Singer/Songwriter Benjamin Scheuer is the creator and performer of the one-man show THE LION, which won the 2015 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance when it premiered off-Broadway, where it was called “the best new musical this year” by the Huffington Post, The Stage, and Playbill. In London, THE LION won the 2015 Off-West End Award for Best New Musical. THE LION is on tour in the United States through February 2017.
With photographer Riya Lerner, Scheuer is the creator of the book “Between Two Spaces,” from which 50% of proceeds go to the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society.
With British animator/director Peter Baynton, Scheuer created animated films for the songs "Cure", “The Lion,” “Cookie-tin Banjo” and “Weather The Storm.” The films have played at festivals on four continents, and garnered accolades including Public Choice for Best Music Video at the British Animation Award, Best Commissioned Film at the Annecy Film Festival, and Best Music Video at London’s Encounters Film Festival.
Scheuer is the recipient of a Theatre World Award, the Musical Theatre Network Award for Best Lyrics, and the ASCAP Cole Porter Award for Songwriting. He has been a nominee for two Outer Critic Awards, a Lucile Lortel Award, and an additional Drama Desk Award for Best Lyrics. (Lin Manuel Miranda beat him for that one, with Hamilton!)
There was Benjamin, impeccably dressed in a bespoke 3 piece suit and tie. He looked like a Hollywood actor playing a British gentleman farmer who just blew into Manhattan and decided to take his singer/songwriter self for a stroll into the musical theatre world…it was a magnetic mashup.
It was only one link away-- I discovered the music of Benjamin Scheuer quite by accident, by clicking on a video on the New York Times website of “Cookie-tin Banjo”.
I got to know Benjamin later that year, after his successful run of The Lion at the Manhattan Theatre Club, when he supported my orchestral tour in the United Kingdom. He played a truncated version of the musical and accomplished the rare feat of transforming the grand and enormous Royal Albert Hall into an intimate performance space for his songs with their compelling narrative.
And now it is time for The Lion to make its debut as a full length album, recorded in collaboration with Benjamin’s producer Geoff Kraly. In Ben’s own words, “this album isn’t a traditional soundtrack. Just as the theatre-show is a creative collaboration between myself and theatre-director Sean Daniels, this album is a creative collaboration between myself and Geoff.”
The difference is important when you consider the song “Saint Rick,” which is performed in the show with just one electric guitar. On the album it is fully produced. “Geoff wanted the track to sound the way it felt in the show. This production is what the character Ben heard in his head while he was playing “Saint Rick” onstage.”
In either setting, Benjamin’s guitar playing is like his song writing; fluid, accomplished, rich in melody and breathtaking in technique. His use of intricate tunings account for the lovely voicings of the music, creating a perfect bed for the beautiful plain spoken quality of his lyrics. Fully fleshed out as the songs are here, they do not in any way lose the evocation and emotional soul-baring of the one man show that is The Lion.
What I respect the most about Benjamin’s gifts is his ability to not only tell a story – a deeply personal one at that – but to make the listener feel that wrapped inside that deeply personal narrative is something quite universal. It is a person’s search for understanding, a declaration of the importance of family, courage and resilience in the face of mortality and ultimately, the healing power of love.
We are all in that story together.
– Mary Chapin Carpenter, January 2016