Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-02-13
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



NUNN ON ONE THEATER Leo Schwartz takes on Trump with 'We the People'
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Leo Schwartz is making musicals great again by creating We the People: The Anti-Trump Musical.

Set during the 2016 election and the aftermath, there's a group of six actors playing 55 characters in 65 minutes.

Flying Elephant Productions executive director Leo Schwartz is an out and proud man taking names in a world where the political climate is tricky. He brings a rich background including winning a gold medal for his film score of Happily After at the Park City Film Festival. He was the winner of Sony's World Search for new musicals for Me and Al. Other credits include Under a Rainbow Flag, Pen, Till and The Book of Merman.

Windy City Times: Where are you from originally?

Leo Schwartz: I grew up in Texas and moved to Chicago in 1986. I was working with fundraising for some museums at the CSO.

WCT: Have you always performed music? I read you have won several awards over the years.

LS: Yes. I am a graduate of Eastman School of Music. I studied French horn. I was a professional horn player for a number of years. I started composing and one of the tunes I wrote was part of a Sony showcase during a worldwide search. I went to Wales for that performance.

The musical I wrote called Naughty! was Director's Choice at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. I won a Jeff Award in 2015 for Best New Work with Pride Films and Plays.

WCT: How did We the People come about?

LS: The morning after the election I felt, as an artist, I needed to have a response to it. I couldn't call myself an artist if I didn't make art out of it. I thought of all the works that I grew up with were direct responses to politics such as Shostakovich's work.

I called up Sean Chandler and asked if he wanted to write a song cycle. I wanted to do something like Songs for a New World, which is all music. I didn't want a lot of book, but we needed to have a narrative arc of some sort. We realized we would have six actors playing 55 characters and this is what theater is all about!

WCT: Talk about Flying Elephant Productions.

LS: I founded it in April 2017. Our mission is to present emerging artists in marginalized communities. Because of my business background I am very good at marketing and promotion. We are trying to help artists get a second production made. For instance, hopefully we will get a second production of Defacing Michael Jackson. It is coming in July and we are going to market it as soon as we can.

I am not asking for an agency fee from these people. I just offer to produce the show and try to get a second production for them.

WCT: What song are you most proud of from We the People?

LS: "I Wake Up Every Morning." That was a challenging moment because we had to bring it into today. I was sitting in the morning with my coffee looking on Facebook and thinking, "Every day is a new thing."

I called Sean and said I wanted to write a song about the insanity that I have to deal with each day. That is how we brought the show to the present.

WCT: I didn't notice a lot of gay content in We the People.

LS: No, there isn't. There is a little. I had a hard time with Mike Pence backtracking on his promises because there are so many examples of him lying to people to get their vote. I didn't think I could do one more.

During the inauguration report the young man gets up and talks about conversion therapy. I felt that is a strong statement that we made.

WCT: I caught a Bob Fosse moment and some Rent moments.

LS: [Laughs] Rent was the director's choice. When things start falling apart I had to throw in a Kander and Ebb style of a song, just to flex that muscle.

That is in the book, "They do Fosse-esque moves." We left it up to director Derek Van Barham, who is also a choreographer to play with that.

WCT: Do you have an all-time favorite musical?

LS: Sunday in the Park with George is my favorite. I haven't had to time to research this but my ear tells me that entire show is based on those opening chords. That is just Sondheim.

WCT: What do you want to tell readers about We the People?

LS: It is anti-Trump, not anti-Republican. We treat Republicans very sympathetically in the show. I feel badly for my brothers who voted Republican and were sold a bill of goods.

The important message is we all need to change this. We need to get off our collective butts and change things in 2018. There are seven Democrats running to one Republican, and the number of women who have gotten involved politically are huge.

I think everything is making a difference. We want to keep telling people to keep going and doing that.

WCT: Where do you see We the People going in the future?

LS: As far as it can. A week after it closes we will record the cast album. Then we will start the marketing machine and hopefully get it out to other places that would be interested in doing it.

Theater is about money. I always said I would write Sharknado the Musical if anybody paid me to do it!

It is getting on the right radars that is so important. I can just do the best job I can and hopefully someone will notice.

WCT: What did you learn from Book of Merman?

LS: Book of Merman was really interesting. I just went to the DC production of it.

I didn't want it to be a parody of Book of Mormon. I wanted it to be its own show. I wanted the characters to have their own conflicts and things to work out.

I used some of the music from her own shows and messed it up enough to not get sued by attorneys. I wrote original stuff.

We are going to be remounting it. We are going to be adding 20 minutes. You are the first one to hear this, we are going to be doing a reading of it in New York in the fall.

WCT: What are you working on the rest of this year?

LS: I am doing rewrites on a show called Pen. It is about a pen pal relationship between a gay man and a gentleman in jail. It was in the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival couple of seasons ago.

I am also working on premiering a musical called Till, which is about Emmett Till. We are keeping an eye on HBO if the movie will be hitting soon or otherwise we will debut it in 2020. That will begin our third season.

We the People raises the flag from now until Feb. 10 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave with tickets at or by calling 773-327-5252. Listen to Schwartz's works at and try for more information on future productions.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Total Bent 2019-02-15 - Authors: Stew and Heidi Rodewald At: The Den Theatre, 1616 N. Wells St. Tickets:; $35. Runs through: March 10 ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Fulfillment Center 2019-02-13 - Playwright: Abe Koogler At: A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. Tickets: $30-40; Runs through: March 24 These ...

Gay News

Nederlander Theatre lights marquee 2019-02-13 - Broadway In Chicago's newly named James M. Nederlander Theatre recently lit its marquee for the first time. The venue, at 24 W. ...

Gay News

The Jeff Awards to present panel on Latinx Theater 2019-02-12 - February 12, 2019, Chicago, IL - The Jeff Awards meeting on Monday, February 18, 2019 at the Greenhouse Theater will include a panel ...

Gay News

SPOTLIGHT on Underscore Theatre's Chicago Musical Theatre Festival 2019-02-12 - Is the next Hamilton lurking in Chicago? Stranger things have happened. Underscore Theatre's ambitious 5th Annual Chicago Musical Theatre Festival includes nine concert ...

Gay News

Critics' Picks 2019-02-12 - A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, Porchlight Music Theatre at the Ruth Page Auditorium, through March 16. A score that hearkens to ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder 2019-02-12 - Playwright: Book by Robert L. Freedman, music by Steven Lutvak, lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak At: Porchlight Music Theater at ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Pipeline 2019-02-12 - Playwright: Dominique Morisseau At: Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave.. Tickets: $27-60; . Runs through: March 3 Thinking about ...

Gay News

Afterglow opening at Pride Arts Center March 27 2019-02-09 - Chicago, IL - Casting for the Chicago Premiere of AFTERGLOW, an off-Broadway hit from 2017 exploring the emotional, intellectual, and physical connections between ...

Gay News

Pride Films and Plays offers Buyer & Cellar, comedy of life in Streisand's basement 2019-02-09 - Pride Films and Plays will mount Jonathan Tolin's one-man play BUYER & CELLAR in the Broadway Theater of the Pride Arts Center, according ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.