Michael Lee Brown

 
 Photo by: Lisa Listor

Photo by: Lisa Listor

Words by Sara Salamat

25-year-old Michael Lee Brown is the alternative Evan Hansen in Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen, as well as occasionally switching it up to play classmates Jared Kleinman and Connor Murphy in the Tony and Grammy and Tony award winning Broadway production. Now, if you think managing to learn three roles wasn’t enough on his plate, Brown decided to add another thing to his schedule: and that to spend a good chunk of 2017 writing away in the studio. Fellow Pippin star Mathew James assisted Brown to create what is now his three track debut EP, Way it Used To Be which was released back in January.

Check out the interview with the Broadway Star below:


What exactly did you start your solo music? 

M: I have started writing music since I was about 8 years old. My brother Robby Brown, who is a very talented musician, has had a major impact on me. He opened for many artists such as Pink, Avril Lavigne, Aaron Carter, etc. I essentially learned how to structure and write a song from listening to him, and he introduced me to my major influences such as The Goo Goo Dolls, Butch Walker, and Michael Jackson. 

 

What exactly did you start your solo music? 

M: I have started writing music since I was about 8 years old. My brother Robby Brown, who is a very talented musician, has had a major impact on me. He opened for many artists such as Pink, Avril Lavigne, Aaron Carter, etc. I essentially learned how to structure and write a song from listening to him, and he introduced me to my major influences such as The Goo Goo Dolls, Butch Walker, and Michael Jackson.

Overtime I found my own sound, style, and topics I enjoyed writing about. I have always been actively songwriting since that young age, but acting and performing always took the front seat, leaving my music to often be kept low key, except for the occasional coffee houses. Pursuing a singer-songwriter career was always something I knew I would eventually do, and it feels great that that day is finally here.

 

Have you found any Broadway influences in your writing?

M: In college I would go to Pasek and Paul concerts. I have always loved their music. Their rich lyrics and beautiful melodies are so impactful, and bridge the gap between pop and Broadway. It’s a joy getting to sing their music every week. Being a songwriter, I find that every composer or writer I listen to influences me in someway. I try to absorb and learn from other artists. 

 

How long have you been a fan of theater?

M: For forever (lol). I have always loved theatre and musical theatre. Every time I saw a Broadway show growing up, I’d leave with the feeling of wanting to get up there and perform. It’s such a cool feeling to be able to finally be up on that stage, and hopefully inspire other kids to pursue their passions as well. 

 

If you were given the knowledge to play any character in Broadway and were able to play in any show starting tomorrow, which show would you join?

M: Besides Pippin, which has always been one of my favorite shows (and my good friend Matthew James Thomas, who produced my EP just played him on Broadway) a dream of mine has always been to play the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera. I have always just loved the show, it was one of the first musicals I saw that inspired me to pursue a Broadway career, and it seems like such an exciting role.

 

Given that Dear Evan Hansen has occupied a bit of your schedule did you find it hard writing and recording your EP?

M: For sure, very hectic, but it was also very enjoyable and fulfilling. It’s nice having my weekly shows at Dear Evan Hansen, a show I am so in love with, and pursing my music as well. Matthew was also in a Broadway show at the time, so we were on the same schedule which made things a littler easier. We would meet and work on things as much as we could, and I would also work with my guitar backstage. We blocked off a sleepless Sunday to Tuesday recording session at Duncan Sheik’s (Spring Awakening, Barely Breathing) studio in upstate NY, and came out with a an EP I am very proud of.

 

Being that you’re an alternative in Dear Evan Hansen. Which scene or song do you think is the most emotional for you to perform?

This changes day to day. It depends on how I am feeling each show. Sometimes “For Forever” really resonates with me, when I am maybe feeling more nostalgic, and then one day “Waving” might really hit me, and then of course “Words Fail”. It really depends on the day. 


Be sure to catch Michael on Broadway as Evan Hansen, Jared Kleinman, or Connor Murphy on Broadway now! Tickets available here. 

Instagram: @heymichaelleebrown  // Twitter: @HeyMichaelLeeB