Call Me Adam chats with Tony Award winner, two-time Oscar and Grammy nominee, and three-time Golden Globe nominated lyricist David Zippel about being showcased for the fifth time in the 92nd Street Y's Lyrics & Lyricists series from May 31-June 2. Entitled Panning for Gold: Great Songs from Flop Shows, this edition of Lyrics & Lyricists will feature the talents of Brent Barrett, Lorna Luft, Christiane Noll, Jessica Lea Patty, Lillias White, and Tony Yazbeck. Click here for tickets!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a lyricist? My parents took me to see The Music Man in a tent in the round when I was 7 or 8 years old and that began my love affair with the theater. From then on I listened to every cast album I could get my hands on and that is what ultimately inspired me to be a lyricist.
2. From May 31-June 2, you are once again being featured in the 92nd Street Y's Lyrics & Lyricists series. What are you looking forward to most about this show? This show will be a bit different than previous shows. Because there will be so many different lyricists and composers, it will be much more eclectic. And because it is comprised of songs from musicals that were not, initially successful, I am hoping the show will be filled with surprises. The title is Panning for Gold, but if you will allow me to mix my metaphors I am hopeful that the audience will feel that they have discovered diamonds in a coal mine.
3. This is your fifth time being featured in the 92nd Street Y's Lyrics & Lyricists series. What does it mean to you to be featured so many times? I, of course, feel honored to be invited back. When I was a kid the Sunday Times was my link to the theater and reading about Lyrics and Lyricists made me eager to be in the audience. It wasn't until after I finished college and law school and moved to NYC that I actually got to be there in person. But, I had a collection of cassette tapes of great lyricist’s shows from the Lyrics & Lyricists series including Alan Jay Lerner, Yip Harburg and Sheldon Harnick (who was one of my heroes and is still one of my heroes and now my friend, too). There are so many things I am looking forward to. The audiences share my enthusiasm for the American Songbook and Broadway so I always look forward to reconnecting with them. Also, the Lyrics & Lyricists series is a magnet for great singers. I always know that when I ask them to join me there, if there is any way they can make themselves available, they say yes. And, of course, the team at the 92nd Street Y and the Lyrics & Lyricists staff are always so welcoming. I look forward to working with them, again, too.
4. What do you like about having your music performed in this space? The theater is beautiful, the audiences are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and the singers are always terrific. What could be more fun?
5. What do you hope audience members come away with after seeing the show? I hope they will appreciate that even in works of art that don't receive critical accolades or find popular acceptance there can be great elements. And I hope they will leave feeling thoroughly entertained.
6. What are you looking forward to most about having this talented cast perform your music? This cast is made up, mostly, of friends and all are performers whose work I admire. I tried to choose songs that would excite them and also show off what makes them unique. Since I get to pick the songs it's like having some of my favorite singers sing some of my favorite songs. My hope is that the audience will enjoy it as much as I will.
7. You have received a Tony award (City of Angels), two Oscar and Grammy nominations ("Go The Distance" from Hercules and "Reflection" from Mulan), and three Golden Globe nominations (Hercules, Mulan, and The Snow Princess). What is it like to get this kind of recognition for your work? It feels really good. And it brings a little more attention to your work which is also wonderful. It allows you to hope that you will be able to keep working which is best of all.
One of the most acclaimed and sought-after lyricists working today – and one of the few contemporary songwriters to have achieved success on Broadway, in Hollywood, and in the pop music world – David Zippel has won the Tony Award (City of Angels, his Broadway debut), two Oscar and Grammy nominations ("Go the Distance" from Hercules, a #1 hit for Michael Bolton; "Reflection" from Mulan, featured on Christina Aguilera’s multi-platinum debut album) and three Golden Globe nominations (Hercules, Mulan and The Snow Princess). His Broadway credits also include The Goodbye Girl (written with Marvin Hamlisch and Neil Simon), The Woman in White (with Andrew Lloyd Webber, for which he garnered a Tony nomination), the musical stage version of Wendy Wasserstein’s bestselling children’s book, Pamela’s First Musical, written with Wasserstein and City of Angels collaborator Cy Coleman, and special material for Liza Minnelli’s Tony Award-winning Liza’s at the Palace. David is also an Oscar nominee for the animated Disney movies Hercules and Mulan and more recently wrote the lyrics for "The Star-Spangled Man" featured in the film Captain America: The First Avenger. This is David's fifth Lyrics & Lyricists appearance. He hosted two shows celebrating Cy Coleman; was one of three host-subjects for The New Breed, a show focusing on new lyricists; and served as artistic director for It Started with a Dream: David Zippel – Lyrics He Wrote, Lyrics He Wishes He Wrote.