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Stephen Flaherty

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stephen Flaherty
Born (1960-09-18) September 18, 1960 (age 58)
Years active1982-present

Stephen Flaherty (born September 18, 1960) is an American composer of musical theatre and film. He works most often in collaboration with the lyricist/book writer Lynn Ahrens. They are best known for writing the Broadway musicals Ragtime, which was nominated for thirteen Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, and won the Tony for Best Original Score; Once On This Island, which won the Tony Award for Best Revival Of A Musical, the Olivier Award for London’s Best Musical, and was nominated for a Grammy Award and eight Tony Awards; and Seussical, which was nominated for a Grammy and is now one of the most performed shows in America. Flaherty was also nominated for two Academy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards (with Lynn Ahrens) for his songs and song score for the animated film musical Anastasia.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty on Crafting the Lavish & Luring Songs of ANASTASIA
  • ✪ Composers and Lyricists (Working In The Theatre #359)
  • ✪ Behind the Curtain: Composer Stephen Flaherty on the music of Little Dancer
  • ✪ Prologue: Ragtime
  • ✪ Ragtime


--In 1998, the songwriting team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty received Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for the music they wrote for the animated film Anastasia. And now that fan favorite film has been transformed into a magnificent stage musical, featuring a signature Ahrens and Flaherty score with over 20 songs that help bring the epic adventure to life. We recently sat down with the Tony-winning duo to find out the inspiration behind the songs they wrote for Anastasia, and what this journey has meant to them. --Anastasia begins with the Romanoff Empire, the last of the Czars, and it swirls through this beautiful glimpse of old Russia into the Russian Revolution. And we follow the story of a young woman named Anya, who doesn't know who she is. She was lost in the war. Now she's trying to find out who she is and where she belongs. This is called "In My Dreams" It gives us a little bit of backstory, little flashes of things that she does remember, but she has little little snippets of memory that give her clues to where she might be going. So that's her first song in the show. [piano] --[Singing] Rain against a window, sheets upon a bed, terrifying nurses whispering overhead. Call the child Anya, give the child a hat. I don't know a thing before that. --So, some of the characters that Anya meets on her journey are a character named Vlad. And he is concocting a scheme with his friend who is a dashing young man named Dmitry. And the two of them are trying to find a way to get out of communist Russia and get to to Paris. And along the way, they meet Anya, and the three of them together form a trio. And together, the goal is to to get to Paris. --This set is set on a train. It's this magnificent scenic event toward the end of Act One as they head for Paris. And you'll hear train music. It's really fun. Yeah, imagine a train. --[piano] --[Both singing] But no more doubt, no time to spare, We're nearly out, so let's prepare. We're on our way to who knows where? --And we'll go --And we'll go, And we'll go --[Both singing] from there! [piano] --We'll go from there. --One of the things that was great about getting a chance to revisit Anastasia is characters who didn't really sing that much in the original now get to express themselves more fully in the stage version. The character of Dmitry, he's a character that didn't sing that much originally and he is a character that we were curious about. And we wanted to know more about him, more about his background. So we were able to write a song for Dmitry called "My Petersburg," which sums a lot of that up. [paino] --[Sing] I grew up on the slide in the gutters and the streets of Petersburg just a kid on the fly getting good at getting by in Petersburg. I've bartered for a blanket, stolen for my bread, learned to take my chances and use my head. A Russian rat is clever, clever or he ends up dead. Boils down to there are some who survive some who don't. Some give up, some give in. Me, I won't. Black and blue, welcome to my Petersburg. --I remember when we were working on Journey to the Past, which is sort of the, you know, famous very famous song from the score. But when we were first writing it together, he hit three notes: bum bum bum bum, four notes. [laughs] And I said, I need more notes. I don't know what I can set on those words. But I said let me think about it. And that became "home, love, family" and that is the core of the show. It's about, you know, finding your home, falling in love, and discovering who your family is. [piano] --Heart don't fail me now. Courage don't desert me. Don't turn back now that we're here. People always say life is full of choices. No one ever mentions fear, or how the world can seem so vast on a journey to the past... [piano]



Flaherty was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He began studying piano at the age of seven. When he was twelve, he knew he wanted to write musicals and by age fourteen he had already composed his first musical score. He attended South Hills Catholic High School[1] in Pittsburgh and later studied musical composition and piano at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, graduating in 1982. with a B.M. in Musical Composition. He did additional graduate studies in Musical Theater at New York University.[2][3]


As a college student, Flaherty played ragtime piano in a dance band.[4] This early job would serve Flaherty well later in life when he had the opportunity to compose the score for the Broadway musical Ragtime.

He moved to New York City in 1982 and joined the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, founded by music director Lehman Engel, where he met Lynn Ahrens, who was to become his longtime collaborator.[2][5] He also studied Musical Theater in the graduate program at New York University during this time, where his teachers included Richard Maltby, Jr. and Arthur Laurents, among others.[citation needed] The first Ahrens and Flaherty collaboration that was produced was a one act children's show, The Emperor's New Clothes, for TheatreWorks USA in 1985.[6][7] Their next produced musical was Lucky Stiff , produced Off-Broadway in 1989 at Playwrights Horizons.

Their first Broadway musical was Once on This Island, in 1990, which transferred from Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons.[5][8] The musical was nominated for 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score. The London production of the show won the Olivier Award (London’s Tony) for Best Musical in 1995. The show was later revived on Broadway in an immersive production at Circle In The Square in December 2017, where it was again nominated for 8 Tony Awards, winning for Best Revival of a Musical. The cast recording of the revival was nominated for the Grammy in 2019.

In 1992, Flaherty and Ahrens were signed by Disney to write the animated musical Song of the Sea, a coming of age story about a humpback whale.[9] Though the film was never produced, several key development executives on the project would play a part in Flaherty and Ahrens’ later film musical, Anastasia (1997.)

Also in 1992, Flaherty and Ahrens wrote the musical My Favorite Year, based on the film of the same title,with a book by Joseph Dougherty. It was notably the first original American musical to be produced by Lincoln Center Theatre. Flaherty would eventually go on to write three additional original musicals for Lincoln Center Theatre, all in collaboration with Ms. Ahrens: A Man Of No Importance (2002, with a book by Terrence McNally), Dessa Rose (2005) and The Glorious Ones (2007.) He was nominated for Outstanding Music by the Drama Desk Awards on all three of these shows.

The critically acclaimed Ragtime (also with a book by Terrence McNally) had its world premiere in Toronto in December of 1996, its American premiere in Los Angeles in June of 1997 and its Broadway premiere in January of 1998, where it ran for two years. It won four Tony Awards, including Best Book and Best Score (for Flaherty and Ahrens), the Drama Desk Award for Best Musical and was also nominated for two Grammy Awards for its two cast recordings. Its London production (2003) was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Musical. The show was revived on Broadway in November of 2009, where it was again critically acclaimed and nominated for the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.

After writing three shows for Lincoln Center Theatre, Flaherty and Ahrens next returned to Broadway with the musical Rocky .The show premiered in Hamburg, Germany in October 2012. The musical has a book by Thomas Meehan. and Sylvester Stallone, based on Stallone's original screenplay[10][11] Rocky premiered on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre, officially opening on March 13, 2014. The musical was directed by Alex Timbers, with choreography by Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine. The show was nominated for 4 Tony Awards and 7 Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Musical.

Flaherty and Ahrens’ next musical, Little Dancer, featured direction and choreography by Susan Stroman. Inspired by the famous sculpture, Little Dancer, Aged 14 by Edgar Degas, the musical had a reading in 2010 at Lincoln Center Theater and a developmental lab production in June 2010. The show premiered at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater in October 2014. The cast included Rebecca Luker, Boyd Gaines and Tiler Peck. The musical is inspired by true events,[and] focuses on the relationship between a young ballerina and 19th century French painter and sculptor Edgar Degas. Much of the action is set in the Paris Opera Ballet. A re-working of the show, now titled “Marie” (after the name of the young ballerina), will have its west coast premiere at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre in March 2019.

Flaherty’s next Broadway musical was Anastasia, featuring lyrics by Ms. Ahrens, a book by Terrence McNally, and based on the Twentieth Century Fox films. The show premiered on Broadway in April 2017 after premiering at Hartford Stage in Connecticut the previous year. The show was subsequently produced in Madrid, Stuttgart and on tour in the United States in 2018, with a production in The Hague to open in 2019. During the 2017-2018 Broadway season Flaherty and Ahrens had the rare honor of having two shows running on Broadway at the same time, Anastasia and the revival of Once On This Island.

For his work in film, Flaherty was nominated for two Academy Awards with lyricist Ahrens (for Best Song and Best Score, the latter shared with David Newman) and two Golden Globe Awards for his first film, Twentieth Century Fox's animated Anastasia (1997). He also composed the film score and wrote the songs for its animated sequel, Bartok The Magnificent (1999). He wrote the original film score for the documentary After the Storm (2009), which follows a group of teenagers as they perform Ahrens and Flaherty's Once On This Island in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina. He composed the song score and co-wrote the film score for Lucky Stiff (2014), which was based on his and Ms. Ahrens’ stage musical of the same title.

Occasionally Mr. Flaherty writes with other collaborators. His “chamber-scale musical,” Loving Repeating: A Musical of Gertrude Stein, written with his Ragtime director, Frank Galati, premiered in Chicago in February 2006, in a co-production between the About Face Theatre and the Museum of Contemporary Art.[11] The musical won Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award as the “Best New Work” of the year. An earlier version of the show was initially titled A Long Gay Book, and had its premiere at Northwestern University in May 2003.[12]

Flaherty collaborated with the director-choreographer Christopher Gattelli on a new "dance-theatre musical", In Your Arms, which premiered at the Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, California,September 24, 2015. The show consists of 10 vignettes on the topic of “romantic destiny”, which were written by Douglas Carter Beane, Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, Carrie Fisher, David Henry Hwang, Rajiv Joseph, Terrence McNally, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage and Alfred Uhry, all of which were set to music by Flaherty. All the vignettes are danced without words. Lynn Ahrens wrote the lyrics for the title song. The show starred Donna McKechnie and George Chakiris and eighteen powerhouse dancers. The musical had a staged workshop during the summer of 2014 at New York Stage and Film & Vassar's Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College..

For the concert hall, Flaherty wrote the music for “With Voices Raised” (text by Lynn Ahrens), which was commissioned by the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1999. It had its world premiere in Boston on July 4, 1999, which was nationally televised, featuring Senator Ted Kennedy as one of the speakers. It was subsequently released on the Pops’ recording “A Splash Of Pops” on the RCA Victor Label, July 13, 1999 .He also wrote the music for the "American River Suite", with lyrics by Bill Schermerhorn and commissioned by Macy's. The piece premiered in April 2009 at Carnegie Hall by the New York Pops and sung by Idina Menzel, Anika Noni Rose, and the children’s chorus from the Choir Academy of Harlem. It was broadcast nationally on the Fourth of July of that same year.

He has received several commissions from Carnegie Hall, the Guggenheim Museum and the Boston Pops Orchestra, among others. His most recent concert commission was from the Boston Pops Orchestra for “A Soldier’s Carol” (2014, text by Ms. Ahrens), which was his final collaboration with orchestrator William David Brohn, who won the Tony Award for his orchestrations to Ragtime.

With Lynn Ahrens, Flaherty received the Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2014, was inducted into the Theater Hall Of Fame in 2015 and was nominated to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.


Flaherty married Trevor Hardwick on October 26, 2016 in New York City.[12]



Incidental music
  • "I Eat", contribution to The Seven Deadly Sins: A Song Cycle for Audra McDonald, performed at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall on June 2, 2004[22]
Film scores

Awards and nominations


List of awards and nominations
Year Award Category Result Title
1991 Tony Award Best Original Score Nominated Once on This Island
1995 Olivier Award Best New Musical Won
1998 Academy Award Best Original Song Nominated Anastasia
Best Original Score Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Original Song Nominated
Annie Awards Music in a Feature Production Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Music Won Ragtime
Tony Award Best Original Score Won
Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album Nominated Ragtime (concept album)
1999 Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album (Original Broadway Cast) Nominated Ragtime ( Original Broadway Cast Recording)
2001 Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album Nominated Seussical
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Music Nominated
2003 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Music Nominated A Man of No Importance
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Off Broadway Musical Won
2004 Olivier Award Best New Musical Nominated Ragtime
2005 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Music Nominated Dessa Rose
Joseph Jefferson Award Best New Musical Won Loving Repeating: A Musical of Gertrude Stein
2008 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Music Nominated The Glorious Ones
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical Nominated
Lucille Lortel Award Outstanding Revivial Nominated Seussical
2015 Theater Hall of Fame Theater Hall of Fame Inductee Won Lifetime Achievement.
2017 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Music Nominated Anastasia
2018 Tony Award Best Musical Revival Won Once On This Island


  1. ^ "2009 Seton-La Salle Catholic High School Hall Of Fame, see 1991" Archived 2011-07-28 at the Wayback Machine Seton-La Salle Catholic High School, accessed August 30, 2011
  2. ^ a b Biography, accessed January 31, 2010
  3. ^ Bryer, Jackson and Davison, Richard. The Art of the American Musical: Conversations With the Creators (2005). Rutgers University Press, ISBN 0-8135-3613-8, p.1
  4. ^ Rohter, Larry."Finding New Meaning in a Pageant of Dreams"The New York Times, November 4, 2009
  5. ^ a b Bixby, Suzanne."A Conversation with Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty" (Regional, Boston), 2003, accessed August 30, 2011
  6. ^ "'The Emperor's New Clothes' listing", accessed January 31, 2010
  7. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Ahrens & Flaherty Double Bill of Musicals Pairs Lorax and Emperor's New Clothes" Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine, June 1, 2007
  8. ^ "About Stephen Flaherty", accessed January 31, 2010
  9. ^ "FILM; For Alan Menken, A Partnership Ends But the Song Plays On - New York Times". 1992-03-15. Retrieved 2014-07-04.
  10. ^ Jones, Kenneth. " 'Rocky the Musical' Makes World Premiere in Germany Nov. 18; American Drew Sarich Stars" Archived 2012-11-19 at the Wayback Machine, November 18, 2012
  11. ^ Orlando, Nick. "INTERVIEW: Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty Continue to Journey On", April 23, 2012
  12. ^ Weddings. Trevor Hardwick, Stephen Flaherty", The New York Times, October 30, 2016
  13. ^ Biography, Stephen Flaherty Archived 2011-09-28 at the Wayback Machine (as of December, 2007), accessed January 31, 2010
  14. ^ a b "Internet Broadway database listing, Stephen Flaherty", accessed January 31, 2010
  15. ^ a b "Internet Movie Database listing, Stephen Flaherty", accessed January 31, 2010
  16. ^ a b "Flaherty listing, Off-Broadway", accessed January 31, 2010
  17. ^ a b Jones, Kenneth. "'Loving Repeating", a Gertrude Stein Chamber Musical by Galati & Flaherty, Premieres" Playbill, February 14, 2006
  18. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Together Again, Galati and Flaherty Conjure Gertrude Stein in New Musical, 'A Long Gay Book'" Playbill, April 16, 2003
  19. ^ Brantley, Ben. "You Just Can't Keep a Good Broadway Diva Down" The New York Times, December 12, 2005
  20. ^ Viagas, Robert and Hetrick, Adam. "Cast Announced for Ahrens and Flaherty's Stage 'Anastasia'" Playbill, March 9, 2016
  21. ^ Sommer, Elyse. "Review, 'Proposals'", November 12, 1997
  22. ^ Gans, Andrew."Audra McDonald Premieres The Seven Deadly Sins June 2 at Zankel Hall" Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine, June 2, 2004
  23. ^ After the Storm, accessed March 10, 2016
  24. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette. "Movie review. 'After the Storm'" The new York Times, October 4, 2009

External links

This page was last edited on 8 March 2019, at 03:02
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