roadway pianist and mental health advocate Zak Sandler is inspiring honest, life-affirming conversations about mental health at colleges and high schools around the country with his original musical, INSIDE MY HEAD.
INSIDE MY HEAD explores Zak’s personal journey with bipolar, from being a “normal” college junior at Yale, to being diagnosed bipolar and terrified to admit it, to accepting his bipolar and writing a musical about it. The show uses music and humor to bring lightness to a typically dark and scary topic.
Zak has played piano on Broadway for WICKED, MEAN GIRLS, MOTOWN, and THE COLOR PURPLE. His work has appeared at Lincoln Center, Joe’s Pub, and Signature Theatre (VA). INSIDE MY HEAD premiered in 2018 at New York Theatre Barn, and was a semi-finalist at the 2019 O’Neill Theater’s National Music Theater Conference (NMTC).
“Zak’s melodies are colorful and dynamic,” said Bobby Lopez, double EGOT winner and composer/lyricist for FROZEN, BOOK OF MORMON, and AVENUE Q. “I am certain that his music will open up an unprecedented dialogue about mental health on campuses, in communities, and beyond.”
Zak speaks on behalf of mental health organizations including the JED Foundation, This Is My Brave, and NAMI. He has also appeared on the podcast “This Is Actually Happening” (44,000+ plays for his episode) and the radio show “Moments of Clarity” (1,000,000+ listeners). In 2018, he won the Young Leader Award from NAMI New York State.
“Zak’s approach to ending stigma and promoting understanding is fresh and powerful,” said Mary Giliberti, former CEO of NAMI and current EVP of Policy at Mental Health America (MHA). “The honesty of his songs and his musical talent have a unique potential to advance the conversation about mental health.”
Zak believes that mental health needs major attention within all student populations, so he is committed to working with every interested school to find the right fit. Zak offers several versions of INSIDE MY HEAD, workshops on how school and mental health affect each other, and acting/singing masterclasses featuring his original songs.