Broadway Talks: What Professionals Think about Commercial Theater in America

By Arvid F. Sponberg | Go to book overview

12
Stephen Schwartz, Director/Lyricist

"There are ways of making small independent films. There's no way of doing a small independent Broadway show. And that's a big problem."

Stephen Schwartz is a director, composer, and lyricist. He was born in 1948 in New York City and attended Mineola High School on Long Island. At the same time, he studied piano and composition at Julliard's preparatory division. He earned a B.F.A. in drama from Carnegie Mellon University. While at Carnegie, he wrote and directed shows for "Scotch and Soda," a student theatrical organization not officially affiliated with the university. He is best known for his work in Godspell, Pippin, Working, and The Baker's Wife.

Schwartz's career has been punctuated by retreats from the theater. After Working, he left the theater for five years, returning because "I just got itchy again. . . . I have a unique and rather bleak attitude toward working with musicals." He doesn't find them as "energizing and as fun" as he thinks Tommy Tune or Hal Prince must. During rehearsals or, especially, casting, he is likely to think, "Why am I doing this when I could be at home hitting a backhand and playing with my children?"

Part of his reluctance stems from the obstacles to good work which he analyzes in this interview. Because he is part of not only the post-Rodgers- and-Hammerstein but also the post-Sondheim generation, he can explain how the increasingly complicated processes of production changed the musical theater in the seventies and eighties.

Q: Could you describe some key experiences that significantly enhanced your ability as an artist?

Schwartz: One thing that comes to mind is when I was doing the score for The Baker's Wife, which was the fourth New York show that I had done. I was having just a really hard time writing the music for it, and at one point I finally gave up trying to deal with the songs from an intellectual point of view, and said, "Oh, well, look. I mean, I know what she's singing

-125-

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Broadway Talks: What Professionals Think about Commercial Theater in America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xv
  • Notes xxx
  • PRODUCING 1
  • 1 - Richard Horner, Producer 3
  • 2 - Bernard Jacobs, Theater Owner 17
  • 3 - Gerald Schoenfeld, Theater Owner 27
  • 4 - Emanuel Azenberg, Producer 35
  • 5 - Paul Libin, Producer 51
  • 6 - Nelle Nugent, Producer 63
  • 7 - Gary Gunas, Associate General Manager 73
  • 8 - Rocco Landesman, Theater Owner 89
  • DESIGNING 95
  • 9 - Charles Strouse, Composer 97
  • 10 - Patricia Zipprodt, Costume Designer 105
  • 11 - David Jenkins, Scene Designer 115
  • 12 - Stephen Schwartz, Director/Lyricist 125
  • LABOR AND MANAGEMENT 133
  • 13 - Willard Swire, Representing Actors 135
  • 14 - Harvey Sabinson, Representing Theater Owners and Producers 139
  • 15 - John Glasel, Representing Musicians 147
  • 16 - Harriet Slaughter, Representing Theater Owners and Producers 157
  • 17 - Robert Mcdonald, Representing Stagehands 163
  • WRITING 173
  • 18 - Joseph Stein, Playwright 175
  • 19 - A.R. Gurney, Jr., Playwright 185
  • 20 - David Henry Hwang, Playwright 199
  • Bibliography 209
  • Index 215
  • About the Author 225
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