Stephen Schwartz' "Prince of Egypt" Film Musical Opens Dec. 18 Stephen Schwartz, the Broadway composer/lyricist who devoted most of the last four years to writing lyrics for animated Disney films ("Pocahontas," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"), has written both music and lyrics for another animated film, "Prince of Egypt," the first for Dreamworks SKG.
The $60 million movie musical based on the biblical story of Moses opens Dec. 18, 1998. An all-star cast has supplied voices: Val Kilmer (Moses), Ralph Fiennes (Pharaoh), Danny Glover (Jethro), Michelle Pfeiffer (Tzipporah), Steve Martin (Hotep), Martin Short (Huy), Mel Brooks, Natalie Portman, Jeff Goldblum (Aaron), Patrick Stewart (Seti), Sandra Bullock (Miriam) and Helen Mirren (The Queen).
Schwartz told Playbill On-Line back in July 1997. "I think the big song, the `plug' song, is 'When You Believe,' sung in the movie by Sally Dworsky [the singing voice of Sandra Bullock] in a duet with Michelle Pfeiffer, who sings herself. For 'Through Heaven's Eyes,' the character is played by Danny Glover, but Brian Stokes Mitchell [Ragtime] will probably do the singing on that one."
Schwartz made a splash in the early 1970s by writing music and lyrics for his biggest hit, Godspell, then wrote lyrics for Leonard Bernstein's "Mass."
He went on to write music for two more 1970s megahits, Pippin and The Magic Show before beginning a two-decade hitless spell. During that time he wrote respected scores for The Baker's Wife, part of Working, lyrics to Rags and several other projects. His last complete stage score wasChildren of Eden, which was produced in London and at Paper Mill Playhouse. The Paper Mill version was recorded by RCA Victor and released in May. Schwartz returned to the limelight in the 1990s writing lyrics to Alan Menken's music for animated Disney films "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Pocahontas," the latter of which won him an Oscar.
As with Godspell, "Mass" and Children of Eden, Schwartz has turned to the Bible for the subject matter of "Prince of Egypt," which musicalizes the story of Moses.
Dreamworks spokesperson Meredith Blume said "Prince" has six new Schwartz songs. Hans Zimmer (The Lion King) and Harry Gregson Williams are supplying additional music.
Schwartz is working on yet another Bible-themed project, a segment of the new musical Miracles, being prepared for Off-Broadway in 1999. The animated film "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," for which Schwartz provided lyrics to Alan Menken's music, is also being adapted to the stage, by Walt Disney Theatrical Productions.
-- By Robert Viagas and David Lefkowitz