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Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked

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(Applause Books). Defying Gravity takes readers into the creative world of Broadway and film composer Stephen Schwartz, from writing Godspell 's score at age 23 through the making of the megahit Wicked . For this first authorized biography, de Giere draws from 80 hours of interviews with Schwartz and over 100 interviews with his colleagues, friends, and family. Her sympath (Applause Books). Defying Gravity takes readers into the creative world of Broadway and film composer Stephen Schwartz, from writing Godspell 's score at age 23 through the making of the megahit Wicked . For this first authorized biography, de Giere draws from 80 hours of interviews with Schwartz and over 100 interviews with his colleagues, friends, and family. Her sympathetic yet frank narrative reveals never-before-told stories and explores both Schwartz's phenomenal hits and expensive flops. The book also includes a series of "Creativity Notes" with insights about artistic life, and more than 200 photographs and illustrations. "In Defying Gravity, Carol de Giere pulls back the curtain and gives us a fascinating glimpse into the creative process of one of the musical theater's greatest wizards." - Stephen Flaherty, Tony-Award winning composer of Ragtime, Seussical, and Once On This Island "This is a fantastic book, scrapbook, story and photo collection." - Broadwayworld.com "Defying Gravity, which takes its name from the Act 1 closer in Wicked, is not just a he-did-this-then-he-did-this biography: de Giere reconstructs the collaborative process that brought Schwartz's works to the Great White Way." - The Journal News "A wonderful read. And the Wicked section provides a comprehensive account of a thoroughly recondite and even mysterious event: the gestation and birth of a phenomenon." - Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked (the novel), Son of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men "Trying to reconstruct the writing process of a musical is nearly impossible. Carol de Giere has captured it." - Winnie Holzman, book writer for Wicked (the musical) "This is a loving, in-depth look at the career and process of one of our most important musical theater writers. I am happy to have it on my shelf." - Lynn Ahrens, Tony Award-winning lyricist of Ragtime "A must-have for any of the composer's many fans." - Theatermania.com


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(Applause Books). Defying Gravity takes readers into the creative world of Broadway and film composer Stephen Schwartz, from writing Godspell 's score at age 23 through the making of the megahit Wicked . For this first authorized biography, de Giere draws from 80 hours of interviews with Schwartz and over 100 interviews with his colleagues, friends, and family. Her sympath (Applause Books). Defying Gravity takes readers into the creative world of Broadway and film composer Stephen Schwartz, from writing Godspell 's score at age 23 through the making of the megahit Wicked . For this first authorized biography, de Giere draws from 80 hours of interviews with Schwartz and over 100 interviews with his colleagues, friends, and family. Her sympathetic yet frank narrative reveals never-before-told stories and explores both Schwartz's phenomenal hits and expensive flops. The book also includes a series of "Creativity Notes" with insights about artistic life, and more than 200 photographs and illustrations. "In Defying Gravity, Carol de Giere pulls back the curtain and gives us a fascinating glimpse into the creative process of one of the musical theater's greatest wizards." - Stephen Flaherty, Tony-Award winning composer of Ragtime, Seussical, and Once On This Island "This is a fantastic book, scrapbook, story and photo collection." - Broadwayworld.com "Defying Gravity, which takes its name from the Act 1 closer in Wicked, is not just a he-did-this-then-he-did-this biography: de Giere reconstructs the collaborative process that brought Schwartz's works to the Great White Way." - The Journal News "A wonderful read. And the Wicked section provides a comprehensive account of a thoroughly recondite and even mysterious event: the gestation and birth of a phenomenon." - Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked (the novel), Son of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men "Trying to reconstruct the writing process of a musical is nearly impossible. Carol de Giere has captured it." - Winnie Holzman, book writer for Wicked (the musical) "This is a loving, in-depth look at the career and process of one of our most important musical theater writers. I am happy to have it on my shelf." - Lynn Ahrens, Tony Award-winning lyricist of Ragtime "A must-have for any of the composer's many fans." - Theatermania.com

30 review for Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kirstin Dobson

    Better than I expected. Interesting for a musical person with some experience with theater, particularly many of the works discussed here. Got a little technical and bogged down for even me in places, though.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ian Gupton

    As a complete novice to the world of performing arts, but one that I'm learning more about at the high school where I teach where we have an outstanding program, I thought that the pains and triumphs of the theater industry were extremely well-detailed through the perspective of Broadway lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz. It was obvious that the author, Carol de Giere, spent a tremendous amount of time (8 years of research!!!) digging deep for details to create a narrative that not only sho As a complete novice to the world of performing arts, but one that I'm learning more about at the high school where I teach where we have an outstanding program, I thought that the pains and triumphs of the theater industry were extremely well-detailed through the perspective of Broadway lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz. It was obvious that the author, Carol de Giere, spent a tremendous amount of time (8 years of research!!!) digging deep for details to create a narrative that not only shows how challenging working in this career field can be, but also what kind of character it takes to survive; Stephen Schwartz is revealed, bumps, bruises and all, to be a dynamic character who strives for the best but is continually faced with the challenges of collaborating with others who feel differently about what "the best" is. From an emotional intelligence standpoint, I feel that this book could be generalized to reflect the skills necessary to succeed in a global eonomy, including the rewards and frustrations of working with a variety of people and their various visions and personalities. The book is written as a painstakingly detailed anecdotal journey of a man who compares himself to the main character of Elphaba from his pinnacle musical "Wicked:" as someone who is often misunderstood, and even punished, for simply trying to do the best he can (similar to your average, ordinary, every day superhero). The book is written with many layers, so there's something for everyone, including quotes, extras, and "Creative Notes" that go behind the scenes and helped an outsider like myself understand the process of musical composition. As an English teacher, there are a number of "Creative Notes" that I thought were extremely relevant and authentic specific to teaching writing that I am planning on integrating into my instruction. All in all, a very entertaining and informational read that can be read for multiple purposes in a way that anyone can thoroughly understand and appreciate.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Kuczewski

    I have always loved the music, lyrics, and creative mind of Stephen Schwartz, writer of the scores for GODSPELL, PIPPIN, THE MAGIC SHOW, THE PRINCE OF EGYPT, Disney's POCAHONTAS and HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME, and the mega-hit WICKED. In fact, WICKED fast became my favorite musical theatre piece. But how did this musical go from the page to the stage? How do musicals go from an idea to readings and workshops to full productions? The answer to these and many other questions lies in Carol De Giere's w I have always loved the music, lyrics, and creative mind of Stephen Schwartz, writer of the scores for GODSPELL, PIPPIN, THE MAGIC SHOW, THE PRINCE OF EGYPT, Disney's POCAHONTAS and HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME, and the mega-hit WICKED. In fact, WICKED fast became my favorite musical theatre piece. But how did this musical go from the page to the stage? How do musicals go from an idea to readings and workshops to full productions? The answer to these and many other questions lies in Carol De Giere's wonderfully captivating DEFYING GRAVITY: THE CREATIVE CAREER OF STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, FROM GODSPELL TO WICKED. If you've ever wondered about Schwartz's personal life, its influence on his writing, and his creative process, this book is for you. Filled with stories, some extremely touching, many humorous, DEFYING GRAVITY offers a rather candid look at a brilliant composer...one who has experienced both triumph and failure, but one whose creative process has always been strong. You will learn some interesting details about his collaborators, his family, his friends, and his shows. Never boring, always engaging, and littered with many black-and-white photos (from Schwartz's personal file as well as from productions of his shows), DEFYING GRAVITY is a treat for anyone who's ever wondered about the creative journey of a musical theatre/film writer...or ANY creative person, for that matter. In a way, DEFYING GRAVITY is a story anyone can relate to: De Giere dedicates her work to the creative spirit that inspires each and every one of us. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Schwartz, WICKED, musical theatre, or creating something out of nothing. Bravo, Ms. De Giere!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael Thomas Angelo

    I am obsessed with Wicked ever since I waited tables on the original Tony award winning cast that opened the show in San Francisco in 2003 while it was still in experimental stages. This book chronicles that journey that I was so fortunate to view from the fringes of fandom.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dinosaur

    I read this primarily for the Wicked portion (the only parts I've read so far) which was interesting especially from this perspective, but I still have to go through the rest of it pertaining to his other work. I read this primarily for the Wicked portion (the only parts I've read so far) which was interesting especially from this perspective, but I still have to go through the rest of it pertaining to his other work.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    Stephen Schwartz wrote the musical "Wicked"...This book talkes about his career starting with his first musical "Godspell"....I'm finding it very interesting Stephen Schwartz wrote the musical "Wicked"...This book talkes about his career starting with his first musical "Godspell"....I'm finding it very interesting

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alison Boole

    Very helpful for research prior to directing Pippin

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chuck Zeitvogel

    Great Read for Stephen Schwartz Fans If you love Godspell and/or Wicked, this book is a must read. I learned so many things about those shoes and their creator.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Facundo Esposito

    I loved the Creativity Notes! I even applied them as exercises for my literary works.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    Very readable book with plenty of insight into the creative process. The only downside for me is that there are now several more recordings I need to acquire!!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Britni

    Amazon does a good job giving a brief synopsis of the book. Defying Gravity takes readers into the creative world of Broadway and film composer Stephen Schwartz, from writing Godspell's score at age 23 through the making of the megahit Wicked. For this first authorized biography, de Giere draws from 80 hours of interviews with Schwartz and over 100 interviews with his colleagues, friends, and family. Her sympathetic yet frank narrative reveals never-before-told stories and explores both Schwartz Amazon does a good job giving a brief synopsis of the book. Defying Gravity takes readers into the creative world of Broadway and film composer Stephen Schwartz, from writing Godspell's score at age 23 through the making of the megahit Wicked. For this first authorized biography, de Giere draws from 80 hours of interviews with Schwartz and over 100 interviews with his colleagues, friends, and family. Her sympathetic yet frank narrative reveals never-before-told stories and explores both Schwartz's phenomenal hits and expensive flops. The book also includes a series of “Creativity Notes” with insights about artistic life, and more than 200 photographs and illustrations. I love musicals and Wicked is one of my favorites. I'll admit that I quickly skipped through the first half of the book to get to the section on the making of Wicked so this review is based on the sections on Wicked. And if the other sections of the book are as good as the section on Wicked, I'll definitely be returning to read those skipped sections. When I first received Defying Gravity in the mail I began to regret agreeing to review it because well, it looks like a textbook and with the index it is over 500 pages long. But I'm glad I did because honestly while it looks like a textbook, it reads nothing like one and the word that comes to mind to describe it is fantastical. Defying Gravity takes you not only into the inner workings of Wicked but into the inner workings of how any musical is put together. There's a new TV show called Smash that does the same thing and I just think it's fascinating. Carol describes in very easy to read and understand prose the entire journey of Wicked from its conception during a trip Stephen took to Hawaii, to drafting the music and book, to casting the incredible Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel as the best friends, to writing and rewriting, and finally to opening night on Broadway. I've seen Wicked five times now (including with the original cast) and know all of the music by heart so it was incredible for me to read where Stephen started with the original concept and how the team together made it into the incredible piece of art it is now. If you like Wicked or musicals in general this is a book you want to read. It's an easy but fascinating read and really gives you insight into Wicked and the musical creation process like no other book I've read. 5 stars.

  12. 4 out of 5

    John Kunich

    This is by far the finest book ever written about the creative process in musical theatre. Carol de Giere has done an enormous service for all composers, lyricists, playwrights, and theatre-lovers with this intimate and in-depth examination of how Stephen Schwartz brought some of the greatest musicals to life. If the book contained nothing more than the "Creativity Notes," it would still be worth ten times the retail price. These concise practical asides are overflowing with illuminating insight This is by far the finest book ever written about the creative process in musical theatre. Carol de Giere has done an enormous service for all composers, lyricists, playwrights, and theatre-lovers with this intimate and in-depth examination of how Stephen Schwartz brought some of the greatest musicals to life. If the book contained nothing more than the "Creativity Notes," it would still be worth ten times the retail price. These concise practical asides are overflowing with illuminating insights into how anyone can improve his or her artistic work. Ms. de Giere made me feel as if I had Stephen Schwartz right there in my home as my personal creative mentor, sharing his hard-won lessons learned from a remarkable lifetime in the theatre. As a playwright and composer/lyricist myself, I can testify that my own work has been immeasurably enriched from this input. Although the book rightly devotes much space to the unmatched "Wicked," I learned just as much from reading about Stephen's struggles with rejection and even failure. Every artist can find an "unlimited" trove of treasure here, in studying a career that spans the vast gaps from early fame to decades-long doldrums and all the way back to unprecedented triumph. In this magnificent book, Carol de Giere has changed us all for the better, and, yes, for good.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Digne

    I loved this book. It's very straight forward and easy to read. But for a Creative biography, as opposed to a straight biography, I really got a feeling of who Schwartz is as a person. I enjoyed his frank comments on the difficulties he has faced in his career. The epilogue is fantastic (although I know he later got his name on that wall). I've had this book for some time now and I've read bits of it before but this is the first time I have read it straight through. I felt that de Giere did a fine I loved this book. It's very straight forward and easy to read. But for a Creative biography, as opposed to a straight biography, I really got a feeling of who Schwartz is as a person. I enjoyed his frank comments on the difficulties he has faced in his career. The epilogue is fantastic (although I know he later got his name on that wall). I've had this book for some time now and I've read bits of it before but this is the first time I have read it straight through. I felt that de Giere did a fine job of tying together all the various projects into a compelling narrative. If the book has a fault it is that at times I felt de Giere was a little too partisan in Schwartz's camp. De Giere's case would have come across stronger had she adopted a more neutral tone at times (cut a lot of the adjectives). Even with minor flaws, this book is easily one of the 5 most enjoyable books I've read all year.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brent Ranalli

    I grew up with Godspell and Pippin, and only recently I was delighted to discover, thanks in part to this book, just how much additional writing and composing Stephen Schwartz has has done. The book is a little homely (I hope no one will take offense at this observation), written as it is by an emerging author who came to the project with no musical or theater background to speak of, as she herself acknowledges. But Stephen Schwartz is a perennial outsider himself, so why not? He has his own loy I grew up with Godspell and Pippin, and only recently I was delighted to discover, thanks in part to this book, just how much additional writing and composing Stephen Schwartz has has done. The book is a little homely (I hope no one will take offense at this observation), written as it is by an emerging author who came to the project with no musical or theater background to speak of, as she herself acknowledges. But Stephen Schwartz is a perennial outsider himself, so why not? He has his own loyal following, and if many of his fans are introduced to a love of musical theater by Wicked and this book, that is entirely to his and de Giere's credit. I enjoyed the inside view of Schwartz's creative process, including the stories behind some of my favorite songs, and the glimpses into the triumphs and heartbreaks in the life of this consummate artist.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nicki Markus

    This was a very interesting book. I bought it after seeing a Stephen Schwartz concert and he signed the book for me. I did find some of the better jokes/stories that are in the book were familiar because Stephen had talked of them in the concert but there was still plenty of new information and anecdotes to keep my interest. Particularly, I enjoyed the extensive section charting the process of creating "Wicked" and the section on "Baker's Wife", which is a show I am very fond of. What I liked mos This was a very interesting book. I bought it after seeing a Stephen Schwartz concert and he signed the book for me. I did find some of the better jokes/stories that are in the book were familiar because Stephen had talked of them in the concert but there was still plenty of new information and anecdotes to keep my interest. Particularly, I enjoyed the extensive section charting the process of creating "Wicked" and the section on "Baker's Wife", which is a show I am very fond of. What I liked most about this books was the fact that the author knew Stephen and had written it with this warm openess, as opposed to some biographies that just come across as dry and factual with no life. Worth reading for fans of Stephen's work.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    I'm amused by the fact that WICKED tix are going on sale the day I get to the part where Stephen starts writing WICKED! A friend who had read an early draft of my own musical sent me Maguire's book around the time Schwartz aquired the rights... so I feel like we're kindred spirits. This is a great learning experience for me! I'm amused by the fact that WICKED tix are going on sale the day I get to the part where Stephen starts writing WICKED! A friend who had read an early draft of my own musical sent me Maguire's book around the time Schwartz aquired the rights... so I feel like we're kindred spirits. This is a great learning experience for me!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Garry

    Great book - I loved it! I enjoyed getting the insider look at the creative career of Stephen Schwartz. If you're familiar with his work, you'll appreciate learning behind-the-scenes information directly from the source (for me, the Wicked section was especially enjoyable). It is inspirational, informative, and a valuable resource for me. It’s well written, enjoyable and I revisit it often. Great book - I loved it! I enjoyed getting the insider look at the creative career of Stephen Schwartz. If you're familiar with his work, you'll appreciate learning behind-the-scenes information directly from the source (for me, the Wicked section was especially enjoyable). It is inspirational, informative, and a valuable resource for me. It’s well written, enjoyable and I revisit it often.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Randee

    I really shouldn't rate this as I am not interested in such detailed analysis of composing though I certainly had no idea of the complexity involved in writing for Broadway or movies. I read it to see how many references were made to Carnegie Mellon and to people I might have known. How I loved those years and having "dramat" roommates and friends. I really shouldn't rate this as I am not interested in such detailed analysis of composing though I certainly had no idea of the complexity involved in writing for Broadway or movies. I read it to see how many references were made to Carnegie Mellon and to people I might have known. How I loved those years and having "dramat" roommates and friends.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Not a page turner (unless you are a major theater geek). BUT if you are involved in any of Schwartz' shows, it's a must-read to have a better understanding of the context of his work. I read it while directing Godspell, and found it invaluable. I shared some passages with the cast, who really appreciated it too. Not a page turner (unless you are a major theater geek). BUT if you are involved in any of Schwartz' shows, it's a must-read to have a better understanding of the context of his work. I read it while directing Godspell, and found it invaluable. I shared some passages with the cast, who really appreciated it too.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    I love theater.. .and this book gives me a better idea of the luck and pluck that it takes to make it at a professional level... I can live vicarioulsy through the story of others.... If you have any interest in theater and how it is made.. or what it took to get some of my favorite shows up and running (Godspell, Pippin, Wicked....) then by all means, read it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeff J.

    An ambitious attempt at a biography of Stephen Schwartz, written with the cooperation of the author. Definitely paints a positive picture of the composer, but for all I know it's warranted. It gives a real sense of how collaborative the creation of a Broadway musical is, with over half the book detailing the evolution of Wicked to stage. An ambitious attempt at a biography of Stephen Schwartz, written with the cooperation of the author. Definitely paints a positive picture of the composer, but for all I know it's warranted. It gives a real sense of how collaborative the creation of a Broadway musical is, with over half the book detailing the evolution of Wicked to stage.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Wonderful book - so much detail and insight. It gives you a front row seat on the ride that this show took from conception to production. A beautifully organized recollection of a fascinating story. Great for any theater fan!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cerredwyn Horrigan

    de Giere takes us on a journey through the creative life of Stephen Schwartz. Her skilled writing makes the trip extremely enjoyable as we learn about Godspell, Pippin, and Wicked. The creative notes alone are worth the cost of the book for anyone involved in the Arts, be it writing or theatre.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This was an interesting read- but, to me, read more like a textbook than a memoir. Super-interested in the content, esp the info about The Baker's Wife, Pippin, etc. but just didn't love the flow of the book. This was an interesting read- but, to me, read more like a textbook than a memoir. Super-interested in the content, esp the info about The Baker's Wife, Pippin, etc. but just didn't love the flow of the book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rod

    For Theatre Geeks only. If you have seen Wicked more than 5 times. This book is for you. Love it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Edward Moreau

    excellent; very entertaining

  27. 4 out of 5

    Scott W.

    Just read the parts dealing with Godspell, it was very informative.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlyn

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chad Lawson

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

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