Category Archives: Larry’s Other Projects

Working With New Composers (And Other Honors)

I had the good fortune to work with 2 new composers in the last month – well, new for me, that is.  Marc Shaiman was honored at a New York Pops concert at Carnegie Hall in the beginning of May, and he had asked me for a new arrangement of a show-stopping song that had appeared in the Martin Short show, Fame Becomes Me. I’ve loved Marc’s music through the years, my favorites being Hairspray and The American President.

Later in May, I scored a new musical, Dog and Pony, with music and lyrics by Michael Patrick Walker, whom I had only met once before while working together on a show at Radio City. Michael is also brilliant, and a consummate musician. He’s known for his Off-Broadway hit, Alter Boyz, but I bet he’ll soon be known for a lot more. His co-writer is the equally brilliant Rick Elice, and the cast (Heidi Blickenstaff, Beth Leavel, Eric William Morris, Nicole Parker and Jon Patrick Walker) is absolutely sensational, as is the director Roger Rees and the Music Director Adam Wachter.  And there’s no place better to work at than The Old Globe. These two projects were very different, and both turned out well. Interesting that the concert was only one song with a huge orchestra, and the show was the usual 2200 measures of music (15 songs or so), but for a tiny band.

This week, I was also at a rehearsal for the Tony Awards broadcast, with conductor Patrick Vaccariello and Hugh Jackman. With the 24-piece orchestra, they’ll perform Mark Hummel’s and my arrangement of “Steppin’ Out.”

My next 3 shows are already lined up: The Visit (John Kander & Fred Ebb), The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Denver Theatre Center) and On the Twentieth Century with Kristin Chenoweth.

First, though, back to LA for the Emmy Awards. I didn’t win the Drama Desk last night (I had been nominated for my orchestrations for Big Fish, and my co-nominees included the great Jonathan Tunick, Michael Starobin, all losing to Jason Robert Brown – things could be worse!). As for the Emmys, it’s my great fortune to be nominated once again as composer for Nickelodeon’s The Wonder Pets.

But the real excitement for me these days is that TrackSlayer continues its progress in our Beta testing! Our public launch is not far away!

More about my days with Sir Paul

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I didn’t mean to keep you waiting for more of this story.  And it wasn’t meant as a tease.

It was the fall of 2010, and I knew that Sir Paul was to perform in a one-night Broadway gala honoring Frank Loesser, and benefiting The Actors Fund at the Minskoff Theatre.  My friend Brad Haak was the music director, and Paul’s “co-chairperson” was to be Jo Loesser. (Jo was the love of Frank’s life, and has been my dear friend since about 2003 when she engaged me to arrange Frank’s last, though incomplete show, Señor Discretion). Jo was well aware of me being the biggest Beatle fan in the world, yet I didn’t have real hopes of being involved with the gala.

Now, I’ve never understood that expression of “feeling your own heart pounding” – until I played back my answering machine that day.  It was Brad, saying that he’ll be conducting one arrangement of mine from Señor, but, “…what I really need is for you to do an arrangement for Paul McCartney.”  I was aware of my heart pounding, and all I could do was to drag my son to the phone to hear that message. After a few more minutes, my heart returned to normal.

A phone meeting was set up for Paul and me (!) for the next day. Paul sang me his ideas for “On a Slow Boat to China” (a song of Frank’s that Paul owns, I think).  Then we had a chat for about 20 minutes… and the next day I worked out the arrangement and emailed a little demo. On the 3rd day, the phone rang at around 8am — “Hello, Larry – It’s Paul.” I picked up the phone, and said “Paul who?”

Well, he had already listened to the demo and loved it, so I wrote the full orchestration in time for a Friday orchestra rehearsal, but Paul wouldn’t be flying to NYC until the following day.  A meeting with Paul and me was scheduled for Sunday afternoon at his hotel, and Brad was to join us at some point.  This would be 2 days before the concert.

Slow Boat to China score

To be continued!

Amazon TV program?

It was news to me that Amazon is also in the TV business.  But now I’ve learned that this has been the case for a while.

My surprise was when I was asked to compose a score for a pilot of a new kids’ show, The Jo B and G Raff Show.  It was a mad dash to fit it into my lineup in July, and the orchestration of the near-finished animation had to wait until I returned from South America in December.  But it all got done, and now we cross our fingers and hope for it to be green-lighted as a series.

This week I have a smaller assignment, composing one episode as a guest composer for PBS’s Peg + Cat series.  This episode will be next year’s Hanukkah special.

Only for the New York Philharmonic

3 musicals in 5 months made the end of 2013 perhaps the busiest yet. Even before Big Fish had its Broadway opening in October, I had started orchestrating The Landing, which is 3 one-act musicals by John Kander. (The writing team of John Kander and the late Fred Ebb gave us Cabaret, Chicago, The Scottsboro Boys and many other classics). Then, at the moment that I would have had a break from the world of deadlines, I was offered another show to orchestrate, this time from Misi Murillo of Bogotá Columbia. The show, Por Siempre Navidad, was a labor of love, and I treasure my new friendship with Misi, Leo, Nicholas, Ricardo and so many others in Misi’s theatrical family. Everything about this show is sensational.  Not an ordinary Xmas show, it’s a full book musical – Misi’s songs are inspired – and she even found an arranger named Nicholas.

I did finally get some time off in December, and when the phone did ring, I was glad it wasn’t another enormous musical. Unfortunately, the request was for a new arrangement of “Auld Lang Syne!” (I never did like that song) – But since it was to be premiered with the New York Philharmonic on New Year’s Eve, I said “yes.”

Now after a short trip to L.A. and San Diego, I am back to work on what I hope are the finishing touches for the launch of TrackSlayer!

New Wonder Pets Episode

This morning was the premiere of a special half-hour episode of THE WONDER PETS! on Nickelodeon.

“In The Land Of Oz”  is the first new episode in over a year! The guest stars: Brooke Shields, Tim Curry, Kenan Thompson and Jim Breuer. Composed by — well, me. Orchestration by David Siegel.

So great to welcome back the world-famous Linny, Tuck and Ming-Ming too.

New Arrangements for Mariah Carey and the New York Philharmonic

If we don’t get rained out — Tonight’s concert in Central Park  will include my  commissioned arrangement of “New York, New York,” with the New York Philharmonic.  I also arranged one of the songs that Mariah Carey will perform with the Phil.  Last night’s rehearsal was rained out! But Mariah and the Phil will perform without a rehearsal if the rain holds out!

Other works on the program include my friend Brad Dechter’s arrangements for Mariah, and the premiere of a suite from a truly great film score of “42,” composed by my new friend Mark Isham, also orchestrated by Brad.

The concert is co-sponsored by the NY Phil and the Baseball Commission (in honor of All-Star Week), as a benefit for Sandy Relief.