Music to Our Ears

We're excited to debut our brand new video! We made it on Animaker, a super intuitive online animation software. We were so fortunate to work with the uber talented composer-lyricist Rob Shapiro, who wrote an original composition just for us.

Rob Shapiro’s musicals include Shelter (with composer Julia Meinwald), Le Fou (with Julia Meinwald and playwright Bekah Brunstetter), and 1 Night Only: A Hanukkah Jamboree, which appeared in Ars Nova’s ANT Fest in 2011 and 54 Below in 2013.  Rob has created theme songs for The Broadway League’s “The Broadway Concierge” and "The 40 Year Old 20 Year Old" (starring SNL's Kate McKinnon), original material for General Mischief Dance Theatre and Camp Theatreworks USA, and choral arrangements for Cornell University Glee Club and Chorus.  His music and lyrics have been heard at William Finn’s “Songs by Ridiculously Talented Composers and Lyricists…” at Barrington Stages, Summer Play Festival’s Composer Exposure, and at various cabaret venues around New York City. Rob is a Dramatists Guild Fellow (2011-2012), a member of A Broken Umbrella Theatre, a graduate of Cornell University and the NYU Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.  He is currently working on a new musical CATCH, which he developed at the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat in 2013.

What do you do?

I am a composer, lyricist and book writer of musicals. During the day I work for Rodgers & Hammerstein where I am the Director of Materials and Foreign Licensing.

How do you feel about words?

I love words! As a musical theater writer, I'm constantly using words to shape songs and stories. Most of my job at R&H is to proofread and format the words of others to make sure that the script represents the vision of the writers.

Favorite word of the moment?

Hangry. It’s an emotion, causality and dangerous situation in one word.

Who has impacted your work?

Theatre: Stephen Sondheim, Billy Joel, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Jason Robert Brown, Howard Ashman & Alan Menken, Kander & Ebb, Flaherty & Ahrens, Lin-Manuel Miranda… and on and on. Authors: Jasper Fforde, JK Rowling, Michael Crichton

Favorite lyric of all time.

It changes from day to day. Today’s favorite lyric is “Changing My Major” from Fun Home by Lisa Kron.

If you could change one lyric, what would it be and what would you change it to?

The lyric that comes to mind is "All Of Me" by John Legend and Toby Gad. It’s a song I enjoy, but the following lyric sticks out: "Love your curves and all your edges / All your perfect imperfections". I like perfect rhymes, so my brain changes it to: "Love your curves and all your edges / All your perfect imperfedges," which makes no sense. If I were rewrite it, I would change it to "Love your curves and your complexion / All your perfect imperfection.”

What's the most challenging/gratifying/stressful rhyme you've ever written?

It’s always the one I’m working on.

Favorite way of communicating.

I use email a lot, but in-person is the best way to communicate. Unless you know someone, it’s hard to convey tone through email.

Tell us something unique about your writing process.

I eat a lot of pretzel rods while writing.

Describe a musical collaboration or communication problem and what you do to fix it.

Writing songs is a fun challenge, because the music and lyrics have to hit the ear just right. When I work with composers and something doesn’t sound right, it can be difficult to pinpoint why – it might be tempo, rhythm, harmony, melody or any number of reasons. To overcome it, I try to focus on how the music is telling the story or addressing the dramatic action. It’s all about a dialogue between me and my collaborator.