Best pop-cult composer (2008)

Michael Friedman

Most rhyming dictionaries wouldn't offer "Kinshasa" as a natural pairing with "tabula rasa"—in fact, they might distinctly recommend against it. But thank goodness composer/lyricist Michael Friedman doesn't pay attention to such hidebound rules. Friedman's incidental music—recently heard in the Public Theater's Romeo and Juliet—proves appropriate and evocative in a variety of genres. But it's his lyrics that make us wax lyrical. Indelibly clever, forgivably glib, his words range from contemporary pop to schoolhouse rock to Cole Porter knockoffs—really good knockoffs. And he can rhyme in four languages: English, French, Spanish, and German. This season we'll hear plenty from Friedman: He has written the book and lyrics for Saved and In the Bubble (both collaborations with playwright Rinne Groff), as well as songs for the latest Civilians piece, This Beautiful City, which concerns Colorado mega-churches. For better or verse, we look forward to them all.


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