Laurence O'Keefe Print Email

Laurence O'Keefe (Adams '91)

Larry thought he was going to join the Peace Corps and/or be an actor, but somehow wound up an award-winning composer/lyricist and writer for Broadway, movies and television. Larry 'studied' anthropology at Harvard but spent more time doing theater and music.  After graduating he went to Berklee and then USC, where he earned a masters in composition for film and television. But again Larry gravitated to theater, joining the Actors' Gang, LA's hyperactive theater collective, where he wrote several fun weird shows including Bat Boy: The Musical.  Bat Boy, about the bug-eating bloodthirsty cave boy from the tabloid Weekly World News, came to New York, was a hit Off-Broadway and has received hundreds of productions worldwide, including London's West End, Japan, Korea, Berlin and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  Bat Boy won two Richard Rodgers Awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, plus the Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics’ Circle awards for Best Off-Broadway Musical. With his wife and co-writer, the brilliant Nell Benjamin, Dunster '93), Larry cowrote several shows Off-Broadway (Sarah, Plain And Tall;  Cam Jansen And The Curse Of The Emerald Elephant). Sarah, originally a children's show for Theaterworks USA, was developed further at the Eugene O'Neill Musical Theater Festival. The full-length Sarah received its premiere production at the Dallas Theatre Center, and will come to Broadway in 2012. Larry and Nell's first Broadway show was Legally Blonde, the stage adaptation of the 2001 film about a California sorority girl who goes to Harvard Law to win back her ex. Blonde ran for over 600 performances at the Palace Theatre on Broadway and was nominated for seven Tony Awards including Best Score, as well as ten Drama Desk Awards including Best Lyrics, Best Music and Best Musical. Blonde has had two successful North American tours and has had productions in Korea, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and London's West End; this past March the London production of Blonde won three Olivier Awards, London's equivalent of the Tony, including Best Musical. Larry's next project is co-writing book, music and lyrics (with Reefer Madness' Kevin Murphy) for Heathers, the stage adaptation of the beloved Winona Ryder/Christian Slater film. Heathers had a smash New York concert debut at Joe's Pub at the Public Theater in New York this September and will premiere in Los Angeles in 2012. Larry's other awards for music and lyrics include the Ed Kleban Award for lyrics, the ASCAP Richard Rodgers New Horizon award for music and lyrics, the USC Harry Warren Prize for composition and a Jonathan Larson Foundation grant.   Larry has written for shows on MTV, VH-1, "The Daily Show" and Disney's "Johnny And The Sprites", and scored PBS's documentary series "Make 'Em Laugh". Larry has taught master classes and workshops in music, theater and comedy at Yale, NYU, University of Miami and elsewhere. But Larry's favorite gig is getting to return to Harvard each August to teach music at the Freshman Arts Program, which is like FOP for artsy kids.

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