Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Planet Connections Interview - James Behr of "The Count of Monte Cristo"

By Byrne Harrison

James Behr was hailed as a “genius composer” by InTheFray Magazine and “a demon pianist” by The Boston Globe. A Juilliard graduate, Behr wrote four musicals, including Cristo, Dreamquest, The Jungle Island, and E-Date. He has performed as soloist throughout the U.S., appearing on TV and radio; at Lincoln Center; Ravinia, Tanglewood and Chautauqua festivals; and with many orchestras. His music features his Blue-Age style reflecting this modern-day artist's exposure to Classical, R&B, and rock. Behr’s works include four musicals (The Count of Monte Cristo, Dreamquest, E-Love, The Jungle Island), piano concerto Europa, Rhapsody Tableaux, Suite Memoirs (Blue-Age piano), Kaleidoscope Suite (fusion Rock/Classical), and Prisms (Nu-Jazz). A Northwestern University graduate with a B.A., Behr also has a B.M. and M.M. from The Juilliard School. He resides in Manhattan and is a Steinway Artist.

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I grew up enjoying it and hearing Mom sing Rodgers & Hammerstein songs in the kitchen.  Of course, I have been playing piano since I was eight and playing show music was always something I adored, from childhood to my days at Juilliard to now.

Who are your biggest influences?

Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Sondheim, Lloyd Webber, Romberg, Gilbert & Sullivan, Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Stravinsky, Leonard Bernstein.

What is your show about?

It is based upon the famous Alexandre Dumas novel by the same name.

What inspired you to write it?

 It is simply a marvelous, exciting and powerful story with meaning to all people, especially now with the sense of the common man being ever more playing the role of the oppressed underdog.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

I am the sole writer of the musical.

Why was it important to you to be part of an eco-friendly theatre festival?

I respect the hard and ethical work of PCF, its concern for noble values and support for good causes.

Planet Connections donates a portion of the box office for each show to a charity.  What charity has your production chosen and why?


What's next for you after Planet Connections?

Continued promotion and development of The Count of Monte Cristo.

And finally, if a genie were to grant you one wish, what would you wish for?

To be altruistic, a far more noble government than what we now have.  To be personal, to have my show seen extensively, enjoyed, appreciated, and to have a family who will grow up respecting the arts as I did.  I would go into politics and try to change conditions, from environment to political corruption, that now frustrate me (and countless millions of people).

For more about The Count of Monte Cristo, visit or

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