Award-winning American writer and composer Bobby Cronin comes to London on March 24th for a one off concert to celebrate the release of his new studio recording of musical The Concrete Jungle. Nicole Evans caught up with him this week to find out more about the concert and his international rise to fame.
You are no stranger to London, are you excited about coming back?
I love London! I feel so at home when I’m fortunate enough to be visiting. The West End community has been so welcoming, and I just love working with London actors. Can’t wait to see some shows while I am in town, too.
What have you got in store for us with the concert?
You’re not just getting a concert; you are getting a big chunk of material fromThe Concrete Jungle,dialogue and all! You will get to meet the characters, hear how they speak and sing, and you will get the journey of the piece. We were successful with a similar format for the CD Release Concert in NYC at The Cutting Room a couple of weeks ago. It was so fun! See, when you understandwhysomeone is singing, you have a greater connection to their song. Also at the concert we will be peppering in a few songs from my other projects, including two premieres. Plus, we have a cast of epic proportions, full of insane amounts of talent, including some of the singers on the CD: Rebecca Trehearn ofGhost, Danielle Hope of The Wizard of Ozand Les Mis and Olivia Phillip of The Book of Mormon. The other performers also have resumes the size of a NYC street block. I’m so honoured to be working with such an array of talent.
The concrete Jungleis a hugely popular musical and the international recording is generating a lot of excitement both here and in the states. Is there any chance of it returning to the stage for another tour?
Why, yes there is! Can’t give any specifics yet, but that ball is rolling…
You were recently labelled as “one of the most exciting musical theatre writers around” which is a huge accolade. How did you first get into writing and has this always been your dream?
Apparently I could sing long before I could speak, and as the youngest of five kids, my entire family can attest to me walking around always singing, humming or whistling a tune. I used to turn newspaper articles into songs and I’d write and direct plays in my backyard starring the neighbourhood kids. Oh, all while playing ice hockey. (That’s what Boston boys do.) I went to Yale to play hockey but ended up graduating with a degree in Theatre, minor in music theory. I went out into the professional world as a director, where I had the pleasure of working at theatres all across the USA. I was then given the opportunity to adaptA Christmas Carolinto a musical, for which I wrote the book and lyrics, directed, and did some vocal arrangements. That was it! I was bitten by the writing bug…so I started working on an idea I had about five kids sent to a wilderness intervention program. That was seven years ago and after a lot of hard work, blood, sweat &tears, that show (calledWelcome To My LifeorW2ML) was “optioned” this past year for a first class production by Broadway producers! Once I started writing music &lyrics, I started seeing my life in an entirely different way; with new dreams, new ideas, both personally and professionally.
Where do you get your writing inspiration from?
It varies. Sometimes it’s from a conversation with a friend. Sometimes a headline in the newspaper. Sometimes from simply sitting at the piano or computer. I try to tap into the heart and soul of the character, both musically and lyrically, writing for what the specific moment calls for. Hoping to say it in my own way. Interestingly, it’s gotten more difficult for me to just sit and write… I crave the character, the circumstances.
You’ve risen to fame pretty quickly. What do you think makes your work so popular?
I certainly have not risen quickly! I have been working in the NYC theatre community for 15 years total; 8 as a director, 7 as a composer/writer.I also don’t I think I have fame. But…I love to work. I love to write. I love my job. And I think that is what comes through in my work. I love being honest and open in my writing. I also love creating characters who have aneedtosingtheir passions, their joys, their sorrows, their fun stories, their triumphs, their battles, their losses, or what-have-you. I love writing for singers. Accomplished singers and accomplished actors. With all of the amazing training in this business, we have greater ranges for singers, new techniques that gives us writers better instruments to play with, to create with, to colour with, to connect with. I’m just a guy working hard trying to live his dream, and the fact that people are liking the work…yeah, that’s a great feeling!
You’ve already worked with some fantastic names, both over here and in the States. Is there anybody you’d love to have the opportunity to work with?
Well…I’d love to work with “the greats”: Patti LuPone, Elaine Paige, Betty Buckley. And Heather Headley, Audra McDonald, Kelli O’Hara. I love working with new talent as well.
You do a lot of community work and support some very worthy organisations. Raising awareness and fundraising must be very important to you?
It’s VERY important to me. I love helping people and animals, through organizations like St. Jude’s, World Society for the Protection of Animals, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and The Trevor Project, for example.I’m also on the Board of Advisors at Read Dance &Theatre College.I try to do something every day to help someone else. Keeps me happy.
Obviously the upcoming concert must be taking up a lot of your time, but is there anything else you are working on at the moment?
I am working on ‘Til Death Do Us Partwhich won the 2012 Alec Baldwin Fellowship in NYC. It’s a yearlong developmental grant which is kicking my butt (in a good way). I wish every musical could have an opportunity like this one! In the fall, we will present a one-week-only full production of the show and then we’ll see what happens next. I’m also ready to go into rewrites forW2MLas we are in the process of finalizing our director. I’m also working on two new projects:Sunset Citywhich is a large musical comedy set in a retirement community, and an adaptation of the claymation filmMary &Max.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us and good luck for the concert on the 24th. Any messages for your London fans?
Keep believing in your dreams! Be a good person and a passionate artist. The energy you put out into the world comes right back at you. And thanks for all of the messages and tweets and stuff. I really appreciate it!
Tickets for Bobby Cronin- The Concrete Jungle International Studio Recording release concert are available at www.stjamestheatre.co.uk