Chandra Lee Schwartz and Jackie Burns in “Wicked.” (Photo: Joan Marcus)
Wondering what’s been percolating in the mind of one of musical theater’s most successful composers? A team of heavy-hitting producers is going to find out.
The team of music media producer Spencer Proffer (Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, Gods & Monsters), multiple Tony-winner Corey Brunish (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Come From Away, Pippin) and West End impresario Russell Miller (Blood Brothers, Guys and Dolls, On the Town, Paramour) announced that they will produce a documentary on the work and creative journey of Stephen Schwartz, the three-time Academy Award, three-time Grammy Award, and Tony Award-winning songwriter of Wicked, Pippin, Godspell, and the films The Prince of Egypt, Pocahontas, and Enchanted, among others.
Award-winning director John Scheinfeld (Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, The U.S. vs. John Lennon) will write and direct. This will be Scheinfeld’s third collaboration with Proffer on a music-anchored documentary.
“Defying Gravity: From Godspell to Wicked, A Musical Journey” will commence production in early 2021. It will profile the vast body of Schwartz’s work, both his landmark successes and noble failures while examining his writing process and inspirations and highlighting the power of music to transform and influence lives.
Carol de Giere, acclaimed author of the biography Defying Gravity (named for Schwartz’s classic song from Wicked and also the title of the documentary), will serve as a consultant to the producers. She will share the product of eight years of research and collaboration with Stephen to inform the film.
“Stephen is a hugely talented composer and lyricist who embodies a Renaissance spirit,” said Spencer Proffer. “Equally enchanting is his humility and eagerness to reveal that the path to his success has been dotted with disappointments and sometimes failures. It’s a rich field to explore, delving into the artistry behind show tunes we’ve all hummed out loud and in our heads for decades.”
Author Carol de Giere said, “Spencer Proffer and his talented team’s passion for this project is bound to lead to a high-quality documentary. By focusing on the artistry of Stephen Schwartz, who is so articulate about his creative process and collaborative experiences, they will be able to capture some of the strategies that audiences can apply to their own creative efforts. Defying Gravity as a documentary will also draw us into key moments in American musical theater history and will be treasured by musical enthusiasts for years to come. I’m pleased to serve as a consultant.”