Meet the Composers of MURDEROUS MUSICAL MONDAYS- Spotlight on Joshua Salzman & Ryan Cunningham
The cast and creative team of the hit Off-Broadway musical Murder for Two are teaming up with some of New York's brightest up and coming composers and BroadwayWorld.com every Monday night for their spring concert series, Murderous Musical Mondays. Composers Joshua Salzman & Ryan Cunningham contines the series on Monday, May 19, 2014, immediately following the 7pm performance of Murder for Two at New World Stages (Stage 5 - 340 West 50th Street).
Below, the duo shares some details on the upcoming concert!
What can you share about your Murderous Musical Mondays concert ?
We're thrilled to be a part of the Murderous Musical Mondays Concert series because it gives us a chance to reunite with two of our favorite actors--Colin Hanlon and Farah Alvin. These are the kind of performers that make your work sound better than you ever anticipated--almost to a fault. As we are writing songs, we get to a point when we say: "Colin and Farah will make that work, let's move on." Their talent has been robbing us of the need to work harder for years.
Who were some of your early musical influences?
The first music you're often exposed to is through your parents--and both of our parents exposed us to great songwriters: Billy Joel, Elton John, James Taylor, Carole King. That respect for lyrical songwriters--people who write songs with a theatrical bent--stayed with us as we looked for favorite musicians of our own, which brought us to: Ben Folds, They Might Be Giants, Barenaked Ladies. They were theatrical songwriters of the 80s and 90s, which is when we grew up. And finally, as we explored our craft, we realized that all of these songwriters owe everything to the legacy of the greatest who ever wrote: The Gershwins, Rodgers and Hart/Hammerstein, Frank Loesser and the greatest of them all, Irving Berlin.
When did you realize that writing was for you?
As a team, we knew we should write together from the first song. We were in grad school together, and had admired each other's work. When we were finally paired together we wrote a song that was more than a little unimpressive--and will never be heard again. But we enjoyed the process so much that we kept on writing together--and now it's been over ten years, and hundreds of songs.
Are there any other theatre composers whose work you admire/have impacted your writing style?
We are both old school musical theatre fans--we often joke that we were born too late, because we'd love to spend our time writing jazz standards. We love a lot of contemporary musical theatre writers, but there's something that happens when "A Sunday Kind of Love" comes on--it drives you back to the piano to try to even come close to writing something that good.
Who in the theatrical/music community would you kill to work with?
Weirdly, no matter where we begin a project, it always seems to end up being a slice-of-life New York musical comedy. Our newest project even involves Angels and missions from God--and yet, it's still taking shape as a slice-of-life New York City musical comedy. And no one ever has--or ever will--do that genre better than the great Neil Simon. Hell, forget work with him, we'd kill to have a cup of coffee with him.
Do you have any new projects in the works?
Our newest project is called "The Legend of New York" and it's a retelling of the Sodom and Gomorrah story during the 1977 New York City blackout. It's a lot of fun, as the lead character needs to find three worthy souls to save the city before sunrise and he heads to Studio 54, Times Square, CBGBs and of course, the legendary New York City subway of the 70s. It was just produced at NYU with director John Simpkins, and we are doing it at Northwestern in a few weeks. Jane Kivnick is going to join us at the concert to sing a song from the show as well.
What are you most looking forward to in being a part of this concert series?
We have been very fortunate to have seen our shows produced in various shapes and sizes all over the world. But there is a singular joy that is just getting on stage with phenomenal actors--who are also great friends--and singing some songs together. Sometimes non-writers think that us writers spend all day standing around the piano, with a martini in hand, knocking out a few tunes for the supper club. But mostly we're sitting alone wondering why everything that rhymes with the word "dream" has already been used better by some other writer--and also we're drinking bourbon, not gin. Getting to perform our songs for people is what all of that is for. We can't wait for May 19.