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Bay Area Cabaret kicks off season with Stephen Schwartz

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COURTESY JOAN LAUREN
Songs by composer Stephen Schwartz are on the bill at a Bay Area Cabaret gala on Saturday.
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As the cast of the just-opened tour of “Pippin” might opine, Stephen Schwartz has had “magic to do” since he penned the title tune for the Broadway comedy “Butterflies are Free” in 1969.

You’ll have to attend to hear whether that song will be on the bill Saturday when Bay Area Cabaret opens its 2014-15 season at the Fairmont with a gala celebration of Schwartz’s career.

After 40 hit-filled years, Schwartz appreciates the attention as long as it doesn’t keep him from creating new work as well. “I enjoy hearing the various interpretations of the songs that people do and they can be really pleasant evenings,” he says from his office in New York where he’s “working away doing new work. I was just typing up the lyrics for a song I just finished for this project that I’m doing for Vienna.”

Closer to home, he’s working on a stage version of Disney’s 1996 musical film “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” for which he and Alan Menken wrote the Oscar-nominated score. It’s set to open next month at the La Jolla Playhouse under the direction of Schwartz’s son Scott.

After having scored major successes with “Godspell,” “Pippin” and “The Magic Show,” Schwartz does remember a quintessentially chilly summer in San Francisco – both artistically and literally – for his next project. “I was there for the Bicentennial. I remember we went to a restaurant with a view of the harbor to see the ships come in, but then the fog came in too, so we got only sort of intermittent views of the ships. It was still fun.”

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The show was “The Baker’s Wife” with Patti LuPone. It toured a troubled road from Los Angeles to the East and closed before reaching Broadway. However, nestled amongst the score was a golden egg called “Meadowlark,” which has become a staple for many a cabaret songbird including Liz Callaway, who appears in Saturday’s gala.

“Liz and I have worked together a great deal over the years,” Schwartz beams. “We’ve been to Australia together. We were recently in the Caribbean together. She is a sensational singer, as you know, and extremely easy to work with. She’s also a very good tennis player and when we’re doing these things we also find time to go out and hit the ball.”

Also on Saturday’s bill are Ana Gasteyer (of “Saturday Night Live”) and Michael McCorry Rose, both alums of Schwartz’s gargantuan “Wicked,” and onstage conversations between Schwartz and ASCAP’s Michael Kerker.

IF YOU GO

Stephen Schwartz

Presented by Bay Area Cabaret

Where: Venetian Room, Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $60 to $75

Contact: (415) 392-4400, www.bayareacabaret.org

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