But his current projects leave him little time to reflect too long on his past refrains.
"I'm completely in the midst of 'Houdini' now. We have a draft of the first act and are working on the second. It's my favorite time, actually, working with collaborators, the back and forth brainstorming and finding discoveries. Plus I get to be home a lot."
Schwartz says "Houdini" is a period show, taking place during 1892 to 1926, with most of it taking place 1924 to 26. "In writing the music I am trying to be suggestive of the period and then not. The closest equivalent I can think of is a show like 'Follies.'."
Schwartz says because of star Hugh Jackman's schedule, the show is on a specific trajectory toward a Broadway production. "Hugh can take a year basically to do the show so things are geared around that." There will be reading at the end of the year, then workshops, then an out-of-town tryout with the show positioned for the fall of 2014. "We feel the schedule is tight but reasonable."
Schwartz says he is also excited to be writing lyrics for composer A.R. Rahman, who wrote the music for the Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire." The new animated Dreamworks film, with the working title "Mumbai Musical," takes place in India with a story told from the point of view of a group of monkeys. "I begged my way onto this project," says Oscar winner Schwartz, whose film credits include "Prince of Egypt," "Pocahontas," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Enchanted."
Also Schwartz oversaw the recent original cast album of the Broadway revival of "Pippin." A national tour is planned for next year.
Regarding a film version of "Wicked," Schwartz says "a meeting of the minds" is expected later this fall. (Stephen Daldry ("The Reader," "The Hours," "Billy Elliot") has been mentioned as director for the Universal film.)
Meanwhile "Wicked" on Broadway will celebrate its 10th anniversary next week — and more than 4,000 performances. Schwartz says he had no idea that the musical would become such a phenomenon. "Every now and then something happens and a show transcends itself and there's absolutely no way of predicting it — and certainly no way of achieving it. We had no idea. It wasn't until about a year in we started to realize that something was going on that was bigger than any of us."
In otjer projects Schwartz says he is especially proud of a song "Testimony" he wrote last year for the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus for Sdan Sabage's "It Gets Better" project, to combat gay youth suicide. "I love choral music and I wanted to do something around the project. I'm a huge Dan Savage admirer. I've written three fan letters in my entire life and two of them have been to him. He's an amazing person
"I didn't want to write a song where they just sing, 'It gets better' or use the words 'gay' or 'bullying' so I read through the interviews [of gay teens] and found phrases and things various people said and it gave me the idea to write a piece that begins with people in great distress — basically thinking about killing themselves — and then have those voices build to a cacophony and then have the whole chorus come in. It was so moving."
SNAPSHOTS: A MUSICAL SCRAPBOOK plays Oct. 24 to Nov. 17 at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester. Performances are Wednesdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 24, at 8 p.m. and subsequent Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 and 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $48.50. Information: 860-873-8668 and www.goodspeed.org.