Episode 68 – Tony Award-Winning Composer, Stephen Flaherty.

If you want your kid to write for the musical theater, and write well, you might want to start by naming him Stephen.

Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz and this week’s guest, the other half of the Ahrens/Flaherty songwriting team, Tony Award-Winning Composer Stephen Flaherty, are proof that there’s something in this first name that helps you write killer show tunes.

Today’s Stephen has written some of my favorite songs and favorite musicals, from Ragtime (which I worked on), to the bursting-with-joy Once on This Island (which was one of the first shows I ever saw when I moved to New York) and so many shows in between.  And next season will see another Ahrens/Flaherty show on the Broadway boards with the much anticipated Anastasia.  

We had Lynn Ahrens on the podcast a few weeks ago, which makes today the first time we’ve ever had a musical theater songwriting team on the show at separate times.  So now hear Stephen’s perspective on how they do what they do and . . .

  • How Stephen Sondheim helped him find a Lyricist (and why if he hadn’t listened his career might be very different today).
  • Why he’s never experienced Writer’s block, and how you can get through it if you have it.
  • The animated movie he wrote that may never see the light of day, and how it inspired another one.
  • Why not having his first two shows produced was a good thing.
  • The speed writing 11 day audition process he and Lynn went through to be chosen to write Ragtime.

Stephen is an immense talent, there’s no question about that, but as you’ll hear in this podcast, what strikes me is his incredible balance of confidence and modesty, which makes him successful not just in writing great music . . . but in writing a great musical.


(And check out this live recording of the 54 Below Ahrens/Flaherty celebration of their 30 years of collaboration!)

Click here to listen.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –


– Get everything you need to help get your show off the ground when you join TheProducersPerspectivePro for free.  Join the club today.

– Listen to Podcast Episode #67 with the Executive Director of Samuel French, Bruce Lazarus!  Click here.

– WEBINAR ALERT: “How do I get the rights to the book, movie, music . . .” on Wednesday, May 11th at 7PM ETClick here to register. Or get it for FREE when you join Pro.

Related Posts


Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.