Spring Awakening Composer Duncan Sheik Gives Voice to Brecht's A Man's a Man Off-Broadway

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11 Jan 2014

To find the right sound for A Man's a Man, which is set in British Colonial India, Sheik employed a variety of instruments. "You have many layers of music culture, between English-style brass-band music, Indian classic music and other styles. There are all kinds of musical flavors." Sheik himself recorded the seven or so songs he created for the play. "Because of the nature of the way Brian does these shows, it's not financially possible to do it with a live band. I record the whole thing and the actors sing to the tracks. It allows me to be really specific sonically."

The early part of 2014 will be a busy time for Sheik. A Man's a Man will begin performances as another new Sheik score, American Psycho, continues its world premiere run at London's Almeida Theatre.

The musical, which the songwriter began working on in 2010, is based on Bret Easton Ellis' 1991 satire of consumerism and Wall Street greed. Rupert Goold directs the production, which stars Matt Smith as the nattily dressed serial killer Patrick Bateman.

"The music is almost entirely electronic," he said of the score. "From a standpoint of the songs themselves, people will recognize it as Duncan Sheik music. But the sonic palate is quite different from Spring Awakening — in fact, quite different from any musical I know of, in that it's all synthesizer and drum machines.

"In Spring Awakening, I was using an indie rock idiom," he continued. "Here, I'm using an electronic dance music idiom."

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