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Susan Birkenhead

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Susan Birkenhead is an American lyricist.



Birkenhead made her Broadway debut as one of a team of songwriters contributing to Working (1978), for which she received her first Tony Award nomination. Her second was earned for Jelly's Last Jam (1992), which won her the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics and a Grammy Award nomination. Additional Broadway credits include Triumph of Love (Drama Desk nomination) and additional lyrics for the Cole Porter tunes in the 1998 revival of High Society.

Birkenhead's Off-Broadway and regional theatre credits include What About Luv?, a musical adaptation of the Murray Schisgal play Luv, for which she won the Outer Critics Circle Award; Pieces of Eight with Jule Styne and Michael Stewart; Fanny Hackabout Jones with Erica Jong and Lucy Simon; The Night They Raided Minsky's with Charles Strouse and Evan Hunter, the new musical Minsky's based on the same; and, in collaboration with Henry Krieger, two potentially Broadway-bound projects based on hit films, The Flamingo Kid and Moonstruck (with a book by screenwriter John Patrick Shanley).

Birkenhead is one of several lyricists who contributed to Hats!, a musical inspired by the Red Hat Society, which is enjoying an open-ended run at Harrah's New Orleans, after premiering at the New Denver Civic Theatre. The musical had a limited engagement at the Royal George Theatre in Chicago starting in April 2007.

Radio Girl, a musical based on Kate Douglas Wiggin's Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, premiered at the Goodspeed Musicals' Norma Terrace Theatre with music by Henry Krieger, lyrics by Birkenhead, and a book by Daniel Goldfarb. The show ran in 2010 from July 29 to August 22.

She also wrote the lyrics for the musical version of Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, with music by Duncan Sheik and a book by Lynn Nottage. It premiered at the Off-Broadway Atlantic Theater Company on May 12, 2019.

Susan Birkenhead Photos

Susan Birkenhead Awards and Nominations

Drama Desk Awards - 2020 - Outstanding Lyrics

Susan Birkenhead, The Secret Life of Bees


winner
Outer Critics Circle Awards - 2020 - Outstanding New Score

Susan BirkenheadThe Secret Life of Bees


winner
Drama Desk Awards - 1999 - Outstanding Lyrics

Susan BirkenheadTriumph of Love

Drama Desk Awards - 1997 - Outstanding Lyrics

Susan Birkenhead, Triumph of Love


winner
Drama Desk Awards - 1992 - Outstanding Lyrics

Susan Birkenhead, Jelly's Last Jam

Tony Awards - 1992 - Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Susan Birkenhead, Jelly's Last Jam


winner
Outer Critics Circle Awards - 1984 - Best Score

Susan Birkenhead, Love

Tony Awards - 1978 - Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Susan Birkenhead, Working

Susan Birkenhead Videos

Susan Birkenhead News


BOOP! THE BETTY BOOP MUSICAL Sets Broadway Theatre and Opening Night

 BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical has found its Broadway theatre! The new musical is set to open at Broadway’s Broadhurst Theatre on April 5, 2025. Learn more about BOOP! here!
What's Coming to Broadway in 2025

Check out a full list of what's to come on Broadway in 2025 and be sure to check back for updates.
BOOP! THE BETTY BOOP MUSICAL Sets Broadway Opening For April 2025

BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical has set its Broadway dates! The new musical will open on Broadway in April 2025 at a Shubert theatre to be announced. Learn more about the musical here!
Review: JELLY'S LAST JAM at Pasadena Playhouse

Director Kent Gash’s production in Pasadena serves up equal parts heat and cool, a slick and sweaty celebration of a man who was as vibrant and dangerous as his music. Under the musical direction of Darryl Archibald and choreography of Dell Howlett – both of which are first-rate – the evening cooks.
Jeanine Tesori and Bess Wohl Join Dramatists Guild Council

Jeanine Tesori and Bess Wohl have joined The Dramatists Guild Council, the leadership team of the Guild.
JELLY'S LAST JAM Enters Final Two Weeks of Performances at Pasadena Playhouse

Pasadena Playhouse's production of the Tony Award-winning musical JELLY'S LAST JAM, directed by Kent Gash will close this month. Learn how to purchase tickets.
Photos: Celebrities on the Red Carpet at Opening Night of JELLY'S LAST JAM at Pasadena Playhouse

Pasadena Playhouse is now presenting a new production of the Tony Award winning musical Jelly’s Last Jam, featuring a book by George C. Wolfe, music by Jelly Roll Morton, and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead with musical adaptation and additional music composed by Luther Henderson. Check out photos from the opening night red carpet here!
Photos/Video: First Look at Pasadena Playhouse's JELLY'S LAST JAM

Get a first look at Pasadena Playhouse's new production of the Tony Award winning musical Jelly’s Last Jam, now on stage through through June 23, 2024. The production features a book by George C. Wolfe, music by Jelly Roll Morton, and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead with musical adaptation and additional music composed by Luther Henderson. 
VIDEO: Go Inside Rehearsals for JELLY'S LAST JAM at Pasadena Playhouse

Get a first look at rehearsals for the new production of the Tony Award winning musical Jelly’s Last Jam at Pasadena Playhouse, featuring a book by George C. Wolfe, music by Jelly Roll Morton, and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead with musical adaptation and additional music composed by Luther Henderson.  
Video: See Stewart, Williams, and Rogers in Teaser for Pasadena Playhouse's JELLY'S LAST JAM

Watch a teaser for Jelly's Last Jam at Pasadena Playhouse in the video here!
Cast Set For JELLY'S LAST JAM at Pasadena Playhouse

Full casting has been announced for the new production of the Tony Award winning musical Jelly’s Last Jam.
Adam Guettel, Austin Pendleton and More Will Be Honored with Dramatists Guild Awards

The Dramatists Guild previously announced that playwright Christopher Durang will receive a Lifetime Achievement award at this year’s ceremony. He will be joined by two additional recipients, George C. Wolfe and Emily Mann.
The Museum of Broadway Will Host Reunions For the Casts of THE WHO'S TOMMY and JELLY'S LAST JAM

The Museum of Broadway will host two upcoming events reunited the original Broadway casts of The Who's Tommy and Jelly's Last Jam next week. Learn more about both events here!
John Clarence Stewart, Jasmine Amy Rogers & Cress Williams to Lead JELLY'S LAST JAM in Pasadena

Pasadena Playhouse has revealed the cast for its new production of the Tony Award winning musical Jelly’s Last Jam. See who is starring and learn how to purchase tickets.
Feature: BROADWAY BOUND Shares Rare Songs & Behind-the-Scenes Tales at 54 Below

Not every musical setting sails for Broadway finds a smooth trip or arrives at its destination. Some sink. But why? Was it the wrong captain or just stormy seas? Many carried marvelous musical cargo. Robert W. Schneider explores the reasons in his BROADWAY BOUND podcast. His next live edition of Broadway Bound is March 5th at 54 Below.
Bonnie Milligan and J. Harrison Ghee Will Host Maestra's AMPLIFY 2024

Maestra Music will present the much-anticipated Amplify 2024, hosted by Tony Award winners Bonnie Milligan and J. Harrison Ghee. We have all the details!
Broadway Buying Guide: February 26, 2024- See the New SWEENEY TODD Cast and More

Looking for the best deals on Broadway shows? Welcome to our new weekly guide to the most popular shows listed on BroadwayWorld. Check out which shows are selling this week, February 26, 2024.
Review Roundup: JELLY'S LAST JAM Opens at New York City Center

Read the reviews for Jelly's Last Jam at New York City Center, starring Billy Porter and more.
Photos: The Cast of JELLY'S LAST JAM at City Center Encores! Meets the Press

Jelly’s Last Jam runs February 21 through March 3 at New York City Center. The company recently met the press and BroadwayWorld was on hand to chat with them about the upcoming show. Check out photos from the press event here!
Photos: Encores! JELLY'S LAST JAM Cast Poses for Portrait

Rehearsals are now underway for Encores! next show- Jelly’s Last Jam, led by director Robert O’Hara. Check out a new photo as the cast paused from rehearsals here!

Susan Birkenhead FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How many shows has Susan Birkenhead written?

Susan Birkenhead has written 14 shows including Working (Lyricist), King of Schnorrers (Lyricist), A...My Name Is Alice (Material), Love (Lyricist), Tatterdemalion (Lyricist), Pieces of Eight (Lyricist), High Society (Lyricist), What About Luv? (Lyricist), Jelly's Last Jam (Lyricist), Triumph of Love (Lyricist), The Night They Raided Minsky's (Lyricist), The Flamingo Kid (Lyricist), Hats! (Composer/Lyricist), Monsoon Wedding (Lyrics).

What awards has Susan Birkenhead been nominated for?

Susan Birkenhead has been nominated for the following awards: Outstanding Lyrics (Drama Desk Awards) for The Secret Life of Bees, Outstanding New Score (Outer Critics Circle Awards) for The Secret Life of Bees, Outstanding Lyrics (Drama Desk Awards) for Triumph of Love, Outstanding Lyrics (Drama Desk Awards) for Triumph of Love, Outstanding Lyrics (Drama Desk Awards) for Jelly's Last Jam, Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre (Tony Awards) for Jelly's Last Jam, Best Score (Outer Critics Circle Awards) for Love, and Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre (Tony Awards) for Working.

What awards has Susan Birkenhead won?

Susan Birkenhead has won several awards for her work in Broadway. She received the Outstanding New Score award from the Outer Critics Circle Awards for The Secret Life of Bees. Additionally, she won the Outstanding Lyrics award from the Drama Desk Awards for Triumph of Love and Jelly's Last Jam. Birkenhead also received the Best Score award from the Outer Critics Circle Awards for Love.

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