A new crop of musical theatre songwriter is making noise, and Playbill put its ear to the ground to hear what they have to offer. Pop-rock music, art songs, cabaret and traditional narrative show tunes inform the work of these rising writers. In this continuing series, we've got their stories — and audio samples of their songs.
When you think of "contemporary musical theatre writers," who comes to mind? Jason Robert Brown, the Tony Award-winning composer of Parade, The Last 5 Years, Songs For a New World and 13? The late Jonathan Larson, whose Tony and Pulitzer-winning rock opera Rent changed the face of contemporary theatre? Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose varied Latin styles won him a Tony for In the Heights? Amanda Green, the lyricist of Bring It On, High Fidelity and the coming Hands on a Hardbody? How about Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, whose Next to Normal told the tale of mental illness with pulsing rock? Playbill is about to change your view of what's "new."
Much like Brown, Kitt, Yorkey, Green, Larson and the other Broadway composers who fall on the wide spectrum of contemporary music theatre, there is a rising community of non-Broadway songwriters who use pop and rock to tell provocative, boundary-pushing stories. And, like those who came before, their songs are starting to be sung by up-and-coming voices in the Broadway community.
Although the newcomers' songs have not been heard on Broadway, there is evidence of their work everywhere. Their music is brought to life at New York City nightclubs such as Joe's Pub, (le) Poisson Rouge and Birdland, developmental spots like Ars Nova, on songwriter websites and internet platforms like YouTube. Their work is being developed in New York and around the country, their music is materializing on iTunes and fans are demanding their sheet music.
Playbill.com reached out to a handful of songwriters or songwriting teams — those yet to debut their work on Broadway — whose music is slowly making its mark on American Musical Theatre.
In this multi-part series, meet the songwriters you should know, who dish on their musical influences, projects in development and share a few of their favorite tracks. (We've also linked to some YouTube clips as well.)