‘Fifty Checks,’ Marc Shaiman

From left, host Ted Chapin and songwriters Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman on the episode of "American Songbook at NJPAC" that airs tonight on NJTV.

From left, host Ted Chapin and songwriters Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman on the episode of “American Songbook at NJPAC” that airs tonight at 8 on NJTV.

Marc Shaiman, who grew up in Scotch Plains, has spent most of his career behind the scenes, writing music for Broadway and movies. But he steps into a starring role tonight at 8 p.m. on NJTV, on the “American Songbook at NJPAC” series. He is interviewed (along with his songwriting partner Scott Wittman), plays piano for various singers, and also sings his own songs. And he can be quite entertaining in this last role, as the 2009 clip below — of him singing “Fifty Checks,” which he and Wittman co-wrote for the musical “Catch Me If You Can” — proves.

(“Fifty Checks” was in the 2009 Seattle production of “Catch Me If You Can,” though it was not in the 2011 Broadway production.)

The Grammy-, Emmy- and Tony-winning Shaiman is perhaps best known for co-writing (with Wittman) the songs for “Hairspray,” though he has worked with Bette Midler and Harry Connick Jr., and been nominated for Oscars five times (for his work for “Sleepless in Seattle,” “The American President,” “The First Wives Club,” “Patch Adams” and “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut”). On Sunday, “I Can’t Let Go,” which he and Wittman co-wrote for the television series “Smash,” was sung by Jennifer Hudson at the Oscars ceremony.

This is the fifth and final installment in the second season of “American Songbook at NJPAC,” which is devoted to preserving classic American songwriting. The shows were taped in September at NJPAC’s Victoria Theater.

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.


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