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

By Michael Gioia
09 Oct 2012

Will Van Dyke

Composer-lyricist and music director Will Van Dyke has kept himself busy by working behind the scenes on productions such as Broadway's The Addams Family (keyboard), Off-Broadway's Rent (music director) and, currently, the Broadway-bound production of Kinky Boots (associate music director). However, it does not deter him from composing his original material as well as co-writing songs with Broadway actor Matt Doyle (Spring Awakening, War Horse) on Doyle's solo EPs "Daylight" and "Constant." Van Dyke's 2010 album "Chasing the Day" features music that he says is a fusion of "[his] influences growing up: rock, folk and classical." "Marie and Me," a tune sung in concert and on the album by Wicked's Alex Brightman, opens Van Dyke's 12-track CD with a light and folky acoustic feel from the sounds of cello strings and takes off into a driving pop-rock ballad. Supplementing the contemporary pop on "Chasing the Day" are honest and vulnerable ballads such as "If You Only Knew" (performed here by Godspell's Celisse Henderson) and "Come Home" (performed here at a New Voices concert by Jason Gotay, who currently stars in Broadway's Bring It On: The Musical).

"Alanis Morissette was one of my biggest modern influences growing up," said Van Dyke, "and to this day I think her music is so wonderfully honest, which is something I strive for in telling a story through music." In 2007, he collaborated with lyricist Josh Halloway on the musical Pages, about a celebrated novelist who lives in the world of his stories at the expense of his personal life, which was given life at CAP21. (Check out "Storybook Life," performed by Doyle, about the man who dreams up a perfect, yet fictional and scripted, life). Currently, the composer is working with lyricist Halloway on a new musical entitled The Gospel According to Steve; and with Peter and the Starcatcher's Rick Elice on Magnificent Climb, about the fate of two mountain climbers, who are climbing Everest 75 years apart.

"There is a song from Magnificent Climb called 'You, The Mountain, and Me,' which embodies everything I've learned about love and life in my adult life," said Van Dyke about one of his favorite tunes. "I'm just proud of that one."

Listen to "The Legend of Wonderboy," a favorite of Van Dyke's from his solo album "Chasing the Day":

"The Legend of Wonderboy"




Listen to a demo of "You, The Mountain, and Me" from Magnificent Climb:

"You, The Mountain, And Me"



Expect Playbill's Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know, Part Two, in the near future. 

( staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Tweet him new music and composer suggestions at @PlaybillMichael.)


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