Get to Know TEDxBroadway 2015 Speaker … Benjamin Scheuer
Get to Know Benjamin Scheuer
Benjamin Scheuer is the writer-performer of the one-man musical THE LION, produced in London, Edinburgh and New York. Called “the best new musical this year” by The Huffington Post, THE LION will be on stage from February through April 2015 at the Culture Project Theatre in Greenwich Village. The animated video for Scheuer’s song “The Lion” (dir. Peter Baynton) premiered at the Annecy Film Festival in France, where it won Best Commissioned Film. It has gone on to win other prizes, including the Public Choice for Best Music Video at the British Animation Awards. Scheuer and Baynton have since created more work together. With photographer Riya Lerner, Scheuer is the co-creator of the book Between Two Spaces, proceeds from which go to the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. This past autumn, Scheuer toured the UK opening for Mary Chapin Carpenter. He’s working on a record called Songs from THE LION with producer Geoff Kraly.
Do you have a favorite Broadway show?
I grew up in New York, and when I was 16 I moved with my family to England, where I was sent to an all-boys boarding school. I joined the school choir. The choir had an upcoming concert tour of Italy, where I’d never been before. I went on the tour, and I fell in love and lust with the food there. Sixteen-year-old me sat at a café table on the banks of a Venice canal, eating spaghetti carbonara and drinking whatever marvelous white wine they’d brought me. It was absolute heaven.
And everybody in Italy seemed so elegant, so fantastically dressed. All the men in sharp suits — it was like Guys and Dolls, which was, and remains, my favorite musical. Frank Loesser is my favorite songwriter for the theater. I saw the 1992 Broadway production of Guys and Dolls with Nathan Lane as Nathan Detroit, and Peter Gallagher as Sky Masterson. (Man, was Sky cool! How could I be that cool?) I saw the show with my mom and dad and two little brothers. My dad loved music; he taught me to play the guitar, and he always had good records on in the house or in the car: The Stones and The Beatles; Miles Davis and Coltrane; Pete Seeger and David Frishberg; Mozart and Rachmaninoff.
What are some books you recommend?
When I was a little boy, my parents read to me every night before bed. I was spellbound by Dr. Seuss and his rhymes; the sound of these words was funny, musical. My mother read me Winnie the Pooh and cried (I didn’t understand why) when Christopher Robin, age six, went off to school leaving behind Pooh Bear.
These days, one of my favorite books is Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg. It’s a boon when I’m working on a song or a show. That, my rhyme dictionary, and Roget’s Thesaurus. I recently read a book about the history of letter-writing, called To The Letter, by Simon Garfield. It was marvelous. I love writing letters. And I love organizing things by color; let me loose in a thrift shop and I’ll be content for hours rearranging the T-shirts.
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