STEVE ORICH was born in Valley Stream, Long Island, and music was always a part of his life. He began playing piano at the age of eight, soon moving on to other instruments, studying percussion, guitar and trumpet. He even began writing band arrangements in junior high school. At the age of fifteen, he got his first professional job, Musical Directing shows at a summer camp in the Catskills. He studied Music Composition at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and Musical Directed several shows on campus.
After school, he spent several seasons Musical Directing “10-in-10” summer stock (ten shows in ten weeks) at the Thomaston Opera House and the Lakewood Musical Playhouse. Lakewood’s season ended with a production ofGodspell, which was so well-received that it moved to the famed Bucks County Playhouse. That production eventually became an International Tour with Steve as Musical Director.
After touring, Steve returned to New York with his eye on Broadway. Along the way, he brought his talents to numerous dinner theatres and off-Broadway shows. He added to his skills by studying the newly-developed technology of Electronic Music and Synthesizer Programming at the New School. He also studied Arranging and Conducting at the Manhattan School of Music and was privileged to study orchestration from legendary arranger Don Sebesky.
He Musical Directed and/or Orchestrated shows at the Dorset Playhouse in Vermont, the American Musical Theatre Festival in New Hampshire, the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut, the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
A career highlight was Steve’s concerts with Stephen Sondheim. He worked directly with Sondheim and Angela Lansbury and the result was the RCA albumA Stephen Sondheim Evening.
Beginning his work on Broadway, he played in the pit ofLittle MeandBaby, and conducted the orchestra for a National Tour ofAnnie. During that time he started to focus more on composing and orchestrating. He conducted and arranged several off-Broadway shows, includingGodspell,Personals,Potholes,Hamelin,The New York City Street Show, andSnoopy.
In 1985, he moved to Los Angeles as a film & television composer. He worked on theAcademy Awards Showand numerous feature films (includingThe RocketeerandMy Blue Heaven) and composed scores for sitcoms, documentaries, animated series, game shows and movies of the week. He was active as a Conductor/Orchestrator, working on many orchestral projects including the cult classic,A Very Brady Christmas.
Bruce Kimmel needed an orchestrator for one of hisLost in Bostonalbums, someone with the intricate knowledge of a multitude of Broadway shows and genres who could do it all in two weeks – Steve got the job. That started a working relationship that lasted for many years, when Steve orchestrated, conducted and performed on over a dozen albums on the Varese Sarabande and Fynsworth Alley labels includingHelen Reddy: Center Stage,Petula Clark: Here for You,Judy Kaye: Diva by Diva,Judy Kaye: Songs from the Silver Screen,Debbie Gravitte: the MGM Album,Debbie Gibson: Colored Lights, two cast albumsYou Never KnowandDo I Hear a Waltz?and several compilation albums.
It was around this time that Steve started to come back to the theatre, Musical Directing/OrchestratingBoth Barrels(re-titledA Good Swift Kick) in LA and off-Broadway,Paint Your Wagonat the Geffen Playhouse, and many shows at the Pasadena Playhouse includingDo I Hear a Waltz?,110 in the Shade,Plaid Tidings, andA Class Act, taking the latter production to Tokyo for a month.
He had worked on several other productions in Los Angeles, including Michael Feinstein’sGreat American Songbookat the Mark Taper Forum and Bernstein’sMassat the Hollywood Bowl when he accepted the position of orchestrator for a five-week run of a new show at the La Jolla Playhouse. Five weeks became four months of sold out performances, and after a record-breaking run in California,Jersey Boysopened the following year on Broadway. The show was nominated for eight Tony nominations, including one for Steve for Best Orchestrations. It won four, including Best Musical. The show went on to win numerous accolades around the world, most notably the London production won the Society of London Theaters’ prestigious Laurence Olivier award, with every company ofJersey Boysfeaturing Steve’s orchestrations. TheOriginal Cast Albumwent platinum when it passed the ‘million-sold’ mark, and won a well-deserved Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.
Steve has written arrangements for many TV shows includingAmerican Idol,Late Night with David Letterman,The Tonight Show,The Tony AwardsandThe Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He’s written music for such renowned orchestras as the Boston Pops, the Pasadena Pops and the National Symphony.
More recently, he orchestratedTurn of the Centuryat the Goodman Theatre in Chicago (Directed by Tommy Tune),Time After Timeat the Pittsburgh Playhouse,A Christmas Memoryat TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, Stephen Schwartz’sSnapshotsat the Northlight Theatre in Chicago,Can-Canat the Paper Mill Playhouse andJosephineat the Asolo Rep.
There are many new theatrical ventures in development, so keep checking this site for future projects Steve’s working on.
Illustration by Justin 'Squigs' Robertson,SquigsOnline
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