Jason Robert Brown

From Academic Kids

Jason Robert Brown is a musical theater composer and lyricist. Often cited as one of the "New School" of theatrical composers (a list that includes Michael John LaChiusa, Adam Guettel, Andrew Lippa, and Larry O'Keefe, among others), Brown's music sensibility fuses pop-rock stylings with theatrical lyrics, and is frequently compared to Billy Joel. An accomplished pianist, Brown has often served as music director and conductor for his own productions.

Brown attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and began his career in New York City as an arranger and conductor, working on shows such as William Finn's A New Brain, and playing at several nightclubs and piano bars in the city. Songs for a New World marked the first major New York production of Brown's songs. An off-Broadway revue with a limited run, the show was directed by Daisy Prince, daughter of legendary director/producer Hal Prince, and featured the 25-year-old Brown's pop-rock-influenced music. The song "Stars and Moon" has since become a cabaret standard, and is probably Brown's best-known composition to date.

Through his association with Daisy Prince, Brown wound up writing songs for the Broadway musical Parade, based on the trial and lynching of Leo Frank. Parade, directed by Hal Prince, and with a book by Alfred Uhry, wound up winning Brown the 1999 Tony Award for Best Original Musical Score, despite only running for a few months.

Brown went back to working with Daisy Prince for his third major show The Last Five Years, for which he wrote the book as well as songs. Loosely (or not-so-loosely) based on his own failed first marriage, the show is a two-person musical which tells the history of a relationship from two different perspectives. The male point of view begins at the beginning of the story and progresses through marriage, infidelity, and divorce, while the female perspective begins at the end, and ends with the couple's first date; the two actors only direct interaction happens mid-point, during the wedding sequence. The Last Five Years received mixed critical reviews and was not a commercial success, lasting only two months off-Broadway, although Brown garnered a pair of Drama Desk awards for music and lyrics.

Most recently, Brown contributed several songs to the Broadway flop Urban Cowboy, and was nominated, along with over 20 others, for the 2003 Tony Award for best Musical Score, losing out to Marc Shaiman's smash hit, Hairspray.

Brown recently married fellow composer Georgia Stitt, and is currently working on several projects, among them: a new dance-musical, The Moneyman, a solo album, and a musical about thirteen-year-olds.


Major Works

Songs For a New World - Revue, Ran Off-Broadway at the WPA Theatre, October 11 - November 5, 1995. Also conducted, played piano, and sang one line in the last song.

Parade - Ran on Broadway from December 17, 1998 to February 28, 1999. Won the Tony for Best Score, and a Drama Desk Award for Best Music. Also plays piano on the cast recording.

Missing image
Original Cast Recording to "Parade"

The Last Five Years - Ran Off-Broadway from March 3, 2002 to May 5, 2002. Won Drama Desk Awards for Best Music and Best Lyrics, and nominated for Outstanding Orchestrations. Also wrote the book, conducted, and played piano.

Urban Cowboy - Ran on Broadway from March 27, 2003 to May 18, 2003. Tony-Nominated for Best Original Score. Brown contributed five songs to the score of the musical. Also orchestrated, arranged, music directed, conducted, played keyboards, and sang.

Selected Recordings

Original cast recordings are in print for Songs for a New World, Parade, and The Last Five Years. "Stars and the Moon" has been recorded many times, including Audra McDonald's album Way Back to Paradise and Betty Buckley's Stars and the Moon.

Actress Lauren Kennedy, who originated the role of Cathy in the Chicago production of The Last Five Years, released "Songs of Jason Robert Brown," featuring Brown's compositions from his previous shows, as well as several previously unreleased songs.

Work as Arranger, Music Director, Etc.

John and Jen - Orchestrations
A New Brain - Vocal Arrangements/Additional Musician
New York - Orchestrations


Official Tony Awards Website (http://www.tonyawards.com) Internet Broadway Database (http://www.ibdb.com) Internet Off-Broadway Database (http://www.iobdb.com)


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