Composer Stephen Schwartz answers a question from the media during his press conference at the Diamond Hotel last Tuesday. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA – Tony winner Lea Salonga met with American composer Stephen Schwartz, who is currently in the Philippines to check on the international touring production of “Wicked” that is now playing at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Schwartz attended a group dinner on Monday night at Myron’s Place in Greenbelt, Makati, along with Salonga, her “Do You Hear the People Sing?” co-star Australian actor David Harris, who previously played Fiyero in “Wicked,” and other guests.
“We’ve known each other for a while,” Schwartz said when asked about his meeting with Salonga during a press conference last Tuesday.
Schwartz revealed that he was supposed to work on the Disney animated feature “Mulan,” which featured Salonga as the singing voice of the titular character, most memorably in the song, “Reflections.”
The task of composing songs for “Mulan” was eventually given to Matthew Wilder and David Zippel, while Schwartz went on to work on another animated hit, “Prince of Egypt.”
“Lea demo’d a song that I’ve written for that (‘Mulan’) and I think she still sings that song. It’s called ‘Written in Stone,’” Schwartz said.
Schwartz added that he also worked with Salonga in a concert for the inaugural voyage of the Disney Fantasy cruise ship.
“So when Lea and I got together, we were trying to think what else we could do, is there another cruise that we want to take,” he said, adding that “we became very fond of one another.”
“It was great to see them again and we had a really good dinner,” he added.
Salonga isn’t the only Filipino Schwartz has worked with in musical theater. The recent Broadway revival of his 1971 musical “Godspell” featured Filipino-Americans Anna Maria Perez de Tagle and George Salazar.
“They are so good, the two of them. Both of them are so talented,” Schwartz said about the two “Godspell” actors. “George is very funny and Anna Marie is just a lovely, lovely person. We were very, very happy and blessed to have them as part of the cast.”
Schwartz watched “Wicked” at the CCP last Sunday and also hiked at the Taal Volcano and even attended a town fiesta.
He also said he tried civet coffee and will spend time at an undisclosed Philippine resort before flying back to Los Angeles to work on an upcoming animated movie for Dreamworks.
“It’s kind of a Bollywood musical and I’m collaborating with the composer A. R. Rahman, who wrote the score of ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’” Schwartz revealed.
He also announced that a stage production of the Disney movie “Hunchback of Notre Dame” will have its first production later this year.
“We just did an extremely successful workshop in New York and consequently the first production is going to happen in the fall in a theater in California called the La Jolla Playhouse. That would be in October and we’ll see what happens there,” he said.
Schwartz also said they are already starting discussions on the movie version of “Wicked,” which opened on Broadway back in 2003.
“That’s a few years away but we’re beginning to work on that,” he said of the movie, stressing that they “have absolutely no casting in mind at all.”
Schwartz also said he isn’t interested in doing a sequel to “Wicked” even if author Gregory Maguire, whose book “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” was the basis of the musical, wrote an entire series of "Wicked" books, like “Son of a Witch” and “A Lion Among Men.”
“I’m not big on sequels,” Schwartz said, “although I enjoyed reading them.”