In this recurring series, we link up with writers on the rise, such as the fresh face wunderkind, Nicholas Connors, currently blazing his way onto the musical theatre scene.
A very recent grad of University of Wisconsin, Nicholas (now a metro-card-carrying New Yorker) just assisted Bryan Perri (of Wicked fame) on the musical arrangements for Bway babe, Aaron Tveit’s June 11 concert at Irving Plaza, and is getting his new musical Space Voyage: The Musical Frontier ready for a staged reading on July 9th.
Nicholas, a self-proclaimed sci-fi nerd (but like adorable nerd you might wanna take home to mom and dad), believes it’s possible to be a fan of BOTH Star Trek and Star Wars, hates to cry and is obsessed with Harry Potter.
Twitter : @Nick_Connors
Instagram : @Nick_Connors
Website : Nicholas-connors.com
Hometown : Appleton, Wisconsin
Current City : New York City
Education : University of Wisconsin. Double major in Music Composition and Business Marketing
What is the first song/album you purchased?
Now That’s What I Call Music 4. I should clarify that my mom purchased it for my cousin’s birthday, but gave it to me when I kept going on and on about “Blue (da ba dee)” by Eiffel 65. The first record I really wore out, however, was my dad’s old cassette tape of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.” That album really inspired me to keep practicing piano and, eventually, to write.
What is the last song/album you purchased?
I recently picked up Radiohead’s new album “A Moon Shaped Pool.”
What is the last song you listened to?
“Mr. Brightside” by The Killers. I’ve been on a Killers kick for the past few weeks and I’ve always loved the structure of the lyric and the way the song unfolds. I love to rock out to their music on the keyboard from time to time.
What are the first lyrics you wrote?
All I need is a number
An Address to Somewhere
A Place to Call Home
These may not be my first lyrics, but they’re the first time I wrote anything down. I started writing a musical about an orphan who was a mathematical savant on the streets of San Francisco. I finished about three songs for that show but 14 year old me never really stuck with it. I’ve used some of the themes as “trunk songs” for later shows.
What are the last lyrics you wrote?
The lead woman in Space Voyage, Lt. Palmer sings:
I’m sick of egotistic, self-righteous jerks
I want a pragmatist; I’ll live with his quirks
What are the worst lyrics you wrote?
Oh man…this is a humbling thought. Probably my most absurd lyric is from my musical Space Voyage.
The villain sings:
I hate that David Drake and I would love to hit him with a rake
It actually gets a pretty solid laugh so I’ve left it in there…
What was the first Broadway show you attended?
Like so many others, my first Broadway experience was The Phantom of the Opera. I was a freshman on a high school choir trip. Before that I had seen The Lion King over on the West End with my family.
What was the last Broadway show you attended?
Well it technically doesn’t go to Broadway until next season, but I was able to see Dear Evan Hansen a couple of times during its run at Second Stage. When I was in college I actually spent part of my summer vacation assisting the Music Supervisor, Alex Lacamoire on an early reading of the show. That was my first NYC job, so this show will always have a special place in my heart. Can’t wait to see it on Broadway!
What was the first concert you attended?
Besides my sister’s elementary school holiday concert? I’ve been huge fan of film scores for many years and for that reason, the most moving concert I’ve ever been to was when John Williams came up to conduct the Chicago Symphony. I remember half of the program being an enormous suite of music from the Harry Potter Films (I am also a Potter fanatic). To watch the maestro conduct such magical music was a singular experience.
What was the last concert you attended?
I saw a brilliant performance of Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem done by Seraphic Fire at Trinity Church.
Who is your dream collaborator?
I have so many! I would love to collaborate with JK Rowling on something. Harry Potter was such an integral part of my childhood. Working with her on a project has always been a dream of mine.
What’s one of your favorite musical theatre songs?
“Children Will Listen” from Into The Woods. I’ve always admired how Sondheim’s lyrics and music are so perfectly reflective of one another, working in tandem to exemplify his message.
What is one of your all time favorite non-musical theatre songs?
“And So It Goes” by Billy Joel.
You just assisted Bryan Perri on the musical arrangements for Aaron Tveit’s concert. How did you link up with that project?
Bryan Perri, the current music director over at Wicked, was the pianist/music director of the concert and he brought me on board. I’ve got to say, Aaron really is as cool as we all imagine him to be. He’s a brilliant musician and a great guy to work with. Teaming up with Bryan, Aaron and our all-star band was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.
List your top 3 favorite science fiction stories (books, movies, tv programs, whatever)?
Oh man…this is a difficult question. In no particular order: Star Wars and Star Trek (yes, I don’t think it’s sacrilege to like both!) and Jurassic Park.
Space Voyage is a comedic take on 1960’s Science Fiction. How did you team up with book co-writer Quinn Elmer and what inspired you to tell this story?
Quinn and I have actually been best friends since we were kids. We played on the same recreational soccer team, were both percussionists in the middle school band, and acted in all of the high school plays together. We are also both huge sci-fi nerds and comedy fans. As a junior in high school, I was itching to write a big musical and came up with the idea of parodying classic sci-fi. We sketched out a few scenes/characters and just bounced ideas back and forth for a few years. Quinn and I both attended UW-Madison, where we became more determined than ever to put up the show. We worked to finish it and then self-produced a full production. My sister Amanda directed and we assembled a talented group of student actors, musicians and technicians. We’ve been re-writing consistently for the past three years and are gearing up for a staged reading of the latest draft in Madison this July!
List in order of enjoyment (favorite to least favorite):
Writing, Sleeping, Singing, Cooking, Crying, Kissing, Flying, Acting, Driving, Skiing
Writing, Acting, Singing, Sleeping (very rarely, unfortunately), Kissing, Skiing (is this on the list because I’m from Wisconsin? Either way, I do love it), Driving, Flying, Cooking (I make a mean peanut butter sandwich), and Crying…
What’s a helpful piece of advice you’ve received about a career in the arts?
Everyone takes very different paths to success. Instead of trying to be the next Sondheim, Schwartz or Miranda, focus on what makes you unique and what stories are yours to tell.
We’d like to share your work with our audience. Can we hear 2 songs?
‘The Fixer’ is a stand-alone song that I wrote for Karen Olivo to perform in her cabaret show, which I arranged and music directed as a student in Wisconsin. Karen is a close friend and has been an incredible mentor to me for the past few years. For her premiere performance in her adopted home city, I wanted to write something about starting over, in my own way. This recording features Hannah Ripp-Dieter.
‘The Best Thing About Being Evil’ from Space Voyage: The Musical Frontier
This number is sung by our villain Exrin Apix (Quinn Elmer) and his crew late in Act II, after he has taken Captain Drake (myself) hostage aboard his ship. This clip features our original cast in a production that we put on while I was a sophomore in college, back in 2013
What’s next for Nicholas?
The next bit thing is a staged reading of my new musical, Space Voyage: The Musical Frontier
Date/Time : July 9th at 7pm
Location : Madison, Wisconsin
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