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Book, Music, and Lyrics by One Person?

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rufussars
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Book, Music, and Lyrics by One Person?#1
Posted: 3/4/09 at 1:19am
I had a fleeting thought yesterday regarding this subject, and my curiosity was peaked. How many full-scale BROADWAY musicals have actually had its entire score and book penned by the same author, either with or without another collaborator? Granted, everyone involved in creating the show usually has input in properties beyond their official title, but I'm talking about actually receiving credit. There must've been someone in decades past before my birth, but I'm wondering how rare of a practice it really is. And, yes, let me get the 4 obvious ones out of the way that first sprung to my mind:
Mel Brooks, Eric Idle, Jonathan Larson, Jill Santoriello.
Alright...now, go ahead!
...And so, there I was at the stage door for "Equus". The enthused avalanche of "Harry Potter" fans was literally pushing me into the barricades. As I was thrust face-first into Daniel Radcliffe's hat, I suddenly felt the thumb of a lanky gentleman behind me pressing firmly into my back. It was then that I realized that both of his hands had Playbills, and that both arms were outstretched in front of me...
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Rupert Holmes wrote the book, music, lyrics, and orchestrations to THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD.
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"And, yes, let me get the 4 obvious ones out of the way that first sprung to my mind:
Mel Brooks, Eric Idle, Jonathan Larson, Jill Santoriello."

Well, I'm not sure Idle counts since he is co-credited with John Du Prez for the Spamalot music.

In addition to Rupert Holmes, Frank Loesser is credited with the book as well as the music and lyrics for The Most Happy Fella. Noel Coward not only wrote the book, music, and lyrics for several musicals and operettas (though some of them played the West End but not Broadway), he also directed some of those, for instance, Sail Away, Conversation Piece and Bitter Sweet, among those that played on Broadway. And then he also wrote several revues completely by himself, directing them as well.

The Music Man and Here's Love are credited solely to Meredith Willson. Oliver! is credited solely to Lionel Bart. The Prince of Grand Street had book, music and lyrics by Bob Merrill, though it closed out of town. Merrill also wrote the book, music and lyrics for Hannah . . . 1939, which played Off-Broadway.

Rick Besoyan wrote the book, music and lyrics for Little Mary Sunshine and Babes in the Wood Off-Broadway and for The Student Gypsy on Broadway, directing the latter two as well, which may have been a mistake.

I believe Ivor Novello is credited with the book, music and lyrics of some operettas that played in the West End but not on Broadway.

There have been others, but very few hits have been the work of one person in the book, music and lyrics departments.
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Pretty sure that only one person owned up to 'In my life'...

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Forgot to mention Jonathan Larson. Also, William Finn is co-credited with the book for Falsettos. And Al Carmines wrote the books for some of his shows.
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A number of (but not all) LaChiusa's shows are all done by him. Most critics, and I might agree even though I'm a huge fan, think this is why they haven't all quite worked. Sondheim has written good and decent scripts and says the reason he doesn't do it for his own musicals is he thinks the collaboration process is essential to really make a musical work (and it's more fun). Obviously there are examples here of it working under one person, but...
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Well this is Off-Broadway but Kristen (or is it Kirsten) Childs wrote the book, music and lyrics to The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin.
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Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricussse - Stop The World - I Want To Get Off, and Roar Of The Greasepaint, Smell Of The Crowd. Leslie alone for Scrooge (stage version of the film). Noel Coward's shows. My shows :)
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The Last 5 Years - JRB
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"Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricussse - Stop The World - I Want To Get Off, and Roar Of The Greasepaint, Smell Of The Crowd. "

But they weren't one person, were they? I didn't think they were. That's why I didn't mention them. re: Book, Music, and Lyrics by One Person?
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Lionel Bart's "Oliver!" & "Blitz!".

as far as i know, his other shows have been a collaboration.
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"The Most Happy Fella" - book, music & lyrics by Frank Loesser.
"Hannah.....1939" - book, music & lyrics by Bob Merrill.
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While we had our "A Tale of Two Cities" over here with Jill Santoriello, in London, if you recall, another One-show-only-wonder-woman-composer-writer wrote another musical based off of an extremely famed classic novel - "GONE with the WIND." (Margaret..?)
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Acorn Antiques the Musical had it book music and lyrics by the wonderful victoria wood!
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"But they weren't one person, were they?"

I must have misread the following:

"How many full-scale BROADWAY musicals have actually had its entire score and book penned by the same author, either with or without another collaborator?"
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Hey, bk, I apologize, but the OP doesn't quite seem to know what he wants, wouldn't you say? The thread's title is "Book, Music, and Lyrics by One Person?" One person is not two or more people.

And then the OP wrote, "I had a fleeting thought yesterday regarding this subject, and my curiosity was peaked. How many full-scale BROADWAY musicals have actually had its entire score and book penned by the same author, either with or without another collaborator?"

If the entire book and score are penned by the same author, then how can that author have a collaborator? So I'm sorry that I was (understandably) confused and made fun of you a little (surely you noticed the winking smiley face), but it is kind of confusing.


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The original book for "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" was written by Clark Gesner and members of his cast, so the librettist was given a collective pseudonym.

"How could she just suddenly, completely disappear into thin water?" - The Little Mermaid
Updated On: 8/20/18 at 09:20 PM
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Jill Williams, Rainbow Jones.
Updated On: 3/4/09 at 09:22 PM
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About two dozen musicals in the 20's and 30's by George M Cohan
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re: Book, Music, and Lyrics by One Person?#19
Posted: 3/5/09 at 12:00am
"About two dozen musicals in the 20's and 30's by George M Cohan"

How did I forget to mention Cohan? Good answer.

Although the dates are a little off: the first Broadway musical listed on ibdb with book, music and lyrics by Cohan was The Governor's Son in 1901 and the last new one is Billie in 1928. (He had some new plays produced after that, but no new musicals that I see on idbd.) And he also starred in many of them, directed a bunch of them, and I think he produced or co-produced them all, but I'm too lazy to check.
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re: Book, Music, and Lyrics by One Person?#20
Posted: 3/5/09 at 12:06am
"Hey, bk, I apologize, but the OP doesn't quite seem to know what he wants, wouldn't you say? The thread's title is "Book, Music, and Lyrics by One Person?" One person is not two or more people."

I agree - it was confusing. And I'm confused enough as it is :)
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Sorry to all who were confused, then! I actually did get some answers I was looking for regardless of the mix-up. However, to clarify, I simply meant Writer A doing book, music, and lyrics, either with OR without a Writer B ALSO credited for one of the above, per the original 4 examples I gave (Larson did all three, no assistance; Mel was involved with all three, but Tom supplemented and shaped the book with him). But, thanks for slugging through it, nonetheless!
...And so, there I was at the stage door for "Equus". The enthused avalanche of "Harry Potter" fans was literally pushing me into the barricades. As I was thrust face-first into Daniel Radcliffe's hat, I suddenly felt the thumb of a lanky gentleman behind me pressing firmly into my back. It was then that I realized that both of his hands had Playbills, and that both arms were outstretched in front of me...
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No one ever remembers to mention George M. Cohan - perhaps because his inclusion (being arguably the single most successful and popular musical theater writer in Broadway history) completely annihilates the mistaken notion that "book, music and lyrics by" has any significantly higher failure rate than a collaborative show. I haven't done the math (since it would be an enormous history project) but I would bet - just from the knowledge that we know it's rarely done and we seem to be aware of most of the times it has been done - that there is no significantly greater failure percentage among shows by one writer or shows by several. Just as there are probably no greater failure percentages among shows by "seasoned producers" and shows by newish producers. These are mythic Broadway prejudices, endlessly recycled to assign blame to one thing or another when such a show fails. But when a show produced by and written by veterans fails (and there have hundreds and hundreds of them) nobody ever says "i guess it doesn't really matter how much experience you have or how successful you've been previously - you still have about a 7 out of 10 chance of having a flop!"
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HAIRPIN HARMONY
Opened on Broadway October 1, 1943
Book, Music and Lyrics by Harold Orlob

Howard Barnes of the Trib said,
"This Harold orlob offering is all of a piece
and it is all awful. It's about a fellow with a falsetto voice, who dresses up in diapers to fool a radio sponser with breakfeast foods to sell."

War Moorehouse of the Sun said:
"The worst play I have ever seen since the high school in Guyton Ga. put on St. Elmo."
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re: Book, Music, and Lyrics by One Person?#24
Posted: 8/20/18 at 9:47am

And also, adding orchestrations to the mix, the only other person to have written book, music, lyrics, and orchestrations to the same Broadway show is Dave Malloy, who wrote (and also starred in at various points) Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.

"How could she just suddenly, completely disappear into thin water?" - The Little Mermaid



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