Stephen Schwartz's Family Musical, Captain Louie, Sings in NYC March 3-4

News   Stephen Schwartz's Family Musical, Captain Louie, Sings in NYC March 3-4 A revised version of a 20-year-old family-oriented musical, Captain Louie, by composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz and librettist Anthony Stein, gets industry readings in Manhattan March 3-4.
Stephen Schwartz
Stephen Schwartz (Photo by Joan Lauren)

Meridee Stein, who commissioned the work, based on an award-winning picture book called "The Trip," by Ezra Jack Keats, will helm the reading of the hourlong piece. The show was previously seen at the Kennedy Center in 1984, but Stein told Playbill On-Line it was time to revisit the work because there is an expanded market for family theatre these days. Changes have been made in the piece over the years.

"The family entertainment climate is very alive right now, for the first time in a long time," Stein said. "Because of the wonderful example that Disney set and the success Disney has had, it has paved the way and made room for independents like myself. I believe families crave something they can share."

Is it a kiddie show or does Captain Louie cross over?

"The story is so universal," Stein explained. "It's about how to fit in and how to belong, and adults share those same feelings."

The reading cast totals 15, but the production requires 8 to 10, Stein said, adding that, ideally, it should be paired with a curtain-raiser she's developed called Clementina's Cactus, also based on a Keats book. Music for that picture-book ballet is by film and TV composer J.A.C. Redford. The combined shows add up to about 100 minutes. (The dance piece is not being seen in this week's readings.) The reading, musical directed by Jason DeBord, takes place 4 PM March 3-4 at the ASCAP Living Room, Broadway at 63rd Street, 7th Floor. Industry folk may inquire about the work by e-mailing Plan Language Productions at thetripmusical@aol.com.

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Stephen Schwartz hasn't stopped working since he made a splash in American musical theatre with Godspell and Pippin in the 1970s.

Schwartz is the Academy Award-winning songwriter whose work is heard in the movies "Prince of Egypt," "Pocahontas" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." His stage shows include Rags (with Charles Strouse), The Magic Show, Working, The Baker's Wife, Children of Eden, Godspell, Pippin and the upcoming Broadway musical, Wicked, based on the best selling book inspired by the "Oz" books.

Captain Louie "is the story of a young boy on Halloween night who escapes into his own imagination as a means of coping with the loneliness he feels when he moves to a new neighborhood," according to production notes. Of its initial production, The New York Times said Captain Louie captures "the sound and rhythm of music that runs through childhood fantasies with a book that conveys the communicative magic of the original story."

Schwartz is the recipient of three Academy Awards, three Grammy Awards and three Drama Desk Awards. He also wrote songs for the television musical, "Geppetto." His songs include "Lion Tamer," "Meadowlark," "Magic to Do," "Day by Day," "Colors of the Wind" and more.

Director Stein is the associate producer of the current Off Broadway revue, Jerry Herman's Showtune. For almost two decades, Stein has produced and directed family entertainment including new works by Charles Strouse, Richard Peaslee, Elizabeth Swados and Stephen Schwartz. Her productions have been performed nationally at such venues as the NYSF/Public Theater, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center , The Annenberg Center and The O'Neill Theater Center, and internationally in China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka and the Middle East.