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

By Michael Gioia
16 Oct 2012

Brian Lowdermilk and Kait Kerrigan

Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk are known for their coming-of-age power ballads in their contemporary musical pieces The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown and Tales from the Bad Years. "Run Away With Me" is one of the duo's most frequently performed tunes — a song from Samantha Brown in which Samantha's high school boyfriend simply asks to be her "ride out of town." Their other popular songs that teeter on the brink of adolescence and adulthood include "Last Week's Alcohol," performed here by Spring Awakening and War Horse actor Matt Doyle ("It's one of our most structurally ambitious songs," said Lowdermilk, "and it's all in service of describing a small moment of introspection at a keg party"); "How to Return Home," performed here by Tony nominee Laura Osnes; and "Two Strangers," performed here by Doyle, Morgan Karr and Jay Armstrong Johnson. 

"Brian and I have the surprising and wonderful benefit of having grown up in the same theatre community as kids," said Kerrigan about the duo's collaboration. "We reference productions we saw when were first learning about theatre as often as we reference what's happening in professional theatre today. Additionally, we have a lot of shared musical influences. We both grew up in families that loved music and the influences are as varied as the Indigo Girls and Bruce Springsteen to Mozart and Dvorak." Currently, Kerrigan and Lowdermilk are working with Broadway Across America on The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown, which premiered last year at Goodspeed Musicals' Norma Terris; developing a musical called Republic, based on Shakespeare's Henry IV and set in Northern Ireland in the 1970s; and working on a commission from Dan Markley and Brooks Hale — the coming-of-age story of a Chinese dancer named Zhong Mei Li.

"Right now, musical theatre is closer to pop culture than it has been in decades," continued Kerrigan. "We think that's so exciting and we want to push the boundaries of that. In the future, we think it's possible to erase the stigma that people have towards musical theatre and bring in more audiences. The authenticity of a live experience can't be replicated on YouTube or television and I think that will become more and more valuable."

Listen to "Run Away With Me," performed by Michael Arden on the duo's CD "Our First Mistake":

"Run Away With Me"



Listen to "One Last Prayer," a pivotal moment from the duo's newest work, Republic:

"One Last Prayer"



Expect Playbill's Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know, Part Three, in the future. Write us with suggestions at

( staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Tweet him new music and composer suggestions at @PlaybillMichael.)


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