The Schwartz Scene Newsletter 50 – Spring 2013
1. News and Intro from Carol de Giere
We Stephen Schwartz fans are having a lucky spring. A thrilling Pippin revival opened on Broadway to rave reviews, the new album was just released, and there’s lots of Wicked news (cruise anyone?) Now Stephen Schwartz has written an update for this issue so we can read his perspective on all that’s happening! Keep reading below for details on the latest news, events, articles, and videos.
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Use the following link to subscribe, if you haven’t already: www.theschwartzscene.com/ . Copyright by Carol de Giere, June 6, 2013. Carol is the author of Defying Gravity, the Stephen Schwartz biography.
2. THE SPARK OF CREATION: Stephen Schwartz Update and Events
As I always seem to be doing, I am writing this update on a plane, returning from Portland, Oregon and a preview of the new musical SOMEWHERE IN TIME that my son, Scott, is directing. I had never been to Portland before and enjoyed the food and exploring the city, as well as the show. [The photo of Stephen and Scott Schwartz is from a different opening several years ago]
Tomorrow evening is a listening party of the new Broadway PIPPIN album for the cast, who I think will be pleased to hear how good they sound. It was fun to do a new cast album for several reasons: First and foremost, the new cast are all such good singers. I also think the new orchestrations by Larry Hochman are very imaginative, and it’s nice to be able (with the longer time available on CD versus vinyl) to be able to include more of the dance music. On the original cast album back in 1972, it was so challenging to squeeze all the songs onto one disc, we had to compress “Morning Glow” greatly and slightly speed up “Spread a Little Sunshine” (to Leland Palmer’s understandable annoyance.) It felt like such a luxury to be able to get over an hour of music onto this CD.
Another enjoyable aspect was the decision (at the clever suggestion of executive producer Howard Kagan) that we mirror the audience sing-along in “No Time At All” by inviting several hundred fans to come sing the choruses of the song along with Andrea Martin. It makes for what I think is an unprecedented track on a cast album — literally a cast of hundreds! And speaking of sing-alongs, another innovative suggestion of Howard’s was that, since he had been repeatedly told anecdotally of people who enjoyed singing along with the original cast album, we include a few sing-along-with-the-PIPPIN-orchestra bonus tracks at the end. So I’m very pleased with how the album has turned out.
And as far as the new Broadway production itself is concerned, to quote my friend Glinda, “I couldn’t be happier”. I had a wonderful time working with its creative and imaginative director, Diane Paulus, who managed to keep her cool through acrobatics, magic tricks, Fosse dancing, and literal fire. The result is a show that, in my opinion, is not only breathtakingly well staged and superbly performed, but which has a clarity of story-telling and a wellspring of emotion superior to the original. The whole experience was so positive that I found myself telling a friend after a rehearsal during previews in New York, “I worked on a Broadway show today and actually had fun!” (to which the reply was, “Who ARE you and what have you done with Stephen!?”)
The opening of PIPPIN and the completion of the cast album also means that, in terms of working on productions, I am pretty much done for the first time in a long time and can go back to being a writer for a while, which I am very much looking forward to.
I do have a couple of concerts coming up next month in LA with my friend Liz Callaway and the LA Gay Men’s Chorus. Aside from getting to play tennis with Liz (who is steady as a rock), the main reason I am looking forward to these concerts is that the chorus will be performing “Testimony”, a choral piece I wrote originally for a performance last year by the San Francisco GMC. It’s a piece I’m very proud of, based on interviews done for Dan Savage’s IT GETS BETTER project, which Mr. Savage and the IT GETS BETTER staff were kind enough to make available to me. Although (obviously) originally written for men’s chorus, it was recently performed in an SATB arrangement by a mixed chorus in concerts I did with the NY Pops and Washington Symphony Orchestra. It was a piece I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get myself to write, but thanks to the gentle but persistent nagging of SFGMC director Tim Seelig last year, I did and am so glad for Tim’s insistence — as I say, it is a piece of which I’m enormously proud, particularly for the impact it seems to have had on many people who have emailed me about what it has meant to them and the courage it has provided.
So that’s my spring report, as I head into a summer of writing. I wish myself inspiration, or at least perseverance, and I guess I wish the same for all of you. Thanks as always for your interest and enjoy your summer.
Editor’s note: if you’re wondering what his comment “Who ARE you and what have you done with Stephen” means, find out by reading Defying Gravity. This creative biography includes the many challenges of Schwartz’s previous Broadway experiences.
June 11, Charity Event with Stephen Schwartz – NYC
A limited capacity private dinner with celebrity guests will take place at the legendary theater district restaurant Sardi’s, followed by VIP seating at the Music Box for the revival of PIPPIN. Read more at Charity event with Stephen Schwartz
June 22 and 23 Los Angeles concert
Stephen Schwartz and Liz Callaway will perform with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles in their “Not Entirely Wicked” Concert. Gmcla concert with Stephen Schwartz. Saban Theatre 8440 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA. Schwartz will help with the Los Angeles debut of his song Testimony.
July 9th – Stephen Schwartz to be part of Pippin album signing
(Added 6/28/13) See the blog post for details about this event at Barnes and Noble in NYC Stephen Schwartz at Pippin Album signing in NYC July 9, 2013
Concert Airings and Recording
(Added July 15). An hour-long version of the star studded “From Broadway with Love” concert will be aired on PBS soon. Recorded versions will be available later. Connecticut resident and composer Stephen Schwartz sang “Beautiful City” as part of the concert. See From Broadway With Love.
October 2013 Snapshots in Connecticut
Snapshots is a new musical based on previously written Schwartz songs, only with an entirely new “book.” The show has been in devleopment for several years, and this fall it will be staged at the Norma Terris Theatre in Connecticut where the writers can refine it further. I’m planning to gather a group of fans for it, probably for a matinee at the end of October. Book writer David Stern has agreed to meet us after the show to answer questions. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d be interested in attending.
Melbourne Australia Events
Stephen Schwartz is heading down under this fall for a series of concert events in Melbourne. www.magnormos.com/stephenschwartztriptych.htm
3. ALL GOOD GIFTS – Articles
The new Broadway cast recording of Pippin is not simply a replication of the 1972 album with new singers. Read the full article with details on what’s different: Pippin – New Broadway Cast ALbum Special Features
Tony Voters and Critics Liked Pippin on Broadway!
The Pippin revival that is now playing at the Music Box Theatre in New York City has been nominated for 10 Tony Awards. Critics praised the production. Among the positive reviews for Pippin was this one from the Village Voice. “It’s been said that a musical has to have at least three ‘wow” moments to really grab an audience. Well, the Diane Paulus-directed revival of the 1972 musical Pippin has at least seven…..” Pippin review
Be sure to visit the official site PippinTheMusical.com and follow their updates on Facebook and Twitter. Please also visit Musicalschwartz.com/pippin-revival.htm for additional comments and an article about the orchestrations.
A Recent Stephen Schwartz Interview
A recent interview published in MetroWeekly, May 16, 2013, provides additional insights on Stephen Schwartz’s activities and viewpoints. For example, when asked if the Pippin revival was something he was pushing for, he said no. “Several times over the years we’d been approached about doing a revival on Broadway, and for various reasons, having to do with specific ideas, we said no. And then a confluence of circumstances, including our enthusiasm for Diane [Paulus] and her concept and the fact that she wanted to incorporate the Bob Fosse choreography as well as her new concept for the piece — several things came together to make us decide this was one to give a try. And even so, of course, it started out as a regional production up in Boston. And if it hadn’t worked there then it wouldn’t have transferred.”
When asked about seeing the show, he said, “Obviously I went a lot during previews to try and help with sound issues and with the singers and take notes, as one does. Now that the show is open and running, once my responsibilities for the cast album are discharged — because I always produce my albums, so I’m producing this one as well — then I’ll probably drop in every six weeks or so, just to check up on things, as I try to do with Wicked as well.” www.metroweekly.com Stephen Schwartz interview
4. THANK GOODNESS FOR WICKED–Wicked news from around the world
Do you have your beach towel yet or Wicked-themed clothes? See the Wicked Shop for the latest in Wicked fashions and gift ideas. Your purchases through this link help support The Schwartz Scene newsletter.
November 3 – November 10, 2013 – The Wicked Cruise
Travel with fans and performers round trip from New York City to Florida and the Bahamas. Evenings will include “Behind The Emerald Curtain” events and performances as you ride the seas on the “swankified” Norwegian Breakaway. From $1067. Thewickedcruise.com
Mika’s Popular Song
When British singer-songwriter Mika approached Stephen Schwartz about changing and recording a song from Wicked, he didn’t know what to expect. Fortunately Schwartz was enthusiastic about Mika’s variation on “Popular” when he heard a demo recording. The legalities were worked out for “Popular Song” (slight title variation). Order on itunes Popular Song (feat. Ariana Grande) – Single – MIKA or Watch a video: Music Video of Mika’s Popular Song
September 2013 – New Zealand …
Wicked returns to the Australasian region later this year as part of its 10th Anniversary Year, playing in Auckland for the first time at The Civic Theatre from September 2013, and returning to its original Australian home at the Regent Theatre, Melbourne, from May 2014 for a strictly limited season, followed by an Australian tour. Go to wickedthemusical.com.au/ and www.wickedthemusical.co.nz/
The Touring Elphaba – Willemijn
WICKED on London’s West End will welcome Willemijn Verkaik to the role of ‘Elphaba’ from Monday 18 November 2013. The award-winning Dutch star has previously played the role in more than 1000 performances in Holland, Germany and most recently on Broadway. In the hit musical’s decade-long history, she is the only actress to perform the role in more than one language. Wicked in London.
Lindsay Mendez is now Elphaba on Broadway. She recently performed in Godspell and can be heard on the new Broadway cast album singing “Bless the Lord.” She tells her story to Broadway.com
- Broadway.com asked…. What was it like performing “Defying Gravity” for the first time on stage at the Gershwin Theatre?
Pretty exciting! I was full of nerves because it was such a huge night. When I actually said the words, “Close my eyes…and leap,” and I closed my eyes, I couldn’t believe it was happening. I had a bit of a flash of, “Wow…This is real.” See full article – Lindsay on Broadway.com
Also on Broadway, Katie Rose Clark has returned as Glinda, the role that she first played on tour starting in 2007.
The Wicked tour of North America has added many new cities to their list and the Wicked tour of the UK will be traveling around England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales while it is still playing strong in London.
5. DEFYING GRAVITY
Stephen Schwartz and I were interviewed for the Patrick Phillips Show that aired 3/10/13 is available online at patrickphillipsshow.com/?p=3241 - total time 26 minutes. Stephen reflects on Wicked and other efforts of the past as well as on his latest projects, including his work with Alan Menken on Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame for stage. He also mentions the Wicked film. (His interview comes after mine.)
About The Schwartz Scene
Watch for the next issue at the end of the summer or early fall.
The Schwartz Scene is an independent publication from MusicalSchwartz.com written for Stephen Schwartz fans. It does not formally represent composer Stephen Schwartz although the editor, Carol de Giere, is in regular contact with the Schwartz office for updates.
To send comments or questions, send an email to email@example.com. Copyright 2013 by Carol de Giere. MusicalSchwartz.com has exclusive rights, unless otherwise specified, for all materials included in the newsletter. Permission must be secured in writing before any part of it may be reprinted, except for the printing of one copy for the subscriber’s private use. Editor: Carol de Giere, P.O. Box 510, Georgetown, CT 06829