Podcast Episode 59 – Michael Starobin


When you talk to Michael Starobin about orchestrating for the musical theater, you just know he’s one of those lucky people that is doing exactly what he’s supposed to do.

He’s got such passion for the theater, and for his specific niche, that when he talks about it, it sounds almost, well, like music.

But don’t take my typed words for it.  Listen in to this podcast and you’ll hear what I’m talking about.  In these 30 minutes or so, you’ll hear the Tony Award-winning Orchestrator of shows like Sunday in the Park with George, Next to Normal, Falsettos and more (click here for his crazy list of credits) talk about . . .

  • The difference between arranging and orchestrating.
  • Why Orchestrators are like painters.
  • His two rules for Broadway Producers on how to avoid a flop.
  • What it was like orchestrating with a pencil and paper, and how digital notation changed all of that . . . and whether that’s a good thing.
  • Why his orchestrations may be on other people’s shows and vice-versa.

And just wait until you hear what he thinks about the “incredible shrinking orchestras.”

Enjoy the podcastian symphony of Michael Starobin!

Click above to listen.

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

Download it here.

Click here to read the transcript.


  • David says:

    Always a fantastic experience listening to this podcast, Ken. You do us all such a service. After listening, I have a follow-up question regarding orchestration. I’m wondering about Michael’s repeated assertion that orchestration must be done *to* the specific actor’s voice. He himself notes if a different actor comes in, that changes things. This way of thinking– orchestrating for the original cast– seem like it might be ignoring the possibility of a long-running show. Take a show like WICKED being done by a billion companies and as many actors. I hear Idina’s voice as being remarkably different from Stephanie J. Block or Shoshana or Eden all the way up to more recent Elphabas. Hoping the show works well and has a long life, might it not make more sense to orchestrate to a vocal type as opposed to individuals?

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