The Info List - Martin Charnin

Martin Charnin (born November 24, 1934) is an American lyricist, writer, and theatre director. Charnin's best-known work is as conceiver, director and lyricist of the musical Annie.

Life and career

Born in New York City, Charnin graduated from The High School of Music & Art and then from The Cooper Union, where he earned a BFA.[1] Charnin began his theatrical career as a performer, appearing as "Big Deal", one of the Jets in the original production of West Side Story.[1] He played the role for 1000 performances on Broadway and on the road.

He wrote music and lyrics for numerous Off-Broadway and cabaret revues, many of them for Julius Monk. He then went on to write, direct, and produce nightclub acts for Dionne Warwick, Nancy Wilson, Mary Travers, Larry Kert, Jose Ferrer, and Leslie Uggams.

The first Broadway musical for which he wrote the lyrics was the 1963 musical Hot Spot starring Judy Holliday, with music by Mary Rodgers.[2] He contributed lyrics to Vernon Duke's musical Zenda which ran in California in 1963 but did not reach Broadway. In 1967, he wrote the lyrics for Mata Hari, which was produced by David Merrick.[3] He wrote lyrics to Richard Rodgers' music and Peter Stone's book for the musical Two by Two (1970), which starred Danny Kaye and ran on Broadway for 10 months.[2]

In the early 1970s, he worked in television where he conceived, produced, wrote and directed six television variety specials. In 1971, he won the Emmy Award for Annie, The Women in the Life of a Man, which starred Anne Bancroft.[4] In 1972, he won two primetime Emmy Awards for S'Wonderful, S'Marvelous, S'Gershwin, which starred, among others, Jack Lemmon, Fred Astaire, Ethel Merman, Larry Kert, and Robert Guillaume.[4] His other television specials included Get Happy (starring Jack Lemmon, Johnny Mathis, Mama Cass), Dames at Sea (1971, starring Ann-Margret, Anne Meara, and Ann Miller), Cole Porter in Paris (starring Perry Como, Diahann Carroll, Charles Aznavour), and a second Bancroft special, called Annie and the Hoods. He supplied music and lyrics for the hit song The Best Thing You've Ever Done, sung by Barbra Streisand on her multi-platinum albumThe Way We Were.

He made his Broadway directing debut in 1973, conceiving and directing the revue Nash at Nine, based on the works of Ogden Nash and starring E.G. Marshall and running for 21 performances.[2][5] He next directed the revue Music! Music!, which had a libretto by Alan Jay Lerner and ran at City Center for 37 performances in 1974.[6] He directed The National Lampoon Show (1975) and its road company. The New York version starred John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, and other Saturday Night Live performers.[7]

He then created, wrote the lyrics for and directed Annie at the Goodspeed Opera House. Annie moved to Broadway and ran for 2,327 performances,[7] becoming one of the 25 longest running musicals in Broadway history. His collaborators were Charles Strouse and Thomas Meehan. He went on to direct the five U.S. national companies of Annie and three productions in the West End in London. While in London, he also directed Bar Mitzvah Boy (1978), which had music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Don Black.[7][8]

He wrote the lyrics for I Remember Mama (1979) with music by Richard Rodgers, and directed, wrote the lyrics for, and co-wrote the book for The First (1981), a musical about Jackie Robinson and the integration of baseball. He directed A Little Family Business on Broadway in 1982, which starred Angela Lansbury and John McMartin,[9] and Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson in The Flowering Peach for Tony Randall's National Theatre, on Broadway. He wrote additional lyrics for La Strada (1969) and The Madwoman of Central Park West (1979). He directed Cafe Crown in 1988 at the Off-Broadway Public Theater, which subsequently transferred to Broadway in 1989.[10] In 1989 he directed Sid Caesar & Company on Broadway.[11] He directed Laughing Matters in 1989 at the Theater at St. Peter's Church, New York, a revue written by and starring Peter Tolan and Linda Wallem.[12] He directed Jeanne La Pucelle (1997) in Montreal, with book and lyrics by Vincent de Tourdonnet and music by Peter Sipos.[13]

In the 1990s, he directed dozens of companies of Annie, and its sequel Annie Warbucks; in 1997, he directed three additional companies of Annie in London, Australia and Amsterdam. He directed the 20th anniversary production of Annie on Broadway, and in 2004, he directed the 30th anniversary production of Annie, produced by Ken Gentry and Networks. It ran for three and a half years all over the U.S.

He conceived and directed the cabaret revue Upstairs at O'Neals, which ran Off-Broadway from October 1982 to July 1983 at O'Neal's restaurant.[14][15] He directed and wrote the book with Douglas Bernstein and Denis Markell and music with Marvin Hamlisch, Thomas Meehan, Billy Weeden and David Finkle for The No Frills Revue; sketches were written by Ronny Graham among others. The revue featured his daughter, Sasha Charnin Morrison. The revue opened Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theater in October 1987.[16][17] He directed the premiere stage adaptation of Jules Feiffer's Carnal Knowledge Off-Broadway at the Kaufman Theatre in 1990 and Wallach and Jackson in In Persons.

In regional theatre, he directed Robin Hood: The Legend Continues which ran at the Village Theatre, Issaquah, Washington in December 2004. He also wrote the lyrics, with music by Peter Sipos and the book by Thomas Meehan, and the cast featured Shelly Burch.[18] He directed A.R. Gurney's Later Life in Orlando in 2005, featuring Shelly Burch.[19] He created, wrote or directed regional shows like Love is Love, Shadowlands, and in 2010, Sleuth, all for the Village Theatre in Issaquah.

He moved back to the East Coast for the 35th Anniversary Revival of Annie, which opened on Broadway at the Palace Theatre in November 2012 and ran until January 2014.[20]

He has created, produced and directed night club acts for his wife, Shelly Burch.[21] and prepared a new one-woman theatrical entertainment for Shelly Burch for Fall 2014. He directed the revival of Two by Two, starring Jason Alexander as Noah, and Tovah Feldshuh as Noah's wife. It was performed at the York Theatre in 2014 and a new Broadway production is being planned.

Charnin moved to Issaquah, Washington after directing Robin Hood and stayed there until he returned to New York in 2012. He remains Artistic Director of Showtunes!, a theatre company in Seattle, Washington, devoted to resurrecting forgotten and unsung musicals, and celebrating the works of composers, including Richard Rodgers and Irving Berlin, and producing them in concert at Benaroya Hall in Seattle.[22]

On the East Coast, he has created and directed three musicals for the Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck and in 2014 directed the national tour of Annie for Troika Productions. He then begins work on a Broadway revival of Annie Warbucks.



Television and film

Awards and nominations

  • 1971 Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Program-Variety or Musical-Variety and Popular Music – Annie, the Women in the Life of a Man
  • 1972 Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Program-Variety or Musical-Variety and Popular Music – S'Wonderful, S'Marvelous, S'Gershwin
  • 1973 Peabody Award for Broadcasting – S'Wonderful, S'Marvelous, S'Gershwin
  • 1977 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical – Annie
  • 1977 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding LyricsAnnie
  • 1977 Tony Award for Best Original Score – Annie
  • 1999 Grammy Award for Best Rap Album – Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life
  • 2006 The Richard Rodgers Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Performing Arts
  • 2011 Goodspeed Musical Award for Outstanding Contribution to the American Musical Theatre[33]
  • 2013 The first George M. Cohan Ascap Award
  • 1972 Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy, Variety, or Music – S'Wonderful, S'Marvelous, S'Gershwin
  • 1973 Emmy Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy, Variety, or Music – Get Happy
  • 1977 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – Annie
  • 1982 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical – The First
  • 1982 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – The First


  • Member of ASCAP, The Writers Guild, The Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.
  • Author: Annie: A Theatrical Memoir (1977) - Published E.P. Dutton, ISBN 0525030107
  • Author: The Giraffe who Sounded like Ol' Blue Eyes (illustrated by Kate Draper - Published by E.P. Dutton)
  • Album: Nancy Wilson Live at the Sands (1969)
  • Album: Annie Original Broadway recording (1977 Columbia Records)
  • Album: Upstairs at O'Neal's Original New York Company (1982 Bruce Yeko Records)
  • Album: Incurably Romantic (seventeen lyrics; various composers)
  • Album: Annie 30th Anniversary Original recording (2005 Time-Life Records)
  • Album: Second Coming - Shelly Burch live at the Metropolitan Room in New York City
  • Songs recorded by: Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Rod McKuen, Grace Jones, Jay-Z, Nancy Wilson, Andrea McArdle, Shelly Burch, and others
  • Unproduced musical - Softly - lyricist, music by Harold Arlen, book by Hugh Wheeler
  • Cabaret Acts - Nancy Wilson, Diahann Carrol, Leslie Uggams, Jose Ferrer, Tom Poston, Larry Kert, Andrea McArdle, and Shelly Burch.


  1. ^ a b "Martin Charnin Biography". FilmReference.com, accessed July 11, 2012
  2. ^ a b c "Martin Charnin Biography". MasterWorksBroadway.com, accessed July 11, 2012
  3. ^ Rich, Frank. "Stage View; For Troubled Tryouts, Few Happy Endings". The New York Times (webcache.googleusercontent.com), January 28, 1990
  4. ^ a b "Charnin Emmy Listing" Emmys.com, accessed July 11, 2012
  5. ^ " Nash at Nine". Internet Broadway Database, accessed July 21, 2012
  6. ^ Suskin, Steven. Music!Music!. The Sound of Broadway Music. A Book of Orchestrators and Orchestrations (2011), Oxford University Press, ISBN 0199790841
  7. ^ a b c "Charnin Overview". Allmusic.com, accessed July 11, 2012
  8. ^ "Bar Mitzvah Boy". Julestyne.com, accessed July 11, 2012
  9. ^ Rich, Frank. "Stage: 'Family Business,' With Angela Lansbury". The New York Times, December 16, 1982
  10. ^ Cafe Crown. Internet Broadway database, accessed July 11, 2012
  11. ^ Rich, Frank. "Review/Theater; Sid Caesar and a Cast of Many on Broadway". The New York Times, (webcache.googleusercontent.com), November 2, 1989
  12. ^ Gussow, Mel. Reviews/Theater; Sending Up Musicals, In 'Laughing Matters'". The New York Times (webcache.googleusercontent.com), May 21, 1989
  13. ^ Friedlander, Mira. "Legit Reviews. Jeanne La Pucelle". Variety, March 1, 1997
  14. ^ Upstairs at O'Neals. Internet Off-Broadway Database, accessed July 13, 2012
  15. ^ Wilson, John S. "Cabaret: 'Upstairs At O'Neals,' A Revue". The New York Times, October 29, 1982
  16. ^ "The No Frills Revue Listing". mtishows.com, accessed July 13, 2012
  17. ^ Holden, Stephen. "Stage: For Comedy 'The Nn-Frills Revue' ". The New York Times, October 18, 1987
  18. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Merry Men Reach Middle Age in Meehan and Charnin's Robin Hood Musical, Premiering in Seattle Dec. 10-23". Playbill.com, December 4, 2004
  19. ^ Maupin, Elizabeth. " Theatre Review. 'Later Life' Is Dark Comedy That Sheds Light". OrlandoSentinel.com, January 29, 2005
  20. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Martin-Charnin Is Working on a Cinderella Inspired New Musical". Archived 2012-02-26 at the Wayback Machine. Playbill.com, December 16, 2011
  21. ^ Official Site
  22. ^ Kagarise, Warren. Annie’ composer reflects on life after ‘Tomorrow’". Archived 2013-01-26 at Archive.is February 22, 2011
  23. ^ Gussow, Mel. "Review/Theater; Still Nasty After All These Years". The New York Times, November 21, 1990
  24. ^ Rizzo, Frank. Director Does What He Can-can To Update Musical". Courant.com, July 23, 1995
  25. ^ " Annie Warbucks Listing". Archived 2012-06-23 at the Wayback Machine. showtunestheatre.org, accessed July 12, 2012
  26. ^ Holden, Stephen. "Music Review. Recalling Rodgers, Along With His Friends", The New York Times, January 13, 2009
  27. ^ Saunders, Carol. " 'Love Is Love,' musical exploration of the concept of love at the Maltz", TcPalm.com, October 10, 2009
  28. ^ Hartle, John. "Preview: Showtunes company back on the boards with 'Follies'". Seattle Times, June 3, 2012
  29. ^ Irwin, Jay. "BWW Reviews: The Melody Lingers On: The Songs Of Irving Berlin from Showtunes", BroadwayWorld.com, February 8, 2011
  30. ^ Get Happy on IMDb
  31. ^ "Martin Charnin". Emmy Awards. Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  32. ^ Dames at Sea (1971, TV adaptation) at IMDb
  33. ^ "'Annie' is celebrated at Goodspeed - where it all began". TheDay.com, June 5, 2011


  • Bloom, Ken. American Song. The Complete Musical Theater Companion. 1877–1995’’, Vol. 2, 2nd edition, Schirmer Books, 1996.
  • Green, Stanley; Taylor, Deems. The World of Musical Comedy. The Story of the American Musical Stage, A. S. Barnes, 1980.
  • Larkin, Colin. The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 3rd edition, Macmillan, 1998.
  • Press, Jaques Cattell (Ed.). ASCAP Biographical Dictionary of Composers, Authors and Publishers, 4th edition, R. R. Bowker, 1980

External links