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3 One-Hit Wonders Who Wrote Broadway Shows

December 5, 2014

Scoring a hit song is hard, so what do you do when you can’t score another one? You go and score a Broadway musical. Literally.

Cry BabyMusician: In addition to a career as a for-hire pop songwriter (he wrote the faux-’60s title song from Tom Hanks’ 1996 movie, That Thing You Do!), Adam Schlesinger is best known as the front man of Fountains of Wayne. The band has landed one song song on the Billboard Hot 100, “Stacy’s Mom,” in 2003.

Musical: John Waters cult hit Hairspray became a successful Broadway hit musical in 2002. In 2007, the team behind that show brought another retro-themed Waters musical to the stage: Cry-Baby, a campy parody of 1950s juvenile delinquent films. Schlesinger co-wrote the music for the show, which closed after only 68 performances.

Musician: Singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik scored a surprise hit in 1997 when “Barely Breathing,” a track from his first album, hit the Billboard top 10.

Musical: Sheik has since recorded five albums of original material, but when as his record sales dried up, he became a prolific and in-demand composer of musicals. He adapted Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night for the stage in 2002, and is currently working on an adaptation of American Psycho. His biggest success: Spring Awakening. Opening in 2006, it won the Tony Award for Best Musical, and Sheik the Tony for Best Score.

Musician: Rupert Holmes is responsible for one of the biggest, and cheesiest, hits of the 1970s: “Escape.” You probably know it better as “The Piña Colada Song.” It’s about a man who uses a personal ad to meet a woman for an extramarital affair, and the woman turns out to be his wife. (How romantic.) Holmes had a few other minor hits, but “Escape” hit #1 in 1979.

Musical: Holmes wrote primarily story songs, so it’s no surprise he went into narrative writing. In 1985, he adapted Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood…himself. Holmes wrote the script, as well as the songs and all the music. It won five Tony Awards. Holmes has since written 13 more musicals, including one based on The First Wives’ Club.

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