City of Thespians 3

By Gregory Bossler posted 08-12-2014 14:43

We continue our series of conversations with some of our better-known Thespians by talking with the man who gave voice to Elphaba and a host of other memorable characters. (View a list of other distinguished Thespians.)

Grammy- and Oscar-winning songwriter Stephen Schwartz
Godspell, Pippin, Wicked, Pocahontas
Mineola High School, New York, 1964

Stephen Schwartz, who currently serves as president of the Dramatists Guild, has written numerous scores for stage and screen, including two musicals currently on Broadway. (In 1976, he had three shows running simultaneously!) He was recently inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Theatre Hall of Fame for his lifetime achievement, which began fifty years ago at a Long Island high school.

“The best thing about [drama teacher] Dan Wargo and the way the troupe at Mineola worked was that the students were given a lot of autonomy over the shows, so that it was a great learning experience. For instance, in my senior year, I directed a production of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None [aka Ten Little Indians] and was allowed to revise the ending so it conformed more to the original novel rather than the watered-down ‘happy ending’ of the published play script. Being in charge of a project like that at age sixteen, and being allowed so much creative freedom, was a great start for me.”

Seven years later, he was working with John-Michael Tebelak, a Thespian from Berea (Ohio) High School, on the musical Godspell, the first of many award-winning shows.