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5 minutes with a Tony nominee: ‘Stereophonic’’s Justin Craig

The Tony Award-nominated orchestrator reveals his collaboration with Will Butler and Ryan Rumery to genuinely portray a 1970s band making their album.

Justin Craig attends the 77th Annual Tony Awards Meet the Nominees Press Event at Sofitel New York on May 02, 2024, in New York City. (Credit: Jenny Anderson/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

When it comes to theater, a composer and lyricist team up to write the musical foundation for a score. They provide the melody, the rhythms and the words. Their collaboration with an orchestrator turns that bedrock into a fully instrumentalized song. But what about orchestrating a show that reveals a band writing and orchestrating their music?

In “Stereophonic,” audiences witness the musical process of a fictional band as they record their second album. Composer-lyricist Will Butler penned the music and lyrics. Butler and Justin Craig co-orchestrated the score — from each throwaway bass riff to every complete song. 

Here, Craig breaks down the process of creating the orchestrations for the unconventional play, digs into the creation of two versions of the song “Bright” and reveals how he achieved an authentic ’70s sound.

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