Last Friday Night, I was fortunate to receive an invitation to Town Hall for the glorious, star-studded tribute to Stephen Schwartz, as part of the Third Annual Broadway Cabaret Festival. The stage was overflowing with some of the brightest stars of BROADWAY, CABARET, and Homo-GAY. Emceed by its creator, Scott Seigel, who is charming in a sedated Woody Allen sorta way, the show boasted the talents of Karen Akers, Michael Winther, Steven Lutvak, Julie Garnye, Jill Abramovitz, Jane Olivor, Cass Morgan, and Lari White, to name a few, showcasing all our favorites from Pippin, Godspell, The Baker's Wife, Wicked, and others. It was a real tour de Schwartz, if you will.
While all were perfection, a few very special performances knocked my dentures out. Among them was, of course, the great Liz Callaway who sang for me...her Meadowlark. I'd never seen her live before. This was our first date. I was elated to hear her do that song, which has become so synonymous with Liz over the years, and rightfully so; Doing a soaring rendition of Out There from Hunchback was David Burnham, fresh off the gondola as Fabrizio in the National Tour of The Light in the Pizza Parlor; Jim Caruso, award-winning King of Cabaret, killed with his hilarious, one-of-a-kind spin on Pippin's Extraordinary; Lisa Howard, who's delightful (but not done justice) as Ms. Piretti in Spelling Bee, took on the role of Rebecca, the Jewish immigrant from RAGS, in a stunning performance of Children of the Wind that could have made even my Mezuzah go straight; Max Von Essen nearly stole the show (and my heart) doing Proud Lady from The Baker's Wife; and toward the end of the evening, half the audience was peeing themselves, not only from issues of incontinence, but because Jason Graae hijacked the Hall in his frenzied and fagulous version of Popu-oo-lar from Wicked.
Making his directorial debut in addition to performing in the event, was Scott Coulter, who was sure to keep every song Mr. Schwartz has ever written for a Disney Princess to himself. ('Atta Gay.) And for the grand finale, Stephen, himself, took to the stage and sang For Good at the piano, which he dedicated to his dearest friends and family, (but I think he was talking to me.) Immediately following, he was joined onstage by his wife(???), Carole Schwartz, who had the crowd on its feet in a rousing chorus of Time to Start Living from Pippin. *Sidenote: I've never known much about Stephen Schwartz's personal life (and now feel I know even less), but shouldn't his wife be his husband? "No need to respond. That was rhetorical."
Anyway, whatever floats your flying monkey, Stephen...Congratulotions! And thanks for such phenomenal work. It was a special night, and I was thrilled to be there.
Call me later.
Steven Lutvak, Jim Caruso, Jill Abromovitz, Liz Callaway, Scott Coulter and Lisa Howard