Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find information about Stephen Schwartz’s Musicals?

Mr. Schwartz’s schedule no longer allows him to respond to email, but he spent many years responding to questions posed by fans. Those questions and responses are now included with each “Work” listed on this site. You may also find the following links useful:

Defying Gravity
The Godspell Experience
From GODSPELL to WICKED and Beyond

Stephen Schwartz Fan Site

How do I obtain permission to perform a Stephen Schwartz song in my cabaret act or concert?

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 email 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 with “Concert” in the subject heading.

May I record a Stephen Schwartz song on my personal CD?

If a song has been recorded already, anyone may apply for a mechanical license.  To apply for a mechanical license (for all but WICKED songs), contact the Harry Fox Agency:

If you are interested in a Mechanical License For WICKED in the U.S. and Canada, please email

Can Mr. Schwartz listen to my CD or read the script of my show?

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 or  Thank you for understanding Mr. Schwartz’s need to be strict with this policy.

How do I submit my musical for consideration in the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop?

Contact Michael Kerker at 212-621-6234 or for details and dates of submissions.

Is Mr. Schwartz able to mentor other writers?

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 commitments, he is unable to enjoy a mentorship role at this time.

May I write to Mr. Schwartz about a school project?

Unfortunately, Mr. Schwartz’s schedule will no longer allow him to respond to in-depth questions. If you decide to do a school project on Stephen Schwartz or one of his works, please search through this site, where questions and answers have been included in individual “Works” pages; Additionally, is also an excellent resource.

Does Mr. Schwartz have any advice for young folks just starting out in “show business”?

Stephen Schwartz: I’m a believer in the philosophy of ‘Follow your Bliss.’  To me that means: Go after what you want. It may not get you exactly where you think it’s going to get you, but it will probably get you somewhere that you like. If you don’t try for what you want, because it seems unrealistic or hopeless, and you settle for something else, you’re less likely to wind up someplace you ultimately feel good about.

As an example in show business: People who start out to become actors, then they become wonderful casting directors, and they’re very happy being casting directors. It doesn’t mean that they’ve achieved something “less”; it’s that they went towards what they thought they wanted, then they realized “actually I’m better at something else and I’m happier doing this.” But they never would have known that if they hadn’t been pursuing their passion in the first place.  I really do believe that that’s the best way to live your life.

How did you get interested in writing for musical theatre?

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.

How does one go about getting started as a songwriter?

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.

Which do you write first – music or lyrics?

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.

What are the differences in composing for stage and screen? What are some challenges you have faced in one medium that you have not faced in the other?

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.

What is your religious affiliation?

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.

Why do you choose religious material for your work?

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.