ANDERSON & PETTY: Creating Songs Across The Atlantic
Intercontinental songwriting duo Anderson and Petty are beginning to make an impressive impact on both sides of the Atlantic with a series of recent and upcoming concerts in New York and London. Wisconsin-born and New York-based Barry Anderson is an actor/singer/musician/songwriter with a music degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, who was a member of the Broadway cast of Legally Blonde and is currently touring the USA playing the role of Bob Crewe in Jersey Boys. London-based Mark Petty is a former pop group performer who later moved into the songwriting side of the music business. Both had worked with various collaborators over the years before discovering they were creative soul-mates around two years ago.
When asked about the nativity of the partnership, Petty said: “Barry and I met in the summer of 2010 through a mutual friend by the name of Lucia Spina, who is a wonderfully talented Broadway actress. We met while she was in the cast of Les Miserables on Broadway, which my husband Shaun Kerrison was the Associate Director on.
"I mentioned to her one day completely randomly that I was becoming increasingly frustrated at not being able to find a songwriting partner who was as passionate as I was about writing. She immediately told me about her friend Barry Anderson, with whom she had been in Legally Blonde, and that he was a budding songwriter who had mentioned to her that he was having the same problem with finding a lyricist. She gave Barry my details, we emailed each other a bunch of material that we each had done, really liked the other person’s work and BAM, a new writing team was born.”
The trans-Atlantic writing process consists primarily of Anderson and Petty working together via Skype - though Petty did fly to New York in February of last year, when the duo completed fourteen songs in three weeks. Their premiere showcase of songs was performed at The Duplex in Greenwich Village in May 2011 and was very well received.
Petty returned to London and assiduously began the task of trying to get their work heard by London audiences. The first opportunity was provided by Michelle LaFortune, artistic director/producer of the monthly Gigging For It cabarets. and two Anderson & Petty songs were performed at Freedom Bar, Soho.
Since then, Petty has struck up a close working relationship with the award-winning Musical Theatre Academy and with the MADTrust (formerly TheatreMAD and West End Cares) and he and Anderson wrote a song, “Christmas Eve”, to be performed at the annual West End At Christmas concert at the Actors’ Church. (The song was also performed at Lincoln Center, New York as part of their holiday songwriters’ showcase.)
Anderson & Petty’s first London concert was staged at the Delfont Room in March, 2012, raising money for the MADTrust, with a stellar cast including Gina Beck, Kieran Brown, Siobhan Dillon, Nadine Cox, Scott Garnham, Chloe Hart, Sarah Lark, Sophia Ravagelas and Shona White. They have since been asked to write a song specially for this year’s West End Bares show on September 2.
In June 2012 Anderson and Petty released a download single of their song “Superman”, sung by Broadway’s Autumn Hurlbert (Legally Blonde, Tomorrow Morning). They have written two songs for Kieran Brown (Wicked, Love Never Dies) to perform at his solo cabaret at the Union Theatre on July 29. Some Anderson and Petty songs will be performed at the Triad Theatre in New York on July 30 and August 9 as part of “People You May Know 3.0” (which will also include songs by Kooman and Dimond, Maltby and Shire, Billy Joel and Stephen Sondheim!). Also at the Union Theatre, they will showcase more of their work on August 12 in a show entitled The Songwriters’ Union, which will also feature songs by Christopher J. Orton (composer of the epic new musical My Land’s Shore) and Laura Tisdall (whose musical The In-Between was featured in this year’s West End Live at Trafalgar Square.)
In addition, with the “help and guidance of the wonder that is Simon Greiff of SimG Productions” (the UK’s leading champion of new musical theatre songwriting), Barry and Mark are working on writing a “song cycle” and focusing on their first songbook album.
Anderson and Petty list amongst their musical influences songwriters as diverse as Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Webb, Diane Warren, Paul Simon and Richard Rodgers. Soon perhaps their own work (which spans the genres of pop, rock, country and musical theatre) will begin to influence and inspire other songwriters who are trying to give voice to their music.