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Princess teams with Oscar-winning composer for new musicals

Stephen Schwartz - four Grammys, three Academy Awards, six Tony Award nominations
Princess Cruises has engaged Stephen Schwartz, three-time Oscar winner and composer of 'Wicked,' 'Pippin' and 'Godspell,' in a multi-year agreement to oversee the creative development of four new musicals.

The news was announced at the Hudson Theater in New York Thursday evening with Schwartz and surprise guest Ben Vereen, who won a Tony Award for his role in 'Pippin' on Broadway.

During his 40-year career, Schwartz has won four Grammys, three Academy Awards for 'best song' and 'best score' for 'Pocahontas' and 'best song' for 'The Prince of Egypt' and has been nominated for six Tony Awards. He is the only songwriter in Broadway history to ever have three shows run more than 1,900 performances.

His first musical for Princess springs from Schwartz’s lifelong fascination with magic. 'Magic to Do' will combine magic with some of Schwartz’s most famous songs and a new song written exclusively for Princess. The show will debut aboard Crown Princess in the fall.

Princess is 'thrilled to embark on this extraordinary new live-show entertainment, unlike anything any cruise line has ever before offered,' president Jan Swartz said.

Schwartz expressed excitement about the possibility of using the 'enormous resources available with Princess to create new and innovative theatrical entertainment.' He added: 'Their on-board theaters are Broadway-caliber venues with state-of-the-art technical capability, and coupled with their access to first-rate performers, I see it as an extraordinary and almost irresistible opportunity.'

Schwartz said he already has received enthusiastic interest from talented colleagues—writers, directors, and designers—and he hopes together they will create 'new kinds of cruise ship shows to entertain and inspire Princess guests unlike any other productions at sea.'

Schwartz will oversee the creative development for all four shows, bringing together Broadway talent to support the productions through direction and design. The 'Magic to Do' team includes Don Frantz, associate producer of 'The Lion King' and 'Beauty and the Beast' on Broadway, among many other Broadway and international accomplishments.

Gabriel Barre is an internationally acclaimed director whose credits include the national tour of 'Pippin' and the current Broadway-bound musical, 'Amazing Grace,' while Jeremy Railton is a four-time Emmy winner whose extensive background in theater, film, television and multimedia design includes the 2002 Winter Olympics opening and closing ceremonies and the Academy Awards.

Ken Billington is a Tony award-winning lighting designer with nearly 100 Broadway show credits, including 'Sweeney Todd' and the current production of 'Chicago.' Mark Hartman is an award-winning music director with numerous Broadway credits including 'Sondheim on Sondheim,' 'Avenue Q' and the national tour of 'Pippin.' And Jennifer Paulson-Lee is a choreographer with credits including 'Enter Laughing, the Musical,' 'A Rockin’ Midsummer Night’s Dream,' '101 Dalmatians' and 'Seussical.'

In addition, Jim Steinmeyer, the mastermind behind many great magic illusions over the last 25 years, will create the magic experience in 'Magic to Do.' Steinmeyer has worked with magicians including Doug Henning, Siegfried & Roy and David Copperfield.

Auditions for 'Magic to Do' begin next week in New York and Toronto, followed by Los Angeles and Vancouver. Schwartz will participate in the audition process, helping source top talent and performers for the 45-minute show. More information is here.

Theater producer Jayson Raitt will be working closely with Schwartz and consulting on the creative development of the three additional shows.