American composer/lyricist Robert Lopez rose to national prominence in 2004 as co-creator and composer of the Broadway musical comedy Avenue Q with his writing partner Jeff Marx. The pair's playful, memorable melodies and irreverent lyrics led to a collaboration with South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone on a second smash musical, The Book of Mormon, which had its Broadway premiere in 2011. Also known for writing comedic songs for TV series such as Scrubs and The Simpsons, his later songwriting partnership with his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, resulted in an Academy Award in 2014 for "Let It Go" from Disney's Frozen. The statuette made Lopez only the 12th person — and the fastest and youngest to that point — to have collected an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony), which he earned in a span of ten years. Just four years later, in 2018, he become the first person to win all four awards twice after taking home a second Oscar, for "Remember Me" from Coco.
Born in Manhattan in 1975, Lopez began taking piano lessons in Greenwich Village at the age of six. He saw his first Broadway musical, A Chorus Line, at seven, the same age he wrote his first song after being encouraged by his piano teacher. He participated in a school production of West Side Story in the fifth grade, and wrote his first opening number for a student show at the age of 11. In his early teens, he took up the saxophone and started enrolling in music composition classes outside of his regular schoolwork. He went on to major in English at Yale, always with the hope of writing for musical theater. While there, he penned plays and musicals and sang in the a cappella group the Spizzwinks. A year after graduating in 1997, he began attending the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. It was there that he found a like-minded writing partner in Jeff Marx, a graduate of the University of Michigan who had been a member of the school's glee club. Though Marx had just passed the New York bar exam and joined the workshop to network with potential clients, he and Lopez hit it off and wrote a Muppets version of Hamlet called Kermit, Prince of Denmark. The musical won them the Kleban Prize and was considered by The Jim Henson Company for production (though it was ultimately rejected). Sticking with the idea of writing a musical for puppets, Lopez and Marx composed Avenue Q, an adult version of a Sesame Street-type musical loaded with parody songs. After opening off-Broadway, the show made its Broadway debut at the John Golden Theatre in July 2003. It went on to win three Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical for Jeff Whitty, and Best Original Score for Lopez and Marx. The cast album was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2005.
In 2005, Lopez and Marx also started another musical, this one in collaboration with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, whose South Park was one of the influences for Avenue Q. Marx left the project soon after. While Lopez, Parker, and Stone continued to develop the show, Avenue Q opened on the West End in 2006, and Lopez partnered with his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, on an adaptation of Disney/Pixar's Finding Nemo for Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park. It debuted in early 2007. That same year, Lopez and Marx collaborated on songs for the "My Musical" episode of NBC's Scrubs. One of them, "Everything Comes Down to Poo," won the duo an Emmy Award. Lopez teamed up with his brother Billy to write music for several episodes of the Nickelodeon series Wonder Pets, and won a Daytime Emmy for that show in 2008. Lopez and Anderson-Lopez then reteamed to write songs for the Disney animated film Winnie the Pooh. It saw release in 2011. That year, their project with Parker and Stone, which became the musical comedy The Book of Mormon, opened on Broadway. The Book of Mormon was a commercial and critical hit, winning nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score. The book and score were both credited to the trio of Lopez, Parker, and Stone. The three of them also won Drama Desk Awards for music and lyrics, and were among the recipients of the cast album's Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.
Lopez composed the song "Enjoy It While You Can" for an episode of The Simpsons that aired in 2012, and in 2013 Disney released the animated film Frozen, featuring songs by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. "Let It Go" won them the Oscar for Best Original Song in 2014 (it later won a Grammy for Best Song Written for Visual Media). The Oscar made Robert the 12th person in history at that point to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Lopez became the very first to do it twice in March 2018 when he and Anderson-Lopez took home Oscars again for the Best Original Song "Remember Me," a poignant ballad from Disney/Pixar's 2017 feature Coco. That same month, Frozen: The Broadway Musical opened at the St. James Theatre. Following the arrival of the film sequel Frozen II in theaters in late 2019, "Into the Unknown" became the couple's third Oscar-nominated song. ~ Marcy Donelson