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Wicked: A Musical Biography Hardcover – June 24, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0810877511 ISBN-10: 0810877511 Edition: Reprint
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Frequently Bought Together

Wicked: A Musical Biography + Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked + A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages
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Editorial Reviews


This book is a bonanza for those students interested in the step-by-step development of theatrical ventures. They will be gratified and instructed by the creative processes highlighted here. This work is an education. The success of such research ventures rely on the availability of written literary and musical scores source materials, most important of which is the memories of the creative personnel. The author has done well by his sources. Less scientific-oriented musical theater lovers will also enjoy and profit from this work.
(American Reference Books Annual)

About the Author

Paul R. Laird is professor of Musicology at the University of Kansas, where he teaches courses in music history, musical theater, and directs the Instrumental Collegium Musicum. He is the author of The Baroque Cello Revival: An Oral History (Scarecrow, 2004) and coauthor of Historical Dictionary of the Broadway Musical (Scarecrow, 2007).

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Scarecrow Press; Reprint edition (June 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810877511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810877511
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,358,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Kuczewski on August 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In WICKED: A MUSICAL BIOGRAPHY, Paul Laird sets out to examine the musical WICKED, the Stephen Schwartz/Winnie Holzman Broadway hit that has gone on to win awards and play to countless audiences worldwide. Laird is clear in what he wants to accomplish in this book: this is not merely a recollection of the creative process behind the blockbuster musical but, rather, a thorough examination of the musical's score and orchestration. Of course, Laird does recall the creation of the show (something that has been already examined in Carol de Giere's comprehensive and thorough DEFYING GRAVITY: THE CREATIVE CAREER OF STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, FROM 'GODSPELL' TO 'WICKED' and David Cote's coffee table book WICKED: THE GRIMMERIE, both of which are certainly worthy of a read); his main focus is not on the people behind the show but on the music and, to some extent, lyrics and book of the show.

Laird reviews several different versions of the score and libretto of WICKED, including the very first draft of the script from 2001. It is striking to see the similarities and differences between these earlier versions of the show and the finalized version currently playing on Broadway. Laird also delves into the orchestrations of William David Brohn, which definitely give even greater weight to WICKED's already enchanting score. Laird's approach is both scholarly and enjoyable. He definitely uses a great deal of musical terminology (and rightly so), so for those readers who are not too sharp on these terms, I would highly recommend using the internet to look them up.

It would have been nice to have a detailed analysis of the book and lyrics, but I guess you can't have everything. Besides, Laird does not specifically set out to explore the book and lyrics of the show. All in all, WICKED: A MUSICAL BIOGRAPHY is a must for any WICKED fan or for anybody interested in musical theatre.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful By K. Vancko on March 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This reads like a middle school student's term paper and would probably receive a C at best. He spends almost all his time a. Telling you what he's going to say, b. Telling you what he just said, or c. quoting two of the GREAT books about Wicked and Stephen Schwartz. Occasionally, he tries to say something himself, but it's normally something vague like talking about how the song Wonderful changed more than any other after Wicked's opening night, but not giving ANY SPECIFICS. This book sucks.

There are a couple interesting things (like different song lists, scripts, etc.), but I can't believe I wasted any money or time on this horrible book about one of my favorite Broadway shows of all time.
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