Stephen Flaherty is a musical theatre composer best known for his long-time partnership with lyricist/bookwriter Lynn Ahrens. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on September 18, 1960, Flaherty began studying the piano at age seven and knew at age 12 that he wanted to compose for musical theatre. By 14, he composed his first musical score. Flaherty went on to study musical composition and piano at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
After receiving his degree from CCM in 1982, Flaherty moved to New York City and joined the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop to hone his craft, and it was there he met Ahrens. During this time, he also was completing graduate studies in musical theatre at New York University. Flaherty and Ahrens’ first collaboration was a musical adaptation of The Emperor’s New Clothes, which was produced by TheatreWorks USA in 1985.
Flaherty’s collaboration with Ahrens flourished, and together, the two wrote Lucky Stiff, Once on This Island (their first Broadway show), Ragtime, and Seussical, among others. Additionally, Flaherty and Ahrens were tasked with writing the score for the 1997 Twentieth Century Fox film Anastasia, which became a critical and commercial success. Almost 20 years later, the duo returned to the piece to expand it for the Broadway stage. Flaherty himself won an Olivier Award for Once on This Island and a Drama Desk Award for Ragtime, and several of his musicals have won awards in other categories.