NBC’s Will & Grace brought huge laughs for eight seasons. The final episode (or what fans thought would be) aired in May of 2006 and centered around Will and Grace as they have had a falling-out that lasted for years. They each have a child with their respective partners, and eventually reconcile when their children (Laila and Ben) meet at college. Ten years later, the creators realized there were many more stories to tell around Grace, Will, Karen and Jack, so they revived the series. The reboot kept many of the same elements, with a few exceptions. One of those being the show’s score. Composers Lior Rosner and Scott Icenogle were brought on to update the beloved score and theme, which they have been able to do nicely while still paying homage to the original sounds. Rosner is no stranger to creating memorable themes, he is the man responsible for the iconic The Ellen DeGeneres Show theme as well as AMC’s Heroes and Villains: The Secret History of Comics.
We decided to speak with Rosner about his work on Will & Grace, as well as his other projects. One of them being the upcoming Sugar Plum on the Run, an original story narrated by Jeremy Irons about the Sugar Plum Fairy from holiday favorite The Nutcracker. (Sugar Plum on the Run is getting released by Sony Classical on November 8th). Read the exclusive interview below.
A big part of Will and Grace is the iconic theme. For the limited run comeback, you put a new spin on that theme. What was your thought process for this? How long did it take you to come up with the theme we hear on these recent seasons?
When the producers of Will & Grace, were planning to make a comeback with a limited run of this iconic television show, they called upon us to provide an update to the beloved theme. After a few weeks of creating various iterations of the theme, we presented our music proposal to the producers who fell madly for this new take on the main title theme. We then went one step further before recording the final version of the NEW, revised theme for Will & Grace. We assembled a veritable “who’s who” of horn players, thus topping off this historic comeback with a theme that had audiences cheering. The producers loved our version and work so much, that they also asked them to take over ALL of the music for the show.
You also score the show with Scott Icenogle. Do each of you have certain musical strengths on the show? If so, what are those?
We come from a different musical background but we collaborate really well and it’s always good to run the ideas we both come up by another set of ears. A lot of times one will start with an idea and the other one will take over and finish it so it’s a really easy and creative process.
Were you a fan of the show before you started working on it?
Yes, absolutely. I’ve watched the original run of the show and always enjoyed the clever writing and the phenomenal work of the actors on this show.
For those who missed the recent premiere, we won’t give away any spoilers, one of the characters finds out some pretty big news that is going to change the tone of the story. Is the score going to be any different the rest of the season with this plot point or will there not be much variation from what we know?
For most of it it will be similar to what we got accustomed for but there will be a few surprises I can’t reveal at the moment.
On top of Will & Grace you are also scoring the upcoming Netflix show AJ and the Queen. These two shows have a lot different feel than your most recent holiday project, Sugar Plum on the Run. Do you have a favorite genre of music when it comes to scoring?
I come from an eclectic musical background but mostly I love writing for an orchestra so my preference is not to a style but more to the compositional approach and the ensemble I’m working with.
I’ve also enjoyed writing pure electronic scores were synth sounds are used to create an original soundscape as opposed to using samples to emulate acoustic instruments.
What inspired you to create Sugar Plum on the Run? Can you tell us a little bit about this project?
I was fascinated with the idea of Christmas and the phenomenon that is the Christmas season. That fascination started after moving from Israel to the US. From classic holiday specials on television to the iconic music and plays, I always thought of adding my musical voice to the acclaimed Christmas canon.
No piece is more synonymous with the Christmas season than Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. When I used to listen to the ballet, I really wished that Tchaikovsky had continued developing the music from the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – so I chose to craft a set of variations based on that musical material.
I composed a set of eight variations that paid homage to the tradition of Russian music, imagining what would have happened if all my favorite Russian composers were each commissioned to write a variation on Tchaikovsky’s theme.
How long did it take you to record and where did you record it?
It was one day of recording at Air Studios in London and the Orchestra playing is the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Did you know from the beginning of the creative process with Sugar Plum on the Run that you wanted to have someone narrate the story or was that an afterthought? Why did you decide to incorporate a narrator?
Shortly after finishing the work, I realized that there is a strong narrative feel to the piece, and I decided to add a narrator, telling what will be the first in a series of new adventures for Sugar Plum
How did Jeremy Irons become involved?
We approached Jeremy Irons because I always loved his narration in the recording of A Soldier’s Tale by Stravinsky and also his performance in the original Lion King was so fantastic. He agreed to be a part of this recording and I could not be happier with the way his performance came out.
Out of all the tracks you created for this project do you have a favorite and why?
I don’t think I have a favorite one but maybe ‘The Fairies’ because it takes the original Tchaikovsky, bending the materials further ‘out’ and it has a mysterious atmosphere that has a haunting quality.
You can learn more about Lior Rosner at https://www.rosnermusic.com/.
Sugar Plum on the Run is available here.
Many thanks for Lior Rosner for taking the time for this interview.