Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin

Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin

This is a really special interview with Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, a husband-and-wife writing team whose work proves that it’s possible to write theatre that’s incredibly smart and accessible to wider audiences at the same time. Here they’re speaking about their show Legally Blonde, based on the 2001 movie, during its production in Vienna. (Hence the German subtitles and title cards. You’re not missing much if you don’t understand them.) Some highlights to look out for: How the songs’ musical styles are varied but always come out of the characters who sing them. How they made sure they were portraying their characters genuinely and lovingly, without mocking or commenting on them, despite their quirks. How successful dramatic works – from Shakespeare to Frozen – tend to have some larger message to impart. That the lead characters have something to learn is what gives the show its arc. How important it is to create active characters – characters who don’t mope about their problems but do something to fix them. How the skills needed to make a collaboration work are basically the same as the skills needed to make a marriage work. Just ask Jay Z and Beyoncé.   If you want to know more about both writers and their work, you can check them out here and...
Pasek and Paul on Songwriting

Pasek and Paul on Songwriting

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are two of the smartest musical theatre songwriters out there today. They came to prominence with their theatrical song cycle Edges, and their later credits include the shows James and the Giant Peach, A Christmas Story and Dogfight as well as a handful of songs for the second season of NBC’s Smash. Here they give some sage advice about collaboration – why it’s beneficial for writing teams to take joint responsibility for music and lyrics whoever’s in charge of writing what – and how writing songs which fit within a wider narrative is a whole different ballgame to writing songs that can stand alone....