison Dillard; Peculiar Pages, 2010) 

Narrative History

  • SAINTS: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days (contributing writer on volumes 1 and 3, 2018 and 2021)