Schwartz working on draft of musical ‘Houdini’


By Caryn Rousseau ,AP

CHICAGO — Acclaimed Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz says he’s hard at work on a full draft of his next endeavor, the musical “Houdini” that has actor Hugh Jackman playing the legendary illusionist.

“I’m specifically writing for Hugh in terms of what I think will sound good in his voice and what sorts of things will really help him to do the things that he does,” Schwartz said in a recent interview with The Associated Press during the Dramatist Guild of America’s conference in Chicago. He is the group’s president.

The Academy Award- and Grammy Award-winner — famous for “Wicked,” “Godspell” and “Pippin” — said a reading of the new full show is scheduled for December and he’s been “writing away on it” with a collaborator. So far, he said, they have a full first act of “Houdini.”

“As soon as we finished it, of course, we immediately said, `We have to rewrite this entire thing,”’ Schwartz said. “But nevertheless we’re moving on to try to get a complete draft of the show.”

“Houdini” is scheduled to reach Broadway during the 2013-2014 season. Schwartz said he hopes the show will make an out-of-town debut in Chicago before it premieres on Broadway.

So far, the fun, he said, has been writing music and lyrics with Jackman in mind. Schwartz said he’s considering “Where does he want to stretch himself? Where does he want to do something that he feels he has and we feel he has that he hasn’t really shown before?”

In April, admirers of the composer packed Carnegie Hall in New York for a tribute marking both Schwartz’s 65th birthday and the 10th anniversary of “Wicked,” which is still a tough ticket. But that show’s success doesn’t amount to pressure, he said.