On Broadway, he and lyricist Richard Maltby wrote the scores for the musicals Baby (Tony nominations for Best Score and Musical) and Big (Tony nomination for Best Score). His off-Broadway scores, also written with Maltby, include Starting Here, Starting Now (Grammy nomination), Closer Than Ever (Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical and Score), Urban Blight at the Manhattan Theater Club, and the off-Broadway musical The Sap of Life. He also wrote the incidental scores for As You Like It (NY Shakespeare Festival), Peter Ustinov’s The Unknown Soldier and His Wife (Lincoln Center), Donald Margulis’ The Loman Family Picnic (MTC), Schmulnick’s Waltz and Visiting Mr. Green.
Maltby and Shire's most recent project, the musical Take Flight, with book by John Weidman, has been workshopped at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, presented in concert versions in Russia and Australia, and produced in London, at the Menier Chocolate Factory, and in Japan in 2007. It had its first American production at Princeton's McCarter Theatre in the spring of 2010. A Stream of Voices, a one-act opera written with librettist Gene Scheer and commissioned by the Colorado Children’s Chorale, premiered in Denver in 2009. Shire is currently at work on a new musical with New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik, which will have a try-out production upon completion at New Haven's Long Wharf Theater; and an adaptation of a hit Thai musical, Behind The Painting, for Broadway.
Shire's many feature film scores include Norma Rae (Academy Award for Best Song, lyrics by Norman Gimbel), Francis Coppola’s The Conversation, All the President’s Men, The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, Short Circuit, 2010, Farewell, My lovely, The Hindenberg, Return to Oz and Saturday Night Fever, for which his work earned him two Grammy Awards. He most recently scored David Fincher’s Zodiac and Peter Hyams’ Beyond A Reasonable Doubt. His numerous television scores have garnered five Emmy nominations and include Glenn Close’s Sarah Plain and Tall, Christopher Reeve’s Rear Window, Raid on Entebbe, Oprah Winfrey’s The Women of Brewster Place, The Kennedys of Massachusetts, Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles, and Neil Simon’s Jake’s Women and Broadway Bound. He also composed the theme song, with lyrics by Marilyn and Alan Bergman, for the long-running Linda Lavin NBC series Alice.
Shire and his wife, actress Didi Conn, have completed the pilot for Didi Lightful, a new animated musical television series that they co-created and co-produced.
His songs, with lyrics by, among others, Richard Maltby, Norman Gimbel, Marilyn and Alan Bergman, Carol Connors, or himself, have been recorded by Barbra Streisand (who has recorded six of them, including “Starting Here, Starting Now”, which was the opening number of her recent world tour concert), Maureen McGovern, Melissa Manchester, Jennifer Warnes, Julie Andrews, John Pizzarelli, Liz Callaway, Lynne Wintersteller, Nancy Lamont, Vanessa Williams, Glenn Campbell, Johnny Mathis, Kiri Te Kanawa, Kathy Lee Gifford, Robert Goulet and Michael Crawford, among many others. “I’ll Never Say Goodbye”, with lyrics by Marilyn and Alan Bergman, was nominated for an Academy Award the same year as “It Goes Like It Goes” was nominated and won the Oscar. His “With You I’m Born Again” (lyrics by Carol Connors) was an international Motown hit for Billy Preston and Syreeta, and he and David Pomeranz co-wrote “In Our Hands,” the theme song for the United Nations World Summit for Children.
Shire has conducted pops programs with the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Rockland Symphony, the North Jersey Symphony and Yale’s Davenport Pops Orchestra; and for his film scores, he has conducted The London Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Irish Film Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Orchestra, and the Munich Symphony Orchestra.
Shire is a Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of Yale, serves on the executive council of the Dramatists Guild of America and is a trustee of the Rockland Conservatory of Music. His eldest son, screenwriter Matthew Shire, lives in Los Angeles; and he, his wife and their teenage son Daniel make their home in the Hudson Valley.