Of all the collaborators on the new Broadway musical Footloose , lyricist-book writer Dean Pitchford has perhaps the strongest connection to the 1984 movie which inspired the show. While Tom Snow composed many of the songs, Pitchford was the common lyricist to all the film's many songwriters -- including Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins and Eric Carmen. Likewise, while the stage show boasts a mix of different composers' work, each songs features a Pitchford lyric.
To Pitchford's thinking, his involvement was the glue that held the movie together musically. "When I wrote the original songs, I wrote with a variety of composers," he said. "I was the common thread. What made the thing coherent was the story we were telling."
As a songwriter, Pitchford is best known for his Hollywood work. In addition to "Footloose," he has written songs for the movies "Chances Are" and "Fame" (the title song from the latter won him an Oscar). In the theatre, he has one notorious credit: the lyrics to the fabled bomb Carrie (which Pitchford refers to as "a show I never talk about").
The advent of Footloose gave Pitchford the opportunity to revisit old work, for, in addition to writing nine new songs with Snow for the musical, he also revised some lyrics of the old songs. "What made [revisiting these songs] interesting and less strange is the way that Walter [Bobbie, the director] and I reshaped the book," he said. "That made it fresh. If we had tried to do the material the way it was first done, it would have been much less interesting. It was intriguing to reinvent the characters and songs."
Pitchford also enjoyed the experience of writing for actual people, as opposed to a soundtrack. When writing for the movie, Pitchford said he tried to picture a certain character singing the song and imagined what they might say. However, he also had to remain aware of the fact that, though the words were written with Kevin Bacon's character in mind, pop singer Kenny Loggins would, in fact, sing the song. "A lot of the transition of the piece from film to stage is finding the character I wrote the song for and retooling it to fit that person," he said. Additionally, Pitchford no longer had to worry whether the new songs he was writing were radio-friendly. "Instead of thinking `What is the radio playing, what's good for the charts?' in this case, the criteria was `Is it right for the character and is it right for the story?' In some aspects, that was much more freeing; in other aspects it was much more difficult."