Fame & Fortune: Rocker Duncan Sheik

Bankrate: Was this your first foray into writing for theater?

Duncan Sheik: Yes and no. It's the first major project that was undertaken, but over the course of the past eight years I wrote music for "Twelfth Night" when the Public Theater did it in Central Park in 2002. Steven and I have had two other musical projects. One was "Nero," which we did in San Francisco last year and which we're going to workshop at the Public later this summer; and then another piece called "The Nightingale," which we've workshopped three times already. So I was working on many other theater projects concurrently with "Spring Awakening," and in a way, working on these pieces has informed how I think about "Spring Awakening," and what that piece has become.

Bankrate: Do you have any traditional theater background or training?

Duncan Sheik: That's a gray area. When I was a kid I did a lot of musical theater and a lot of theater in general. I was The Artful Dodger in sixth grade. I was in "Barnum." We did "The Muppet Movie" as a musical and I was Gonzo. Then later, in high school, I was in the pit band for "Godspell." So I wasn't part of the theater crowd, per se, but I was always tangentially involved.

Bankrate: How are the sales for "Spring Awakening?"

Duncan Sheik: After the Tony nominations, they kind of went through the roof. I think our sales almost doubled that week, and the box office continues to grow very healthfully. Here's the thing. What had happened before was, we had these amazing audiences in the theater, but they were younger and couldn't always spend $100 or $200 on a ticket. Now that the show has been lauded in this way, the existing theater audience is coming to see it as well, and those folks can spend $100 or $200 on a ticket. So it's helping our show move into the black a little quicker.

Bankrate: What has the show's success meant for you financially compared to your earlier pop music successes?


Duncan Sheik: I had a lot of success with my first album and as a songwriter, and where I was able to make money in that stage of my career was in publishing, because I wrote all the material on that record. So that was where the real income was coming from. But even though the record went gold, a gold record didn't mean you would recoup and receive royalties from album sales. To this day, I've never received a royalty from an album sale.

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