Monday, May 9, 2016
Spotlight On...Drew Brody
Hometown: Wilmette, IL
Education: Georgetown University School of Foreign Service
Favorite Credits: Music and lyrics for Cutman: A Boxing Musical (Goodspeed Theaters 2011), Derma (Piccolo Spoleto, 2013), film score for “Stephen Winter’s Jason and Shirley,” two solo albums and two albums as the lead singer of the rock band M-LAB.
Why theater?: I grew up going to musical theater rehearsals with my father and stepmom, who were both actors in community theater. My stepmom was the local ingénue and my father always played the comedic sidekicks. I would obsessively study the scripts, memorize all of the songs, and attend as many performances as I could. I loved the storytelling and of course the music, but I particularly loved the riskiness of live performance, knowing that each night would be different, and thrillingly so.
Tell us about “A Little Single”: The EP is a collaboration with Lance Horne, who wrote the title track and is not only one of my favorite songwriters but also a close friend. It’s made up of five orphaned songs—songs that are definitely theater songs but were not written for and have no home in any particular show. Two of the songs are his, two are mine, and one we wrote together specifically for this project. They ended up being thematically related, and there’s a logical progression throughout the EP that definitely takes you on a journey. Lance and I both sing on our own songs, so our audience gets to hear the songs straight from the composers’ mouths, for better or for worse.
What inspired you to write and perform “A Little Single”?: The idea for the album was Lance’s. At first, we were only going to do the show together at Feinstein’s/54 Below (May 11, 2016, 9:30PM), which is mostly an opportunity to introduce our audiences to each other and put on a fun night of music specifically focused on songwriting. As we were planning, Lance thought we should release the new song we wrote for that show, and as we thought through it, we realized we could put together a coherent EP that would complement the evening.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I want to create moving work that makes people laugh, cry, or think, and I’m inspired by theater or artists that can make me laugh, cry, or think. Reflecting on theater I’ve seen recently, there are many moments that jump out to me as embodying my sense of perfect theater: Cynthia Erivo bent over howling “I’m Here” in The Color Purple; Beth Malone’s desperate “Telephone Wire” in Fun Home; pretty much all of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; the achingly beautiful “Touch Me’ sequence in the Deaf West production of Spring Awakening; Adam Kantor and Betsey Wolfe in sync for a frustratingly few short seconds in “The Next Ten Minutes” at Second Stage’s production of The Last Five Years; and John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig belting out "Origins of Love,” aided by some of the most beautiful projections I’ve seen (all while immobilized with his leg in a brace propped up on a crate, no less). Of course it’s the songwriters and bookwriters and designers who set up those moments to be affecting, and it’s the teamwork and execution of the whole group, from author to designer to performer, that creates those perfect moments that inspire me, and I aspire to be part of a team that can similarly move an audience.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Bernadette Peters
What show have you recommended to your friends?: I always recommend Curious Incident because I’ve never come across anyone who didn’t absolutely love it. I also really pushed people to see the recent Deaf West Spring Awakening because I was so blown away by that production. I tell people to explore non-Broadway options as well, since there is so much great theater happening all over the city.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Let’s go with Adam Brody, since our names are almost the same anyway so it would be fun and confusing. It would be called “Drew Brody: A Life in Leisurewear."
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: It’s a hard question because there’s a lot I’d like to have seen, but luckily some of my favorite shows have excellent video recordings of the original productions, which feels almost like the real thing. I think I’d say the original Evita—it was the first show I was in as a child, and I would have loved to be in the audience for those Patti and Mandy performances.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Posting pictures of my cat on Instagram.
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: I would certainly be a lawyer. I was headed in that direction before I started playing piano and writing songs relatively late in life at 18. I deferred or turned down law school four times throughout my twenties before finally closing that door for good.
What’s up next?: I am working on several projects, but the nextest of the nexts is a show I wrote the music and lyrics for called Curvy Widow, with a book by Bobby Goldman and directed by Daniela Topol. I can’t quite share the news on that project just yet, but watch this space.
For more on "A Little Single", visit http://54below.com/artist/lance-horne-and-drew-brody-with-beth-malone/