Fred Barton

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Fred Barton
Fred Barton (musician), 2014.jpeg
Background information
Born (1958-10-20) October 20, 1958 (age 60)
Occupation(s)composer, lyricist, director, actor, singer, arranger, conductor, pianist
InstrumentsPiano, vocals, orchestration
Years active1977-present

Fred Barton (born October 20, 1958) is an American composer, lyricist, director, actor, singer, arranger, conductor, and pianist who made his New York debut in 1982 as co-creator-arranger-performer-pianist in the original company of the long-running revue Forbidden Broadway, appearing in the New York, Los Angeles and Boston productions for 2,000 performances, and on the cast album for DRG Records. In 1985 the show won a Drama Desk Award.[1] Forbidden Broadway ran for 27 years off-Broadway, and won a special Tony Award in 2006.

Early life[edit]

Barton grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts, the son of prominent radar scientist David K. Barton and Ruth Barton. His mother's family included generations of musicians, including her first cousin Paul Desmond, the jazz saxophonist.

He has a B.A. in Music from Harvard University, where he wrote numerous musical comedies and revues with collaborator Andy Borowitz, including the Hasty Pudding Theatricals's 130th annual production, "A Thousand Clones." Barton has a Master's degree in Film and Television Music from the University of Southern California, where he won the annual Harry Warren Award in that field.


Fred Barton currently serves as producer, host, arranger and conductor of "American Showstoppers: Classic Show Tunes In Concert with The Fred Barton Orchestra" at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University. Guest performers have included Vivian Reed, Beth Leavel, and Lee Roy Reams, among dozens of other Broadway headliners.[2]

As a TV composer, he has served as Associate Composer of Scholastic's hit series The Magic School Bus (starring Lily Tomlin), still airing worldwide; Musical Supervisor of the international hit show Olivia, orchestrator and conductor of the Emmy-Award-winning "Wonder Pets;" and Associate Composer of the ACE-Award-winning series "Eureeka's Castle on Nickelodeon. He also contributed music to Michael Moore's series ''The Awful Truth'.

In 2009 Fred Barton appeared as himself, and musical-directed "Cathouse: The Musical," produced and broadcast by HBO.

Following the success of "Forbidden Broadway," Barton opened his second contribution to the cabaret field in 1985: "Miss Gulch Returns!,"[3] a one-man musical theatre piece that has been produced in theatres and cabarets across the United States and features the song "Pour Me a Man," which remains a popular cabaret song since its debut.

His third off-Broadway show, for which he served as musical director and arranger, "Whoop-Dee-Doo!," ran 271 performances in New York, won two Drama Desk Awards, including Best Musical Revue, was recorded by RCA Records, and was subsequently produced in London (with Barton's song "I'm Of Two Minds" added.) A new edition of "Whoop-Dee-Doo" was subsequently produced under the title "When Pigs Fly."

On Broadway, Fred Barton was Associate Conductor of the 1987 revival of "Cabaret", directed by Hal Prince and starring Joel Grey, Regina Resnik, and Werner Klemperer. He also served as Associate Conductor of "Zorba", starring Anthony Quinn, as well as the national touring production of "Camelot", starring Robert Goulet, and the Los Angeles and national touring productions of "City of Angels."

Fred Barton has arranged, orchestrated and appeared on numerous CDs with performers including Karen Akers, Judy Kaye, Karen Murphy, and Neva Small. In 1998 he arranged and conducted the CD "A Wrinkle In Swingtime," with singer Elena Bennett and his 27-piece orchestra.[4] From 2011 to 2012 he appeared once a month at New York's Metropolitan Room with his 9-piece Broadway Band, in a show called "Fred Barton Presents – And Thinks You're Gonna Love It!" Each performance featured classic Broadway songs, and his guest singers included Anita Gillette, Pamela Myers, Karen Murphy, Damon Kirsche, Elena Bennett, Karen Wilder, Jesse Luttrell, Kevin Earley, and Lee Roy Reams.

Barton wrote book, music and lyrics for the off-Broadway musical "The Two Svengalis,"[5] starring Toni DiBuono, and with director-choreographer Scott Thompson recently has co-written and arranged the Broadway-bound musical "One For My Baby," featuring the music of Harold Arlen.[6]

Fred Barton is a prolific arranger for symphony orchestras. He arranged and orchestrated Megan Hilty's symphonic concerts, currently being played around the country, and regularly arranges for The New York Pops Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, the National Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, and Oklahoma City Philharmonic. Since 2004 Fred Barton has been Senior Orchestrator for the Indianapolis Pops Orchestra, and his orchestrations for their productions are played almost weekly by symphonies throughout the USA and Canada.[7] Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra premiered two of Fred's compositions, "Cornball Concerto" and "Nocturne In Mancini," in 2005. Pop singer Michael Cavanugh tours the country with Fred's symphonic arrangements of Billy Joel and Elton John songs. Barton made his Carnegie Hall debut in May, 2011 with orchestrations for the New York Pops's annual Gala starring Angela Lansbury and Tyne Daly,[8] and his orchestrations of Irving Berlin songs were presented in concert by the New York Pops in October, 2011, with Barton at the piano.[9]


"His piano accompaniment is uncommonly rich—not only when he works with Bennett on arrangements they've performed before, which are terrific, but even when accompanying someone new on a song he's playing for the first time. Barton went beyond accompanying skillfully: he supplied coloration that was both pleasing in its own right and supportive of the vocal. On occasion, Barton will perform a number on his own; he knows how to interpret a lyric and how to put a song across."[10]

"Fred Barton, whose animated, wide-eyed face has been peering over the piano at audiences in Palsson's for the last two years while he provides piano accompaniment to Forbidden Broadway, is now staying after the show on Thursday nights to do his own solo nightclub act, Miss Gulch Returns!'"'[11]


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  2. ^ "American Showstoppers: Irving Berlin". Michael Schimmel Center at Pace. Michael Schimmel Center For The Arts. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
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