Today is an important day in the musical theater world -- the 67th birthday of Stephen Schwartz, the Tony-nominated composer and lyricist of shows such as Pippin, Godspell, Children of Eden, both the film and stage versions of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and of course, the smash hit Wicked. He has won three Oscars for his work in films such as Pocahontas and The Prince of Egypt and four Grammys for both the stage and film. He has also managed to win my admiration for his work.
My first interaction with Schwartz's work was long before I knew who he was. I watched The Hunchback of Notre Dame as a child and, while it wasn't at the forefront of my early elementary self's princess-obsessed mind, it still stuck around in the back of my mind. "Hellfire", Frollo's big solo number terrified me to no end. To this day, it still does.
Schwartz's music and I met again when I was nine and performing in the children's ensemble of my high school's production of Pippin. I was in complete awe of the entire cast and crew, and the music stayed in my head constantly throughout the rehearsal process and after the show's run. Later on, I became a fan of Wicked and realized the same man who wrote the music for the first musical I'd ever performed in wrote it. My mind was completely and utterly blown by that, along with finding out about his work in the creation of Godspell.
Last summer, I went with my grandmother and great-aunt to watch my county's summer stock production of the show Children of Eden. When I looked at the program and saw who its composer was, I knew I was in for a treat. The show opens with a large production number that tells the story of the first six days of God creating the Earth in order to ease the loneliness that he feels, ending at the point where Adam and Eve are created.
The first act then goes on to tell their story, featuring gorgeous numbers such as "The Spark of Creation", "The Naming" and the eponymous song at the act's finale, I was in tears by intermission.
The second act is the story of Noah and his family and is a bit happier. It calls back to the story of Adam and Eve through a subplot of Noah's son Japheth wishing to marry Yonah, a descendant of the race of Cain and a servant of Noah's family. Like the first act, it contains memorable songs such as "Generations", "The Hardest Part of Love", and Mama Noah's big song "Ain't It Good?" I left the show with a full heart and lifted spirits.
Mr. Schwartz, thank you so much for your incredible music. It's brought me and countless others a great deal of joy and helped form incredible friendships that mean the world to us. Your gift for storytelling is a blessing to the world of musical theatre. Thank you so much for reminding us all that there can be miracles when you believe.