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Episode 13
Lyricists on Writing New Musicals


Three composer/lyricists engage in a conversation on the craft of writing a lyric and the detail needed to complete that one special line set to music. Join us In the Room with Susan Birkenhead, Kirsten Childs and Adam Guettel for a nuts and bolts session on creating a character’s voice through rhyme.

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Susan Birkenhead

Composer, Lyricist

Susan Birkenhead received a Tony Nomination, a Grammy nomination and a Drama Desk Award for her lyrics for Jelly's Last Jam. She was nominated for a Drama Desk for Triumph of Love and she was one of the writers nominated for a Tony award for Working. She received an Outer Critics Circle award for What about Luv? Ms. Birkenhead is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council, Treasurer of the Dramatists Guild Fund, and a member of the Musical Theater Council of the Manhattan Theater Club.

Works Include: High Society (lyrics) (1998); Working (music) (1978); Jelly’s Last Jam (lyrics) (1991); Pieces of Eight (lyrics) (1985); Triumph of Love (lyrics) (1997); The Flamingo Kid (lyrics); Hats! (music and lyrics).


Kirsten Childs

Playwright, Composer, Lyricist, Actor

Kirsten Childs began her career as an actor, starring opposite Chita Rivera in Chicago. Her musical The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin received the Edward Kleban Award, a Jonathan Larson Grant, a Rockefeller Foundation Multi-Arts Production Fund Grant as well as an Audelco Award, a Richard Rodgers Production Award, a Lucille Lortel award nomination, three Drama Desk nominations, and an Obie award. Kirsten currently serves on the Council of the Dramatists Guild.

Works Include: The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (playwright), Miracle Brothers (book, music, and lyrics) (2000); Funked Up Fairy Tales (book, music and lyrics) (2007).

Adam Guettel

Composer, Lyricist

Adam Guettel is the recipient of the Stephen Sondheim Award, the ASCAP New Horizons Award and the American Composers Orchestra Award. His works The Light In The Piazza with book by Craig Lucas, received 6 Tony Awards and Floyd Collins, book by Tina Landau, received the 1996 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical and earned Mr. Guettel an Obie Award for Best Music.

Works Include: Love and Anger (music) (1990); Floyd Collins (music and lyrics) (1994); Saturn Returns (music and lyrics) (1998); Light in the Piazza (music and lyrics) (2005).