The casts of Frank Wildhorn's three Broadway shows, The Civil War, Jekyll & Hyde and The Scarlet Pimpernel, serenaded the composer March 24 with a newly-written version of "This Is the Moment," celebrating the first time in 22 years that an American composer has had three simultaneous shows on the Great White Way.
At a St. James Theatre media event attended by perhaps 600 Wildhorn fans, most of them "Jekkies" addicted to the gothic musical, Jekyll & Hyde, Wildhorn was hailed by such producers as Pierre Cossette (an original Pimpernel producer, and a Civil War producer) and Rocco Landesman of Jujamcyn Theatres, Atlantic Records' Ahmet Ertugen and host Douglas Sills, the charismatic star of The Scarlet Pimpernel. Sills said his life was changed by Frank Wildhorn.
Others hailed the composer for bridging the gap between the pop world and musical theatre. Wildhorn is creative director of Atlantic Records' Atlantic Theatre division and all his show-related albums -- with sales exceeding one million -- have been released on the Atlantic Theatre label. Atlantic's patrician co-chairman, co-CEO Ertugen called Wildhorn "a true genius and a great talent."
"There's so much more I have to learn about the theatre," admitted Wildhorn. He said working on The Civil War with director Jerry Zaks has been an education: "To me, that's like going to school every day."
The Civil War, subtitled Our Story in Song, began previews March 23 at the St. James, which is still undergoing a renovation to its 1927 splendor, and officially opens April 22. Jekyll & Hyde opened April 28, 1997, and Pimpernel opened in fall 1997 and was revamped -- several new cast members, new director, new story and songs -- in fall 1998. Wildhorn, in his trademark beard and baseball cap (with a Civil War logo), thanked the followers of the shows. ""We are up here," he said, "because of the fans."
By the noise level of the cheers, the "Jekkies" made up the largest group at the media event.
"I will work as hard as I can," said Wildhorn, "and maybe next year we'll celebrate number four!"
In the wings for the eclectic Wildhorn is a Latin-flavored show, Havana, said to be a vehicle for wife Linda Eder, who appeared on stage at the goodwill celebration. She is several months pregnant.
Of the fanfare at the event, Eder quipped, "I don't think I'm ever gonna get you to take out the garbage."
The confluence of representatives of Jujamcyn (Landesman), the Nederlanders (James M. Nederlander) and the Shuberts (Gerald Schoenfeld and Philip J. Smith) was as noteworthy as Wildhorn's moment, some observed.
"This is in itself an historic occasion," joked Landesman of the gathering of his producing colleagues. "It's the end of the Civil War!"
Lyricist Jack Murphy, a collaborator on The Civil War, wrote a special lyric to "This is the Moment" from Jekyll & Hyde. The various companies, in full costume, including blood-spattered Jekyll duds, sang:
This is the moment, this is the day
When he sends all those doubting critics on their way
Every endeavor he has made ever
Is running on Broadway, that's quite a resume
This is the moment, a jubilee
He's the composer with a hat-trick melody
This is his moment, for history
So light up that marquee cause here comes number three
This is the moment when all he's done
All of the spieling, wheeling and dealing become one
All of those meals, when he picked up the check
All of those songs he wrote on spec
For all these years he's hanged the eighty-eights
And now the time has come
To prove his music always modulates
This is the moment, what can we say?
We'll sing his praises searching for phrases night and day
He is the man, who knew us when
This is the moment, when we all modulate again
This is the moment, he beat the odds
This day or never he'll sit forever with the gods
When we look back we will always recall
Three shows on Broadway, now is the moment
The greatest moment of them all.