Fred Ebb's Candor From the Great Beyond

PlayBlog   Fred Ebb's Candor From the Great Beyond
 
Composer John Kander had been working on songs and Broadway musicals with his lyricist Fred Ebb for more than 40 years when Ebb died in 2004, leaving a handful of unfinished musicals on their desk.

Curtains and Broadway's current The Scottsboro Boys had yet to see the light of day, but Ebb saw regional productions of The Visit and The Skin of Our Teeth, two titles that have yet to make it to Broadway.

Kander told PlayBlog that about "two thirds, three quarters of" the Scottsboro score was finished when Ebb passed. Kander would later pick up Ebb's pen to do double duty. "When I decided that I would be the lyricist, it wasn't quite such an exercise in vanity, but really more the fact that Fred and I worked together in the same room at the same time and we would lop over into each other's territory a lot," Kander said. "So I wanted the score and the lyrics to have a sort of continuity to it. I felt that I would understand his process better than anybody else."

Did Kander have conversations with his late collaborator in the process?

Kander exclaimed with laughter, "He has conversations with me! Every once in a while, I curse him for having left me in this fix and every once in a while, he looks down and says, 'Who the f--- do you think you are?'"

Kander does not wish to point out what songs he wrote alone, and which he wrote with Ebb. "Hopefully, you can't tell the difference," the composer said.

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