David Yazbek (born 1961) is an American writer, musician, composer, and lyricist. He wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway musicals The Full Monty (2000), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005) and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (2010).
Yazbek was born to a Jewish-Italian mother and a Lebanese father in New York City. Musical from birth, he began cello lessons in elementary school and took up the piano as a teenager.
While attending Brown University as an undergraduate, he wrote an original musical with the production group Brownbrokers before graduating in 1982. He also directed a production of Hair with student theatre group Production Workshop, for which he composed an original song to compliment the classic score. After college he got a job writing for David Letterman's late night television show. He won an Emmy as part of Letterman's writing team in 1986, but quit to pursue his love of music. From 1987 to 1989 he was the co-owner of Manhattan Recording Company and wrote many commercial jingles.
An accomplished musician, Yazbek has released four rock albums to date which highlight his unique perspective and wry sense of humor. He has also written many songs and background music for children's television shows, especially those produced for Disney's cable television channel. He also co-wrote the theme song to the Emmy award winning PBS-TV series Where in The World Is Carmen Sandiego? with songwriter Sean Altman, a high school friend who led the show's featured vocal group Rockapella.
Yazbek has produced tracks for the band XTC, and its lead singer Andy Partridge has collaborated on Yazbek's solo albums. He also has written for or produced recordings by Spacehog, Tito Puente, The Persuasions, Queen, and Sarah Saturday. XTC also contributed a track to the "Carmen Sandiego" soundtrack album, which Yazbek produced.
In 2000, Broadway director Jack O'Brien approached composer-lyricist Adam Guettel to write the music and lyrics for a musical based on the hit movie The Full Monty. Guettel declined, but recommended Yazbek, with whom he had played in a band. Yazbek took the job, collaborating with librettist Terrence McNally. The show was a success, although it was overshadowed that year by Mel Brooks' musical The Producers. The Full Monty ran for two years before closing, and for his work Yazbek was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Original Score and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics, and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music. In 2002 he was a contributing lyricist for the musical Bombay Dreams.
Yazbek wrote the music and lyrics to the musical adaptation of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which opened on Broadway in 2005, featuring John Lithgow, Norbert Leo Butz, Sherie Rene Scott, Joanna Gleason, and Gregory Jbara. Yazbek was again nominated for the 2005 Tony Award for Best Original Score, and Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Lyrics.
In 2007, Yazbek began developing the music and lyrics for Bruce Lee: Journey to the West, a stage musical based on the life of martial artist Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee will feature a book by David Henry Hwang and will be directed by Bartlett Sher. Variety reported that the musical was aiming to open on Broadway during the 2010-2011 season.
Yazbek is working on a musical based on the life of magician Harry Houdini, to be titled Houdini; Danny Elfman is writing the music and Yazbek is contributing the lyrics. Houdini was tentatively set to open on Broadway in Spring 2010, with Hugh Jackman starring, but the production was delayed.
Yazbek has written the music for the musical adaptation of the 1988 Pedro Almodóvar film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. In October 2009, the musical had a closed reading directed by Bartlett Sher and featuring Salma Hayek, Jessica Biel, Matthew Morrison, and Paulo Szot. The musical opened on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre on November 4, 2010, with previews starting October 8. The musical stars Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Sherie Rene Scott, with direction by Bartlett Sher.
- David Yazbek and His Warmest Regards: Evil Monkey Man (Ghostlight
"Steps of Another Man's House" Music Video
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? theme
Yazbek on writing lyrics