October 22, 2009

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Stephen Schwartz comes to Stockbridge
Broadway composer to give master class and concert
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Most recently known for music and lyrics for Wicked, Stephen Schwartz’s work has won Tony, Grammy and Oscar awards, and he’s a 2009 Theater Hall of Fame inductee.

And he’s performing at the Stockbridge Theatre at Pinkerton Academy in Derry Saturday, Oct. 24, a big deal considering he’s preparing for the premiere of his first opera, Séance on a Wet Afternoon, at Opera Santa Barbara.

“A lot of us have grown up with him,” Scott Coulter said. Coulter is one of the vocalists performing with Schwartz on Oct. 24. The set list is “sort of like a trip down memory lane,” Coulter said. It’s something of a retrospective of Schwartz’s career, with songs from Godspell, Pippin, Wicked and animated films like Pocahontas. The concert will probably also include some songs people won’t be as familiar with.

“If you have a favorite Stephen Schwartz song, chances are he’s probably singing it that night,” said Matthew Cahoon, Stockbridge arts facility director. Schwartz’s work also includes music and lyrics for Children of Eden and lyrics for the animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

“It’s just a great time, ’cause really he’s been writing the soundtrack from a lot of our lives,” Coulter said. It’s moving also because so many of Schwartz’s songs are “about believing in yourself ... defying gravity,” Coulter said, referencing a tune from Wicked.

Coulter is also assisting Schwartz in conducting a master class before the concert at 2 p.m. which involves critiques of student singers. Schwartz is very good at this, “gracious and kind,” Coulter said.

It’s “always important for Stockbridge shows that we have an educational element,” Cahoon said. Registration is available for the master class.

A package is available to attend the master class and the performance, dine at T-Bones and stay at the Sleep Inn in Londonderry. It’s garnered some interest from people from Schwartz’s home state of Connecticut.

Cahoon said Stockbridge has been working on bringing Schwartz for a performance for about a year. Ticket revenue helps, but to bring Schwartz to New Hampshire Stockbridge also has sponsorships from businesses, support from foundations that Cahoon said asked to remain anonymous, and Pinkerton Academy, the largest supporter. Stockbridge is fortunate that the Pinkerton board is very much behind what Stockbridge does, Cahoon said.

“This is a very, very difficult October. I don’t ever remember an October this tough in ticket sales,” Cahoon said. Cahoon said they are doing the converse of what some other companies are doing this season. “I think we’ve got, generally speaking, fewer events but bigger events,” with wide audience appeal, Cahoon said. They include Rockapella and Frank Warren from PostSecret. Last year, Broadway composer Jason Robert Brown performed at Stockbridge, as did Adam Pascal (Roger in Rent) and John Tartaglia (Avenue Q).


The master aperars
What: Stephen Schwartz and Friends performance and master class
Where: Stockbridge Theatre, 44 North Main St., Derry (at Pinkerton Academy)
When: Saturday, Oct. 24, performance at 7 p.m., master class at 2 p.m.
Conact: 437-5210, www.stockbridgetheatre.com,
Tickets: $22-$35 for performance, $15-$20 for master class

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