It’s a rare opportunity for a performer to be able to sit down with a famous composer and learn the background and original intent to a song, particularly when that composer is Stephen Schwartz. Stephen Mahy (The Rocky Horror Show, Grease, Jersey Boys, Miss Saigon) certainly knows this and is looking forward to working with him during rehearsals in the lead up to Stephen Schwartz In Conversation With Leigh Sales this Saturday at Sydney’s Theatre Royal.
“I’m very excited to be singing. I obviously know his music and you look at his bio and think, ‘Wow, he’s obviously been around for a long time,’ but I’ve never met him and I certainly haven’t done any of his shows, so it’s going to be great,” shared Mahy.
Stephen Schwartz does have an impressive list of credits, composing music for Godspell, Pippin, Wicked and the movies Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Prince of Egypt and Enchanted to name just a few. He’s won Grammy Awards and Oscars and received multiple Tony Award nominations. Last year he received a Tony Award, the Isabelle Stevenson Award, for his commitment to serving artists and fostering new talent. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Saturday’s one-off special event will feature an interview with Stephen Schwartz by journalist Leigh Sales as well as some performed numbers by Stephen Mahy, Elise McCann (currently starring as Miss Honey in Matilda the Musical), Michael McCorry Rose and Christy Sullivan.
Given that Mahy will be working with Schwartz, I asked him what was the one question he’d most like to ask Stephen Schwartz.
“Oh … does it have to be just one?” Mahy replied. “I’m interested to see if he’s written musicals with people in mind or if the musical was there first. That would be interesting to hear … was Wicked always going to be for Idina Menzel or was it going to be for someone else?”
Stephen Mahy is also looking forward to finding out more about the song he will be performing during this special interview event. He wants to know the story behind it and where it’s come from.
“I’m singing ‘Fathers and Sons’ … it’s from the musical Working.” said Mahy. “It’s a beautiful song. It’s not your show-stopper kind of number which I’m really excited about doing.”
Of course, singing the composer’s own song with him accompanying you is also a somewhat daunting prospect, but Mahy just wants to be soak up the atmosphere and then watch the Defying Gravity: The Songs of Stephen Schwartz concert afterwards and enjoy the performances by Sutton Foster, Aaron Tveit, Joanna Ampil, Helen Dallimore, David Harris and special guest Betty Buckley.
The excitement around the theatre is building.
“Banners are going up around the theatre and once people catch hold of the fact that David Harris is back, they’ll think oh right, we’re going!” said Mahy, adding, “I know a lot of people are coming up from Melbourne for it.”
Yes, Sydney, this is an event not to be missed in your harbour city!
Stephen Schwartz In Conversation With Leigh Sales is on Saturday 13th February at midday.