On the Right Track
The list below is a sampling of the most frequently asked questions. If you are interested in more in-depth and specific Questions & Answers, please visit the STEPHEN SCHWARTZ FORUM ARCHIVES and if you don’t find the answer you are looking for, you can post your question in the STEPHEN SCHWARTZ FORUM. For Frequently Asked Questions about WICKED, please visit the WICKED Fans page.
Stephen Schwartz: The main reason is probably the expense — the show requires a choir and a bunch of kids being animals, etc. This isn’t a problem in community or non-union theatres, but on Broadway, the running cost would be prohibitive without special concessions from Actor’s Equity. These might be obtainable by a dedicated enough producer, but so far none has come along. I’ve also been told that some producers feel the subject matter is not commercial, but given the strong track record of the show around the country, I’m not sure this is true. I have always felt that CHILDREN OF EDEN would actually stand a good chance of being successful on Broadway, since it has been so well received in the many productions in the U.S. and abroad. Perhaps one day, a Broadway production will happen, but till then, I remain delighted that it is done so often and so well elsewhere.
Stephen Schwartz: The idea for CHILDREN OF EDEN was suggested to me by a scenic designer named Charles Lisanby. Charles had designed the Christmas and Easter shows for Radio City in New York and the Crystal Cathedral in Los Angeles, and he was trying to come up with an idea for a show they could do in the summers. He thought of the idea of doing the Book of Genesis, beginning with the Creation and ending just after the Flood. I was intrigued with doing a show about second chances and learning from past mistakes. The first incarnation of the show was called FAMILY TREE and was presented in 1986, at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in St. Louis, after they commissioned a work from me for their summer Youth Sing Praise program. At that time, it was essentially an oratorio with eleven songs. It became clear then that not only was this a good idea for a show, but that a story could be told about inter-generational conflict and dysfunctional families. So we began to develop it as a musical theatre piece. Shortly afterwards, John Caird became involved as bookwriter, and the journey to CHILDREN OF EDEN began.
Stephen Schwartz: The book of Genesis has fascinated and inspired dramatists for centuries, from the medieval mystery plays to such modern American theatre writers as Arthur Miller and Richard Rodgers. Still, when John Caird and I began work on CHILDREN OF EDEN, it was with a certain amount of trepidation. After all, this was the Bible we were dealing with. Who were we to be putting our own interpretation on these sacred stories, or worse yet, adding characters and incidents? How would audiences react to a vision of Noah, Eve, Cain, and especially God Himself that did not exactly jibe with what they had heard in Sunday school? It was while in the throes of these concerns that I came across, as part of my research for this project, a surprising discovery: Contrary to my previous belief, I learned that the Book of Genesis was not a spontaneous account that first appeared complete and original in the Old Testament. It was rather a highly edited version of ancient Hebrew tribal beliefs and stories which had been handed down orally from generation to generation. Many elements were changed, omitted or embroidered upon over time. Indeed, in the early chapters of the Old Testament itself, often two contrary versions are presented: Were Adam and Eve created simultaneously, as in Genesis I:27, or Adam first, as in II:22? Did the Flood last forty days, as in VII:12, or 150, as in VII:24? I came across other sources, in a book of Hebrew myths compiled by Robert Graves, and even whole unfamiliar Books of the Bible, edited out of the Old Testament but collected as The Forgotten Books of Eden, translated from ancient Egyptian and published by World Bible Publishers. This version was so radical that it included twin sisters for Cain and Abel! Finally, I read (and highly recommend) a book called Memories & Visions of Paradise by Richard Heinberg, which examines the stories of the Lost Eden and the Flood in many cultures and convincingly advances the argument, in highly scientific and rational language, that these events actually happened historically, though not precisely as described in Genesis. After all these readings and more, many of which inspired and influenced our own interpretation, John and I feel more comfortable about playing slightly loose with these Bible tales. We hope our audiences come to our view of these wonderful stories with the same spirit of adventure, awe and delight as we present them.
Stephen Schwartz: Subsequent to the 2012 Broadway revival, a second version of GODSPELL has been made available, incorporating the slight cuts, changes and structural reorganization from that production. To further distinguish them from one another, the character names of the 2012 version have been changed to those of that Broadway cast, rather than the names of the original cast in the original version. So now presenting organizations may use the original version or the Broadway revival version, depending on their preference. That being said, each time GODSPELL is presented, it is done so with a certain amount of updating and personalization. In terms of what may change, it’s done in order to update and personalize the enactment of the parables, etc.; so, as long as the actual words of the parable are used, the surrounding enactment and additional ad-libs are completely at the discretion of the director and cast. For instance, the “Good Samaritan” has been done as a hand puppet show, as in the original production, as a television “reality cop show,” as in the 2000 tour, which Scott Schwartz directed, as a breaking news story, as in the British tour, etc. Similarly, the putting on of the makeup has been substituted for by all sorts of techniques – pinning on a badge, putting on a specific costume piece that Jesus hands out, etc. The point is that the underlying intention, as described carefully in the script, should remain the same, and Jesus’ actual words should remain the same, but everything else is up for grabs. This can be as small a thing as changing the Joanne character’s ad-lib about the storehouses from “I’ll store all my tuna noodle casserole” to “I’ll store all the ______s I bought at (name of local store)” or as elaborate as doing the Prodigal Son parable using a closed-circuit video camera in front of a green screen and showing the changing backgrounds to the audience. It’s up to each production. (If your GODSPELL script doesn’t include detailed director’s notes, please contact the licensing organization where you obtained your performance license to request the most current script. It includes a note from Stephen Schwartz to the director and also includes notes and direction throughout the script).
Yes. To arrange for use of Michael Holland’s orchestrations for the 2012 revival, contact Music Theatre International at www.mtishows.com. To arrange for use of the orchestrations for the National Tour Cast version of GODSPELL by Alex Lacamoire, you should contact him at ALacamoire@mac.com. To arrange for use of the orchestrations for the 2000 Off-Broadway Cast version of Godpsell by Dan Schachner, you should contact him at email@example.com.
Yes. No special permission is needed to incorporate Beautiful City into the show as long as the lyrics used are the ones featured on the recent recordings, not the ones from the 1972 movie. This version of the song is available in the Stephen Schwartz Songbook published by Warner Brothers.
Stephen Schwartz: I feel that the new lyrics are vastly superior to the ones used in the movie, which I find “drippy” and somewhat cloying. So I would prefer wherever it is used within the show, directors use the new lyrics. I don’t feel they are too specifically about Los Angeles if one doesn’t know they were originally written for that purpose; I feel their reference to urban blight and violence is universal enough.
Stephen Schwartz: I have seen “Beautiful City” used in several of the more recent productions of GODSPELL. It is always in the second act, which makes sense, because it would be strange to sing about what the community can accomplish together before the community is built, which occurs during the first act. Most of the productions I have seen, which included “Beautiful City,” used it in place of the “Day by Day” reprise during the make-up removal sequence. In that instance, it began as a solo for Jesus while he watched the others, and then the rest of the group joined in during the bridge or towards the end of the song. Often, a shorter version of the song was used here. This was a very effective placement for the song. In the recent British tour, the song was used at the very end in place of the “Long Live God” and “Prepare Ye” reprise–in other words, as the Finale. This was also extremely effective, though more daring. In this instance, one person began the song, then others gradually joined, until finally the whole group was singing. It was used as part of the healing after the Crucifixion and also as a declaration that the group would carry the message on into the world. As I say, it worked exceedingly well, but it does subtly alter the message at the end of the show, putting more emphasis on human responsibility. The other place I have seen it used (in the 2000 national tour) was in an up tempo version to open the second act in place of the “Learn Your Lessons Well” reprise. This worked also, but had less dramatic impact than the other possibilities. I leave it to the director and company of each individual production to decide if they want to include “Beautiful City” and, if so, where to use it.
Stephen Schwartz: GODSPELL began at Carnegie-Mellon University as a directing project for John-Michael Tebelak, who was in the theatre department there. John-Michael, who had thoughts of becoming an Episcopal minister before he decided to become a theatre director, had recently attended an Easter service in Pittsburgh and was struck by the lack of joy and celebration in the service, as well as by the personal hostility he felt from some of his fellow churchgoers because of his youth and long hair (it was during the height of the Vietnam War and its accompanying “Generation Gap”). The show was presented at Carnegie, where it included interpolated pop songs and Episcopal hymns set to music written by cast members, as well as the song “By My Side,” written by CMU students Jay Hamburger and Peggy Gordon (a member of the cast). Being very well-received, it was presented the following year in New York City at an off-off-Broadway theatre called the Cafe la Mama. This was in February and March of 1971. There, it was seen by producers Edgar Lansbury and Joseph Beruh (brought there by former CMU student Charles Haid, who became the associate producer of the show). They became interested in giving the show a commercial production at an off-Broadway theatre. At that time, I was contacted by the producers, who had heard me audition my score for PIPPIN, and I signed on to write music and new lyrics. We retained the song “By My Side,” and the rest of the score–except for the song “Learn Your Lessons Well,” which was added during rehearsals–was written in time for the start of rehearsals on April 11, 1971. The show opened May 17, 1971.
Stephen Schwartz: No, you do not. The characters in GODSPELL were never supposed to be hippies. They were supposed to be putting on “clown” garb to follow the example of the Jesus character as was conceived by GODSPELL’s originator, John-Michael Tebelak, according to the “Christ as clown” theory, propounded by Harvey Cox of the Harvard Divinity School (among others). Mr. Cox wrote a book called Feast of Fools that goes into detail about this. The chapter that is most relevant to GODSPELL is called “Christ the Harlequin.” Because the show was originally produced in the hippie era, and because the director of the GODSPELL movie somewhat misinterpreted the characters as hippie-esque, that misunderstanding has come to haunt the show a bit.
Stephen Schwartz: The “Prologue” has most certainly NOT been cut from GODSPELL, as both John-Michael Tebelak and I felt it was vital to set up the idea of the show. If you’re doing a show about the formation of a community, don’t you think you have to see what the individuals are like when there is no community? I cut the song from the record for commercial reasons, because we wanted the album to “cross-over” as a pop album, which it was able to do, but I would never dream of cutting the Prologue from the show.
Stephen Schwartz: The lyrics for many of the songs, including “Turn Back, O Man,” “Save the People,” “Day by Day,” “Bless the Lord,” “All Good Gifts,” and “We Beseech Thee” are from the Episcopal hymnal. They are re-settings of traditional Episcopal hymns. That’s why my credit on GODSPELL reads “Music and New Lyrics,” as opposed to “Music and Lyrics.” It may amuse you to know that when the film version of GODSPELL opened, I was roundly criticized for the lyrics for “Save the People” by Richard Schickel; the movie critic of Time Magazine quoted them disparagingly. Apparently, he’s not Episcopalian.
Stephen Schwartz: Bob Fosse’s choreography contributed an enormous amount to the show, both conceptually and in pure dance terms (though, frankly, even I found it a little heavy on the bumps-and-grinds at times). But I have seen several productions of the show, particularly at the high school and community theatre level, that used different choreography (obviously), and as long as they maintained the cynicism of the Players and the sensuality of the movement, it worked very well.
Yes. No special permission is necessary to include the new ending and/or intermission in your production. If you do not receive an errata sheet with your rented materials, please contact Music Theatre International (http://www.mtishows.com) to request one.
Stephen Schwartz: PIPPIN began as a show for the Scotch ‘n’ Soda club at Carnegie Mellon University in 1967. S cotch ‘n’ Soda produced an original musical every year, and I had written the songs for the musicals my two previous years there. A friend of mine, Ron Strauss, had seen a paragraph in a history textbook about the son of Charlemagne launching a revolution against his father, and he had begun writing a musical about the idea. We decided to collaborate, thinking it would be fun to do something like a musical “Lion in Winter,” with lots of court intrigue and crackling dialogue. The show was entitled PIPPIN, PIPPIN. The following year, I received a letter from a young man who represented himself to be a New York producer and who said he had heard the album we had made of PIPPIN, PIPPIN and was interested in developing it as a Broadway musical. Ron was (wisely) more suspicious of this letter than I and decided he didn’t want to pursue it. But when I graduated from Carnegie and moved to New York, I did pursue it. And while this particular “producer” turned out, of course, to be someone with more aspirations than credentials, I did ultimately acquire an agent, Shirley Bernstein, who began to take me around to audition the show for real producers. The show was briefly optioned by David Merrick, then dropped by him, and afterwards, I found a book writer, Roger O. Hirson, to help me. Here is a good story: We auditioned the show for Harold Prince. He didn’t want to direct it, but he suggested that we make the entire show, which ended with the assassination attempt, the first act and write a second act that told what happened to PIPPIN afterwards. Because he was Harold Prince, we naturally took his advice. Years later, I told this story to the writer Joseph Stein, and he told me that Hal always said that to writers whose shows he didn’t want to direct, but that Roger and I were the only ones who had actually taken him seriously! Because we took Hal’s advice, the show gradually became an allegory of a young man in search of himself, and it reflected my own search as a young man in his early 20s. Ultimately, we did interest a producer, Stuart Ostrow. We approached a few other directors–Michael Bennett, Joseph Hardy–and were turned down, and then finally I played the show for Bob Fosse, and he agreed to direct it. Bob, of course not only added the brilliant choreography to the show, but he helped to make the story darker and more sophisticated. He had seen Ben Vereen in JESUS CHRIST, SUPERSTAR and asked Ben to audition for the show. We were so impressed with Ben’s audition that we combined several small roles into the role of the Leading Player, and the style of the show began to emerge. PIPPIN tried out in the early fall of 1972 in Washington, DC, and was quite successful. It opened at the Imperial Theatre in New York on October 23, 1972. You can, of course, look up the reviews for yourself, but they were generally favorable. Bob Fosse’s direction and choreography got fairly unanimous raves, and my score got mostly good reviews, though not nearly as enthusiastic as those for the staging. Some critics carped at the book, finding it trivial or sketchy (though it still seems to me that the story of someone deciding what to do with his life is hardly “trivial”). Audiences seemed to find the show more meaningful than some of the critics had, and it ran on Broadway until 1977–a total of (I think) 1,944 performances.
Stephen Schwartz: I got interested in writing for the musical theatre when my parents took me to a show as a small kid. It was called SHINBONE ALLEY, and the music was by a friend of theirs named George Kleinsinger. It was not a successful show and didn’t last very long on Broadway, but I was instantly bitten by the “musical theatre bug,” and I think it’s the reason I wound up writing for shows rather than pop songs like most of the other writers of my generation.
Stephen Schwartz: I am on record as saying I do not discuss my own religious background or views, because I don’t want people’s reactions to my shows to be filtered through anything but their own personal beliefs and philosophies. I don’t want audiences to react based even partly on the extent to which their own beliefs and backgrounds correspond to my own. This is a long-winded way of saying that I think the work speaks for itself, and the fact that each person brings his or her own point-of-view to it is precisely my goal.
Stephen Schwartz: I think everyone gets started slightly differently, but in the end, all the stories are essentially the same. In my case, I had always wanted to be a composer; I began being my own lyricist in college, because I couldn’t find people to write lyrics for my songs whose work I felt strongly enough about. Once I had graduated and was pursuing writing for the theatre as a profession, I went to New York and began trying to get people to hear my work (specifically, I had written the show PIPPIN while I was in college and was showing that around). Eventually, I met people who were interested and could help me. The lessons contained within this story are: 1) Write. Have work that you can show–a demo tape or CD, a sheaf of lyrics, a draft of a show–something. 2) Get yourself somewhere where people are in the business you want to be in–if it’s theatre, New York or maybe Chicago; if it’s film or TV, Los Angeles; if it’s the music business, Los Angeles or Nashville. 3) Begin trying to meet people who are in the business through workshops, parties, networking, etc. I know this is vague advice, but there isn’t a clear career track to becoming a songwriter like there is for becoming a lawyer or a stockbroker.
Stephen Schwartz: It varies from song to song. When I’m writing by myself, I’ve recently found I tend to write some of the lyrics first, a short amount to get me started, perhaps a title or a first verse. When writing with others, I tend to like them to go first (music if I’m writing lyrics, and vice-versa). This may be out of laziness or cowardice, but that’s how I tend to work. When I collaborated with Alan Menken on POCAHONTAS and HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, or Charles Strouse on RAGS, we almost always started with the music. Even though this is more difficult, I find that the natural progression of music has its own emotional logic, and this, ultimately, is what audiences respond to.
Stephen Schwartz: I think the chief difference in writing for stage and animation is that in the movies, one has to be much more aware of the visual. On stage, the most effective moment in a musical can be one performer standing alone on stage in a spotlight and singing his or her heart out. If someone’s going to be singing a ballad in animation, she better be going over a waterfall in a canoe. Of course, both stage and animation, being essentially artificial media, lend themselves well to musicals, since the audience has already suspended its disbelief, and, therefore, isn’t troubled when characters break into song. It’s much harder to do in a realistic medium like live-action film.
Currently, the stock and amateur rights to THE MAGIC SHOW are unavailable.
You do not need permission to perform 1-3 Stephen Schwartz songs in a cabaret or concert. If you wish to sing more than three, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. In either case, outside of New York City you must check with your performance venue to confirm whether or not it has already been licensed for ASCAP (or, if not in the USA, with the licensing agency in your country to see if they have a reciprocal relationship with ASCAP). If the venue is already set up for this, you don’t need to pay a fee, but if not, you need to contact us about a possible royalty fee at email@example.com with “Concert” in the subject heading.
Call Michael Kerker at 212-621-6234 for details and dates of submissions.
Visit ASCAP’s Collaborator Corner at http://www.ascap.com/collaborator/.
If a song has been recorded already, anyone may apply for a mechanical license to record it. To apply for a mechanical license, contact The Harry Fox Agency. For information on Synchronization licensing, Merchandise licensing and other licensing issues, go here.
Stephen Schwartz: In general, I have not chosen religious material, it has chosen me. With one exception, I was asked to do the projects which were based on religious material: GODSPELL and THE PRINCE OF EGYPT by the producers and the Bernstein MASS by Mr. Bernstein. All were jobs I would not have dreamed of saying “no” to for professional reasons. That being said, it is true that the subject matter in all three cases proved interesting to me. The exception is CHILDREN OF EDEN, which I pursued after the idea was suggested to me by Charles Lisanby. But I have always considered CHILDREN OF EDEN a story about families, the relationships between parents and children, and generational conflicts, not a story about religion.
Stephen Schwartz: As far as I know, DreamWorks has no plans at the present time to present PRINCE OF EGYPT live on stage. I suppose you could send a letter to Jeffrey Katzenberg’s office at DreamWorks (in Glendale, CA) and ask him about it. You might not get a reply from him personally (in fact, I would suspect you probably wouldn’t), but I would think he’d be likely to pass the letter along to someone who might be able to tell you what the chances are of your being able to do it. Frankly, I wouldn’t hold my breath about this one if I were you. Why don’t you do CHILDREN OF EDEN instead?
Mr. Schwartz has had to make a policy not to review any materials outside the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop and the grant panels he sits on. He feels if he says yes to one, he would have to say yes to all. If you are interested in submitting your materials for the ASCAP Workshop, please contact Michael Kerker at 212-621-6234. Thank you for understanding Mr. Schwartz’s need to be strict with this policy.
We have received many requests for help on school projects about WICKED and/or Stephen Schwartz’s work. Due to Mr. Schwartz’s current schedule, it’s difficult for him to find time to respond to multiple questions that require in-depth responses. If you decide to do a school project on WICKED or Stephen Schwartz, we would appreciate it if you would do a thorough search of the Stephen Schwartz Forum; Stephen has been answering questions posed by fans for many years, and you can likely find answers to the questions you have. Additionally, www.musicalschwartz.com is also an excellent resource.
Mr. Schwartz receives a great number of requests from aspiring writers interested in having him as a mentor, to which Mr. Schwartz feels most honored. However, given his current professional committments, he is unable to enjoy a mentorship role at this time.
Mr. Schwartz has had to a make it a policy not to review any materials outside the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop and the grant panels he sits on. He feels that if he said “yes” to one, he would have to say “yes” to all. If you are interested in submitting your materials for the ASCAP Workshop, please contact Michael Kerker at 212-621-6234.
If you are interested in presenting the Stephen Schwartz & Friends Concert in your city, please visit Spot-OnEntertainment.com.
For more detailed and in-depth information, please visit the STEPHEN SCHWARTZ FORUM ARCHIVES