PLAYBILL PICKS: The Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know, Part One

By Michael Gioia
09 Oct 2012

Jonathan Reid Gealt

Jonathan Reid Gealt's debut album "Thirteen Stories Down," released in December 2010, takes the listener through 13 short stories about the ups and downs of love (two of his favorites, "I Am Yours" and "Loveable," performed here by Priscilla Queen of the Desert actress Alysha Umphress), friendship ("My Best Friend," featuring the songwriter alongside Ragtime's Quentin Earl Darrington), self discovery ("Expectations of a Man" and "No Reason at All," performed here by singer-songwriter Katie Thompson) and lessons learned ("Quiet" and "Lessons Learned").

"I'd like to think I can change my sound enough to fit the character and story I'm writing for," Gealt says about the style of his songs. "But overall I probably fit best in the contemporary musical theatre vein with pop and soulful influences." Aside from his musical theatre influences such as Adam Guettel, Jason Robert Brown, Stephen Sondheim, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the composer also credits Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder and old-school Mariah Carey for the formation of his sound.

Currently, Gealt — a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop — is developing a musical adaptation of Lyndsay Faye's novel "Dust and Shadow," which pits Sherlock Holmes against Jack the Ripper in 19-century London, with Kasey Marino (book) and Dustin Sullivan (lyrics), scheduled to have a reading in November 2012; working on a second album entitled "Here For You," which will be released as a benefit project for Broadway Impact; adapting Forward, his full-length song cycle, into a screenplay; and developing an original screenplay under the working title of "An Unwanted Vacation."

Listen to "I Am Yours," performed by Ghost's Caissie Levy on the album "Thirteen Stories Down":

"I Am Yours"




Listen to "Quiet," also from "Thirteen Stories Down," performed by Natalie Weiss: