Sean Hartley
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Sean Hartley

Fee Range1: $ 3500 - $6000

Leading Authority on the History of the Broadway Musical


American CultureAmerican LegendsArts/Culture/MusicMusical ProgramThe Sixties



Sean Hartley

Sean HartleyLeading Authority on the History of the Broadway Musical

Sean Hartley is the director of Theater@Kaufman, the musical theater division of the Kaufman Music Center. He curates, produces and often hosts the series Broadway Close Up and Broadway Playhouse. He is a frequent lecturer on Musical Theater for One Day University. As a lyricist, composer and/or playwright his productions include Cupid and Psyche (written with composer Jihwan Kim, Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Lyrics), Little Women (Syracuse Stage, Village Theater), Love and Real Estate  (written with composer Sam Davis) and Snow, which won the ASCAP Harold Arlen Award for Best New Musical. He is currently writing lyrics for Prelude to a Kiss, based on Craig Lucas’s play, with book by Mr. Lucas and music by Daniel Messe. The show will premiere at South Coast Repertory Theater in 2020.

His works for television include songs for the Disney Channel’s The Book of Pooh and Bear In the Big Blue House. His theater works for children include Number The Stars (adapted from the Newbury Medal book by Lois Lowry), Sunshine (based on a book by Ludwig Bemelmans, music by John O’Neill) and Vashti!, and Holy Moses! (both with books by Bob Kolsby.) He is a proud member of the faculties of Special Music School, One Day University and Lucy Moses School.



An overview of Broadway musical history, with musical examples, focusing on four revolutionary shows: Show Boat, Oklahoma, Company and Hamilton. The focus is on why these four shows helped the musical to evolve from light entertainment to a thoroughly integrated work of art.


Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein, Lorenz Hart and E.Y. “Yip” Harburg were all born in New York City within a year of each other, just at the end of the 20th century. They each fell in love with the lyrics of W. S. Gilbert, and they went on to become four of the most important young American lyricists, establishing a new standard for lyric writing. Told together, their story is the story of American musical theater from the teens to the nineteen fifties. With musical examples from shows by the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Rodgers and Hart, and Harburg and Harold Arlen.


The 1960s were a time of great social, political, racial and sexual unrest and upheaval, but the musicals on Broadway barely reflected that. Or did they? Sean Hartley examines the musicals of the ‘60s, from Sound of Music to Hair, and in the process illuminates a fascinating chapter in our cultural history. With musical examples from How to Succeed in Business, Man of La Mancha, Mame, Hair and other great shows from the sixties.


Songs come in many different styles and forms, but they have been among the most popular forms of artistic expression since the beginning of time. Sean Hartley performs and examines seven great theater songs, from Gershwin, Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim and others, revealing some of the ways that great composers and lyricists make their songs stand out from the crowd.


Most Broadway hits are written by great teams like Rodgers & Hammerstein, Bock & Harnick, Sondheim, etc. But there is a subset of wonderful, hit shows by writers who, for one reason or another, never repeat their success. Sean Hartley discusses The Music Man, Oliver!, Man of La Mancha, Promises, Promises, Hair and  Rent, with revealing anecdotes about the creative artists and musical examples.


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