Matthew Jay Sklar (born October 7, 1973) is a composer for musical theatre, television, and film. His works have appeared on Broadway, the West End, and many theatres worldwide. Sklar has written primarily with lyricist Chad Beguelin, having written music for their Broadway shows The Wedding Singer, Elf the Musical, and The Prom. The Wedding Singer and The Prom earned him nominations for the Tony Award for Best Original Score.
A native of Westfield, New Jersey, Sklar is the middle child of Dr. Talbot Sklar, a pediatric dentist, and Susan Sklar, a teacher. He attended Edison Intermediate School and graduated from Westfield High School in 1991. He was active in the high school's music and drama programs, and also participated in the Westfield Summer Workshop. Sklar credits his start in composing to his music teacher, Kristine Smith-Morasso at Edison, who asked him to write a song for his 9th grade graduation. On a whim, he sent the song to the hit Disney Channel show, the All-New Mickey Mouse Club. The producers chose the song to be performed by cast member Jennifer McGill and Sklar was subsequently interviewed on the program.
He graduated with honors in 1991 from the Juilliard School Pre-College Division as a composition major. His piece Symphonics, for full orchestra, was premiered at Lincoln Center by the Juilliard Pre-College Orchestra, conducted by Sklar. He then studied at New York University from 1991 to 1995.
As an 18-year-old freshman at New York University, Sklar began playing keyboards for the Broadway production of Les Misérables, eventually conducting the show at age 21. He has also been a keyboardist, conductor, and/or arranger for many Broadway productions including Shrek, 42nd Street, Miss Saigon, Nine and Caroline, or Change. Sklar also appeared onstage as "Oscar" in the Broadway revival of 42nd Street.
He made his Broadway debut as a composer for the new musical The Wedding Singer, with Chad Beguelin writing the lyrics. He was nominated for the 2006 Tony Award for Best Original Score for The Wedding Singer. He also composed the music for the musical Elf, which broke box office records on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in 2010–11, and returned to Broadway in the 2012–13 holiday season. Sklar co-produced the original Broadway cast albums for both shows. Other musicals include The Rhythm Club (Signature Theatre, 2000), Judas and Me (Off-Off-Broadway, 2009), and Wicked City (1997).
Sklar received a 2015 Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Music Direction for the NBC stop-motion animated TV special Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas, starring Jim Parsons. He adapted and arranged the music of Marvin Hamlisch for the Emmy Award-winning documentary film Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love, seen on PBS/American Masters. Sklar has contributed original songs/music to Sesame Street, Wonder Pets!, and the NBC Broadcast of The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. His music has been performed by major orchestras, including the Atlanta, Baltimore, and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestras.
Sklar's most recent stage musicals are The Prom and Half Time. Half Time is based on the film Gotta Dance, with lyrics by Nell Benjamin and the book by Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin. Additional music is by Marvin Hamlisch. Directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, the musical premiered at the Bank of America Theatre in Chicago on December 13, 2015, running through January 17, 2016. The musical premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse (Millburn, New Jersey) on May 31, 2018, running through July 1, 2018.
The Prom is an original musical based on a concept by Jack Viertel; the book is by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, lyrics by Beguelin, and directed/choreographed by Casey Nicholaw. The musical, set in small town Indiana, involves a high school student who is banned from her prom because she wants to bring her girlfriend. A group of Broadway actors hears about the situation and travels to the town to help the student. The musical premiered at the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia, on August 18, 2016 in previews. This out-of-town production received positive reviews. Frank Rizzo, in his Variety review, wrote that it is "a loopy, loving and joyous musical." The Prom opened on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre on November 15, 2018, with previews starting on October 23, 2018, to positive reviews, including a New York Times Critic's Pick.
- Shrek – Dance arrangements
- Caroline, or Change – associate conductor
- Nine – rehearsal pianist, associate conductor
- Oklahoma! (2002 revival) – rehearsal pianist
- 42nd Street (2001 revival) – associate conductor
- Putting It Together – assistant conductor
- Annie Get Your Gun (1999 revival) – rehearsal pianist
- On the Town (1998 revival) – rehearsal pianist
- Titanic – associate conductor
- Miss Saigon – assistant conductor, replacement
- Les Misérables – associate conductor, replacement
Awards, nominations and honors
- 2019 - Dramatists Guild of America Frederick Loewe Award for Dramatic Composition
- 2019 - Tony Award, Best Original Score, The Prom (nomination)
- 2019 - Outer Critics Circle Award, Outstanding New Score, The Prom (nomination)
- 2015 - Emmy Award, Outstanding Music Direction for the NBC stop-motion animated NBC special Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas (nomination)
- 2015 - Annie Award, Outstanding Achievement for Music In An Animated Television/Broadcast Production for the NBC stop-motion animated NBC special Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas (nomination)
- 2010 - ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award (with Beguelin)
- 2006 - Tony Award, Best Original Score, The Wedding Singer (nomination)
- 2006 - Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Music (nomination)
- 2003 - Gilman Gonzalez-Falla Musical Theater Award (with Chad Beguelin)
- 2000 - Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award (with Chad Beguelin)
- Durbach, Elaine. "From bar mitzva boy to Wedding Singer: A composer gets his big Broadway break", New Jersey Jewish News, July 6, 2006. Accessed March 29, 2008.
- "Matthew Sklar Broadway" playbillvault.com, accessed December 16, 2015
- Jones, Kenneth; Ehren, Christine. "Who's Got Rhythm? Musical Rhythm Club Still Strummin'" playbill.com, August 2, 2002
- Harris, Paul. "Review: ‘The Rhythm Club' " Variety, October 6, 2000
- Hetrick, Adam. " 'Last Smoker in America', 'Judas and Me', 'Whatever Man' and 'Street Lights' Added to NYMF Bill" playbill.com, June 26, 2009
- Tuttle, Harry. Judas and Me Backstage, October 1, 2009
- Wicked City namt.org, accessed December 16, 2015
- McPhee, Ryan. "'Half Time', 'The Honeymooners' Among Paper Mill Playhouse's New Season" Playbill, February 27, 2017
- Hetrick, Adam. "New Musical 'Half Time', Starring André De Shields, Georgia Engel, Donna McKechnie, and Lillias White, Begins Paper Mill Run" Playbill, May 31, 2018
- McPhee, Ryan. "Full Cast Set for Broadway's 'The Prom'" Playbill, May 3, 2018
- Lloyd Webber, Imogen. "Casey Nicholaw-Helmed 'The Prom' Sets Dates at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre; Next Stop Broadway?" broadway.com, March 23, 2016
- Gans, Andrew. " 'The Prom', from 'Drowsy Chaperone' and 'Wedding Singer' Creators, Begins Previews Tonight" Playbill, August 18, 2016
- Rizzo, Frank. "'The Prom', Directed by Casey Nicholaw" Variety, September 8, 2016
- McPhee, Ryan. " 'The Prom' Sets New Broadway Start Date" Playbill, June 13, 2018
- McPhee, Ryan. "Musical Comedy 'The Prom' Switches Theatres Ahead of Broadway Premiere" Playbill, July 12, 2018
- Green, Jesse. "Theater. 'The Prom'" The New York Times, November 15, 2018
- Meyer, Dan. " 'The Prom' ’s Matthew Sklar Wins Dramatists Guild's 2019 Frederick Loewe Award" Playbill, June 4, 2019
- "The ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award Recipients" ascapfoundation.org, retrieved June 5, 2019
- Hernandez, Ernio. "'The Rhythm Club' Team Win Gonzalez-Falla Musical Theatre Award, Dec. 8" Playbill, December 8, 2003
- "Larson Recipients, 2000" americantheatrewing.org, accessed December 16, 2015