Theater Hall of Famers Schwartz and Berlind in Spotlight

PlayBlog   Theater Hall of Famers Schwartz and Berlind in Spotlight
Granted he had already made his mark on the Main Stem by composing Broadway's first and second longest-runners (the still-flying The Phantom of the Opera and the eventually put-down Cats), but Andrew Lloyd Webber was a no-show Jan. 25 when his name was added to the Theater Hall of Fame at Broadway's Gershwin Theatre.

However, the only tunesmith to have three Broadway shows run longer than 1,900 performances was very much in attendance in the theatre's rotunda: Stephen Schwartz, author of The Magic Show, Pippin and the Gershwin’s current tenant (which is nearing close to its 2,600th performance), Wicked. (Lloyd Webber and Rodgers & Hammerstein placed second to Schwartz's singular distinction, with two mighty shows a piece that ran well over 1,900 performances.)

Two very contented Wicked producers, Marc Platt and David Stone, presented Schwartz to the assemblage. Stone even shared with the audience his "most prized possession" which still adorns the wall of his office, properly framed.

"It's a note left on my desk, hand-written by Stephen after a particularly bloody day of pre-production," he declared. "It says: 'David, I don't want to do this show. I quit. You can use my score, but take my name off it, please. Do not call me. Speak from now on to Nancy Rose only. Goodbye, Stephen Schwartz.'" Then, turning to the honoree, he added with delight: "Stephen, thanks for waiting the whole five minutes before walking back into my office. Tens of millions of people are so glad you did."

Another theatrical "war story" was relayed by playwright John Guare in praise of 2010 Hall of Fame inductee Roger Berlind, a producer of 34 years. Their paths crossed out of town where a show (unnamed) was in shambles. Guare began repairs and was besieged by all with ideas of how to fix it — until he was rescued: "Roger Berlind remembered a clause that Jerome Robbins had put in his contract for the run of a show — so brilliant. Jerry named the people who were allowed to talk to him."

Guare took that idea and ran with it. All complaints went directly to Berlind. The result? A happier Guare, and Sophisticated Ladies ran 767 performances.

— Harry Haun

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