Adam Gwon is an up-and-comping composer, known for his musicals Ordinary Days, Cloudlands, The Boy Detective Falls and String. Now, Gwon will bring his music to 54 Below for a special one-night-only concert on April 8. The set will feature a mix of favorite songs from his shows as well as brand new material performed by Broadway stars like Liz Callaway, Santino Fontana, Betsy Wolfe, Lindsay Mendez, Kate Shindle, Kate Wetherhead, Phoebe Strole, Anne Nathan and Alex Wyse. Read on to hear Gwon open up about his musical influences, his angsty teen years and which Adam Lambert song gives him a "burst of adrenaline."
What record/album was your favorite growing up?
The first album I remember being legitimately obsessed with was, oddly enough, Boyz II Men's Cooleyhighharmony. I remember sitting in the backseat of my parents' car listening to it nonstop on my Walkman (remember those?) and loving the sound of all the harmonies.
What concert most influenced you as a performer?
I was an angsty teen and loved Tori Amos (I still do) and went to all of her concerts. A lot of times her concerts were just her and a piano. I loved that. She filled arenas with her music, but it was just her voice and her piano. Though my 54 Below show will have a small band (with me at the piano, of course!), I often do shows with just a piano and some singers. And I think that acoustic sensibility is part of my writing as well.
What is your go-to audition song?
I started out in theater as a performer, but now that I'm a writer, my auditioning days are long behind me. But it used to be Ahrens and Flaherty's "Larger Than Life" from My Favorite Year.
What musical theater track is the most played on your iPod?
I honestly didn't know what this would be until I looked — it's "The Beauty Is" from Light in the Piazza.
If you could invite any performer onstage for a duet at 54 Below, who would it be?
Well, apart from the performers I've already invited to join me on the April 8, I'd say Tori Amos. We could do a four-hand piano kind of thing. And we're both from Baltimore, so we could banter about crabs and the Peabody Institute. It'd be amazing!
What musical theater performer from the past do you wish you could collaborate with?
I would love to have written something for a guy like Bert Lahr. He captivated me even as a little kid—so funny! so weird!—and as I got older, I realized how in the midst of all his wacky physical comedy, he had so much heart. I love performers who have both sides of that coin, who can be so strange yet so lovable and honest at the same time.
What album was the soundtrack to your 20s?
Probably some weird and slightly embarrassing playlist that includes Justin Timberlake, Rufus Wainwright, and a bunch of LaChiusa musicals.
What’s your favorite love song?
I've always been a sucker for "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered."
What is your favorite workout track?
I get a burst of adrenaline when either Adam Lambert's "If I Had You" or Danity Kane's "Damaged" comes up on the gym shuffle...
Favorite break-up song?
“Since You Stayed Here.”
What song most makes you smile?
I dig Sara Bareilles' "King of Anything" for tunefully saying "eff you" to those who've done you wrong.