John Kander

John Kander



John Kander is an American composer who has produced many well-known scores for the stage, television and film. He is best known for working with his musical partner, lyricist Frank Ebb.

Kander was born in Kansas City in 1927. From a young age he played the piano and began formal music training at college, where he composed his first theater scores. After college he worked as a pianist for pre-Broadway musicals in Florida. Kander credits his big break as chancing upon the pianist for a production of West Side Story in Philadelphia. He was asked to stand in while the pianist went on holiday and, shortly after, he played for a production of Gypsy and was introduced to Jerome Robbins who asked Kander to write the dance arrangements for the show.

In 1962, Kander had his Broadway debut with the musical A Family Affair and worked with producer Hal Prince. Although the show was not a success, it led to a successful future relationship with Prince. The following year, Kander was introduced to Frank Ebb and the pair began to write together. Their first song ‘My Colouring Book’ was nominated for a Grammy Award.

From then on, Kander and Ebb’s writing partnership grew and was consolidated with a string of musical hits. After a slow start with the Hal Prince musical Flora, the Red Menace (which featured a young Liza Minnelli making her Broadway debut), the pair wrote the musical Cabaret (1966). Their next big success came with Chicago (1975) and a fruitful collaboration with choreographer Bob Fosse. Both Cabaret and Chicago were made into hit films in the 1970s and 2000s respectively.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Kander and Ebb produced a steady stream of musicals with varying levels of popular success. 1990 saw the pair score another musical hit with The Kiss of the Spider Woman. His most recent show (without Ebb this time) is Kid Victory, which was produced off-Broadway in 2017.

As well as his theatrical works, Kander has written the scores for several films and collaborated Ebb on the 1977 film New York, New York, as well as Funny Lady and Lucky Lady (1975).

In addition to their multiple Tony Awards, Kander and Ebb were made Kennedy Center Honorees in 1998, as well as receiving the Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theater in 2000.

Shows by John Kander


The show concerns a group of senior citizens living on New York's Upper West Side who learn that the long-term hotel they live in will be sold off to developers - making the seniors homeless. To save the hotel, the seniors fo... read more

The action takes place at the Hotel Las Vegas at the present time and concerns Michelle Craig's nightclub act and her memories. The Act was written as a vehicle for Liza Minnelli and originally directed by Martin Scorsese. Ho... read more

Cabaret takes place from 1929-1930, a time when Berlin, in the midst of a post-World War I economic depression, is transitioning from a center of underground, avant-garde cultural epicenter to the beginnings of Hitler’s total... read more

Broadway’s longest-running American musical, Chicago is a dazzling and satirical look at fame, justice, and the media machine. Set in 1920s Chicago and based on real-life murders and trials, Chicago follows Roxie Hart, a wann... read more

Curtains is parody of 1950s "whodunnit" theater mysteries, where a lone detective, Lieutenant Frank Cioffi, investigates a series of murders that take place place behind the scenes of a fictional 1950s cowboy musical, Robbin'... read more

A Family Affair is the story of Gerry Siegal and Sally Nathan, a young suburban Chicago couple who decide to get married. Alfie, Sally's guardian and uncle, wants a small, intimate wedding while Tilly, Gerry's strong-willed... read more

Flora the Red Menace is told as though in a presentation by the Federal Theatre Project, part of the WPA established by President Roosevelt. The plot follows headstrong wannabe fashion designer Flora Mezaros, one member of an... read more

"Kiss of the Spider Woman" is set in a miserable South American prison where torture and deprivation are the norm. The show focuses on two cellmates; Valentin and Molina. Valentin is a Marxist revolutionary in prison for alle... read more

Anna, the owner of a roller rink near an old amusement park, has decided to sell the rink to developers and to leave town. Years ago, her daughter Angel left town to find herself. Anna’s husband, Dino, had passed away, leavin... read more

In 1931, nine African-American teenagers, between the ages of 13 and 19 years old, were arrested and charged with the rape of two white women, while traveling through Alabama. With no evidence and no proof, these nine young m... read more

Claire Zachanassian, a famously wealthy woman, decides to return to her hometown of Brachen, Switzerland, for the first time since she left it, at 18 years old. The inhabitants of the town, now utterly impoverished after “The... read more

The show focuses on the relationship between busy TV personality, Tess Harding, and her relationship with the handsome cartoonist, Sam Craig. As Tess is about win a ‘Woman of the Year’ award, she realizes that sh... read more

‘The World Goes ‘Round’ is a musical revue using the songs of Kander and Ebb from shows like Cabaret, Funny Lady, Chicago, Zorba and Kiss of the Spider Woman. Life - with its glories, indignities, hopes and quiet dreams - is... read more

The story follows Zorba as he talks his way into traveling with Nikos, a young American who has inherited an abandoned mine on Crete. Eventually, Zorba falls in love with a French woman, Hortense. Meanwhile Nikos falls in l... read more


Show Categories
Comedy, Drama, Dark Comedy, Romance, Farce, Satire, Historical/Biographical