Composers introduce you to 'If/Then' score samples

Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp in 'If/Then.' Photo by Joan Marcus.
Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp in ‘If/Then,’ which launches its national touring production in Denver on Oct. 13. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Because the music of If/Then will be largely new to touring audiences when the national Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitttouring production launches in Denver on Oct. 13, we asked composers Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey to choose song samples from the show and talk about how they each introduce this score’s own particular style and strengths.

Yorkey (left) and Kitt, who are best known for Next to Normal, were in the rare creative position to know that they would be writing If/Then specifically for Broadway superstar Idina Menzel.
“First and foremost, to be writing for Idina Menzel is a gift, and I wanted to utilize her enormous, gargantuan instrument,” Kitt said. “But I also wanted to vary it and really explore with her a number of different places to sing, especially knowing that she was going to carry this show … and we can’t tire her out.”

Song 1: “Always Starting Over”
Kitt: This is Idina’s big moment at the end of the show, and the song that she performed on the Tony Awards telecast. For that one, Brian and I really challenged ourselves to write something that revved up. I wanted to write something that had movement in the strings; that had rhythm to it; that was driving, but also felt hugely dramatic. So Michael Starobin (Orchestrations) really made use of the orchestral colors, the strings and the trumpet, in that song.

Listen to an excerpt of “Always Starting Over.” Just push play. (Note: Adult language.)

Song 2: “You Learn to Live Without”
Kitt: On the flip side of “Always Staring Over” is a song like “You Learn to Live Without,” which is a much more pensive and wistful and somewhat regrettable place for this character. That has a much slower rhythmic feel, almost a country ballad kind of quality to it. There is an acoustic guitar vamp at the center of it, but then the orchestral elements start to slowly but surely bleed into it to really raise the stakes for this character in that moment.

Listen to an excerpt of “You Learn to Live Without.” Just push play.


Song 3: “Ain’t No Man Manhattan”
Yorkey: This is a song I have been thinking a lot about lately. The song is specifically talking about citizens of New York City, but it is also talking about citizens of the world, and this idea that we are all connected. As much as we would like to sometimes, we can’t break ourselves into all these groups because everything we do has a way of affecting everyone around us. I think so much of the show is about connections, and ramifications of the actions that we take, and the way they play out in our lives, and in others’ lives. I was very proud of how we put that sentiment across in that song. I think it’s something very important to remind ourselves. There is a line in it where Lucas, Anthony Rapp’s character, sings, ‘How much you love your life is what every life is worth.’ That’s one of the core ideas of that character’s life, and it’s also very important to me. And musically, I love that it’s a crunchy rock song that wouldn’t feel out of place in Next to Normal. I love what Tom does with those songs.   

Listen to an excerpt of “Ain’t No Man Manhattan.” Just push play.

Song 4: “Hey, Kid”
Kitt: This is a song I love that is for the character James Snyder plays, Josh. It’s a song that has always meant a great deal to me because Brian actually wrote the lyrics first about the feelings of a new father before and during and right after your child is born. That is something I can really relate to. So I wanted to represent in the composition the rolling thought process you go through. Your mind is racing 100 miles an hour constantly about what this is going to mean. But also I wanted it to feel hopeful, joyous and romantic about making this life with your partner. To me there is just a little of an Aaron Copland quality in the orchestrations. I have always found Aaron Copland’s music to be hugely emotional and beautiful. For me, there is an arrival of something, which seems to go hand-in-hand in what this moment wants to be. It’s rolling, but it’s also laid back-enough that you can swim in the moment and celebrate what’s happening.
Listen to an excerpt of “Hey, Kid.” (Note: Adult language.)

If/Then: Ticket information
Buell Theatre

303-893-4100, in person at the Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby or BUY ONLINE

(Please be advised that the DCPA’s web site at is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for If/Then performances in Denver)

Our previous NewsCenter coverage of If/Then and Idina Menzel:

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