|Last Five Years||The Last Five Years chronicles the five year relationship of Cathy and Jamie. The show describes the...|
|Parade||‘Parade’ concerns the true story of the 1913 trial of a Brooklyn-born Jewish factory manager Leo...|
|Songs for a New World||The show sits on the boundary between musical and song cycle: it is a series of largely disjoint son...|
|13 (Thirteen)||After 12-year-old Evan’s parents get divorced, he moves with his mother from New York City to Appl...|
Jason Robert Brown (born 1970 in Ossining, New York) is an American 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. An accomplished pianist, Brown has often served as music director, conductor, and pianist for his own productions.
Brown grew up in the suburbs of New York City, and attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He began his career in New York City as an arranger, conductor, and pianist, 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 the 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, won Brown the 1999 Tony Award for Best Original Musical Score.
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. Inspired by 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's narrative begins at the beginning of the story and progresses through marriage, infidelity, and divorce, while the female narrative begins at the end of the relationship and ends with the couple's first date; the two actors' only direct interaction takes place mid-point, during the wedding sequence. The original Chicago cast consisted of Norbert Leo Butz and Lauren Kennedy. Kennedy was unable to continue the role in New York due to her commitment to the role of Nellie Forbush in Trevor Nunn's production of South Pacific in London, so Sherie Rene Scott took over her role for the New York run (Butz carried over from Chicago). 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. Additionally, due to the cast recording featuring Scott and Butz, the show has gained enormous popularity among contemporary musical theater aficionados and is an oft-performed piece in regional and community theatres.
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 Hairspray.
In June 2005, Brown released a solo album, entitled Wearing Someone Else's Clothes.
Brown recently married fellow composer Georgia Stitt. Together, they have a daughter. He is currently working on several projects, including a musical about a child's bar mitzvah entitled 13 and a musical version of the hit movie Honeymoon in Vegas. In May 2006, the Center Theater Group announced the world premiere of 13, with book by Dan Elish, as part of its 2006-2007 season.
In December 2005, his Chanukah Suite received its world premiere with two performances by the Los Angeles Master Chorale at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Brown has many trademarks in his composing style. His piano music is often extremely rhythmically challenging; his sheet music is released in a mostly unmodified format, posing many challenges to anyone who tries to play it. His songs are by no means easy to sing, either, with his choral music including many complex and unconventional harmonies and his songs (for men, in particular) covering a very wide vocal range. Most of his songs are written in AABA' format, the exceptions coming mostly in his show Parade. Perhaps most characteristic are his love duets; all three (I'd Give it All for You from Songs, The Next 10 Minutes from L5Y, and All the Wasted Time from Parade) are written in a very distinct format: male-female-both, compound time with a hemiola in the duet section, and two of the three end with the couple singing the same pitch.
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.
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.
Wearing Someone Else's Clothes - 2005 - Brown's solo debut album, composed entirely of tracks which were previously unreleased, some of which were cut songs from shows or written for shows which were never finished, and some of which were written as stand-alone songs for the album. The album features his vocals and compositions on every song, and his arrangements and musicianship on almost every track.
Chanukah Suite- 2005 - an 8 minute chorale fanfare in three parts, featuring traditional Hebrew songs infused with up-tempo rock and roll rhythms and Leonard Bernstein inspired chordal flavors.
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 on Audra McDonald's Way Back to Paradise and Betty Buckley's Stars and the Moon: Live at the Donmar.
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.