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Charles Hart (lyricist)

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Charles Hart
Born (1961-06-03) 3 June 1961 (age 63)
London, England
OccupationLyricist, librettist, songwriter
ParentsGeorge Wilson Hart; Juliet Lavinia (née Byam Shaw)

Charles Hart is an English lyricist, librettist and songwriter best known for his work on The Phantom of the Opera as well as a number of other musicals and operas for both stage and television.[1]

Life and works[edit]

Hart was born in London in 1961, the son of George Wilson Hart, an antiquarian book dealer, and Juliet Lavinia Hart (née Byam Shaw), actress.[2] His maternal grand-parents, Glen Byam Shaw and Angela Baddeley, were actively working in theatre and music throughout his childhood. Hart began writing lyrics as a child, some of which were "dark and contemplative – precociously murderous and quite, quite feisty".[3] He went to school in Maidenhead over the same period when his grandmother was starring in a London stage production of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music. Hart went on to study music at Robinson College, Cambridge, followed by postgraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in music composition in 1984.[4] Soon after leaving Guildhall, Hart came to the attention of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh, while they were judging the Vivian Ellis awards. Webber hired him as a lyricist for The Phantom of the Opera a year later, which opened in 1986.[5] In an interview published the day before the opening of Phantom, Hart said, "my ambition was to be an English Sondheim. Being a lyricist is the ideal job for a university-educated dilettante, because it uses up all the rubbish in your education."[6]

In 1990, during Stephen Sondheim’s tenure as “Professor of Musical Theatre” at Oxford, Hart linked up with like-minded writers George Stiles, Anthony Drewe and Howard Goodall, and in 1992, they founded the Mercury Workshop. The collaborative merged with the New Musical Alliance to become Mercury Musical Developments in 1999 and is today a registered charity whose patron is Stephen Sondheim.[7] Hart went on to collaborate with Howard Goodall on a number of successful musicals.

Selected works[edit]

Musical theatre[edit]

  • 1984 – Book and music for Moll Flanders– competition entry to Vivian Ellis Award
  • 1986 – Lyrics for Phantom of the Opera with music by Lloyd Webber
  • 1989 – Lyrics for Aspects of Love (co-written with Don Black) with music by Lloyd Webber
  • 1998 – Book and lyrics for The Kissing Dance with music by Howard Goodall[8]
  • 2001 – Book and lyrics for The Dreaming with music by Howard Goddall
  • 2015 – Book and lyrics for Bend It Like Beckham with music by Howard Goodall[9]



Film and Broadcast[edit]



Hart has received two Ivor Novello Awards. He was nominated twice for the Tony Award, Best Original Score, for Aspects of Love (1990) and The Phantom of the Opera (1988).[17] He was also nominated for an Academy Award for writing the lyrics to a new song "Learn to be Lonely" which was sung by Minnie Driver over the final credits to the film version of The Phantom of the Opera.[18]


  1. ^ Hart, Charles. "Biography". Berlin Associates. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  2. ^ Hart, Charles. "Biography". Search Collection. National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  3. ^ Morley, Sheridan, Interview with Charles Hart, The Times, 8 October 1986
  4. ^ Playward (12 September 2017). "Memories from the Vivian Ellis section of our British collection". The Bunnett-Muir Musical Theatre Archive Trust, Overtures. he Bunnet-Muir Musical Theatre Archive Trust is a UK registered charity no: 1141958. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Biography Charles Hart (VII)". IMDb. 2020. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  6. ^ Morley, Sheridan (8 October 1986). "Exactly the type". The Times. No. 62583. p. 11. Retrieved 16 February 2024.
  7. ^ Mercury Musical Developments. "About Us". Mercury Musical Developments. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  8. ^ Billington, Michael (28 March 2011). "The Kissing Dance – review". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
  9. ^ Hart, Charles. "Biography". StageAgent. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  10. ^ Charles Hart at IMDb
  11. ^ Kettle, Martin (10 December 2018). "Marx in London review – Dove's opera spins comic capital from revolutionary icon: Theatre Bonn". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  12. ^ Hart, Charles. "Masterclass". Berlin Associates. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  13. ^ Harle, John. "A Diva is Born (1999)". Retrieved 10 February 2021.
  14. ^ Seventeen sheet music for voice and piano, By Russell Watson, Charles Hart, Claude-Michel Schonberg, Virtual Sheet Music
  15. ^ Berlin Associates, “Op. Cit.”
  16. ^ IMDb, “Op. Cit.”
  17. ^ "Charles Hart Broadway" Playbill, accessed 4 February 2020
  18. ^ "Nominees & Winners for the 77th Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 2005. Retrieved 18 April 2018.

External links[edit]