The Brent Wagner Speaker Series


The Brent Wagner Speaker Series is an annual series that will bring the industry’s top talent, contributors and influencers directly to Ann Arbor to teach and present master classes for the students.  The Speaker Series will continue Brent’s legacy of instilling an appreciation for the study of musical theatre history, while simultaneously providing direct access to those brilliant minds within the industry that are currently shaping the future of the art form.

The funds generated by the MMTAEF will also go to support other MT departmental needs including production resources, facility expansion, curriculum development, faculty continuing education, and enrichment and advancement of technological capabilities. 

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Join the Department of Musical Theatre for the 

Inaugural Brent Wagner Series Event 

Discussion with Stephen Schwartz

Saturday, March 17, 4:00pm

Stamps Auditorium, Walgreen Drama Center  

Please join the faculty and students of U-M's Department of Musical Theatre for a special discussion featuring the acclaimed musical theatre lyricist and composer, Stephen Schwartz

Schwartz is the inaugural guest of the Brent Wagner Speaker Series, an initiative supported by the Michigan Musical Theatre Ambassador Endowment Fund (MMTAEF) which was generously created by alumni of the Department of Musical Theatre in honor of Brent Wagner, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor Emeritus andRobertson Emeritus Professor of Musical Theatre, upon his retirement in May 2016. 

The goal of the MMTAEF is to enhance the education of U-M Department of Musical Theatre students by bringing outstanding industry artists to campus to speak about their careers and to conduct master classes. 

Stephen Schwartz will join Professor Brent Wagner for an interview and discussion about his career.  

A reception will follow in the Walgreen Drama Center's Towsley Studio. 

This is not a ticketed event, however space is limited. Please register  here.  

To ensure that U-M's Department of Musical Theatre can continue to bring eminent 

Musical Theatre professionals to campus, please give to the 

Michigan Musical Theatre Ambassador Endowment Fund.


Note to the Friends from Brent Wagner:

I can't tell you how excited and honored I am that Stephen Schwartz is the first speaker for the Lecture Series, created by Department graduates in my name.  

I first met Stephen in 1980 when I directed his musical Working at Syracuse University. We discussed the show frequently during the rehearsals and performances, since Stephen was implementing changes from the Broadway production. Our interactions led to a friendship I deeply value.  

I have always been fascinated by the range in Stephen's work, starting of course with his early musicals Godspell and Pippin, and continuing through his blockbuster Wicked. Along the way, he has won three Grammy Awards, three Academy Awards (in collaboration with Alan Menken), and has been nominated for six Tony Awards.  

In addition to his monumental career achievements, I've continually been impressed with Stephen's dedication to teaching.  He received the 2015 Isabelle Stevenson Award, a special Tony Award, for his commitment to serving artists and fostering new talent. In fact, Stephen helped our own 

Justin Paul (BFA '06) and Benj Pasek (BFA '06) by giving them a lengthy assessment of their first show Edges (written when they were sophomores at the University of Michigan!).  Stephen and I even had a long conversation about Justin and Benj, and about the remarkable success of our Department as a whole, at the opening night of A Christmas Story on Broadway

I really hope that you can join us for this special event.  I can't tell you how meaningful it will be for me to share Stephen's insights and experiences with the students.  And having the Friends at this inaugural lecture will be equally meaningful.  After all, your steadfast support has helped to make our Department so successful that someone like Stephen Schwartz is excited to honor it.