Playbill wants to keep you up on your musical theatre knowledge, not just Broadway knowledge. This week’s Playbill Mixtape, we feature songs of writers you should know—folks who have been around the theatre scene for a while, but have not made it to Broadway. Insiders may know these names, but it’s time the mainstream did as well.
Read below about each of the writers on our playlist and don’t forget to follow Playbill on Spotify for all of your musical theatre listening needs.
While not everyone we wanted to include on this playlist has tracks available on Spotify (like award-winning KPOP writer Helen Park), here is a—definitely not comprehensive!—selection of folks with whom to familiarize yourself.
Shaina Taub’s musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is currently playing the Public’s Delacorte Theatre for a full run (having been performed as part of PublicWorks in 2016). Taub recently signed on to write lyrics for the Broadway-bound musical adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada, with Elton John already at work on the score. She’s also working on a musical about the women’s suffrage movement.
Audiences may know Joe Iconis as one of the songwriters on NBC’s Smash, writing songs for the fictional Hit List. Now, his original musical Be More Chill is about to open a sold-out Off-Broadway run at New York City’s Signature Theatre Center.
Matt Gould’s original music was heard Off-Broadway at Second Stage in Invisible Thread (formerly Witness Uganda) and audiences at Williamstown Theatre Festival learned his name as the composer behind the recent Rachel Chavkin-directed Lempicka, starring Eden Espinosa (Wicked), Tony nominee Carmen Cusack (Bright Star), and Andrew Samonsky.
Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk made their Off-Broadway debut back in 2006 and their The Mad Ones was seen at 59E59 last year. The BMI Workshop alumni have written the scores to The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown, Tales from the Bad Years, The Woman Upstairs, Wrong Number, The Freshman Experiment, Republic, Unbound, and Flash of Time.
Michael R. Jackson’s new musical A Strange Loop will receive a world-premiere Off-Broadway production at Playwrights Horizons in 2019. He is a Jonathan Larson grant recipient, ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Award winner, and 2017 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award winner.
The writer behind Jasper in Deadland, Ryan Scott Oliver is a Lucille Lortel nominee and Jonathan Larson grant recipient. His work is often heard in cabaret acts and he is working on a new show, We Foxes.
Drew Gasparini is another Smash/Hit List songwriter on the verge. He and co-writer Tony-nominated actor Alex Brightman (School of Rock) have been at work on a new musical: It’s Kind of a Funny Story.
Obie-winning writer Kirsten Childs is well known for her musical The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin and Bella: An American Tall Tale, as well as T, Miracle Brothers and Funked Up Fairy Tales.
Georgia Stitt is a composer and music producer who has written such musicals as Snow Child, Samantha Spade, Ace Detective, Big Red Sun, The Danger Year, The Big Boom, The Water, and Mosaic. She is a recipient of the ASCAP Frederick Loewe Fellowship, the Harold Arlen Award, and the Sue Brewer Award for excellence in music composition.
Other names to investigate: Masi Asare, Deborah Abramson, Julianne Wick Davis, Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler, Julia Meinwald, Rebekah Greer Melocik, Benjamin Velez, and Amanda Yesnowitz.