Sunday, July 5, 2015

Spotlight On...Karl Hinze

Name: Karl Hinze

Hometown: Milwaukee, WI

Education: BA Math and Music, College of the Holy Cross, MA in Music Composition from Stony Brook University (currently a PhD candidate there)

Favorite Credits: I had a blast writing music for Are They Edible?, an experimental puppet show by Jeanette Yew, inspired by Homer's epics, that went up at La Mama last year. I also loved getting to write a few songs for Shackled Spirits, a multi-media dance drama by Lynn Kremer that was seen at the 2013 Bali Arts Festival.

Why theater?: Theatre has always felt like home to me—I just love surrounding myself with the high level of artistry and technical skill, the passionate storytelling, and above all, the people. Especially for weird kids with strange, dark stories to tell, theatre is both a haven and a springboard. Also, the very best of theatre makes me feel and think differently, and that's what I've always aimed to do in my own work.

Tell us about 210 Amlent Avenue: This is a show I've been working on with playwright Becky Goldberg for about five years—it's a contemporary drama about searching for family and coming to terms with the past. We've been describing it as August: Osage County meets A Little Night Music.

What inspired you to write 210 Amlent Avenue?: The play started with the image of this big house, and the idea that this house could represent different things to different people—an escape, a prison, a future, a memory—depending on their experiences there. It's a story all about the gray areas, the in-betweens, so it's appropriate that the music and lyrics live in that gray area too: the score is somewhere between musical theatre, classical art song, and pop music; the lyrics, somewhere between everyday speech and heightened poeticism.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: It's very hard to encapsulate all the different types of theater I love... I can have a blast at an intimate family drama the same as I might enjoy a frothy comedy. If the craft is good, I'm there. That being said, the stories that speak to me most directly are the ones about people confronting their demons, both within and without (Ibsen's Ghosts, Hand to God, and my beloved Drowsy Chaperone come to mind). I'm also very inspired by the work of Adam Guettel, William Finn, and Jason Robert Brown (as well as the inimitable Sondheim), each of whom manages to find intensely personal ways for their characters to express themselves through music and lyrics.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: This is the hardest question! Off the top of my head, I'd have to say Barbara Whitman. She's been involved with so many shows that I love (Fun Home, Next to Normal, If/Then, Legally Blonde, Spelling Bee) and since I too am a fan (and author) of "dark stories about families," she is for-sure on my "dream collaborator" wish list.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: This season I'm all about Curious Incident and Hand To God. I rarely have two plays on my must-see-list, but they are both unmissable. I've also been encouraging everyone to see Fun Home, though most people don't need my encouragement, haha.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I would vote for John Gallagher Jr. to play me, since he has demonstrated his stage-to-screen talents (Spring Awakening! "The Newsroom"!) and also has a gorgeous voice. I figure since I'm a composer, it would have to be a movie musical, and it would be called something cheesy like "Opening Night" or "Behind the Music".

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I would set my time machine to either 1987 to catch the original production of Into the Woods, or to 1996 to see Floyd Collins. Both of those shows are very special to me.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Home renovation and real estate TV shows. I will talk your ear off about any "Flip or Flop," "Love It or List It," "Rehab Addict," or my newest favorite, "Million Dollar Listing: New York," which is—I'm not joking—basically a "Real Housewives" franchise behind a thin veneer of apartment eye-candy.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: I would probably just be doing more of the other things I do now: designing website and teaching music theory/composition.

What’s up next?: I have a new musical adaptation of Monteverdi's Poppea in the works with lyricist Patrick Spencer and bookwriter Susan Murray, which is in the early stages but looks like it'll be a lot of fun (and will double as my doctoral dissertation, so you can finally call me "Dr. Music"). I've also been tossing around ideas for a musical inspired by the "Slender Man" stabbing with Charlie O'Leary. But before any of that, I hope you'll join us for 210 Amlent Avenue July 9–14 at NYMF!

For more on 210 Amlent Avenue, visit or