(Chris Jones’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 9/6.)
You've likely never heard of or, at a minimum, you've forgotten about Edward Kleban, the one-hit-wonder lyricist for "A Chorus Line" who died from a cancer at age 48 with his lyrics known but without ever realizing his long-held ambition of hearing music he composed played on a Broadway stage.
Kleban was a nebbish and a neurotic, famous for not speaking to his friends. But he was a theater person's theater person. Civilians may flock to celebrities and flashy, TV-ready songwriters like Andrew Lloyd Webber. Theater people tend to prefer characters, especially oddballs with a dry sense of humor who can't help but pour their souls into their work.