This Music Will Give You Goosebumps

One thing we know about the music from Goosebumps the Musical: Phantom of the Auditorium: when you hear one of the songs, it will likely be stuck in your head all day (and we're okay with that!). Thanks to composer Danny Abosch, the catchy, spooky melodies have our feet tapping at our desks and our excitement building for opening weekend. We already know that we love the music, but we wanted to know more from Music Director, Eric Nordin. We caught up with him about his experience musically directing the show and what to expect when the sound pumps from the speakers at the Newmark Theatre!

OCT: How would you describe the music from Goosebumps (tone, musical influences, etc)?

EN: When I first heard the music in Goosebumps, I was immediately struck by the sophistication it had. Many musicals intended for young audiences are simple tunes that, though wonderfully constructed and quite entertaining, don’t always have the depth and maturity that this show has. It is very cinematic with a large orchestral sound. I keep telling friends that it is a mix of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Tim Burton/Danny Elfman’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, with splashes of Andrew Lloyd Webber and hip-hop. It has a wide appeal that doesn’t disappoint.

OCT: What has been your favorite part about musically directing this show?

EN: For the past decade, my main focus as a theater artist has been to help bring new work to life and get it in front of audiences. Whether that be a world premiere such as Goosebumps or one of my own works as playwright/composer. New work can often be hard to sell to an audience. Mostly, it’s just that its unknown, people don’t know what to expect or if they’ll relate to it, but that uncertainty is precisely what makes new work some of the most exciting theater out there. My goal for this next decade is to do everything I can to help make new work “cool” again. Music directing this show makes it easy, I have a feeling this is going to be a huge hit.

OCT: Music is so important to create suspense or spookiness in a show - how do you think the Goosebumps music achieves this?

EN: Bags upon bags of tricks! Though no one really knows why, certain musical combinations of notes (minor scales and minor chords, dissonance), harsh uneven rhythms, high suspended strings, crispy consonant heavy alliteration with vivid imagery of the macabre all combine to create a spooky and haunting atmosphere. Theater, TV, and movies have been using these tricks since the beginning and they still work to perfection to this day. Scary music is timeless.

OCT: What do you enjoy most about directing young actors?

EN: Young actors (especially these young actors) have such an infectious energy. A desire to do their very best, to want to live in the moment, to make an audience laugh, to make them cry, to make them jump out of their seat. They are discovering what it feels like to have the power that an actor has up there all alone on stage and they become addicted to the joy (and fear) that brings. It’s something that sometimes gets covered up little by little as we all grow old, but working with students never fails to bring back that spark of performance magic. Also, this being a new work, we all as a group get to feel the pride and ownership in knowing that this music has not been performed or presented before and we get to shape things for the very first time. That feeling is quite special and I feel honored to have the opportunity to share that pride with this group of extremely talented young professionals.

Goosebumps the Musical: Phantom of the Auditorium is a simultaneous world premiere with First Stage in Milwaukee, WI. Composer and lyricist Danny Abosch sat down with First Stage's Goosebumps director, Niffer Clarke, to talk more about the music:

OCT's cast of Goosebumps sings the opening number together at the first read in September:

Join us for Goosebumps the Musical: Phantom of the Auditorium, October 22-November 20 at the Newmark Theatre. Click here for tickets and more info.