Meet the Composers of MURDEROUS MUSICAL MONDAYS- Spotlight on Joe Iconis

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 every Monday night for their spring concert series, Murderous Musical Mondays. Composer Joe Iconis contines the series on Monday, May 5, 2014, immediately following the 7pm performance of Murder for Two at New World Stages (Stage 5 - 340 West 50th Street).

Performers will include Liz Lark Brown, Katrina Rose Dideriksen, Seth Eliser, Lauren Marcus, Jeremy Morse, Lance Rubin, Jared Weiss, and Jason "SweetTooth" Williams.

Below, Iconis shares some details on the upcoming concert!

What can you share about your Murderous Musical Mondays concert?

The concert will be a more "unplugged" experience than most Iconis and Family shows. In spirit, we'll be just as electric as ever, but I think the whole thing will feel more intimate. Normally, we play with a rock band augmented by lots of weird ornamental instruments. This time, we won't have the pesky rock band in the way and we can just focus on the ornamentals. We will have an acoustic guitar, though, and maybe some bongos. This is a really nice opportunity for me to pretend like I'm on MTV UnPlugged circa 1992. I'll going to try to be equal parts LL Cool J and Kurt Cobain. We'll see how I do.

Who/what were some of your early musical influences?

The Muppets, who are still a huge musical influence. I discovered theater by way of Little Shop when I was six, but before that I was really into Harry Belafonte, Liza Minelli's rendition of "New York, New York," and Michael Jackson, in general. I also loved the Bad Sandy section of the Grease movie.

When did you realize that writing was for you?

Upon seeing Little Shop at the Orpheum I became immediately obsessed with theater. I participated in theater by being in shows, even though I was an aggressively untalented little performer. I just loved being around it all. Throughout elementary school I got my hands on every theater-related book the Garden City Public Library had to offer. (I think I was not just the youngest, but perhaps the Only person ever to check out the Aspects of Love coffee table book multiple times.) Through reading about the behind-the-scenes world of musical theater, I realized that there were people who wrote these things, and those people were actual humans. I knew immediately that's what I wanted to do. In sixth grade, we filled out a questionnaire in Health class. Q: What will your future profession be? A: Musical composer.

Are there any other theatre composers whose work you admire/have impacted your writing style?

I think my writing style has been more specifically impacted by artists (and works of art) not necessarily associated with the musical theater world. I've spoken about many of them many times before- Robert Altman, Dolly Parton, Martin Scorsese, the 1964 World's Fair, The Rolling Stones, Alfred Hitchcock, Sardi's Upstairs Bar, Arcade Fire, Shel Silverstein, the Country Bear Jamboree, etc. As far as theater writers I love- Sondheim (of course), Kander & Ebb, William Finn, Michael R. Jackson, Stephen Trask, Carol Hall, Howard Ashman, Stew, Sam Salmond, Rob Rokicki, David Yazbeck, Shaiman and Whittman, I could go on and on. I love passionately and obsessively.

I will say that I always wish in interviews like this someone would ask: "What musical theater writers do you hate? Which bridges do you really feel like burning in the theater community?" I think My answer to That question would be far more interesting.

Who in the theatrical/music community would you kill to work with?

I always answer this question with: Danny Fucking Burstein. There's not a better performer working consistently on Broadway today. He's the epitome of the sort of actor I love and I think the world of musical theater is all the better because he's in it. I also daydream about working with Dylan Baker (can he sing? Who cares!), Martha Plimpton, Allison Case, James Monroe Iglehart, Marylouise Burke, Alan Cumming, Rachel Bay Jones, Tonya Pinkins, Chip Zien, so many. Beyond actors, I'd be very excited to collaborate with John Waters, Annie Baker, or Hal Prince on something.

Do you have any new projects in the works?

I have three brand new musicals I'm currently writing. Be More Chill, adapted from a novel by the late/great Ned Vizzinni, which is a high school sci-fi comedy about mind control devices in teenagers. That one will see the light of day next season. I'm also working on a musical about the life of Hunter S. Thompson for La Jolla Playhouse. It's been a fun challenge to attempt to write a bio-musical that isn't, ya know, bad. And I'm writing an exploitation action musical called Annie Golden: Bounty Hunter, Yo! It's about being a woman of a certain age in the theater community (aka The World) and it's kind of likeBeing John Malkovich with fight sequences and showtunes. And Annie Golden.

What are you most looking forward to in being a part of this concert series?

I'm never happier than when I'm on a stage with the people I love, making our music, doing our thing. Any opportunity I get to do that is just grand.

Wow. I got to the end of this interview without making an obligatory "Murder" joke. Good for me. I killed it! (Rimshot.) (Eyeroll.) (Curtain.)

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