John Scheinfeld (Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, The U.S. vs. John Lennon) will write and direct Defying Gravity: From Godspell to Wicked, A Musical Journey, a new documentary charting the work and creative journey of Oscar-winning composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz over the past 45 years.
Music media producer Spencer Proffer (Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, Gods & Monsters), Tony winner Corey Brunish (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Pippin), and West End impresario Russell Miller (Blood Brothers, Guys and Dolls) will produce the documentary, which will begin production early next year. The project hails from the trio's recently formed banner Freedom-Meteor 17, which is also at work on the TV series Love Street and a stage play about Eddie Kramer.
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Defying Gravity will profile Schwartz’s work while examining his writing process and inspirations and highlighting the power of music. Carol de Giere, author of the biography Defying Gravity, will serve as a consultant to the producers.
“Stephen is a hugely talented composer and lyricist who embodies a Renaissance spirit,” says Proffer. “Equally enchanting is his humility and eagerness to reveal that the path to his success has been dotted with disappointments and sometimes failures. It’s a rich field to explore, delving into the artistry behind show tunes we’ve all hummed out loud and in our heads for decades.”
Schwartz wrote the score for the international hit Wicked and also contributed music and/or lyrics to Godspell, Pippin, The Magic Show, The Baker’s Wife, Working (which he also adapted and directed), Rags, and Children of Eden. For film, he collaborated with Alan Menken on the songs for Disney’s Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Enchanted, and wrote the songs for the DreamWorks animated feature The Prince of Egypt, a stage adaptation of which recently premiered in London. Schwartz has been inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has been given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Awards include three Oscar, three Grammy Awards, and the honorary Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award.