BWW Special Tribute: Marc Shaiman on Robert B. Sherman

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When the sad news came out this morning that famed Disney songwriter Robert B. Sherman died yesterday, March 5, in London, some of our first thoughts here at BroadwayWorld went out to Tony-winner Marc Shaiman. Shaiman had been a huge proponent of the incredible 'THE BOYS - The Sherman Brothers' Story' documentary and it was his enthusiasm that sent us off to see the fantastic film, and our lives were better off for it. We asked Marc to put together some of his thoughts on Robert Sherman and are proud to present them below. 

When I read this morning that Robert Sherman, one half of The Sherman Brothers had passed away, I immediately put on "A Man Has Dreams" from my MARY POPPINS soundtrack. This double reprise sums up the moral of the story with new lyrics to Mr. Banks main song "The Life I Lead" as well as "A Spoonful Of Sugar". I realize I was 4 when this movie came out, but I guess I was an old Jewish man even at that age, for the melancholy, the regret, the bittersweet quality of this remarkable few minutes of song made me feel deeply for these characters.

The remarkable orchestrations by Irwin Kostal didn't hurt, but that's another tribute.

It is the brilliant music and lyrics of The Sherman Brothers that touched me, as millions of others can say. There are now many generations (mine was only the first) that feel like The Sherman Brothers scored our childhood. I can say they had as much impact on my adult life, for the songs they wrote inspired me to want to become a songwriter. I can remember staring at that album cover for hours and hours as "Feed The Birds", "Stay Awake" and "Let's Go Fly A Kite" lifted me with their purity and genius.

When I went to see the remarkable documentary their sons made entitled "THE BOYS" I was so moved I, without exaggeration, made such sounds from sobbing that people in the theatre thought a cow in a bear trap must have wandered in off of Wilshire Blvd. As I told friends later, you should see this movie if you: 1) grew up with MARY POPPINS, 2) have a sibling, a parent, a child, or a spouse, 3) ever created something, 4) ever had a mentor, 5) know someone whose creativity is at odds with their personality, 6) ever stopped to think of what Walt Disney accomplished, 7) know a war veteran, 8) know, yet love, a Jew, 9) breath air on Planet Earth.

Robert Sherman and his brother had an extraordinarily complicated relationship, but there is nothing complicated about the relationship between his work and millions of folks like myself, who felt like they had lost a family member when we heard the news this morning of his passing. Could there be any greater testament to a creative person then to know that your work could generate that kind of feeling in millions of strangers?

I hope Robert Sherman knew how we all felt. I've been lucky enough to meet Richard Sherman and tell him myself. I was not lucky enough to meet Robert, but I thank him for touching my little 4 year old heart by expressing his. R.I.P.

Marc Shaiman currently serves as an executive producer, composer and co-lyricist for NBC's new musical drama "Smash."

Shaiman composed the music and co-wrote the lyrics for the musical "Hairspray" with Scott Wittman. For their score, the pair won the Tony, Grammy and Olivier Awards. They teamed up again for Broadway's "Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me" and "Catch Me If You Can," for which Shaiman was a Tony nominee for his orchestrations. They are currently at work on the original musical "Charlie & the Chocolate Factory" for director Sam Mendes.

Shaiman is a five-time Oscar nominee for his film scores and original songs for "Sleepless in Seattle," "The First Wives Club," "Patch Adams," "The American President" and "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut." His additional film credits include "When Harry Met Sally," "Beaches," "Misery," "City Slickers," "The Addams Family," "A Few Good Men," "Sister Act," "George of the Jungle" and "The Bucket List."

Shaiman received an Emmy Award for co-writing Billy Crystal's medleys for the Academy Awards. He was nominated for an Emmy for writing on "Saturday Night Live" (the Sweeney Sisters). His arrangements for Harry Connick Jr. and the "Hairspray" soundtrack brought him two Grammy nominations each.

As her music director and co-producer, Shaiman brought to his long-time partner, Bette Midler, the Grammy-winning songs "The Wind Beneath My Wings" and "From a Distance." But it is their collaboration on her Emmy-winning performance for Johnny Carson's penultimate "The Tonight Show" that will always remain a highlight.

Shaiman has worked with many other artists, including Jack Black, Eric Clapton, Kristen Chenoweth, Christine Ebersole, Will Ferrell, Neil Patrick Harris, Jennifer Holiday, Nick Jonas, Nathan Lane, Patti LuPone, Steve Martin, John Mayer, Liza Minnelli, Rosie O'Donnell, Barbra Streisand, Rob Thomas and Robin Williams.

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