Y ou might be surprised to learn that the most successful female theatrical composer in history has never had a formal composition lesson. With five Broadway musicals to her name, five Tony Award nominations, and a Best Original Score win for Fun Home, Jeanine Tesori is recognised as the most prolific and the most honoured woman in her field, which is pretty good going for the granddaughter of Italian immigrants who nearly wound up a doctor. Australia has seen two of her musicals to date. Caroline, or Change, the show she wrote with Tony “ Angels in America” Kushner, has been presented at Sydney’s Hayes Theatre, while Violet, a heart-warming story about a girl on a road trip coming to terms with a facial scar, started at the Hayes before touring to Chapel off Chapel in Melbourne. Now, her Broadway blockbuster Shrekis Australia-bound and looks likely to win Tesori a slew of new fans, while Fun Homeis being co-produced by Melbourne and Sydney Theatre Companies.

Jeanine Tesori. Photo © Rodolfo Martinez

Back in 2006, I spent a heady week with Tesori in a rehearsal room in London working...

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