He is thrilled when the audience is hushed and listening to the lush lyrics of his popular hits "Someone Like You," "Letting Go," "This Is the Moment," "Once Upon A Dream," and
"A New Life." It was a rocky journey to Broadway for Leslie Bricusse,
the veteran book writer and lyricist, and composer Frank Wildhorn. But on the
road, their songs became the anthems of every lounge singer and beauty
contestant. And there's no revenge like success.

Bricusse, who wrote the stage adaptation of Victor/Victoria with
Henry Mancini and Wildhorn and who's adapting his movie hit "Dr.
Doolittle" for the stage, is an old hand at this. His stage musicals
include Stop the World - I Want To Get Off and The Roar Of The
Greasepaint, The Smell Of The Crowd.
Not counting his numerous British
awards, Bricusse has been nominated for four Tonys, eight Oscars, and six
Grammys. He's won two Oscars -- Best Song, "Talk To The Animals";
Best Score, "Victor/Victoria" -- and a Grammy. "There have been
standing ovations at every performance," Bricusse says proudly of J
& H
. "And we're selling out. The gods have smiled upon us."
Bricusse also points proudly to his composer. "A lot of credit goes to
Frank. He's contemporary and knows the music business inside out. His music
crosses all barriers: pop, R&B, classical, theater. His first influences
were Lerner and Loewe. He's got a wonderful gift of melody and a strong sense
of theatricality." Bricusse finds the 28-year difference in their ages to
be a plus. "Frank's brought me into the `90s, working with all this new
technology. And having done it all before, I brought him some experience."
Growing up in England
during World War II, Bricusse "adored Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly and
became besotted by their films." He began writing revues at Cambridge, which led to
first screenplay, and meeting Bea Lillie, "a profound influence on my
life. She became like my mother." Another influence was Anthony Newley.
"We met dating the same young lady. He was a successful film juvenile and
I sent him some of my song, which he recorded." It led to along-time
collaboration.

In all he's done, what's the most important thing he's learned. "I hope
you have a lot of time because the list is very, very long. Really, the most
important thing is that I never stop learning. However many mistakes you make,
you may not repeat those, but you will fine new ones to make. What you get
right means nothing at all, because there'll always be adequate space for you
to get it wrong the next time." Bricusse added, "You have to keep taking
things one at a time. Like the lyric of 'A New Life' in Jekyll & Hyde,
each day is a brand new life. That's the wonderful thing about our profession.
No matter how many times they count you out, just get the hell back up and get
in there and fight."

{END}

 

Key Subjects: 
Leslie Bricusse, Jekyll & Hyde
Writer: 
Ellis Nassour
Writer Bio: 
Ellis Nassour contributes entertainment features here and abroad. He is the author of "Rock Opera: the Creation of Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline," and an associate editor and a contributing writer (film, music, theater) to Oxford University Press' American National Biography (1999).
Date: 
1997