Former Muskego resident Ryback honored with Cole Porter Award

December 15, 2016


WAUKESHA - Muskego native and musical theater composer, lyricist and playwright Brett Ryback has earned the 2016 Cole Porter Award presented by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Foundation.

He was scheduled to receive the award for the composer-lyricist whose work shows promise Wednesday at the Lincoln Center in New York. Ryback’s musical “Joe Schmoe Saves the World” was featured in the ASCAP/Dreamworks Musical Theatre Workshop in Los Angeles in February.

Ryback is a 2002 graduate of Catholic Memorial High School and earned his bachelor’s degree in music composition from the University of California, Los Angeles.

He started his musical theater career in Milwaukee as a youngster, where he worked extensively with The Milwaukee Rep, Skylight Opera and First Stage Children’s Theatre. He recently wrote the music for “Just a Little Critter Musical” as a First Stage Milwaukee commission, and directed the music for “Seussical” for First Stage’s 2011 production.

Off Broadway, he originated the role of Officer Marcus Moscowicz in the two-man musical comedy “Murder for Two,” which earned the New York Times’ Critic’s Pick. He won the 2007 Tennessee Williams One-Act Competition for his play “We•rd” and his play “A Roz By Any Other Name” was the winner of the 2007 Henrico County Theatre One-Act Competition. Both are published in “The Best American Short Plays 2007-2008.”

He has worked extensively with various regional theaters. Ryback also has appeared in TV and film, including on “Modern Family” and “How I Met Your Mother.”

He maintains his ties to the Milwaukee-area theater scene.

Ryback is a regular composer for Milwaukee’s Skylight Opera Theatre’s education program Kidswrites, which pairs the uncorrected writing of inner-city grade school students with professional actors and composers. He also served for five years as the composer-lyricist for Next Act Theatre’s Next Actors Summer Theatre for Youth, during which he composed music and lyrics for five original musical theater pieces in collaboration with Milwaukee’s youth.

Ryback now lives in Los Angeles where he teaches musical theater at the University of Southern California.