Erik Haagensen's theatrical career encompasses the roles of playwright, lyricist, and director. His stage musicals include O. HENRY DUET (music by Eric Stern, based on two short stories by the American author), A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE (music by Richard Isen, based on the novel by Peter S. Beagle; and HOW IT WAS DONE IN ODESSA (music by Alexander Zhurbin, based on a play and short stories by Isaac Babel and a Russian language musical by Asar Eppel and Alexander Zhurbin), which have been seen in such varied venues as Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre, New Jersey's American Stage Company, Connecticut's Goodspeed Opera House and Eugene O'Neill Center and New York City's Playwrights Horizons.
His musical version of Edith Wharton's novel, Summer, with music by Paul Schwartz, was selected to receive a National Endowment for the Arts New American Works grant and won a 1998 Richard Rodgers Development Award. SUMMER has had readings in NYC at Manhattan Theatre Club and The York Theatre Company, both directed by Leonard Foglia (MASTER CLASS on Broadway and in London). In 2002, it was chosen as one of nine musicals (culled from 186 entries from 16 countries) to be showcased in the International Festival of Musical Theatre's "Sony Global Search for New Musicals" held in Cardiff, Wales.
Erik has also been involved in the reworking of existing shows. He wrote the narration for the official concert version of Leonard Bernstein's CANDIDE, which had its world premiere with the San Francisco Symphony under the baton of David Zinman. He reconstructed Alan Jay Lerner and Bernstein's original, pre-Broadway version of their 1976 musical, 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE, and then directed it in a production by the Indiana University Opera Theatre (making him a visiting full professor), which was ultimately presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C. He was subsequently commissioned by the Bernstein estate to write a new adaptation of 1600, which received a concert reading in New York City.
Erik also revised and adapted the Jule Styne/E.Y. Harburg/Nunnally Johnson musical, DARLING OF THE DAY, for The York Theatre Company's 1998 Musicals in Mufti concert reading series. Currently, he is reconstructing the 1961 off-Broadway musical THE TATTOOED COUNTESS, based on the novel by Carl Van Vechten. Written by the late Coleman Dowell, who went on to become a highly esteemed novelist, COUNTESS was given a reading at New York University in 2003 as part of a retrospective tribute to Dowell headed by novelist Edmund White.
Erik devised the musical revue TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE-The Lyrics and Life of John Latouche, which played to considerable critical acclaim off-Broadway at The York Theatre Company in February/March of 2000 and was subsequently recorded by Original Cast Records. It weaves journal excerpts, letters, interviews and published writings of Latouche with his theatre songs to tell the story of the brilliant, artistically adventurous, openly gay lyricist and librettist of such works as CANDIDE, THE GOLDEN APPLE, CABIN IN THE SKY and THE BALLAD OF BABY DOE, who died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of only 41 in 1956. Actor/singer Eddie Korbich won an Obie Award for his performance in the York Theatre production.
Erik holds a Bachelor's Degree in Theatre from Northwestern University and a Masters Degree in Writing for the Musical Theatre from New York University, where he studied with such teachers as Arthur Laurents, Richard Maltby, Jr., Joe Masteroff, Stephen Schwartz, Peter Stone, Mary Rodgers, and Sheldon Harnick. In addition to his theatre work, he produced the only complete recording of Alan Jay Lerner & Kurt Weill, LOVE LIFE, including much cut material, made archivally for the Kurt Weill Foundation. A recognized Lerner scholar, he served as archival consultant for an all-star benefit/tribute to Lerner, produced for the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and again for the New York Theatre Workshop in Manhattan.
As a journalist, Erik is a senior editor and feature writer for Back Stage, and has written for The Kurt Weill Newsletter, the Seattle Review, the Dramatists Guild Newsletter and Show Music Magazine. He also contributed the liner notes to RCA's re-release on CD of the Broadway cast album of THE GOLDEN APPLE by John Latouche and Jerome Moross, as well as the liner notes for TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE. He is a member of the Drama Desk, ASCAP, and the Dramatists Guild. Born and raised in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, he now lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his husband, casting director Joseph McConnell.