Stephen Schwartz happy to receive Isabelle Stevenson Award

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Posted: Jun 05, 2015 7:26 AM
Stephen Schwartz happy to receive Isabelle Stevenson Award

NEW YORK (AP) — Strange as it may sound, Stephen Schwartz has never won a Tony Award.

The man who has delighted musical theater audiences with shows like "Pippin," ''Godspell" and "Wicked" has received numerous Tony nominations but has always come up empty.

But that will change on Sunday when the 67-year old composer receives the annual Isabelle Stevenson Award. He's getting the honor for his commitment to serving artists and fostering new talent.

"This is a really nice award because it has to do with the things that one has done that aren't on a stage within the 15 blocks of Broadway," Schwartz said with a smile.

Schwartz has spent a great deal of time mentoring young writers through the ASCAP Foundation, holding musical theater workshops throughout the country, and steadying the helm at the Dramatists Guild.

He clearly sees a distinction between the professional and personal accolades, and the latter means a lot to him.

"I've won a few professional resume awards in my time, probably lost more of them that I've won. But the point is that none of them felt quite as good as this, to be honest about it," Schwartz said.

He added: "What we do in our lives is what gives us contentment and serenity and makes us feel like we are doing some kind of contribution."

The Isabelle Stevenson Award is presented to a representative of the theater community who has made a contribution through humanitarian, charitable, or social services.

"What I liked about the award is that it recognizes the personal resume. I've been doing these things for many years, so it's nice to be recognized."

Named for the late president of the American Theatre Wing, it was first presented at the 2009 Tony Awards ceremony. Other recipients have included David Hyde Pierce, Eve Ensler and Larry Kramer.

Without hesitation, Schwartz mentions one of his favorite works as the show that sums up his strong moral compass.

"I think 'Children of Eden' is the most obvious one because that's what that one is all about. Though I've been accused by some critics of sermonizing and being preachy."

"Children of Eden" takes on the Book of Genesis by telling the heartfelt story of the world's first family dynamic with Adam and Eve, as well as Noah building his ark. It had a short run in London's West End, but has never come to Broadway. Still, it has remained a cult classic.

His most successful musical, "Wicked," the prequel to "The Wizard of Oz," deals with themes like intolerance and acceptance. It has played to sold out audiences for 12 years, and is one of the most successful shows in Broadway history.

"I try to write about these things in way that are theatrical and dramatic and entertaining, but I do care about these things and that's what I like to talk about in my work."

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Online:

http://www.stephenschwartz.com

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Follow John Carucci at http://www.twitter.com/jacarucci