Ask some of the musical theater world’s most vibrant performers who their favorite songwriting teams are, and they’re likely to agree on one team in particular — and it’s not Rodgers & Hammerstein. The prolific young team of Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk are beloved among the next generation of Broadway stars for the seemingly effortless storytelling and contemporary melodies in their songs, and they stopped by the Billboard on Broadway podcast recently to chat about their longstanding creative partnership and their newest show, The Mad Ones, playing at 59E59 Theaters in New York through December 19.
Like any artistic team, Kerrigan and Lowdermilk have developed a collaborative process that unites their many disparate projects. “We have certain guiding principles, kinds of things that are or are not in our aesthetic, and those are easy answers when we effortlessly go, ‘This is what this song is supposed to be,'” Lowdermilk explains, but “some of the more exciting developments for us” come when the two disagree. “The most exciting theater is sometimes made when you’re trying to follow each person’s rules and saying, okay, these two things have to be true, how do you make that into theater?” Kerrigan adds. “How do you make that into magic?”
Though Kerrigan tends to work with lyrics and Lowdermilk with music, “We get up in each other’s faces a lot,” Lowdermilk says with a laugh. At this point in their partnership — which began when the duo were teenagers — both find their work veers naturally from time to time into the other’s expertise. “We’re like those two odd-looking trees that have grown over on top of each other in an odd way,” Lowdermilk says.
In their conversation with host Rebecca Milzoff, Kerrigan and Lowdermilk remember their early days bonding over Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the Indigo Girls; consider the internet’s influence in the spread of their music; and explore what the future of musical theater might look like (hint: YouTube is a kind of stage too).