Bay Street Theater and Sag Harbor Center for the Arts will host its 24th Annual Summer Gala on Saturday, July 11. This event is always a summer favorite, but this year guests will be treated to something special. The theater, in association with DreamWorks Theatricals, will present a concert reading of the first act of Stephen Schwartz’s new stage adaptation of The Prince of Egypt.
Schwartz is a prolific composer; if you’re a fan of musical theater, you’ve heard some of his work, which includes Godspell, Pippin, Wicked and Working. Schwartz, whose son Scott is Bay Street’s Artistic Director, is excited to debut the project, which he’s been working on for some time. “What’s happened is that DreamWorks has, over the years, with increasing frequency as they’ve gotten into the live theater business, gotten requests about [a stage adaptation of] The Prince of Egypt to the point that they thought it was time to make a live show,” says Schwartz. “The original movie, as with most animated features, has five or six songs, while the high teens are more common in a stage musical. I’m continuing to try and get some writing done on the
The Prince of Egypt, an adaptation of the Biblical story of Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, was released in 1998 and was DreamWorks Pictures’ first traditional animated film. Several of Schwartz’s songs from the film became mainstream hits, including “When You Believe,” which Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston covered as a duet, as well as “River Lullaby,” covered by Amy Grant. “In the movie, the musical styles were based on ancient music styles and also hip-hop, modern and folk music. Obviously it’s a contemporary score inflected with those elements. That remains the same [for the stage adaptation],” Schwartz says. “If I were starting from scratch, I’d be doing the same thing. I have done a great deal of research for the music.”
Schwartz has also worked on other animated films in addition to The Prince of Egypt, including collaborating with composer Alan Menken on the Disney animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which son Scott directed as a stage musical earlier this year at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Milburn, NJ. While there was talk of bringing The Hunchback of Notre Dame to Broadway, Schwartz doesn’t expect a similar trajectory for The Prince of Egypt. “Hopefully The Prince of Egypt would be licensed out to regional and school theater groups. [Broadway] is unlikely in this case; it’s a pretty expensive proposition and in many ways, exceeds this. We’re not anticipating that.”
Despite the show not being developed for Broadway, the gala performance will feature performances by Broadway veterans such as Norm Lewis (known for his work on the TV series Scandal), Patina Miller and Matthew James Thomas (both of whom starred as in the acclaimed revival of Schwartz’s Pippin), Ryan Knowles, Stephen Bogardus, Julia Murney (who sang with the Omaha Symphony in the concert “The Wizard and I—The Musical Journey of Stephen Schwartz”) and others, including Bay Street’s educational director Julia Motyka.
The Prince of Egypt remains in development, and Schwartz is excited about the ongoing project. “My hope is that The Prince of Egypt could have a wide appeal,” he says. “We’re very excited that we have the opportunity to have this reading at Bay Street.”
Bay Street Theater’s 24th Annual Summer Gala will take place on Saturday, July 11, beginning at 6 p.m. on the Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. Tickets for the evening start at $425. For more information, call 631-725-9500 or visit baystreet.org.