Laurence O'Keefe (composer)

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Laurence O'Keefe
Laurence Crawford O'Keefe

1969 (age 54–55)
  • Composer
  • lyricist
Notable workBat Boy
Legally Blonde
Heathers: The Musical
RelativesDan O'Keefe (brother)
Mark O'Keefe (brother)
AwardsLucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical (2001)

Laurence Crawford "Larry" O'Keefe (born 1969) is an American composer and lyricist for Broadway musicals, film and television. He won the 2001 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Musical as composer for Bat Boy: The Musical.

Early life and education[edit]

O'Keefe was born in 1969. He is the second of three sons born to writer and editor Daniel O'Keefe and his wife Deborah. All three sons also became writers. Laurence O'Keefe is a graduate of Harvard College (1991),[1][2] where he studied anthropology, wrote humor for the Harvard Lampoon, and sang with the Harvard Krokodiloes. He got his start in musical theater through Harvard's Hasty Pudding Theatricals, performing in the Pudding's drag burlesques. He also composed Suede Expectations, book by Mo Rocca, and wrote a libretto for another production, Romancing the Throne.[3]

O'Keefe later studied composition and film scoring at Berklee College of Music and the University of Southern California, receiving a master's degree in composition for film and television.[2]


Bat Boy: The Musical[edit]

O'Keefe has composed music and lyrics for a wide variety of works. He wrote the score for Bat Boy: The Musical, which ran Off-Broadway from March 3 to December 2, 2001. Bat Boy received eight Drama Desk Award nominations, including for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Lyrics, won two Richard Rodgers Awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and won both the Lucille Lortel Award and the Outer Critics' Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical.[4] It has since been produced by more than 500 regional and amateur companies across the USA. Bat Boy: The Musical opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre on London's West End on September 8, 2004, and ran until January 15, 2005.[5]

Bat Boy: The Musical has also been produced in Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo and Osaka in Japan, and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In 2001, O'Keefe received the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award.[6] In 2004 O'Keefe won the Ed Kleban Award for Outstanding Lyrics, a $100,000 prize, in part for his work on Bat Boy. There are two Kleban Awards every year, one given to a lyricist, the other to a book writer.[7]

Legally Blonde: The Musical[edit]

O'Keefe and his wife Nell Benjamin's Legally Blonde: The Musical opened in San Francisco on February 2, 2007. It opened on Broadway at the Palace Theatre on April 29, 2007, and closed on October 19, 2008. For their work on Legally Blonde, they received Drama Desk nominations for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Lyrics, as well as a Tony Award nomination for Best Score.[8]

The first national tour of Legally Blonde opened at the Providence Performing Arts Center on September 23, 2008.[9] While nearly identical to the Broadway production, the touring production received considerably more enthusiastic reviews than the Broadway version, and was more profitable. The first national tour ended August 15, 2010, at the Wolf Trap Arts Center in Vienna, Virginia.[10]

Legally Blonde opened on January 12, 2010, at the Savoy Theatre in London's West End, starring UK television stars Sheridan Smith, Jill Halfpenny and Peter Davison, plus pop star Duncan James.[11] Many reviews were positive, especially for the cast. The Independent reviewer wrote: "Totally blown's ridiculously enjoyable from start to finish." The Guardian reviewer concluded "the predominantly female audience with whom I saw the show seemed to be having a whale of a time and did not give a damn about the fact that the musical is little more than a nonsensical fairytale."[12]

Legally Blonde won three 2011 Laurence Olivier Awards including Best New Musical and Best Actress in a Musical for Sheridan Smith and Best Supporting Performance in a Musical for Jill Halfpenny.[13]

The show has had several tours worldwide, including the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. [14][15] It premiered to a sold-out audience at the Ronacher Theatre in Vienna, Austria.[citation needed]

Heathers: The Musical[edit]

With co-author Kevin Murphy, O'Keefe co-wrote Heathers: The Musical, a musical based on the movie of the same name. Directed by Andy Fickman, the musical premiered at the Hudson Backstage Theatre in Los Angeles in September 2013.[16] The musical then was produced Off-Broadway in 2014 at the New World Stages Theatre.[17] Heathers received its UK premiere at The Other Palace in London in June 2018. Starring Carrie Hope Fletcher as Veronica and Jamie Muscato as JD, the production was a huge hit; on the first day tickets went on sale, the demand for tickets crashed the Other Palace website twice, and whole eight-week limited run sold out before opening night.[citation needed]

The show moved to the West End, opening at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on September 14, 2018.[18] The musical received six nominations for the 2019 Awards, including Best New Musical (winner), Best Actor In A Musical (Muscato), Best Actress In A Musical (winner, Fletcher), Best Director (Andy Fickman) and Best Lighting Design (Ben Cracknell).[19]

Theatre, TV and concerts[edit]

O'Keefe and his wife Nell Benjamin collaborated on a short musical titled The Mice. The Mice was presented by Hal Prince as a part of the three-show evening 3hree at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia in 2000 and in Los Angeles in 2001.[20][21][22]

With Benjamin, O'Keefe has written two musicals for Theatreworks USA: Cam Jansen (2004)[23] and Sarah, Plain and Tall (2002).[24]

In February 2004, O'Keefe guest-conducted the Harvard Pops Orchestra in an evening of his songs, and premiered his short opera The Magic Futon.[1] A repeat performance with the Pops was presented in November 2008.[25]

O'Keefe worked with David Shiner on the music, lyrics, and book, for Drop Everything, a new clown show/musical, workshopped at ACT Theatre in Seattle. Excerpts were also produced at the Tollwood Arts Festival in Munich and the Lisbon Comedy Festival.[25]

O'Keefe and Benjamin wrote an operatic musical, first produced at New York's Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in 2012, titled Life of The Party. It was set in the Soviet Union in 1953 and based on true stories. It focused on the artists who labored under harrowing conditions to create Soviet movie musicals, trying to please both Stalin's regime and the public.[26] The show later received a new workshop at New York University's Steinhardt School in March 2017.[27]

O'Keefe and Benjamin have written many songs and pieces for movies, television and concerts, including The Daily Show on Comedy Central, Johnny and the Sprites on The Disney Channel,[28] Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway on UK's ITV, Defiance on SyFy, and Julie's Greenroom on Netflix. O'Keefe arranged and orchestrated the overture and other pieces of music for a Beatles tribute concert at the Hollywood Bowl, titled "Sgt. Pepper's At 40". O'Keefe and Benjamin contributed a new song, "This Is The Show", to the season finale of Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris on NBC.[citation needed]

They wrote narration and new comic verses for the New York Philharmonic's New Year's Eve 2015 gala, La Vie Parisienne. This was set to the music of Camille Saint-Saëns's Carnival Of The Animals, replacing the traditional introductory poems by Ogden Nash, and performed that night by Nathan Lane.[29]

O'Keefe is currently working on a Disney musical film adaption of The Princess and the Pea with Ingrid Michaelson cowriting the music with him.[30]

Teaching and other work[edit]

O'Keefe is active as a writer, teacher and advocate in the Broadway and New York theatre communities. He has served on the Nominating Committee of the Tony Awards. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, where he teaches composition and writing to emerging theater artists as the co-head of the Dramatists Guild Foundation's Fellows Program,[31] and conducts master classes for the DGF's Traveling Fellows Program. Since 2005 O'Keefe has served as the head of the Music Department and Resident Artist for Harvard University's Freshman Arts Program.[2] He teaches master classes across the country at Harvard, NYU, Berklee College of Music, Yale University and elsewhere.

List of shows and major theatre productions[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Bat Boy Composer, Laurence O'Keefe To Perform with the Harvard Pops Orchestra", February 6, 2004
  2. ^ a b c "Laurence O'Keefe (Adams '91)", accessed July 28, 2019
  3. ^ Profile,; accessed December 6, 2017.
  4. ^ Bat Boy Internet Off-Broadway Database, retrieved July 23, 2019
  5. ^ "London's Bat Boy to Close a Month Earlier Than Expected", January 4, 2005
  6. ^ "Recipients. Laurence O'Keefe", retrieved July 23, 2019
  7. ^ Jacobs, Leonard. "Jordan, O'Keefe Capture 2004 Kleban Awards" Backstage, May 5, 2004
  8. ^ Hetrick, Adam. " Legally Blonde to Close on Broadway Oct. 19" Playbill, September 24, 2008
  9. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Road Trip! Legally Blonde Kicks Off Tour in Providence Sept. 21" Playbill, September 21, 2008
  10. ^ Cary, Emily. "Musical Legally Blonde wraps up tour at Wolf Trap" Washington Examiner, August 9, 2010
  11. ^ Bilington, Michael. Legally Blonde the Musical The Guardian, 13 January 2010
  12. ^ Brown, Peter. Legally Blonde The Musical, 14 January 2010
  13. ^ "Olivier Awards, 2011", retrieved July 23, 2019
  14. ^ Rosky, Nicole. "Claire Sweeney to Play Paulette in 'Legally Blonde Tour" Archived 2012-03-13 at the Wayback Machine, July 11, 2011
  15. ^ LEGALLY BLONDE FINISHES AUSTRALIAN TOUR ON JULY 14 Archived 2013-12-02 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved 25 November 2013
  16. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy's Heathers The Musical Will Premiere in L.A." Playbill, August 29, 2013
  17. ^ Morrison, Sara. Heathers, December 10, 2013
  18. ^ Taylor, Paul. " Heathers, Theatre Royal Haymarket, London" Independent, September 14, 2018
  19. ^ Bowie-Sell, Daisy. " Hamilton and Aidan Turner among winners at 19th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards", March 3, 2019
  20. ^ a b Haithman, Diane. "They Scurried to Tell This Tale" Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2001
  21. ^ a b Suskin, Steven. "ON THE RECORD: 3hree, Old Strouse & Adams, and a Surprising New Musical" Playbill, April 22, 2001
  22. ^ Simonson, Robert. "Harold Prince Lofts a 3hree-Pointer in Philly, Oct. 25" Playbill, October 25, 2000
  23. ^ Cam Jansen Internet Off-Broadway Database, retrieved July 25, 2019
  24. ^ a b Van Gelder, Lawrence."Theater Review: The Pain of Loss, Assuaged by a Fresh Face"The New York Times, July 18, 2002
  25. ^ a b American Theatre Wing, Jonathan Larson Grants Recipient - 2001: Laurence O'Keefe, retrieved September 24, 2014
  26. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin Musical 'Life of the Party' Premieres at LaGuardia High May 3" Playbill, May 3, 2012
  27. ^ "NYU Steinhardt to Stage 'Life of the Party', a New Musical, March 23-26", March 9, 2017
  28. ^ Gans, Andrew. "'Sprites' DVD — with Avenue Q's Tartaglia — Due in Stores March 18" Playbill, March 12, 2008
  29. ^ "Nathan Lane Narrates New York Philharmonic's New Year's Eve Concert Tonight", December 31, 2015
  30. ^
  31. ^ Peterson, Tyler. "Laurence O'Keefe Will Co-Chair Dramatists Guild Fund's Fellows Program", July 14, 2015
  32. ^ "Actor's Gang Lighting Up Drug Drama, Euphoria, in CA 10/18" playbill, October 18, 1996
  33. ^ Hitchcock, Laura. "A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review. 3hree: The Mice, Lavender Hill Girl, The Flight of the Lawnchair Man", April 25, 2001
  34. ^ Willis, John (July 1, 2008). Theatre World 2005-2006: The Most Complete Record of the American Theatre: The Most Complete Record of the American Theatre, 2005-2006. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-55783-708-0. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  35. ^ Hodges, Ben (November 15, 2009). Theatre World 2008-2009. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 99. ISBN 978-1-4234-7369-5. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  36. ^ Legally Blonde (in German), accessed July 26, 2019

External links[edit]