Steven Lutvak’s Tony Award-winning musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is bringing a lot of laughs to audiences in The Eisenhower Theater at The Kennedy Center. And he is also in town to conduct a Masterclass with young singers artists at Young Artists of America on Monday, January 25th.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell our readers about your work. Where did you get your training and how did it influence your writing of the score for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder?
Steven: I started writing music at a ridiculously young age….I was 6, and I wrote an opera….with a commercial break in the middle (not kidding). Somehow I knew that writing a dogfood commercial in the middle of an opera was funny. Sort of sets the stage for A Gentleman’s Guide, don’t you think?
What have you heard about Young Artists of America‘s program and what are you hoping to accomplish when you meet them? Did you attend a similar program on your journey to becoming a musician and composer?
I was at the University of Vermont Summer Session for High School students the summer before my senior year of high school, and it was life-changing for me: to be with other kids whose interests aligned with mine was thrilling, and some of those kids are still friends of mine today.
I am thrilled that A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is here at The Kennedy Center. I had a great time when I saw it on Broadway and I was thrilled when you and the show won the Best Musical. How close to the Broadway production is this touring production in terms of the design? Has anything been changed or the score edited or songs cut or added for the tour?
The tour hews very closely to the Broadway production. We didn’t change a note or a word, to my recollection, but, of course, there are some differences in performers. I’m thrilled with the tour, though, and love this iteration of the show.
Please take us on the journey of when you first had the idea of writing A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder to opening night on Broadway. How long did the process take and what were the most difficult challenges you had writing the score? How would you describe your score? What composers have influenced your work and this wonderful score? What did you learn from that process that would help other composers who are now going to write a musical or are considering writing a musical?
I saw the movie Kind Hearts and Coronets on TV when I was in college, and thought — well, actually, I bolted upright in bed (I was watching on a black and white TV — before the days of remotes! — ) and smote myself in the forehead, and thought, “This is a musical! And it’s mine to write! And while I know I don’t know how to write this now, I WILL!!!”
Flash forward to getting the rights from the film around 2003, and we got the rights to the film, but after a lengthy dispute with the film company — and a major, international lawsuit — we had to rewrite the show and base it solely on the novel on which the film was based. And in a strange way — though I would never have believed you, particularly in the thick of fighting that endless, and horrible lawsuit — it was a good thing, because by basing the show solely on the novel, it was greatly improved!
The score uses influences from Chopin through Noel Coward and Gilbert and Sullivan.
My advice to young writers are 1) get a good lawyer, and 2) listen to EVERYTHING! Study anything and everything you can!
Why is it so important that young people attend programs like Young Artists of America and also attend the theater?
Ah, as I just said, listen to EVERYTHING. See as much as you can. One learns as much from the good stuff as from the bad. Know what trends are current. Know what’s been DONE. And meet other people who are doing the same kind of work. It’s very helpful to be feel part of a community.
What is the most important lesson that you would want the the YAA students to take with them after attending your Master Class?
That it’s possible. It’s possible to have a career in the theater, if you love it enough, and want it enough — and have the right abilities in the right measure.
You will be performing at The Millennium Stage at The Kennedy Center. When will it happen and what will you be performing?
On January 26th, I’ll be at the Millennium Stage, and I’ll be singing other music of mine from A Gentleman’s Guide – though there will, of course, be songs from A Gent’s Guide….There will be a bunch of songs which I wrote before, and since writing A Gent’s Guide – mostly stand-alone songs, though some other theater songs….and there may be a surprise guest or two….given that A Gent’s will be performing down the hall a half hour after I finish my show.
Are you working on another musical now?
YES! Not allowed to say what, though, but hopefully, you’ll hear before long….!
What musical is your favorite of all-time, and which show do you wish you would have written and why?
Probably A Little Night Music. No, definitely West Side Story. No, I think it’s Sweeney Todd. No, no, it’s Sunday in the Park with George. Gee, what do these shows have in common? Hmmmmm……..
What is some of the best advice you can give young composers and singers who are considering musical theatre as their career?
1) Work harder. 2) Get a good shrink. 3) Save your money. 4) Find a life partner. 5) Work harder.
A Free Masterclass & Cabaret Performance
with Tony-award winning Broadway composer
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
TOMORROW: Thursday, January 28, 2016 from 7:00 pm-9:30 pm
at Strathmore’s AMP – 11810 Grand Park Avenue, in North Bethesda, MD 20852.
It’s a 10 minute walk from the White Flint Metro Stop on the Red Line towards Shady Grove.
Education Series by welcoming Tony-award winning Broadway composer, Steven Lutvak for a public masterclass and cabaret performance on Thursday, January 28, 2016 at Strathmore’s AMP from 7:00-9:30 PM. Lutvak will work with current YAA singers from the cast of our upcoming production of Children of Eden.
There is FREE Admission, but RSVP is required by clicking the button below.
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder plays through January 30, 2016 at The Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 467-4600, or purchase them online.
Gina Dalfonzo’s review of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder at The Kennedy Center on DCMetroTheaterArts.