Lion King and Tommy Music Director Stabbed in New York City
By Ernio Hernandez
Joseph Church — a Broadway musical director of The Lion King and The Who's Tommy — was the victim of a random stabbing Feb. 1 near New York City's Washington Square Park.
Church was en route to New York University's Steinhardt School, where he serves as a professor, when the attack occured. According to reports, police say Mark Davila stabbed Dr. Church in the chest several times with a screw driver before fleeing the scene into the nearby park.
Witnesses to the assault chased the Davila and held him until police arrived. Dr. Church was rushed to St. Vincent's Hospital, where he was now listed in stable condition and recovering. Church was quoted as saying he did not know his attacker.
Davila — who was charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon — had a previous criminal record that included robbery, drug possession and possession of a weapon. His mother told the New York Daily News that her son had recently lost his job at a facility that helps the disabled and ended a relationship with the mother of his three-year-old daughter.
Dr. Church earned his doctorate in music composition in the Steinhardt School's Department of Music and Performing Arts at NYU — where he teaches composition and music theatre. In addition to his work as musical director and conductor on The Lion King (including London, Tokyo, Osaka, Toronto, and Los Angeles productions) and Tommy (musical supervisor for London, Toronto, Germany, and national touring companies), he served as vocal director on The Green Bird and provided additional arrangements for The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm on Broadway.
Other credits for Church include Randy Newman's Faust (music director at the Goodman Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse), Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular and the New York, national tour, and Boston companies of Little Shop of Horrors.
As a composer, he has served as composer-in-residence at New York's Riverside Shakespeare Company and Manhattan Repertory Theatre, writing incidental music for over 30 plays. He also contributed arrangements and orchestrations for recording artists Randy Newman and Lauryn Hill, Steven Lutvak's Almost September, Major Barbara at Alaska Repertory, Theatreworks USA's We The People and the Off-Broadway show, Catch Me If I Fall.
Among his project in the works are arranging and orchestrating Russian composer Vladimir Shainskiy's music to a Broadway musical version of the film, "The Thief," adapting Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers for the Roundabout Theater, music director for Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil's upcoming musical version of the 1985 film "Mask" and collaborating with Fiddler on the Roof librettist Sheldon Harnick on Jean de la Fontaine's Les Fables for chorus and orchestra.
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