An Emmy-winning screenwriter, television producer, lyricist, and composer, Kevin Murphy is best known for his work on shows like Desperate Housewives, Reaper, and Caprica and for adapting a pair of cult classic films into musical satires for the stage. First proving his wit as a cunning lyricist with Reefer Madness, he later landed a proper stage hit with the musical version of Heathers, whose London production also yielded an acclaimed cast recording. Displaying classic show-business chops and instincts, Murphy's versatility across multiple genres and creative outlets has allowed for a colorful and diverse career.
After graduating from Madison, New Jersey's Drew University with a theater arts degree, Murphy headed to Los Angeles, where like so many aspiring writers before him, he waited tables for the better part of a year before landing his first staff writing job. Throughout the '90s and into the 2000s, Murphy diligently put in his time writing for a number of different networks and series that spanned animation (The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog), family programs (TV adaptations of Weird Science and Honey I Shrunk the Kids) and romantic comedy-dramas (Get Real, Ed). He also worked with longtime friend and composer Dan Studney on several stage shows, the most visible of which was their 1998 musical satire of the 1936 cult film Reefer Madness, for which Murphy wrote the lyrics and book. After a run in Los Angeles, Reefer Madness made its off-Broadway debut in 2001 and was adapted into a film version for Showtime in 2005. The Murphy-Studney song "Mary Jane/Mary Jane" from the Showtime version earned them an Emmy Award for music and lyrics.
One of Murphy's most visible credits came in 2004 when he worked as head writer on the ABC hit comedy-drama Desperate Housewives, which earned an Emmy nomination in 2005. After leaving the show in 2007, he wrote and produced the television film Nobody and worked on the NBC comedy Reaper, contributing original songs to both projects. In 2009, Murphy began a relationship with the SyFy network, taking over as showrunner on the Battlestar Galactica prequel series Caprica in 2009 and producing the 2013 series Defiance. During this period, another stage musical he'd been developing finally came to fruition.
Taking on yet another cult classic, Murphy and composer Laurence O'Keefe adapted the 1988 dark comedy Heathers into a musical satire which again made its debut in Los Angeles, then headed off-Broadway in 2014. While it was a niche hit in the U.S., Heathers: The Musical eventually found a more enthusiastic reception in London, where it flourished enough to earn a successful West End run at Theatre Royal Haymarket in late 2018. Released in early 2019, the Heathers Original West End Cast Recording was also a hit.