Spotlight on Andrew Lippa: Composer Edition

In Theatre Trip’s “Spotlight On” series, we’re chatting with some of the most inspiring people in the theatre industry. And today we’re doing a special feature on Andrew Lippa – an award-winning composer, lyricist, book writer, performer, and producer based out of NYC.

Andrew Lippa has written the music and lyrics for mega hits such as Big Fish, The Addams Family, and The Wild Party, to name just a few! He has also been the music director for Kristin Chenoweth, and he serves on the council for The Dramatists Guild. Make sure to keep reading to learn more about Andrew’s background, process, and tips for aspiring composers!


What was it that initially inspired you to step into the theatre world?

“I was, in 10th grade, cast in the chorus of The Pajama Game at my high school. It was the first time I’d ever been in a musical. I loved every second of it and haven’t stopped since.”


Would you say that your experience at the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop has helped shape you as an artist, either personally or career-wise?

“I’d say it helped shape me in learning more about the CRAFT of writing for musical theater. It gave me deadlines. It introduced me to a world of people engaged in writing musicals.”


Andrew Lippa on stage.
Photo by Gooch

Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Are there any morning or daily routines that you like to follow in order to keep the creative juices flowing?

“I wish. Deadlines are the biggest motivators: Other people expecting something to be done. Without dates, deadlines and demands, I doubt I’d do anything!”


What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career so far?

“That ol’ uphill climb. I always feel like a beginner. And, in some ways, I am. Finish one project only to start another one, but that next one is the unknown. I have to start from the beginning and ask the beginner’s questions: What’s this musical about? What do these characters want? What’s the conflict? What happens if the characters don’t get what they go after? What happens if they DO get what they go after? I’m not alone in this kind of answer. I’ve heard many writers talk about a version of this.”


Andrew Lippa in New York.
Photo by Matthew Murphy

Has any of your music been inspired by events in your own life? And if so, would you mind sharing a bit about that?

“I’m sure all my early experiences have melded together in my brain and soul to whisper how to write, what to write, what to write about. The kinds of music I learned and listened to early on probably also have much to do with it. But “events” in my own life? Nothing specific springs to mind.”


Is there anything that your fans might not know about you, but that you would like them to know?

“I love American Ninja Warrior (and I trained for and finished a Tough Mudder – a 12-mile obstacle course – in 2012). Mint Chip ice cream should be the only available flavor. I’m a dog person. And I’m an ordained Interfaith minister (graduated from seminary in 2013).”


“Nobody is waiting around for you to write a musical. They’re not waiting for me, either. Write it and show them they can’t live without it.”

When you’re not working, what do you typically do to decompress?

“Exercise: I swim, play racquetball, work out with a trainer 2 or 3 times a week. Also, Netflix, HBO and CNN are three of my best friends!”


Do you have a bit of advice that you can share with the aspiring composers, lyricists, and/or book writers out there?

“Endure “no”. Keep going. Listen (and heed?) criticism when 10 people say the same thing (even if they each say it a bit differently). Write the next one: Nobody is waiting around for you to write a musical. They’re not waiting for me, either. Write it and show them they can’t live without it.”


Andrew Lippa and Kristin Chenoweth.
Andrew Lippa with Kristin Chenoweth

Are you listening to any cast recordings at the moment? If so, which ones?

“Do mine count? (blushes…)”


So what’s next for you?

“I keep pretty tight-lipped on next projects. I’m working on a few projects for stage and one for television. But I don’t announce things until they are actually happening.”


What did you think of this interview with Andrew Lippa?

Are any of you working as or aspiring to be a composer? We’d love to hear all about what you’re up to in the comments below! And in the meantime, you can check out even more of our exciting interviews with other inspiring people in the theatre industry!


Learn More:

Andrew’s Twitter➝

Andrew’s Website➝

*The featured image is by Matthew Murphy➝ (And here’s our interview with MM)!


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Stacy Karyn, author of Andrew Lippa Interview.
Author: Stacy Karyn

Stacy Karyn is the founder of Theatre Trip, author of The Thespian’s Bucket List, and creator of The Cast Album List. She has a TESOL drama certificate, a BA in theatre, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.


 

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