David Yazbek (born 1961) is an American writer, musician, composer, and lyricist. He wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway musicals The Full Monty (2000), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (2010), and The Band's Visit (2017).
Yazbek was born in New York City. His father is of Lebanese descent, and his mother was of half Italian and half Jewish ancestry. He began cello lessons in elementary school and took up the piano as a teenager.
While attending Brown University as an undergraduate, he wrote an original musical with the production group Brownbrokers before graduating in 1982. He also directed a production of Hair with the student theatre group Production Workshop, for which he composed an original song to complement the classic score. After college he got a job writing for David Letterman's late night television show. He won an Emmy award as part of Letterman's writing team in 1986, but quit to pursue his love of music. From 1987 to 1989 he was the co-owner of Manhattan Recording Company and wrote many commercial jingles.
An accomplished musician, Yazbek has released five rock albums to date which highlight his unique perspective and wry sense of humor. He has also written many songs and background music for children's television shows, especially those produced for Disney's cable television channel. He also co-wrote the theme song to the Emmy award winning PBS-TV series Where in The World Is Carmen Sandiego? with songwriter Sean Altman, a high school friend who led the show's featured vocal group Rockapella. Yazbek and Altman also composed and wrote the theme song to World's successor, Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?
Yazbek has produced tracks for the band XTC, and its lead singer Andy Partridge has collaborated on Yazbek's solo albums. He also has written for or produced recordings by Spacehog, Tito Puente, The Persuasions, Queen, and Sarah Saturday. XTC also contributed a track to the Carmen Sandiego soundtrack album, which Yazbek produced.
In 2000, director Jack O'Brien approached composer-lyricist Adam Guettel to write the music and lyrics for a musical based on the hit movie The Full Monty. Guettel declined, but recommended Yazbek, with whom he had played in a band. Yazbek took the job, collaborating with librettist Terrence McNally. The show was a success, although it was overshadowed that year by Mel Brooks' musical The Producers. The Full Monty ran for two years before closing, and for his work Yazbek was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Original Score and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics, and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music. In 2002 he was a contributing lyricist for the musical Bombay Dreams.
Yazbek wrote the music and lyrics to the musical adaptation of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which opened on Broadway in 2005, featuring John Lithgow, Norbert Leo Butz, Sherie Rene Scott, Joanna Gleason, and Gregory Jbara. Yazbek was again nominated for the 2005 Tony Award for Best Original Score, and Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Lyrics.
Yazbek wrote the music for the musical adaptation of the 1988 Pedro Almodóvar film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. In October 2009, the musical had a closed reading directed by Bartlett Sher and featuring Salma Hayek, Jessica Biel, Matthew Morrison, and Paulo Szot. The musical opened on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre on November 4, 2010, with previews starting October 8. The musical starred Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Sherie Rene Scott, with direction by Bartlett Sher. The production received mixed to negative reviews, despite praise for the actors and Yazbek's score, and closed on January 2, 2011 after 30 previews and 69 performances. Despite the early closing, the show was nominated for three Tony Awards, for the performances of Patti LuPone and Laura Benanti, and Yazbek's score.
Yazbek wrote the music and lyrics for the musical adaptation of the film The Band's Visit, with a book by Itamar Moses. The musical premiered Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theatre Company Linda Gross Theater on November 11, 2016 in previews. The cast featured John Cariani and Tony Shalhoub with direction by David Cromer. This production won him the 2017 Obie Award for Musical Theatre and later the production transferred to the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway. Yazbek won the Tony Award for Best Original Score for his efforts on this show.
Yazbek has written music and lyrics for the musical adaptation of the 1982 film Tootsie, with a book by Robert Horn. It is scheduled to open in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in September 2018 and then debut on Broadway in March 2019.
In 2007, Yazbek began developing the music and lyrics for Bruce Lee: Journey to the West, a stage musical based on the life of martial artist Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee will feature a book by David Henry Hwang and will be directed by Bartlett Sher. Variety reported that the musical was aiming to open on Broadway during the 2010–2011 season, but these plans have been put on indefinite hold.
On June 12, 2013, it was announced that Yazbek is replacing the Barenaked Ladies to write the score to the musical adaptation of National Lampoon's Animal House, with a book by Michael Mitnick.
Awards and nominations
|2001||Tony Award||Best Original Score||The Full Monty||Nominated|
|2001||Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Music||Won|
|2005||Tony Award||Best Original Score||Dirty Rotten Scoundrels||Nominated|
|2005||Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Music||Nominated|
|2011||Tony Award||Best Original Score||Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown||Nominated|
|2011||Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Music||Nominated|
|2017||Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Music||The Band's Visit||Won|
|2018||Tony Award||Best Original Score||Won|
- 2017 – The Band's Visit Original Broadway Cast – Composer (Ghostlight Records)
- 2011 – Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Original Broadway Cast – Composer (Ghostlight Records)
- 2007 – David Yazbek and His Warmest Regards: Evil Monkey Man (Ghostlight Records)
- 2005 – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Original Broadway Cast – Composer (Ghostlight Records)
- 2005 – Tape Recorder: collected works (What Are Records?)
- 2001 – Damascus (What Are Records?)
- 2000 – The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical – Composer (Masterworks Broadway)
- 1998 – Tock (What Are Records?)
- 1996 – Laughing Man (What Are Records?)
- "Life&Leisure | The Journal News". lohud.com. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- "Official Site". David Yazbek. Archived from the original on 2014-09-03. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- Stetson, Nancy. "DIRTY ROTTEN COMPOSER: David Yazbek takes a leap composing for 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' and more", Fort Myers Florida Weekly, 2009-10-07. Retrieved on 2009-12-22.
- Cox, Gordon.ArticleVariety, October 2009
- Fick, David. "WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN" Musical Cyberspace, February 19, 2010
- "Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Sherie Rene Scott Cast in Broadway's Women on the Verge". Playbill.com. Archived from the original on 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- "Hugh Jackman Will Be Houdini in New Broadway Musical During 2013–2014 Season". Playbill.com. 2012-01-04. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- Clement, Olivia. "John Cariani and Tony Shalhoub Tapped for 'The Band's Visit' Musical" Playbill, August 3, 2016
- Clement, Olivia. "'The Band’s Visit' Musical Begins Tonight Off-Broadway" Playbill, November 11, 2016
- Cox, Gordon (2018-01-24). "'Tootsie' Musical Heading to Broadway in 2019". Variety. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
- McPhee, Ryan. " 'Tootsie' Musical, Starring Santino Fontana, Sets Broadway Dates and Theatre" Playbill, August 9, 2018
- "Yazbek Prepares 'Bruce Lee' Martial Artist Musical for Broadway". Broadwayworld.com. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- Gordon Cox (2008-10-29). "'Addams Family' to spook Chicago". Variety. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- "David Yazbek Replaces Barenaked Ladies as Songwriter of Animal House Musical". Playbill.com. 2013-07-12. Archived from the original on 2013-12-11. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- "Pataphysical Science: Q&A with Michael Mitnick". Pataphysicalscience.blogspot.com. 2013-09-06. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- Official Site
- Production: The Full Monty – Working in the Theatre Seminar video at American Theatre Wing.org, September 2000
- Production: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – Working in the Theatre Seminar video at American Theatre Wing.org, April 2005
- Pop Music and the New Musical – Working in the Theatre Seminar video at American Theatre Wing.org, September 2005
- Yazbek's Evil Monkey Man – Solo Album on Ghostlight/Sh-K-Boom Records, February 2008
- Article and timeline
- David Yazbek at the Internet Broadway Database