Family Bios

 

Nikka Graff Lanzarone is a Los Angeles native, but she decided somewhere around the age of three that she HAD to move to New York and become a dancer. That decision was cemented at six when she saw Jerome Robbins Broadway, her first Broadway show. Things would NEVER be the same again.

It’s a natural continuation of the family business- Nikka is part of a tight-knit clan of artists and entertainers. Her parents are singer/actress/Grammy nominee Ilene Graff, star of “Mr. Belvedere,” and composer/arranger/conductor Ben Lanzarone. Screenwriter/director Todd Graff is her uncle, and accomplished author Laurie and Tony Award winner Randy Graff are cousins.

After spending her childhood singing in the prestigious Los Angeles Children’s Chorus (touring the world, which was pretty fun), her high school years at the Hamilton Academy of Music (learning so much original choreography it would make your head spin), and her summers at Stagedoor Manor in the Catskills (doing tons of shows and making the best friends a girl could ask for), there was no turning back. She had devoted her life to theatre and dance.

Nikka attended The Boston Conservatory for college, earned her BFA and moved to NYC immediately upon graduation. Since then, she has been lucky enough to work in town on workshops and shows, all over the country at various regional theatres, Off-Broadway in the revised Seussical at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, and finally land on Broadway (twice!)- as “Marisa” in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and in her ultimate-dream-come-true-beyond-wildest-dreams-dream-role: “Velma Kelly” in Chicago.  

nikka-graff-lanzarone.com


Ben Lanzarone, a winner of ASCAP’s Most Performed Composer Award, has enjoyed a career encompassing a broad range of musical experience. A graduate of New York’s famed High School of Music and Art, Ben holds two Masters Degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. He began as a classical pianist, touring the country as soloist with the Longines Symphonette and made his solo debut at Carnegie Recital Hall.
 
Ben easily moved into the world of popular music and the record industry when he started his association with Bob Crewe and Charles Fox. Their collaboration resulted in Ben’s album, In Classic Form. Ben went on to arrange many more Bob Crewe productions, including recordings for Bobby Darin, Vikki Carr, and The Bob Crewe Generation. He soon became a busy arranger for a diverse list of recording artists from Peter Nero and Andre Kostelanetz, to Vicki Sue Robinson and the disco group The Brothers, to the soundtrack of the motion picture, Grease. He also arranged and composed many jingles, while maintaining his career as a studio pianist, appearing on well over a thousand commercials, records and soundtracks. This recording activity led to his election to the NARAS Board of Governors.
 
As Musical Director/pianist, Ben has traveled with a wide variety of artists including Frank Sinatra, Art Garfunkle, Mary Travers, Anthony Newley, Petula Clark, Lainie Kazan and Mason Williams.
 
It is for his work composing television scores that Ben won the prestigious ASCAP award. He has written the music for hundreds of shows including The Tracy Ullman Show, The Jay Leno Comedy Hour and Mr. Belvedere. His long association with Aaron Spelling and Doug Cramer resulted in many scores for Dynasty, Love Boat, Vegas, Matt Houston, The Colbys, and Hotel. For Miller/Milkis/Boyett he wrote the music for numerous episodes of Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley and Mork and Mindy.
 
Ben has also been active in Broadway musical theatre. He was Musical Director of the Broadway production of Grease and the Los Angeles Shakespeare Festival’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He was also the Musical Director/arranger 
for the off-Broadway show How to Steal an Election and arranger and orchestrator for the Broadway productions, Via Galactica and Truckload.
 
One of Ben’s recent accomplishments has been the world premiere of the new musical, You and Me, for which he composed, arranged, produced and performed the music. His work on the show was recognized by the Valley Theatre League with their Artistic Director Award. He has also written the award-winning music for three Storybook Theatre children’s musicals: Cowboys and Cowgirls, Blast-Off! and Jack and the Beanstalk, which will be available soon on DVD. 
 
Ben has served as Musical Director of two Actors' Fund Benefits; Sing Happy! honoring Kander and Ebb and The Best is Yet to Come honoring Cy Coleman. 2003 also brought a Grammy nomination for Baby’s Broadway Lullabies, which he arranged, performed and co-produced with his wife, Ilene Graff. He is is the proud father of Nikka, a Boston Conservatory Musical Theater graduate and working performer.