Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Musicals Of Stephen Schwartz

Believe it or not, but Stephen Schwartz did write other shows before Wicked. Yes I know. You can't even fathom it right? Of course I'm kidding. I mean if you are a true musical theatre fan, then you know that he wrote many, many musicals before those two witches from Oz arrived on the Great White Way. One of those shows was The Magic Show, which opened exactly forty-six years ago today on May 28, 1964, and starred the incomparable Doug Henning. Now for those of you that are under the age of twenty-five, you probably have never heard of him. He was basically the Canadian version of David Copperfield, yet slightly more goofy and with a better sense of humor.

The show, which played the Cort Theatre for a total of one thousand nine hundred and twenty performances, was nominated for Best Direction of a Musical, and Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Henning. It was also known for being the Broadway debut of former Late Show band leader Paul Shaffer, who played piano in the pit for the show. Following The Magic Show, he wrote The Baker's Wife, Working, The Trip, Rags, and Children of Eden, with Rags being the only one to play Broadway. Well at least for eighteen previews and four performances that is.

And in just in case you are wondering, I did not forget about Pippin or Godspell. Those just happened to open before The Magic Show. Now while Wicked may have been his last original show to open on Broadway, he has stayed quite busy for the past two decades, writing the lyrics for Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dam, Enchanted, Disenchanted, and the composer and lyricist for The Prince of Egypt, which was in it's first month of performances when it was shut down to the coronavirus. Here's hoping that it, along with every other show in the West End, as well as Broadway and Off-Broadway will return once things get back to normal. Stay safe everyone, and don't forget to look out for each other.

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