Hometown: Chautauqua, NY
Most recent work: Giant (based on the Edna Ferber novel, book by
Sybille Pearson); Los Otros (an original musical written with Ellen
Favorite DC haunt: I LOVE the Five Guys burger joint in Georgetown ... just
writing this makes me salivate.
Currently on your iPod: The Decemberists.
A leading American composer, lyricist and librettist, Michael John LaChiusa
has written the musical score for Maria Aitken’s As You Like It. Best
known for complex, musically challenging works, LaChiusa has been nominated
for multiple Tony Awards for the score and book of Marie Christine and the
books for The Wild Party and Chronicle of a Death Foretold.
LaChiusa shares a little about himself, his favorite things about DC and his
work on As You Like It.
Q. Who has influenced your career?
Far too many people played influential roles in shaping my work in theatre:
Ellen Fitzhugh, Ira Weitzman, Hal Prince, Wiley Hausam, Graciela Daniele,
George Wolfe, to name only a few. I’m challenged and always inspired by my
friends and colleagues Adam Guettel and Ricky Ian Gordon, as well as by my
students at NYU where I teach.
Q. What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Having my musical First Lady Suite selected by the New York Historical
Society to be included in their amazing First Ladies exhibition.
Q. What do you think about Maria’s take on As You Like It?
It’s modern—in the very best sense of the word. It’s very clear that this adaptation
is by someone who understands and loves this play. I was smitten with it
Q. Do you have any rituals when getting to work on a new project?
Research, first. Then playing with musical colors, forming a palette. Writing
a few preliminary songs—guideposts—sometimes they don’t make it to the score,
but that’s not their purpose. They’re part of the experimenting stage: do
I like this musical world I’m about to live in for the next few years?
Q. What inspired your work for this production?
Maria has provided much of the inspiration for me; I love working with pastiche—it’s
one of the most challenging things you can do as a composer, but one of the
Q. What challenges, if any, did you encounter composing music to cover
such a vast time frame?
The challenge in writing any score, whether the play takes place over the course
of a day or several centuries, is variety. It’s always a challenge (sometimes
a very fun one) to develop themes and motifs that can take on different ‘guises.’
Of course, the most important work a composer should do is feed the action—not
Q. Do you have a favorite moment in your composition for As You
I’m still working on the score, but the
Arrival in Arden is one of my favorite moments right now.
Q. What is your next project?
A new opera commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, based on Scheherazade,
and a new musical for Audra McDonald.