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Doug Besterman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Douglas Besterman (born February 3, 1965) is an American orchestrator, musical arranger and music producer. He is the recipient of three Tony Awards out of six total nominations and two Drama Desk Awards out of six total nominations, and was a 2009 Grammy Award nominee.

Personal life

Besterman currently resides in New York. Doug grew up in the New York suburb of Monsey.  He attended Ramapo High School and the University of Rochester/Eastman School of Music.  His father (Kenny Besterman) was a child performer on The Horn and Hardart Children's Hour.


Besterman found work in New York City in 1986 as a rehearsal pianist. In 1990, he met Danny Troob, who recommended Besterman to work on an Off-Broadway musical with Alan Menken.[2] Besterman then began an extensive career in film with Lincoln (1992), subsequently orchestrating Disney's Pocahontas in 1995.

He made his Broadway debut with Damn Yankees (1994), for which he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Orchestrations. Besterman was also nominated for the latter in 1997, with Big: the Musical.[3] He won his first Tony Award for Best Orchestrations in 1999, for orchestrating Fosse with Ralph Burns.

Besterman was nominated for the Tony Award for The Music Man in 2000, for which he also received his third Drama Desk Award nomination.[3]

Besterman won his second Tony Award and his first Drama Desk Award for the Broadway and West End productions of The Producers (2001). In 2002, he shared these awards with Ralph Burns for the original Broadway production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, starring Sutton Foster. Burns had died in November 2001[4] and Besterman accepted the awards.[3] In his acceptance speech at the 2002 Tony Awards, Besterman was quoted as saying, "I'm sad to be here without him."[5]

In 2001, Besterman orchestrated Rodgers and Hammerstein's score in the TV movie South Pacific.[6] In 2002 he served as orchestrator for the Academy Award-winning film adaptation of Chicago.[7] Besterman also arranged music for the 2003 film Piglet's Big Movie.

In 2004, Besterman orchestrated music for the original productions of Dracula, the Musical at the La Jolla Playhouse and Broadway's Belasco Theatre.[8][9]

Besterman provided orchestrations and arrangements for the 2005 West End production of Guys and Dolls.[10]

Also in 2005, Besterman reunited with The Producers composer Mel Brooks for the film version of the same name.[11] He again worked with Brooks on his 2007 musical adaptation of Young Frankenstein, for which he was nominated for his sixth Drama Desk Award and first Grammy Award.[3][12][13]

Besterman worked with writer Debra Fordham and composers Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez for a musical episode of Scrubs, titled "My Musical", which aired in 2007.[14] Many[who?] described initial misgivings that the musical concept would make the episode seem gimmicky, but these fears were, for the most part, put to rest by the fact that the episode was "logically insane."[15]

In 2008, Besterman orchestrated songs for the Houston, Texas, premiere of The Gershwins' An American In Paris, a musical adaptation of the 1951 film of the same name. It played from April 29, 2008, to June 22, 2008.[16]

In concerts, Besterman has orchestrated performances for Mel Brooks and Chita Rivera at the Kennedy Center Honors, Beyoncé Knowles' 2002 benefit concert, and the "Stephen Sondheim 75th Birthday Celebration" with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In addition, he has worked with the Boston Pops Orchestra and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.[17][18]

Orchestrations for ballets include Take Five (More Or Less) (Pacific Northwest Ballet), Double Feature (New York City Ballet), and But Not For Me (Martha Graham Dance Company); all of these were choreographed by Susan Stroman.[19]

He wrote orchestrations to the La Jolla Playhouse's 2010 production of Limelight: The Story of Charlie Chaplin. He orchestrated songs for a musical adaptation, titled Elf the Musical, of the 2003 film Elf,[20] which played at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on Broadway in winter 2010.[21]

Besterman was the orchestrator for Rob Ashford's 2011 Broadway revival of Frank Loesser's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, starring Daniel Radcliffe, for which he has been nominated for his fifth Tony Award for Best Orchestrations.[22][23] For this production, Besterman scaled down the orchestra: "Music director David Chase and orchestrator Doug Besterman explored ways to honor the contributions of the original music team (music director Elliot Lawrence and orchestrator Robert Ginzler) while capitalizing on the assets of a streamlined 14-member orchestra."[24] When describing Besterman's approach for these new orchestrations, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron wrote:

They decided to not use strings (other than a harp) and to think in terms of a muscular jazz ensemble rather than a symphonic sound. Jo Sullivan Loesser (Frank Loesser’s widow and a renowned performer in her own right) was very excited to go down this new path with the score. Inspiration came from the work of 1950’s arranger Marty Paich, whose Dek-Tette recordings (most famously with Mel Tormé) found fresh and versatile sounds from a 10-member ensemble (5 brass, 3 saxes, bass and drums). Added to our mix were guitar (muted guitar vamp figures were a favorite of Ginzler’s, as in “Gotta Stop That Man”), percussion (for the Latin sounds so popular at the time as exemplified by “Coffee Break”), piano (you can’t do this show without a nod to Grieg), and harp (for over-the-top romanticism in “Rosemary”).[24]

He also provided orchestrations for the London, Broadway, and Hamburg productions of the musical Sister Act. These productions opened on June 2, 2009 (London),[25] December 2, 2010 (Hamburg),[26] and April 20, 2011 (Broadway).[27]

Besterman provided orchestrations for the 2011 film remake of Winnie the Pooh, with music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, with contributions by The Sherman Brothers.[28]

Besterman orchestrated, with Michael Starobin, the Roundabout Theatre Company's musical The People in the Picture (2011), concerning a grandmother recalling her life in the Yiddish theater and the Holocaust.[29] Besterman will also provide orchestrations for the upcoming MCC Theater revival of the 1988 musical Carrie.[30]


Title Performer Label
A Love Like Ours
Barbra Streisand
Sony/Columbia Records
Timeless: Live in Concert
Barbra Streisand
Sony/Columbia Records
Manilow Sings Sinatra
Barry Manilow
Arista Records
Oscar and Steve
Mandy Patinkin
Nonesuch Records
Mandy Patinkin
Nonesuch Records
Mandy Patinkin
Nonesuch Records
Mandy Patinkin
Nonesuch Records
Standing Room Only
Jerry Hadley
Bertelsmann Music Group
Here’s To The Ladies
Christine Andreas

Awards and nominations

  • 1999 Tony Award, Best Orchestrations, Fosse
  • 2001 Tony Award, Best Orchestrations, The Producers
  • 2001 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Orchestrations, The Producers
  • 2002 Tony Award, Best Orchestrations, Thoroughly Modern Millie
  • 2002 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Orchestrations, Thoroughly Modern Millie
  • 1994 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Orchestrations, Damn Yankees
  • 1997 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Orchestrations, Big
  • 2000 Tony Award, Best Orchestrations, The Music Man
  • 2000 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Orchestrations, The Music Man
  • 2008 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Orchestrations, Young Frankenstein
  • 2009 Grammy Award, Best Musical Show Album, Young Frankenstein
  • 2011 Tony Award, Best Orchestrations, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
  • 2014 Tony Award, Best Orchestrations, Bullets Over Broadway
  • 2017 Drama Desk Award, Best Orchestrations, "Anastasia "


  1. ^ "The Orchestration of a Tony Award Winner". Rochester Review. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
  2. ^ "Interview". Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d "Doug Besterman Awards". Internet Broadway Database. Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  4. ^ "Homophobia in Jazz". Jazz Times. 2001.
  5. ^ Pogebin, Robin."At Tonys, 'Millie' Is Tops, but Its Book and Score Aren't" New York Times, June 6, 2002
  6. ^ Kenrick, John (March 2001). "South Pacific". Musicals 101. ABC-TV. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  7. ^ "The 2003 Oscar Winners". Archived from the original on August 6, 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
  8. ^ "LaJolla History" Archived July 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, retrieved January 10, 2010
  9. ^ Dracula listing, retrieved January 10, 2010
  10. ^ "Guys and Dolls (2005)". Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  11. ^ "The Producers (2005)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  12. ^ "Gypsy, In the Heights, Mermaid, Pacific and Frankenstein Are Grammy-Nominated" Archived 2008-12-07 at the Wayback Machine,, December 3, 2011.
  13. ^ "Mel Brooks Thinks It Time for Frankenstein to Dance". New Zealand Herald. April 10, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-04.
  14. ^ Debra Fordham, Stephanie D'Abruzzo (January 13, 2007). Scrubs Blog: My Musical - Part 1. Quick Stop Entertainment. Archived from the original (mov) on October 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-06.
  15. ^ Iverson, Dan (2007-01-19). "Scrubs: 'My Musical' Review". IGN. Retrieved 2007-07-09.
  16. ^ "An American in Paris (2008)". Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  17. ^ "Orchestrations (Concerts)". Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  18. ^ "Disc Recordings". Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  19. ^ "Orchestrations (Ballet)". Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  20. ^ Healy, Patrick. "Musical Version of ‘Elf’ Heading to Broadway". The New York Times, June 11, 2010.
  21. ^ Broadway News Report. "Elf: new family musical for the winter holidays". New York Theatre Guide, June 10, 2011.
  22. ^ "2011 Tony Nominations Announced",, May 3, 2011.
  23. ^ Hetrick, Adam."John Larroquette Will Join Daniel Radcliffe in How to Succeed Broadway Revival" Archived 2010-11-24 at the Wayback Machine, October 20, 2010
  24. ^ a b How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, 2011 Revival Cast Recording, CD Booklet
  25. ^ Gans, Andrew."Habit Forming: Whoopi Goldberg to Produce London Premiere of Sister Act" Archived 2009-01-07 at the Wayback Machine,, November 13, 2008
  26. ^ Sister Act Archived 2011-01-19 at the Wayback Machine, official website, Hamburg, Germany.
  27. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "'Sister Act The Musical' Will Open at the Broadway Theatre in April 2011" Archived 2010-12-16 at the Wayback Machine, October 5, 2010
  28. ^ Gans, Andrew (March 30, 2011). "Book of Mormon's Robert Lopez Is Co-Writer of Songs for Disney's New "Winnie the Pooh"". Playbill. Archived from the original on 4 April 2011. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  29. ^ Jones, Kenneth." 'People in the Picture', With Donna Murphy Living Two Lives, Comes Into Focus on Broadway April 1" Archived 2011-06-08 at the Wayback Machine, April 1, 2011
  30. ^ Gans, Andrew (October 25, 2010). "MCC Theater to Produce Infamous Broadway Flop Carrie". Playbill. Archived from the original on 11 December 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2011.

External links

This page was last edited on 30 November 2020, at 08:32
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