Kate Anderson and Elyssa Samsel Interview: ‘Central Park’ songwriters
When Josh Gad approached songwriters, Kate Anderson and Elyssa Samsel, about writing original numbers for his animated show, “Central Park,” he didn’t have to say much to convince them to come on board. Anderson explains, “He said, ‘Do you know the show ‘Bob’s Burgers?’’ And I was like, ‘Are you doing something with Loren Bouchard?’ He said yes and I said, ‘Say no more. We’re in!’ We’ve been dying to work with him, he’s a hero of ours.” Samsel adds that learning about the what the show was actually about and her personal connection to specific aspect only made them more excited to be a part of the project. “He said the main character is going to be a busker and I freaked out because I used to play my violin and busk with my case open in Central Park.”
“Central Park” is an animated-musical series on Apple TV+. It centers on Owen (Leslie Odom, Jr.), the park manager, his journalist wife Paige (Kathryn Hahn), and their two kids Molly (Kristin Bell) and Cole (Tituss Burgess). The family catches wind of plans by awealthy heiress Bitsy Brandenham (Stanley Tucci) and her assistant Helen (Daveed Diggs), to buy up the land in the park and redevelop it for residential and commercial use. This ends up forcing the family to fight for the park that they call home. The story is told through a street performer named Birdie (Gad). The series was created by Gad, Bouchard and Nora Smith. Bouchard has previously won two Emmys for “Bob’s Burgers” in the Best Animated Program category (2014 and 2017).
Anderson also tells us that the real challenge when they started writing the songs for the show was trying to find a way to merge the musical inclinations of the show’s creators. “While Josh has a very Broadway, musical theater sensibility, Loren’s sensibility is completely its own thing.” She goes on to say that they were both able to find a balance for these sensibilities. “I think we finally found the sound that everybody didn’t even know they were looking for at first.”
Anderson and Samsel aren’t the only people writing songs for the series. Among the talent that’s composed songs for the show are Grammy winner Sara Bareilles, Grammy/Tony/Emmy winner Cyndi Lauper and eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken. Samsel admits that this level of talent made her and Anderson feel the need to step up their game. “I’ll never forget, we had just heard Sara Bareilles’s song and we both looked at each other. We both loved it and then we looked at each other with this primal fear in our eyes and then we went and we wrote, ‘Own It.’”