Home Entertainment News Broadway’s Own Stephen Schwartz Inducted in the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame

Broadway’s Own Stephen Schwartz Inducted in the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame

by Mike Cutino
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Written and Photographed by Barbara Anne Kirshner

The brilliant musical theater lyricist and composer, Stephen Schwartz, who created a rich catalogue of musical compositions and shows including Godspell (1971), Pippin (1972), and Wicked (2003), Pocahontas (1995), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), The Prince of Egypt (1998, music and lyrics), and Enchanted (2007), was honored on Saturday evening, March 23, with an induction into the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. 

Stephen Schwartz treating the crowd to a song from his new show The Queen of Versailles

Schwartz, who grew up in Williston Park and graduated from Mineola High School in 1964, has accumulated many accolades for his work including three Grammy Awards, three Academy Awards, and a Golden Globe Award, six nominations for Tony Awards, and a Laurence Olivier Award. He received the Tony Award’s Isabelle Stevenson Award in 2015. In 1976 when Godspell moved to Broadway, Schwartz held the distinction of having three shows playing there simultaneously.

“Long Island has proven to be especially fertile ground for producing major talents in the fields of music and entertainment,” said Schwartz upon learning of his induction. “The list of names is long and impressive. It’s a great honor for me to be recognized as being a part of that amazing tradition.”

Stephen Reinhardt, keyboard player & musical director for Godspell and The Magic Show said of Schwartz, “Other than Steven Sondheim, I just don’t know anybody else who has that magical combination as a lyricist and a musician. In Godspell, it was the first time that a quartet was the driving force in a musical. It was a wonderful collaboration of band, cast and myself. I had never done anything like that. I was a singer, song writer. I never conceived of playing a Broadway show, but Stephen trusted me. I owe him a lot. Music was my avocation and he literally took a chorus boy, put me on a piano bench and molded me into being a music director and I never left. Music became the rest of my life so I owe him a lot personally and professionally.”

Paul Shaffer, musician and band conductor for David Letterman and musical conductor for Schwartz’s Godspell and The Magic Show, hosted the evening.

The evening’s festivities were hosted by Paul Shaffer, David Letterman’s musical director and sidekick for 33 years. Shaffer was quick to give Schwartz credit for his musical career. “This is the most amazing story because it changed my whole life. Stephen Schwartz and company had companies of Godspell running all over the world. They were starting one up in Toronto, Canada. I had just gotten out of college and I was accompanying friends who were going to audition for Steven to be in the show Godspell. I played one song for a girlfriend of mine and Stephen Schwartz said could you stay for the rest of the day to play the auditions. I played all of it and at the end of the day he said do you think you could get a band together and conduct the show. I’d never done anything like that. Stephen Schwartz only heard me play a little bit, but he hired me to conduct Godspell. Then he brought me to New York to play for him in The Magic Show on Broadway in 1974.” After that stint on Broadway, Shaffer went on to five years with the original Saturday Night Live, where he played keyboards, composed special musical material and, in 1980, became a featured performer. From there, his career continued to blossom. Schaffer emphatically stated, “If it wasn’t for Stephen Schwartz, I wouldn’t have a musical career.”

Ernie Canadeo, Chairman of LIMEHOF, spoke at the Stephen Schwartz induction ceremony.

Ernie Canadeo, chairman of LIMEHOF, addressed the crowd telling a personal story. “My first Broadway show was Pippin, 1972 with Ben Vereen. I was 17 years old and I brought my high school girlfriend. It was an amazing show and a very memorable night. Thank you Stephen! Now here we are tonight 52 years later to celebrate Stephen Schwartz who has had so much success and continues to create incredible music.”

DeMarius R. Copes sang Magic To Do (Pippin) and All Good Gifts (Godspell)

The audience in attendance was treated to a grand concert under the direction of Paul Kreppel who appeared in the original production of Godspell and as the Wonderful Wizard in Wicked. Schwartz’s dazzling songs were performed by vocalists, some of whom appeared in Broadway productions of his shows. DeMarius R. Copes opened the festivities with a lively rendition of Magic To Do (Pippin) then returned later in the evening with All Good Gifts (Godspell). Sam Simahk delivered an impassioned Corner of the Sky (Pippin). That was followed by Alysia Velez’s spirited Bless the Lord (Godspell). She later performed a gorgeous Colors of the Wind (Pocahontas). Dale Soules, who appeared with Doug Henning in Schwartz’s The Magic Show, belted out West End Avenue. 

Sam Simahk sang Corner of the Sky (Pippin)
Alysia Velez sang Bless the Lord (Godspell) and Colors of the Wind (Pocahontas)

Wicked was represented by Teal Wicks who played Elphaba and Carrie St. Louis who played Glinda on Broadway. Max Grossman accompanied Wicks on piano with an exuberant Wizard and I followed by St. Louis’ animated Popular. Wicks and St. Louis teamed up for Tom Needham, 2nd Vice Chairman of LIMEHOF, said, “Stephen has been dedicated to honoring people, teaching people and encouraging people to enter the musical field. We are so proud that Stephen has pushed forward so many careers. Tonight, people have spoken about how Stephen has changed so many lives. He has encouraged people to make a difference in Broadway and in other different careers.”

Teal Wicks and Carrie St. Louis teamed up on For Good (Wicked)

Wicks and St. Louis returned for a duet on a captivating For Good from Wicked that contains a lyric that was the theme echoed by all the speakers this evening, “Because I knew you, I have been changed For Good.” The evening left on a high note with Day By Day (Godspell) sung by the entire company.

Paul Shaffer presented the LIMEHOF award to his longtime friend and colleague, Stephen Schwartz, who expressed his heartfelt thanks. On a light note, he related that upon informing his parents that he was being inducted into the esteemed LIMEHOF, their response was, “Finally!”

Always the showman, Schwartz delighted the crowd by announcing he is currently working on a new show with Kristin Chenoweth named Queen of Versailles which will be trying out in Boston this summer and with that he played a sample song from this new show. As one might imagine, the song was stunning with Schwartz’s signature lyrical quality.

This induction was a celebration of love for a man who means so very much to so many. A man who was instrumental in changing lives for the better while along the way creating beloved songs that have left an indelible mark on all of our lives.