Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Celebrity Encounter: Stephen Schwartz

I think I've just about caught up with my Ozzy life here, once I post this entry. Sunday, we had our Oogaboo Rendezvous (and where were you, eh?). As usual, it was a lot of fun. Some of us have been going to these things for nearly thirty years. They truly are my second family. We just sit around and chat, catch up, maybe do some Oz stuff while we're at it. This time, however, we had a little something extra going on. One of our numbers alerted us to Stephen Schwartz being at the 5th Avenue Theatre that evening, as part of their spotlight series. And best of all, it was free! Schwartz is a noted composer and lyricist for both Broadway shows and the movies, and he was there as the 5th was putting on one of his earliest shows, Pippin. But his most recent show is Wicked, which is where the Oz connection comes in. Laura and I are really looking forward to seeing it when it finally comes to this area in September.

The show was pretty darned good. Schwartz and the director of the 5th's Pippin took seats onstage and did an interview, a la James Lipton and Inside the Actor's Studio, but it was broken up by members of the 5th company talking about their roles in Pippin, and singing some of Schwartz's songs. Man, I wish I had the time and money to go to more live theater, because the cast at the 5th were terrific in all of their numbers. Two that stand out were the waitress song from Working, "It's an Art," and a wonderful rendition of "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas. (After that number, Schwartz revealed some of the original lyrics that collaborator Alan Menken had a problem with. Good thing, the new lyrics were much more in keeping with the song, and were a major improvement.) Of course, closing out things were two songs from Wicked, which I believe would be the first time they have been performed on a Seattle stage — certainly in a professional situation. The singer (and I wish I'd caught her name) who had the first song nailed "The Wizard and I" (one of the few true solo songs in the whole show — I kept wondering which one they would do!), and Schwartz himself played and sang "For Good." Okay, he doesn't sound like Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth, but he certainly got the feeling across. The whole event was terrific, and I'm going to have to see about going to more of these Spotlight events.

I'd brought along my copy of Wicked: The Grimmerie on the off-chance I could get it signed. It wasn't possible during the show itself, but Laura and I asked around, and we were eventually told to try the stage door. Now why hadn't I thought of that? It was my first time ever being a stage door Johnny, and fortunately the weather cooperated. While Laura went to get a pen, I had a nice chat with some of the other folks waiting, and we're unanimous: We're all looking forward to seeing Wicked! After a while, Stephen Schwartz came out, and he was so nice to everyone, it was a pleasure to see. We chatted briefly — I could tell he was tired, and others were waiting, too — and he happily signed my book. Too bad the woman who sang "The Wizard and I" came out at the same time, I would have liked to talk to her as well. At any rate, it was a terrific evening, topped by my celebrity encounter.

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