Legendary Broadway writer Stephen Schwartz says that live theatre is going to "bounce back" even stronger as the industry continues to reopen.
Schwartz, 73, is one of the biggest composers and lyricists in musical theatre, with shows such as Wicked, The Prince Of Egypt and Godspell to his name.
He is being honoured by the industry this week, with a special recording for The Theatre Channel which looks back on his mountain of work.
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Speaking to Sky News from the Charing Cross Theatre in London, he said that people "suddenly realised how much" theatre was "part of our lives" when the industry closed down, and that "audiences are coming back in droves".
"They're very enthusiastic, very happy to be back," he said, adding that he is "optimistic" live theatre will come back "extremely strongly".
Schwartz was guest of honour at a production of his own show, Pippin, this week as part of the celebrations of his career, where he admitted he "teared up" from the experience.
He said: "It was I knew that I would be excited to be back in a live theatre, but I was so moved by the experience of watching live performance and not on a Zoom screen and having actual live people around me responding in real time, that sort of communal thing that happens only in live theatre.
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"I didn't actually realise how much I had missed it and what a loss I had been feeling until I was there again – and I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but I actually teared up just from the experience of being back in the theatre again."
Reflecting on his illustrious career, Schwartz told Sky News that his highlights continue to be when people tell him that his work has been "meaningful" to them.
He said: "I've heard from people who've seen Pippin, for instance, or recently Prince of Egypt, and that there's a way that it changed actually, literally changed their lives. I have direct experience that [the arts] can change individual lives, and of course… it feels wonderful."
Wicked and The Prince Of Egypt are currently on in the West End, with the former being made into a film later this year by director Jon M Chu.