November 1, 2016

Musical Theater Orchestrator and Composer Jonathan Tunick at Princeton University

The Tony, Grammy, Emmy, and Academy Award-winning orchestrator and composer Jonathan Tunick will discuss his collaborations with Stephen Sondheim and most of the great composers of the American musical theater in a conversation with Broadway director John Doyle, a professor in Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts. The discussion will take place on Monday, November 7 at 2:00 p.m. in the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street as a part of Doyle’s course, “Luminaries of the American Musical Theater.” Presented by the Lewis Center’s new Program in Music Theater, this event is free and open to the public.

Doyle’s course focuses on seven icons of American musical theater in the past 60 years, specifically Michael Bennett, Bob Fosse, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Harold Prince, Jerome Robbins, and Stephen Sondheim. Students are examining the influences of these icons on the evolution of American musical theater by studying the scripts and performances of musicals such as Chicago and West Side Story, presenting new production ideas for these plays, and engaging in lectures given by visiting professional musical theater figures who worked closely with these masters.


Award-winning orchestrator and composer Jonathan Tunick. Courtesy of Internet Broadway Database

Tunick’s work has left a lasting impact on musical theater and American show business. A graduate of both Bard College and the Juilliard School, Tunick has worked as orchestrator and musical director for hit musicals such as Company, A Chorus Line, Into the Woods, Follies, The Color Purple, and Promises, Promises. He received a Tony Award for his work on the score for Titanic, the very first one awarded in the category of Best Orchestration. He has also earned a Grammy, an Emmy, and an Academy Award, as well as three Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Orchestration. Throughout his musical career, Tunick has worked with celebrated artists such as Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis, and Paul McCartney. In 2009 he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame, and his recent work includes orchestrating the 2014 film version of Into the Woods.

Doyle is a Tony Award-winning director recognized for his work on the Broadway revivals of Sweeney Todd and Company. This past year he received a Drama Desk Award as Best Director of a Musical for his revival of The Color Purple, for which he was also nominated for a Tony Award. His other credits in the U.S. include productions of The Visit (Tony nomination for Best Musical, Drama Desk nomination for Best Director); Mahagonny (Los Angeles Opera, two Grammy Awards); Passion (Classic Stage Company, Drama Desk nomination for Best Director of a Musical); Road Show (Public Theatre); Caucasian Chalk Circle (American Conservatory Theatre); and Kiss Me Kate (Stratford Festival Theatre). As well as numerous credits in London’s West End, Doyle has also directed at Sydney Opera House, the Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, La Fenice in Venice, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Second Stage Theatre, Princeton’s McCarter theatre, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. He has taught in Princeton’s Program in Theater and the Princeton Atelier for the past three years, and is the artistic director of Class Stage Company in New York City.

Doyle’s class hosted discussions on other American musical theater figures throughout the semester in conversations with President of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization Ted Chapin, Tony-nominated choreographer and director Graciela Daniele, and Tony Award-winner Donna McKechnie, who originated the role of Cassie in Broadway’s A Chorus Line.

The series is supported in part by the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project in the Council of the Humanities.

The new Program in Music Theater is a collaboration among Princeton’s Program in Theater, Program in Dance, and Department of Music, which brings together students, faculty, and guest artists in the creation, study, and performance of music theater—that is, any theatrical form that combines singing, acting, and movement—in order to support and develop it as both an artistic practice and a scholarly field of study.

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