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Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked Paperback – September 1, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557837457
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557837455
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #576,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carol de Giere, M.A., M.S., is the author of "Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked" and "The Godspell Experience: Inside a Transformative Musical." Both books are based on her extensive interviews with Stephen Schwartz, cast members, and others involved with making musicals. Carol is also the editor of "The Schwartz Scene" ezine/newsletter and the Musical Writerzine newsletter. www.caroldegiere.com

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Gary Chartrand on October 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
For decades, I have been fascinated by Broadway musicals and Broadway music, even though my occupation has nothing to do with the field of entertainment. However, it does deal with creativity. I think this is part of the reason I was drawn to the work of such composers and lyricists as Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gershwin, Kern, Porter, Lerner and Loewe, and Sondheim. I have read everything I could get my hands on about this individuals and others. What in their background led them to this occupation? What led them to become so successful?

Stephen Schwartz is a member of the current generation of Broadway composers and lyricists. Probably because there are so few opportunities for individuals with this talent and desire, each generation produces a very small number of successful composers and lyricists. In his case, Schwartz is both a composer and lyricist. Anyone with an interest in show music will have his or her favorite shows and favorite songs. Schwartz is the composer-lyricist of WICKED, my favorite of his shows and an amazing accomplishment. He wrote the lyrics to the songs from Disney's HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (and the German stage production of it) and to the song "If I Never You" from POCAHONTAS, also bordering on masterpieces in my opinion.

The author of this marvelous book is Carol de Giere. This book is not only extremely interesting to read, the author has capured the story of the steps along the path that led Schwartz from childhood to where he is today. This includes such great successes for someone so very young to great diappointments and how he handled them. We are left with an extraordinarily talented artist who received encouragement when he needed it and possessing an abundance of self-confidence.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. H. Horrigan on November 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
It is rare to find a biography written so well that you don't want to put it down, with characters so vivid they live in your head when you do manage to briefly walk away. For anyone interested in the crafting of words and music, there is much to learn here. Carol de Giere describes in depth, not only Stephen Schwartz's work, but how he works. You need not come to this book a Schwartz fan, but you will probably be one when you finish it. I can not recommend Defying Gravity highly enough, particularly for anyone interested in music, writing, and theatre.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By jomama on February 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
While I was working with Kristin Chenoweth on her memoir, A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages, I read "Defying Gravity" as part of my research, and I absolutely loved it. The creative genius of Stephen Schwartz is a force of nature and helped make Kristin a Broadway icon.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bettie S. Laven on October 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
I read this book in one weekend. I was astounded by the creativity, both on Mr. Schwartz's part and on the author's. Quite a complicated task to present the creative process, and I think Ms. deGiere gives us a clear and interesting view. For people with talent, this book can provide inspiration. For people who admire and enjoy such talent, this book is a real treat. Buy it and be in awe of Stephen Schwartz's great gifts.
Bettie S. Laven, Oakland, CA
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Morgan L. Thornburgh on October 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
Carol de Giere delivers an Amazing analysis of Stephen Schwartz. No one has done this, and de Giere's analysis is fascinating.

She talks about "Godspell,", and "Pippin," and "The Magic Show," and "The Baker's Wife", and "Working," and "Rags", and finally, and most importantly, de Giere spills the whole story of "Wicked." And she tells amazing backstage stuff. She was actually there.

Buy the book. It's amazing.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Todd on January 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
I had really been looking forward to reading this book, and was thrilled to be able to get a few copies directly from the author that were autographed by both the author and Stephen Schwartz. The book exceeded all of my expectations. I only knew about a couple of his musicals, but Carol covered them all.
I also had no idea the amount of group effort that can go into writing and producing a musical for Broadway. My respect for Mr. Schwartz has greatly increased with reading this amazing book.
It was also fascinating to get a look into the inner workings of Mr. Schwartz's writing process.
If anyone wants too get an insiders look at not only Stephen Schwartz's musical and creative career, but also of the process of creating and producing musicals, I heartily recommend this book!
Good job Carol!!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By W. Alexander on October 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
For anyone who has ever seen a Stephen Schwartz musical or heard a Schwartz film song or soundtrack, this book is a must! Brilliantly executed, it proceeds with all the impact of a much-loved novel.

Sometimes, going behind the scenes to see the nuts and bolts of the creative process examined and revealed, takes away from the effect of the final work itself. Not in this case...Carol de Giere's engrossing biography is a page-turner which only adds to the magic.

Almost impossible to put down, this book must be one of the best ever written about working in theater and film. A fascinating subject, profoundly portrayed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steven J. Solomon on December 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
I purchased Defying Gravity already a devoted Stephen Schwartz fan, and knew that I would enjoy learning more about his career. The author, Carol de Giere, does a masterful job providing the reader with two books in one.

There is the Schwartz biography which takes the reader from his youth to the hit Godspell straight through to WICKED. Quotes from Schwartz and others involved in the various productions (and his life) were open, and insightful. Book two is the how WICKED was developed, tried out in San Francisco, tweaked and opened on Broadway. As a reader of many books on theater, I think de Giere does a wonderful job of capturing how a musical is produced, in a very effective approach, and frankly a way I have not seen before. Her approach was straightforward, which was strongly supported by the candor and honesty of Schwartz and others involved in the creation of WICKED. This section of the book is not sugar-coated, and provides readers with one of the most realistic accounts of how musicals are produced. I thoroughly enjoyed both sections of the book and highly recommend it to everyone!

This book is perfect for the theater lovers, fans of Schwartz's and his music, fans of WICKED, anyone interested in going into theater, and especially those who are want to understand how musicals are created. This is a must-have for all musical theater fans!
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