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For David Yazbek, It’s Been a Three-Tuxedo Year

Posted in MusicWorld on July 21, 2005 by

David Yazbek is having a very good decade.

The multitalented singer/songwriter started off the new millennium by composing his very first Broadway musical, a theater adaptation of the hit UK film, The Full Monty . The resulting original score earned Yazbek Tony and Grammy nominations, as well as a Drama Desk Award for Best Score. It also won media raves like this one from the Washington Post , which effused: “The songs by Broadway first-timer David Yazbek are full of robust pop-rock hooks and bright, funny lyrics.”

Encouraged by the success of The Full Monty , Yazbek signed on to score another movie-turned-musical, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels . The play, which opened earlier this year, won Yazbek another Tony nomination, along with Best Original Score honors from BroadwayWorld.com Awards. More media accolades followed.

USA Today gushed about Yazbek’s “cleverly constructed songs,” while the New York Post ’s Clive Barnes declared Yazbek’s music to be “positively inspired.” Before long, it seemed as if critics were engaged in a battle to see who could give Yazbek the most breathless notices. “David Yazbek’s songs cannot be praised highly enough,” wrote Theatermania.com. “His lyrics … take breathtaking risks that pay off.”

As the above reviews suggest, life has been good lately for our songwriting hero. But the hyperventilating reviews leave one crucial question unanswered…

Who is David Yazbek?

Research reveals that he’s an extremely funny and talented singer/songwriter whose rags-to-riches story is itself suitable for Broadway adaptation. Yazbek’s independently-produced debut album, The Laughing Man , won the 1997 NAIRD Award for Best Pop Album. But Yazbek is more than a simple solo act. As a songwriter and/or producer, he has worked with such artists as XTC, Tito Puente, Ruben Blades, Crash Test Dummies, The Persuasions, Savion Glover and They Might Be Giants.

But Yazbek is more than a thinking man’s alt-rocker. He earned an Emmy for his work with “Late Night With David Letterman.” He co-created the groundbreaking “Puzzle Place” for PBS and wrote the memorable theme song to “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” The enterprising songwriter has also scored films and shows for HBO, NBC, Fox, Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel.

So let’s review: studio, television, stage and screen. We can only assume that Mr. Yazbek’s ultimate goal is to experience success in every conceivable entertainment medium. But what could possibly be next? A blog?

“All of a sudden I’ve gone from being a cult-y marginal recording artist to MR. BROADWAY!,” the composer laments on his website, www.davidyazbek.com. “I’ve worn a tuxedo three times in the past year.”