David Joel Zippel
May 17, 1954
Easton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Education||University of Pennsylvania (1976)|
Harvard Law School
Zippel was born and raised in Easton, Pennsylvania. Falling in love with the theater as a child, Zippel first articulated his life's ambition to become a lyricist and director in junior high school. As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, he contributed lyrics to an Equity production of "a bizarre political musical" called Rotunda (which had a brief run in Washington, D.C.), before graduating with a B.A. in 1976. Mindful of the difficulties of achieving success in the theater, before committing himself to such a career Zippel first obtained a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School, graduating in the class of 1979 (along with such legal luminaries as former Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, and John Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States). Even at Harvard, however, Zippel continued to pursue his real ambition, writing several pop songs with singer Pamala Stanley that appeared on her 1979 debut album, This Is Hot, and collaborating on three songs with Wally Harper, Barbara Cook's musical director, whose performance of the songs at Carnegie Hall in 1980 marked Zippel's own New York theatrical debut.
Theatrical credits and awards:
- As lyricist/writer
- City of Angels (1989), an original musical with book by Larry Gelbart and music by Cy Coleman. Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Actor (James Naughton) Best Featured Actress (Randy Graff), and Best Set Design (Robin Wagner); Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics; Olivier Awards for Best New Musical (1994), Best Musical Revival (2015); The Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Musical (1993)
- The Goodbye Girl (1993), a musical based on Neil Simon's 1977 screenplay, with music by Marvin Hamlisch. Nominated for five Tony Awards including Best Musical; Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Lyrics.
- The Woman in White (2004), an adaptation of the novel by Wilkie Collins, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, book by Charlotte Jones. The music and lyrics received a Tony Award nomination for Best Original Score. The show was nominated for five Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best Musical.
- Liza's at the Palace (2009), script co-written with Liza Minnelli, special lyrics with music by John Kander and Billy Stritch; Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event (2009)
- Hercules (2019), an adaptation of the Disney animated film of the same name, with music by Alan Menken.
- Cinderella (2020), a new adaptation of the classic story; with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, book by Emerald Fennell
- As conceiver/director
- Princesses (2004), loosely inspired by A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Zippel conceived and directed; book by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner, music by Matthew Wilder. The musical was produced at the 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle, Washington, in August 2005, after a "developmental" production at Goodspeed Musicals' Norma Terris Theatre in fall 2004.
- The Best Is Yet To Come: The Music of Cy Coleman, Indy Award for Best Direction (2010); Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Review (2012)
- They're Playing His Songs: The Music of Marvin Hamlisch (2013)
- The Importance of Being Earnest (In New York) (2015)
- As producer
Film and television credits and awards
- As lyricist/writer
- Theme Song to Veronica's Closet (1997), a sit-com starring Kirstie Alley
Zippel contributed lyrics to The Swan Princess (1994) and provided the singing voice of Jean-Bob the Frog. He also wrote the lyrics for the Disney films Hercules (1997), with music by Alan Menken (the song "Go the Distance" received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song), and Mulan (1998), with music by Matthew Wilder. The music and lyrics received an Academy Award nomination for Best Musical or Comedy Score and won an Annie Award nomination for Music in an Animated Feature Production. He was in his agent Richard Kraft's film Finding Kraftland.
Pamela's First Musical, written with Coleman and Wendy Wasserstein, based on Wasserstein's children's book, received its world premiere in a concert staging at Town Hall in New York City on May 18, 2008.
In 2011, Zippel wrote the lyrics to the song "The Star-Spangled Man" featured in the film Captain America: The First Avenger. Alan Menken composed the music for the song, which was an affectionate send-up of 1940s Irving Berlin songs.
- "David Zippel | The Official Masterworks Broadway Site". Masterworksbroadway.com. 1990-03-13. Retrieved 2014-07-04.
- "David Zippel | The Official Masterworks Broadway Site". The Official Masterworks Broadway Site. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
- Jones, Kenneth. "'Princesses', the Broadway-Aimed New Musical by Zippel & Company, Opens in Seattle Aug. 17" Playbill, August 17, 2005
- "Backstage". Backstage.
- "Indy Awards". The Santa Barbara Independent.
- "They're Playing His Songs: The Music of Marvin Hamlisch". Playbill.com.
- "The Importance of Being Earnest (In New York)". Broadwayworld.
- "Spamilton: An American Parody". spamilton.com.
- Blank, Matthew. "PHOTO CALL: Pamela's First Musical Premieres at Town Hall", playbill.com, 19 May 2008 Archived September 7, 2012, at Archive.today
- David, Cara Joy. "A Playwright’s Well-Traveled Valentine to Broadway" The New York Times, July 20, 2014.
- Jones, Kenneth. "Alan Menken and David Zippel Pen Song for Captain America Movie" Archived 2011-09-15 at the Wayback Machine
- Newman, Melinda. "Oscar-Winning Composer Alan Menken Talks Captain America"