Partly as an alternative to the annual flood of A Christmas Carols, producer Danny Wise has assembled an all-star writing team for the new musical Miracles, which he's organizing as an annual holiday-time event at the Beacon Theatre in New York.
Harvin Hamlisch, David Shire and Steven Schwartz are writing the music; Sheldon Harnick is writing all lyrics for the production, which had a private reading for investors July 21, and which is aiming for a New York opening in November 1998, Wise told Playbill On-Line.
Composer Schwartz told Playbill On-Line (Dec. 12) the show will also get a Dec. 14 reading, a useful event, since the various composers working on different sections of the show haven't yet heard each other's contributions.
Wise said the musical tells the story of a brother and sister locked in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art at night. While they're there, various exhibits come to life, enacting miracles from the Old Testament.
Shire (Big, Closer Than Ever), who is writing music for the section on Hanukah (set in the museum's Greek exhibition), told Playbill On-Line that Hamlisch (A Chorus Line) is writing music for the Moses' Flight Out of Egypt segment (set in the Egyptian wing); and Schwartz (Pippin, Godspell, Pocahontas) is writing the Queen Esther/Purim segment (set in the Persian wing). A fourth composer is being sought for the David and Goliath segment, set in the Akkadian wing.
Asked about the project, Schwartz told Playbill On-Line (July 28), "I was approached by Joseph Stein (Rags and Bakers Wife) and Sheldon Harnick about this holiday show to play the same time as Christmas Carol. I've had a couple of meetings about it, with one song done. Harnick and I have made August  our window of opportunity to do the piece; he's one of the great lyricists of the American theatre."
Songs by Schwartz in the Esther story include, Haman's tune, "Bow"; Esther singing "Something Like A Miracle;" and a comic number "If I Were Queen" for all the people auditioning to become queen.
Other tunes in the piece include Shire's "Everlasting Light," Schwartz's "Someone to Love," and Hamlisch's "Nile Lullabye."
A prospectus for the show promises staging by Michael Leeds (Swinging on a Star), choreography by Lynne Taylor-Corbett (Jekyll & Hyde), sets by Kenneth Foy (Tyne Daly's Gypsy), costumes by Ann Hould-Ward (Tony for Beauty and the Beast) and lighting by Tharon Musser (A Chorus Line, Dreamgirls, 42nd Street).