Top 10 Greatest Stephen Schwartz Musicals
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Top 10 Greatest Stephen Schwartz Musicals

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
Stephen Schwartz musicals are among the finest in the history of Broadway. We're looking at the best musicals that this great composer has been involved with, ranging from stage shows to feature films. These are the musicals that prove everyone deserves the chance to fly! MsMojo ranks the best Stephen Schwartz musicals. What's your favorite Stephen Schwartz musical? Let us know in the comments!
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Everyone deserves the chance to fly! Welcome to MsMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Stephen Schwartz Musicals.

For this list, we’re looking at the best musicals that this great composer has been involved with, ranging from stage shows to feature films.

#10: “Working”


Based on the 1974 book, “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do,” this musical debuted on Broadway in 1978. Stephen Schwartz worked on the book, music, AND lyrics, meaning that he had a hand in almost everything to do with this musical, which is, you guessed it, all about working! More recently, Schwartz helped to revive the musical, which added two new songs by none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda. The production didn’t manage to take home any Tonys, but it did win two Drama Desk Awards.

#9: “The Baker's Wife”


Adapted from a French movie called “La Femme du Boulanger,” “The Baker's Wife” tells the story of a town in 1935 Provence desperate to keep their baker working, no matter the cost. Stephen Schwartz wrote the music and lyrics for this musical while Joseph Stein, who is known for his work on “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Zorba,” wrote the book. The song "Meadowlark" is a particular favorite among musical theatre fans. This musical ran on London’s West End, but was sadly never actually produced for Broadway. Hey, it could still happen!

#8: “Rags”


“Rags” follows the story of Rebecca, a Russian immigrant to the United States who is forced to work in a sweatshop in order to care for her son while she searches for her husband, who came to America before she did. Schwartz wrote the lyrics for this musical, while Charles Strouse wrote the music. Just like our last entry, the book was actually written by Joseph Stein. “Rags” definitely wasn’t one of the most successful entries on our list, only having four official performances on Broadway before closing. Yet, it was still nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

#7: “Enchanted” (2007)


“Enchanted” is a Disney movie that is both novel and familiar for fans of the House of Mouse, combining a modern day setting with classic fairy tale elements. Alongside Alan Menken, who is known for composing songs for Disney movies like “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Aladdin,” Stephen Schwartz wrote the lyrics for most of the songs heard in the movie. Three songs from the film were nominated in the category of Best Original Songs at the 80th Academy Awards: "That's How You Know", “So Close,” and “Happy Working Song.”

#6: “The Prince of Egypt” (1998)


One of the best non-Disney animated films to be released in the ‘90s is surely this DreamWorks production. “The Prince of Egypt” tells a familiar story in a way that manages to be fresh and exciting for younger audiences. Legendary composer Hans Zimmer produced the score for this film while Schwartz wrote the songs. Schwartz most notably wrote the music and lyrics for the uplifting "When You Believe," which took home the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey even performed a pop version of it!

#5: “Pocahontas” (1995)


For this 1995 animated feature, Schwartz collaborated with Alan Menken on the soundtrack. Howard Ashman, a frequent professional partner of Menken’s, died before he was able to do the work on this movie, and Schwartz was brought in as a replacement. At the time, Schwartz was taking a break from writing for theatre and was actually studying psychology at NYU. He took his role on “Pocahontas” very seriously, researching historical examples of music from the time period and even taking part in the story process. The end result, of course, included "Colors of the Wind," which took home the Oscar for Best Original Song.

#4: “Godspell”


One of the most famous Broadway musicals that Stephen Schwartz has been credited with is “Godspell,” though the production has an interesting history. It was originally created as a master's thesis project by John-Michael Tebelak at Carnegie Mellon University, and Schwartz was brought in after the fact to re-score the musical when it came time to prepare it for an off-Broadway premiere. The show is set up as a collection of biblical themed parables, taking inspiration from real bible passages. Since opening in 1971, “Godspell” has been revived many times and produced all over the world.

#3: “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996)


After “Pocahontas,” Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz collaborated again on a Disney movie released the following year: “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Darker in tone than most other popular animated films by the House of Mouse, “Hunchback” has a soundtrack to match the melancholy nature of the story. Many were surprised when “God Help the Outcasts” didn’t get any recognition at the Academy Awards but in Richard Corliss’ review in Time Magazine he said, “Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz have written the largest, most imposing score yet for an animated film." Now that’s pretty high praise!

#2: “Pippin”


Following the story of a travelling performance troupe that is sharing the tale of a man named Pippin, the format of this musical is one of the things that makes it so memorable. Stephen Schwartz adapted this from a student production, but asserts that every line and note in the final production was original. Its initial Broadway run comprised just under two thousand performances between 1972 and 1977, making it one of the longest-running Broadway productions of all time. It was also revived in 2013 for an additional 709 performances. Not too shabby!

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“Children of Eden”

“The Magic Show”

#1: “Wicked”


Of course, this had to be our number one pick. Stephen Schwartz’s crowning achievement is “Wicked,” which is perhaps the most beloved and successful musical of the last several decades. It debatably revived the public interest in musicals, which led to other Broadway sensations like “Hamilton.” Schwartz wrote both the music and lyrics for this adaptation of Gregory Maguire’s novel, and the soundtrack includes epic songs like the unforgettable “Defying Gravity.” Fans will be pleased to know that a feature film version of this story has been confirmed and the Land of Oz will be heading to the big screen.
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