There are very few elements of musical theatre more important that the music itself. After all, if there were no music, it wouldn’t be a musical! So naturally, the composer plays an often pivotal role in the development of a musical, and it absolutely shows in the different styles of musical to be found on Broadway. Everyone, it seems, has their own personal favorite composer, but would you want to have that composer pen the music for a musical based on you? In this week’s Theatre Talk, we decided to find out by asking: Which composer would write the music for a musical of your life?
Sam, founder and editor-in-chief
Is it cheating if I choose two composers? Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda are so different but another collaboration between these two talented men (who worked together on the Tony nominated musical Bring It On with Hands on a Hardbody composer Amanda Green) would be the perfect balance between my often blunt and not-so-pretty side and the comical moments of my life. With Next To Normal’s haunting and impassioned lyrics and In The Heights‘ high-energy and heart, and their combined work with Bring It On, I have no doubt that these two award-winning gents could pull off something great to make my life seem much more thrilling than reality.
Monte, creative director
I really think that I have to go for Stephen Sondheim. There are honestly just entirely too many bizarre twists and turns, not to mention darkly humorous ironies, in my life story for the music to be composed by anyone else. While (so far, at least) my life hasn’t gone the way of Sweeney Todd, it’s certainly the sort of story that calls for Sondheim’s fast-paced composition style and witty turns of phrase. Hell, even if my story ends in the gutter, at least I can have a musical score that keeps the audience guessing until the last moment.
Stephen Sondheim. Andrew Lloyd Webber or Boubil and Schonberg would be too grandiose; Jason Robert Brown would make even my worst faults look and sound better than the situation warranted; and, I am way too cynical and sarcastic to warrant an Alan Menken musical. Life is so random and disjointed that Sondheim can be the only choice. I can hear his score fitting perfectly those moments when I’ve embarrassed myself at a party or messed up at work or been too lazy to put on clothes for a whole day. But at the same time, even when a metaphorical giant has crushed everything in sight, he could somehow make it all fine in the end.
Wendi, multimedia reporter
I would have to go with the late Jonathan Larson, composer and writer of RENT. Anybody who can take frightening stories of loss and AIDS and turn it into one of the most empowering, recited and loved musicals of all time would be the perfect person to compose my life story. It would have the necessary thoughtful ballads, but also the obligatory huge, awe-inspiring and inspirational number not much different from “La Vie Boheme.” I would absolutely love for my life to be a rock musical!
My composer would be Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story). He could write every moment of my life, from brushing my teeth in the morning to admiring an evening sunset. His work has always spoken to me in a very personal way and there’s no one else I would rather have compose my life story.
Claire, senior reporter
Laurence O’Keefe (Legally Blonde) would write the music for a musical of my life. His peppy, positive style would depict the cheerful attitude I try to maintain (and help drown out the sad violins that show up on the bad days). I love the way that his music is carefree with a dash of sharp wit to keep us on our toes – that’s definitely how I’d like my life to be presented in a musical. The frequent key changes and high belt notes make it that much more fun!
Most of my favorite composers write music for epic and unique shows whose exciting plot lines are far too historically important or profound than my own life. That being said, Alan Menken (Newsies) writes an incredible array of tunes that could stylistically work with the story of my life! Some ups, some downs, and a princess power ballad or two!
Renee, administrative assistant
I would have Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years) compose the musical for my life. He is my absolute favorite composer, and I think that he would be able to put an exciting spin on my less than spectacular life. He has a way of writing music about things that people can easily relate to at some point in their lives. I like that his musicals are very real and cover a broad range of topics that we all deal with on a day to day basis, and that’s why he would be my go-to choice if I was to make a musical out of my life.