Stephen Flaherty (born September 18, 1960) is an American composer of musical theatre. He works most often in collaboration with the lyricist/bookwriter Lynn Ahrens. They are best known for writing the Broadway musicals Once on This Island, which was nominated for eight Tony Awards, Seussical , which was nominated for the Grammy Award and Ragtime, which was nominated for twelve Tony Awards and won Best Original Score. Flaherty was also nominated for two Academy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards with Lynn Ahrens for his songs and song score for the animated film musical Anastasia.
Flaherty was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He began studying piano at the age of seven. When he was twelve he knew he wanted to write musicals and by age fourteen he had already composed his first musical score. He attended South Hills Catholic High School in Pittsburgh and later studied musical composition and piano at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, graduating in 1982. He did additional graduate studies in Musical Theater at New York University.
As a college student, Flaherty played ragtime piano in a dance band. This early job would serve Flaherty well later in life when he had the opportunity to compose the score for the Broadway musical Ragtime.
He moved to New York City in 1982 and joined the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, founded by music director Lehman Engel, where he met Lynn Ahrens, who was to become his longtime collaborator. He also studied Musical Theater in the graduate program at New York University during this time, where his teachers included Richard Maltby, Jr. and Arthur Laurents, among others. The first Ahrens and Flaherty collaboration that was produced was a children's show, The Emperor's New Clothes, for TheatreWorks USA in 1985. Their next produced musical was Lucky Stiff produced Off-Broadway in 1989, and their first Broadway musical was Once on This Island in 1990. In 1992, Flaherty and Ahrens were signed by Disney to write "Song of the Sea", a coming of age story about a whale. Flaherty has since written seven more full-length musicals, mostly in collaboration with Ms. Ahrens, all of which have been produced. His last appearance on Broadway as composer was the critically acclaimed revival of Ragtime in 2009. His and Frank Galati's musical about Gertrude Stein, Loving Repeating: A Musical of Gertrude Stein, is opening on the West Coast on January 21, 2011 at International City Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, California.
Flaherty also writes for film and the concert hall. He was nominated for two Academy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards for his first film, Twentieth Century Fox's animated Anastasia (1997). He also scored and wrote the songs for its animated sequel, Bartok The Magnificent. His most recent original film score was for the documentary After the Storm, which follows a group of teenagers as they perform Ahrens and Flaherty's Once On This Island in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina.
For the concert hall Flaherty wrote the music for the "American River Suite", with lyrics by Bill Schermerhorn and commissioned by Macy's. The piece was premiered in April 2009 at Carnegie Hall by the New York Pops and sung by Idina Menzel, Anika Noni Rose, and the children’s chorus from the Choir Academy of Harlem. It was broadcast nationally on the Fourth of July of that same year.
Flaherty and Ahrens have written a dance musical, Little Dancer, with direction and choreography by Susan Stroman, and the book by Peter Parnell, about a ballerina and Edgar Degas. The musical had a reading in 2010 at Lincoln Center Theater and a developmental lab production in June 2012. Little Dancer is expected to premiere at the Kennedy Center, Eisenhower Theater in October 2014 and will star Rebecca Luker. The musical is described: "Inspired by true events, the work focuses on the relationship between a young ballerina and 19th century French painter and sculptor Edgar Degas" and is set in the Paris Opera Ballet.
Ahrens and Flaherty teamed up again to write a musical version of the film Rocky, titled Rocky the Musical. The show premiered in Hamburg, Germany in October 2012. The musical has a book by Thomas Meehan. Rocky the Musical premiered on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on February 11, 2014 (previews), officially opening on March 13, 2014. The musical is directed by Alex Timbers, with boxing choreography by Steven Hoggett and choreography by Kelly Devine. The former occupant of the Winter Garden Theatre, the musical Mamma Mia!, transferred to the Broadhurst Theatre in late 2013.
- Lucky Stiff (1988)
- Once on This Island (1990)
- My Favorite Year (1993)
- Ragtime (1998; Broadway revival 2009)
- Seussical (2000; revival 2007))
- A Man of No Importance (2002)
- A Long Gay Book (2003), an early version of Loving Repeating
- Dessa Rose (2005)
- Loving Repeating (2005)
- Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life (2005), music also by others
- The Glorious Ones (2007)
- Rocky the Musical (2012)
- Little Dancer (2014)
- Incidental music
- "I Eat", contribution to The Seven Deadly Sins: A Song Cycle for Audra McDonald, performed on June 2, 2004
- Film scores
Awards and nominations
- Tony Award Best Original Score (1991) Once on This Island (nomination)
- Olivier Award Best Musical (1995) Once on This Island (winner)
- Academy Award, Anastasia (1998) - Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score and Original Song (with David Newman and Lynn Ahrens) (nomination)
- Golden Globes, Anastasia (1998) - Best Original Song - Motion Picture (for "Journey To The Past" and "Once Upon A December") (with Lynn Ahrens) (nomination)
- Tony Award Best Original Musical Score (1998) Ragtime (winner)
- Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Music (1998) Ragtime (winner)
- Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Music (2001) Seussical (nomination)
- Drama Desk, Outstanding Music - A Man of No Importance (2003) (nomination)
- Olivier Award Best Musical (2004) Ragtime (nomination)
- Drama Desk, Outstanding Music (2005) - Dessa Rose (nomination)
- Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Musical - Loving Repeating: A Musical of Gertrude Stein (2005)
- Drama Desk, Outstanding Music, The Glorious Ones (2008)(nomination)
- Outer Critics Circle Award, Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical (2008) The Glorious Ones (nomination)
- Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Revival (2008) Seussical (nomination)
- Tony Award Best Musical Revival (2010) Ragtime (nomination)
- "2009 Seton-La Salle Catholic High School Hall Of Fame, see 1991" Seton-La Salle Catholic High School, accessed August 30, 2011
- Biography allmusic.com, accessed January 31, 2010
- Bryer, Jackson and Davison, Richard. The Art of the American Musical: Conversations With the Creators (2005). Rutgers University Press, ISBN 0-8135-3613-8, p.1
- Rohter, Larry."Finding New Meaning in a Pageant of Dreams"The New York Times, November 4, 2009
- Bixby, Suzanne."A Conversation with Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty" talkinbroadway.com (Regional, Boston), 2003, accessed August 30, 2011
- "'The Emperor's New Clothes' listing" mtishows.com, accessed January 31, 2010
- Jones, Kenneth.Ahrens & Flaherty Double Bill of Musicals Pairs Lorax and Emperor's New Clothes" Playbill.com, June 1, 2007
- "About Stephen Flaherty" masterworksbroadway.com, accessed January 31, 2010
- "FILM; For Alan Menken, A Partnership Ends But the Song Plays On - New York Times". Nytimes.com. 1992-03-15. Retrieved 2014-07-04.
- Gans, Andrew."Stephen Flaherty's 'Loving Repeating' Opens in West Coast Debut Jan. 21" Playbill.com, January 21, 2011
- Fox, Jena Tesse."Stephen Flaherty: Rolling on the River" BroadwayWorld.com, April 25, 2009
- Hetrick, Adam. "EXCLUSIVE: Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty Team with Susan Stroman for New Dance Musical" playbill.com, February 25, 2011
- Sheward, David. "Broadway Shuffle" backstage.com, May 4, 2012
- Gans, Andrew. "Rebecca Luker Cast in New Lynn Ahrens-Stephen Flaherty Musical 'Little Dancer' " playbill.com, June 9, 2013
- Jones, Kenneth. " 'Rocky the Musical' Makes World Premiere in Germany Nov. 18; American Drew Sarich Stars" playbill.com, November 18, 2012
- Orlando, Nick. "INTERVIEW: Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty Continue to Journey On" theatermania.com, April 23, 2012
- Hetrick, Adam. " 'Rocky the Musical' Sets Broadway Opening Night at the Winter Garden Theatre" playbill.com, August 26, 2013
- Biography, Stephen Flaherty americantheatrewing.org (as of December, 2007), accessed January 31, 2010
- "Internet Broadway database listing, Stephen Flaherty" ibdb.com, accessed January 31, 2010
- "Internet Movie Database listing, Stephen Flaherty" imdb.com, accessed January 31, 2010
- "Flaherty listing, Off-Broadway" Lortel.org, accessed January 31, 2010
- Jones, Kenneth." 'Loving Repeating', a Gertrude Stein Chamber Musical by Galati & Flaherty, Premieres" Playbill.com, February 14, 2006
- Brantley, Ben. "You Just Can't Keep a Good Broadway Diva Down" The New York Times, December 12, 2005
- Sommer, Elyse.Review, 'Proposals' CurtainUp.com, November 12, 1997
- Gans, Andrew."Audra McDonald Premieres The Seven Deadly Sins June 2 at Zankel Hall" Playbill.com, June 2, 2004
- Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty official website
- Stephen Flaherty at the Internet Broadway Database
- Stephen Flaherty at the Internet Off Broadway Database
- Stephen Flaherty at the Internet Movie Database
- Interview, 2009, Time Out New York