BY: JULIA SALKIN
Celebrated Broadway composer Adam Schlesinger tragically passed away on Tuesday, March 31st 2020, due to Coronavirus-related complications, his family has confirmed. The 52-year old singer-songwriter of the hit ’90s band Fountains of Wayne was truly talented and also wrong songs for theater, film and television. In 1996 he wrote the upbeat theme song for the Tom Hanks-directed movie, That Thing You Do!
Schlesinger wrote the music for the stage adaptation of the 1990 film Cry-Baby, which premiered on Broadway in the spring of 2008. Alongside his frequent collaborator, comedy writer David Javerbaum, Schlesinger wrote the featured numbers performed by Neil Patrick Harris at two consecutive Tony Awards ceremonies. Their 2011 opening tune “It’s Not Just for Gays Anymore,” and the 2012 closing number “If I Had Time” landed the writing pair two Emmy awards.
Since 2016, Schlesinger has also been recognized for his work on Rachel Bloom’s beloved CW series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, for which he and Javerbaum co-wrote the main title theme song. The writing pair picked up another Emmy for an original song they penned for this show as well.
Most recently, Schlesinger collaborated with comedian Sarah Silverman on The Bedwetter, a new musical which was scheduled to premiere at the Atlantic Theatre Company later this month and was working with Rachel Bloom on a Broadway-bound stage adaptation of The Nanny.
Schlesinger’s celebrated catalog of music — including the 2003 Fountains of Wayne hit song “Stacy’s Mom” which reached no. 21 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart — has been performed by a huge array of artists from Elvis Costello, to Nicki Minaj, to the Jonas Brothers.
“There would be no Playtone without Adam Schlesinger, without his That Thing You Do! He was a One-der. Lost him to Covid-19. Terribly sad today,” Tom Hanks shared via Twitter. Kathy Griffin also tweeted, “Oh god. Adam Schlesinger was wildly talented. He graciously wrote the theme song to my “KATHY” talk show called “I’ll say it” He was so patient with me as I was recording it in the booth, guiding me at every step. He did the gig as a favor, in a little home studio on a Saturday.”
Our thoughts are with Schlesinger’s family, friends, and the rest of the theatre community.