PLAYBILL PICKS: The Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know, Part One

By Michael Gioia
09 Oct 2012

Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond, recipients of the 2010 Jonathan Larson Grant and the first recipients of the Lorenz Hart Award, allow character and story to dictate the music, lyrics and style of their work. Their 2011 album "Out of Our Heads" includes acoustic sounds in songs such as "Drift," performed here by Tony nominee Jeremy Jordan, and "Out of My Head," songs about getting wrapped up in love; sweeping strings in "Walking Without You" and "Lucy's Laugh"; and light theatrical storytelling in "Random Black Girl," performed here by Tony nominee Patina Miller, and "The Temp and the Receptionist."

"Our strongest influences are probably a strange blend of Kander and Ebb and Alan Menken and Howard Ashman," said the duo, whose works include Dani Girl, the unexpectedly humorous story of a 9-year-old girl battling leukemia, which has been produced internationally (watch "My Hair," performed by Natalie Weiss); Junior Claus, a family-friendly Christmas piece that will play Orlando this holiday season; and Homemade Fusion, a song cycle that features popular songs from their album and more (watch Newsies' Kara Lindsay perform "Sherman and Madeline," a humorous song about a girl wanting much more from her straitlaced boyfriend).

In development are The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes, which tells the story of a man who wakes up to discover that his life has become a musical; Orphie & the Book of Heroes, which is slated to premiere at The Kennedy Center; and Golden Gate, which was commissioned and developed by the Williamstown Theatre Festival. "We plan to continue to write musicals that tell stories we're passionate about," said Kooman and Dimond. "Ideally, we would love to continue to push the boundaries of the form, to help to fully realize the infinite range of stories that can be told through musicals."

Listen to "Out of My Head," performed by Weiss, from the "Out of Our Heads" album:

"Out of My Head"




Listen to one of Dimond's favorites "Lost in the Waves," performed by Anderson Davis (Les Misérables), from "Out of Our Heads": 

"Lost in the Waves"


Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond