Ben Tarver [Librettist, Co-Lyricist] counts three “home towns” – New York City, Santa Fe, New Mexico and Edmonton, Canada. A citizen of both the United States and Canada, he now lives in Toronto.
Tarver was active in the early years of the off-Broadway movement that so revolutionized New York theatre. He was a producer, director, playwright, stage manger, general manager – anything “to make a buck.” After fifteen years of this exhilarating work he took a teaching position at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, hoping to build up a cash reserve before returning to New York. But he fell in love with the country and the challenge of his position and stayed for 25 years when retirement was forced on him. He re-settled in his native state of New Mexico where he accepted the position of literary manager at the New Mexico Repertory Theatre. He also joined a small film production company dedicated to the work of Native Americans with Indian partners such as actor/director Wes Studi and actor/screenwriter Bruce King. He has taken up residence again in Canada to be closer to his family.
His directing credits in New York include Cicero by Upton Sinclair and The David Show, A. R. Gurney’s initial New York production. He produced off-Broadway the first professional production of Calderon’s Life Is a Dream – La Vida es Sueno -- which was also the first dual-language theater event in New York’s history.
For three summers Tarver was one of the finalist judges for the prestigious Stanley Drama Award connected to the New York City Writers Conference on Staten Island. During his tenure there, some of the other judges were Edward Albee and Eric Bentley. It was in this position that he discovered the Gurney play.
As a playwright he wrote the book and co-authored the lyrics for Man With a Load of Mischief. His gothic comedy, The Murder of Auguste Dupin, played to sold-out houses across Canada, then ran in repertory for months at one of Britain’s major resident theatres before being optioned for Broadway several times. A revival is now planned in Canada. In addition to these stage credits Tarver has also written a number of screen and teleplays but now concentrates only on the live theatre. He recently teamed up with John Clifton again to write the book for their new musical, Appalachian Fling.
John Clifton [Composer/Co-Lyricist] wrote the score and co-authored the lyrics for Man With A Load Of Mischief, the highly praised, perennially revived off-Broadway musical. The New York Times called his music “fresh and quirky”” and remarked of his songs “you can hum almost all of them.” The New York Post praised "Mr. Clifton's appropriate score…remarkably appealing.” Steven Suskin, writing for Playbill.com in 2009 cited Clifton’s “infinitely worthy score” which “quickly made it onto my most favored list.” John wrote the music and lyrics for the New York musical El Bravo!, which Clive Barnes called “a charming winner,” declaring he was “positively captivated.” Recently, Clifton has collaborated on an animated version of this musical.
John’s score for We The People was performed on the steps of the U.S. Capitol for the bicentennial of the Constitution. His songs and orchestrations were heard on Broadway in The Madwoman Of Central Park West starring Phyllis Newman and directed by Arthur Laurents. Till (book, music and lyrics) was selected for development and presentation by the O’Neill Center’s Music Theater Conference. Mama (music and lyrics; starring Celeste Holm) was presented by the Studio Arena (Buffalo) and Starshine, a Civil War romance (music and lyrics) was seen at Theatre by The Sea (Portsmouth, New Hampshire).
John composed the score for The Maiden Of Ludmir, a Yiddish musical, for New York’s Folksbeine Playhouse. He has recently completed a new bluegrass musical based upon The Broken Jug by Heinrich Von Kleist (with book by Ben Tarver), and another musical entitled Hadleyburg, adapted from a Mark Twain story. This last was presented at the 2010 New York Midtown Theatre Festival, where it was nominated for best reading of the event.
John's most recent project is writing the music and lyrics for "Two Eagles," a musical of love in modern Israel, with playwright Tuvia Tenenbom. John is married to author Josée Clerens, with whom he wrote Sparky Fights Back, a best-selling book about their miraculous dog.
For John's Web site, click here.