A couple of weeks ago, we asked the folks behind A Misfortune to create a playlist of some of the songs (both musical theatre and non) which inspired their show. After much feedback, we decided to ask the same of Rob Torr, the composer of Killer Business – The Musical, also having its premier at the Next Stage Theatre Festival in January. Set against the opening of a new musical which is unexpectedly ambushed by the appearance of a less-than-alive victim, Killer Business has everything we love: song, dance and a body count. If you’re a fan of an old-fashioned showtune dosed with a healthy side of whodunnit, we have a feeling that this could be your new favorite show.
My inspiration as a songwriter and composer comes from so many places. Growing up, I listened to or would sing everything from Beethoven and Purcell to Irving Berlin to The Hip, Colin James and the Carpenters. Now it comes from where my fingers land on the keys, and where my voice takes the melody. I fill in the harmonies after the fact. There is no formula to my writing style, most of the time I don’t know what I’m doing, it just sounds right to my ear. As a songwriter, I like to find my lyric hook with a melodic hook and go from there. There are no songs from the musical theatre canon that specifically inspired or influenced me for Killer Business-The Musical, but I decided to give you a playlist of songs that I think have inspired me over the years.
1) Day by Day
The first musical I ever heard was Godspel. We had the Broadway album and the playbill from the first Canadian Cast in Toronto. My parents saw that historic production and raved about it. I particularly love the ensemble on this incredible classic.
2) I Could Have Danced All Night
I would listen to Julie Andrews singing, ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ and originally thought how beautifully it fit into the musical Cinderella. I later found out, of course, it was from My Fair Lady. The lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner completely express how Eliza (or my Cinderella) must have felt after The Ball.
3) If I Were a Rich Man
Fiddler on the Roof is like the bible of musical theatre to me. Being in this show changed me as a performer and a composer. Bock and Harnick, the musical writing team that created this masterpiece, got it right. “If I Were A Rich Man” is a lesson in creating the perfect “want” song.
4) Moving too Fast
Jason Robert Brown is a marvel. I am in awe of his piano compositions. The left hand is so fast and energetic. The arrangements he constructs create such a sense of drive especially in this song from The Last Five Years.
5) Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You
I adore how these two lovely melodies from Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man fit over top of one another. Each song is charming on its own, but putting them together is both clever and magnificent.
Killer Business plays the Next Stage Festival from January 8 – 19. Please visit their kickstarter campaign to find out how you can help them commit a murder (in song)!