The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance announces that Lynne Shankel, assistant professor of music, will become the first Carole Caplan Lonner Professor in Musical Theatre Composition in the Department of Musical Theatre in fall 2023. Shankel joined the Department of Musical Theatre as a visiting artist in 2019, bringing extensive expertise as a composer, lyricist, orchestrator, arranger, and music supervisor.
The musical theatre composition minor and professorship are named in loving tribute to Carole Caplan Lonner by her daughters, Jane Och (Ross, ’86) and Nancy Bernstein (Stamps, ’83). The gift to establish the Carole Caplan Lonner Musical Theatre Writing Program includes this endowed professorship as well as a visiting artists fund and was made possible by the Jane and Daniel Och Family Foundation and the David and Carole Caplan Charitable Foundation. Shankel was instrumental in the development of the academic program, and she oversees the coursework and projects the students must complete to earn the minor.
“We are delighted that Lynne Shankel will be the first to honor Carole Caplan Lonner with this professorship bearing her name,” said Carole’s daughters, Jane Och and Nancy Bernstein. “Lynne has played a vital role in the development and growth of the program, and we are confident SMTD students will achieve great success under her leadership.”
Shankel and Sara Cooper won the 2022 Richard Rodgers Award as well as the Lucille and Jack Yellen ASCAP Award for their musical Perpetual Sunshine & The Ghost Girls. Other works include HoT, Postcard American Town, and bare: The Musical. Shankel’s composition has also been featured in the original musical Maya, which was commissioned by Teach for India. The show’s mission is to empower young girls in India and has been performed all over that country. In 2017, Shankel released her critically acclaimed double album Bare Naked on Yellow Sound Label.
Shankel was music supervisor/arranger/orchestrator for Allegiance, starring Lea Salonga and George Takei, making her the first woman to solely orchestrate a new musical on Broadway. She was music director/arranger for the Broadway production of Cry-baby, as well as the resident music supervisor for the Tony Award-winning revival of Company, for which she conducted the Grammy-nominated cast album. She was music director/arranger for the Off-Broadway hit Altar Boyz, for which she received a Drama Desk nomination for orchestrations. Shankel received a second Drama Desk nomination for The Extraordinary Ordinary (by Paul Loesel and Scott Burkell). She was the music director for the acclaimed Kennedy Center production of Tommy in 2019 and was a contributing orchestrator for Annie Live on NBC in 2021. Other NY credits as orchestrator and/or arranger include White Girl In Danger, Summer of ’42, Vanities, The Memory Show, The New York Pops, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular and Fall For Dance at City Center (2021). Other world premieres include Life After, Snow Child, Kelly v Kelly, and Chasing the Song.
“I am so honored to accept the Carole Caplan Lonner professorship. I look forward to continuing to grow and innovate the composition minor and fostering the development of the next generation of musical theatre writers who will inevitably reinvent the canon in the most exciting ways,” said Shankel. “I am also honored to have the university’s support as I continue to be a working writer myself, leading my students by example. If you see it, you can be it.”
Shankel is a member of Maestra Music in NYC and is a voting member of the Recording Academy. She received her BM from the University of Michigan.