Broadway’s Future: Composer/Lyricist Steven Jamail
Award-winning composer Steven Jamail presented a collection of his works at Lincoln Center, performed by some of Broadway’s brightest, including stars from The Addams Family, Wicked, In the Heights, Sister Act, Catch Me if You Can, Les Miserables, The Book of Mormon, Xanadu, Hairspray and more. The event was presented by Arts and Artists at St. Paul in association with N + N Productions and held at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
Jamail, who has been composing since he was a teenager, studied music composition and percussion performance at Rice University’s Shepherd School of music. He has composed numerous works, including an adaptation of the novel The Lovely Bones into a musical, numbers from Nicholas and Alexandra (co-written with Ryann Ferguson and Mayzie Drake), and several songs from Vote! (co-written with Ryan Ferguson).
Despite his extensive work with musicals, Jamail’s work is not limited to the theatre. His concert feature No Ordinary Monday recently premiered at the Hudson Terrace, and his work has been featured on television, including creating and conducting a holiday arrangement for NBC’s holiday tree lighting and serving as a music director for episodes of “The Martha Stewart Show” and “The Apprentice.” He also possesses extensive performance experience, having soloed with the Houston Symphony, the United States Army Band and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.
Jamail also serves as the music supervisor for Rosie’s Theater Kids, a nonprofit devoted to exposing urban children to the arts.
The concert featured a wide variety of Jamail’s work, including “Perfect” and “Anyotherway,” which were inspired by the children he met working with Rosie’s Kids. “Save the Princess,” a song about a video game nerd, had a bittersweet backstory to its composition, as Jamail and lyricist Krystin Crain Johnson were runners-up in a composition contest. They came in second to Bon Jovi, but after learning they did not win the contest, they re-wrote the song to be an extremely entertaining cabaret-style number filled with references to Lord of the Rings and Star Wars.
The evening was lighthearted and filled with laughs, as the concert was narrated by John Znidarsic, the Artistic Director of Arts and Artists at St. Paul. That was a relief to Jamail, who did not realize when he first performed a concert that he was supposed to narrate the evening. He did not speak once during his concert; he simply played his songs and left the stage. However, he was not silent on Monday, sharing stories throughout the concert and afterwards and expressing extensive gratitude to several of his friends and collaborators, including Haviland Stillwell, Katie Rose Clarke and Theresa Flanagan.
Jamail cited Sondheim, Webber and Schwartz as composers he admires, but has realized he is drawn to a more epic sort of story. This description is fitting, as he is currently working on a musical about Nicholas and Alexandra of Russia, which could certainly be described as “epic.”
A fan of the fantasy genre, Jamail said he hopes to adapt The Neverending Story for the stage one day. When asked how he would fit Falkor, the large flying animal from the book and movie, onstage, he laughed and said, “I would have to have producers with lots of money!”