Michael Gibson

Orchestrator, Arranger
Michael Gibson

Male

Died: July 14, 2005
New Jersey

Michael Gibson, the two-time Tony Award-nominated orchestrator who had a long working relationship with composer John Kander, died July 14, 2005, in New Jersey after a battle with lung cancer, his agent Mark Sendroff confirmed. Mr. Gibson, 60, had been in hospice care recently. He is currently represented as co-orchestrator of Broadway's All Shook Up (with co-orchestrator Stephen Oremus).

Known for his jazzy, swingy work on Kander's Steel Pier and the recent revival of Kander's Cabaret, Mr. Gibson was Tony nominated in the category of Best Orchestrations for both projects.

Among his earlier orchestrating credits on Broadway were the Kander and Ebb projects Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993), Cabaret (the 1987 revival, for which he wrote additional orchestrations), The Rink (1984) and Woman of the Year (1981).

In Mr. Gibson's projects with Kander, there seemed to be a muscularity to his musical choices, as dictated by the composer's work. Brass and percussion were not foreign to his work; Steel Pier exploded with swing music, The Rink had a hint of vaudeville to it; saxes energized "It Isn't Working," a signature up-tempo company number in Woman of the Year.

All Shook Up music supervisor, arranger and co-orchestrator Stephen Oremus had worked with Mr. Gibson on a Vegas show (a Chaka Khan project, Signed, Sealed, Delivered) as well Off-Broadway musicals.

Oremus said he knew Mr. Gibson had been a studio musician who worked with James Brown, and would bring rich experience to fleshing out the gospel, soul, brass and blues in the new musical that borrows songs made famous by Elvis Presley.

"I brought Michael in on the project, I invited him in to see the first workshop," Oremus told Playbill.com. "I knew as an orchestrator he would be able to convey the passion of the Elvis music, and complement the percussion work with brilliant horn writing — his horn writing was masterful."

Trombone was Mr. Gibson's primary instrument as a player, Oremus said. The two worked on several projects together, including Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party, music-directed by Oremus and orchestrated by Mr. Gibson.

Oremus was awed that Mr. Gibson could make a band of nine sound so powerful. "It sounded like 30," Oremus said, again noting the horn work —"the voicings of saxophones and the one trumpet we had" — of the Jazz Age-set show.

"There was no limit to his imagination," Oremus said, adding that in recent days, composer Lippa and Oremus visited the ailing Mr. Gibson, paying respects to a cherished friend and mentor.

"He was tireless, always working on several projects," Oremus said. "This illness was a bump in the road for him. He would wake up at four and five in the morning, eager to write. He really inspired me, not just how he dealt with his illness, but everything he did creatively. He taught me everything."

At the time of his death, Mr. Gibson was preparing to co-orchestrate the new Chita Rivera life-story revue, The Dancer's Life, with orchestrator Danny Troob, Sendroff said. The new show bows this coming season and will surely include work by Kander and Ebb.

Also among recent projects for Mr. Gibson was the scoring of a symphonic evening of songs by Kander and Ebb.

As orchestrator of the film, "Grease," he has a platinum soundtrack album to his credit. Mr. Gibson orchestrated more than 100 shows for Broadway, Off-Broadway or regional theatres. On Broadway, he contributed orchestrations to The Boy From Oz, the 1999 You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, A Grand Night for Singing, My Favorite Year, 1992's Guys and Dolls (he orchestrated the "Crapshooter's Dance"), Meet Me in St. Louis, Chu Chem, Mail, 1987's Anything Goes, Roza, My One and Only, Onward Victoria, 1976's Pal Joey and Over Here!

Stephen Flaherty, the composer of My Favorite Year, told Playbill.com, "Michael Gibson was a true artist who used orchestral color as his medium. I just loved his orchestrations. Who didn't? Just last year Michael and I both spoke on a panel that was sponsored by the Dramatists Guild. The topic was the composer/orchestrator relationship. I was not only impressed at the breadth of Michael's knowledge and how well he spoke about the elusive relationship between composer and arranger, but also by his humanity and humor. Both of those qualities are apparent in anything he did. All of us who love musical theatre will truly miss him."

Mr. Gibson's wife, Ellen, and son Andrew are among survivors.

 

Roles

Playbill Cover - Cabaret Cabaret
Apr. 24, 2014 - Aug. 31, 2014
Orchestrations
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Anything Goes Anything Goes
Apr. 7, 2011 - Jul. 8, 2012
Original Orchestrations
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - All Shook Up All Shook Up
Mar. 24, 2005 - Sep. 25, 2005
Orchestrations
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - The Boy from Oz The Boy from Oz
Oct. 16, 2003 - Sep. 12, 2004
Orchestrations
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Feb. 4, 1999 - Jun. 13, 1999
Orchestrator
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Cabaret Cabaret
Mar. 19, 1998 - Jan. 4, 2004
Orchestrations
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Steel Pier Steel Pier
Apr. 24, 1997 - Jun. 28, 1997
Orchestrations
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - A Grand Night for Singing A Grand Night for Singing
Nov. 17, 1993 - Jan. 1, 1994
Music Orchestrations
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Kiss of the Spider Woman Kiss of the Spider Woman
May 3, 1993 - Jul. 1, 1995
Music Orchestrator
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - My Favorite Year My Favorite Year
Dec. 10, 1992 - Jan. 10, 1993
Bow Music Orchestration
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Guys and Dolls Guys and Dolls
Apr. 14, 1992 - Jan. 8, 1995
"The Crapshooters' Dance" Orchestrator
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Meet Me in St. Louis Meet Me in St. Louis
Nov. 2, 1989 - Jun. 10, 1990
Music Orchestrations
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Chu Chem Chu Chem
Mar. 17, 1989 - May 14, 1989
Music Orchestrations
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Mail Mail
Apr. 14, 1988 - May 15, 1988
Music Orchestrations
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Cabaret Cabaret
Oct. 22, 1987 - Jun. 4, 1988
Additional Orchestrations
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Anything Goes Anything Goes
Oct. 19, 1987 - Sep. 3, 1989
Music Orchestrations
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Roza Roza
Oct. 1, 1987 - Oct. 11, 1987
Music Orchestrations
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Rink The Rink
Feb. 9, 1984 - Aug. 4, 1984
Music Orchestrations
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - My One and Only My One and Only
May 1, 1983 - Mar. 3, 1985
Music Orchestrations
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Woman of the Year Woman of the Year
Mar. 29, 1981 - Mar. 13, 1983
Music Orchestrations
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Onward Victoria Onward Victoria
Dec. 14, 1980 - Dec. 14, 1980
Music Orchestrations
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Pal Joey Pal Joey
Jun. 27, 1976 - Aug. 29, 1976
Music Orchestrations
(Original)
 
Man on the Moon
Jan. 29, 1975 - Feb. 1, 1975
Music Arrangements
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Over Here! Over Here!
Mar. 6, 1974 - Jan. 4, 1975
Music Orchestrations
(Original)
 
 

Inside the Playbill (5)

See more Who's Who

Awards


Drama Desk Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
2000 Outstanding Orchestrations The Wild Party--MTC Nominee
1998 Outstanding Orchestrations Cabaret Nominee
1997 Outstanding Orchestrations Steel Pier Nominee
1988 Outstanding Orchestrations Anything Goes Nominee
1983 Outstanding Orchestrations My One and Only Winner

Tony Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1998 Orchestrations Cabaret Nominee
1997 Orchestrations Steel Pier Nominee
 
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