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Wicked: A Musical Biography
Wicked: A Musical Biography
by Paul R. Laird
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $44.00
37 used & new from $5.51

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laird Accomplishes a WICKED Task, August 5, 2011
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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.

The Wicked Truth
The Wicked Truth
by Suzanne Ross
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.95
45 used & new from $0.09

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ross' vision of WICKED is exciting and frightening, June 18, 2009
This review is from: The Wicked Truth (Paperback)
When I first heard about Suzanne Ross' book THE WICKED TRUTH: WHEN GOOD PEOPLE DO BAD THINGS, I had to purchase it immediately. As both a huge fan of WICKED and someone who is sociologically minded, I wanted to read this book as soon as possible. I must admit that this book is both fascinating and chilling - and it's a good read.

Relying heavily on Rene Girard's work on violence, Ross examines the musical WICKED in a socio-political context. Her interpretation of the dangers of society creating a scapegoat (as seen in the treatment - or mistreatment - of Elphaba in WICKED) and focusing attention on Myth rather than Truth is indeed compelling. The book is organized based on the scenes/songs of the musical, and thus follows the musical from beginning to end. This allows the reader to "experience" the show while learning deep lessons about events that happen throughout the show.

Please note that this book contains spoilers, so if you don't want certain surprises exposed, wait until you've seen the show before reading!

THE WICKED TRUTH reveals the Truth hidden in the story of WICKED. The lessons learned in this book can be applied to other works of fiction and, frighteningly enough, real life events. If you love WICKED and want to understand some of the implications of its story, by all means read this brilliant book. You will not be disappointed!

Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked
Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked
by Carol de Giere
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.28
76 used & new from $2.57

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars De Giere weaves together Schwartz's musical life and leaves you spellbound!, May 19, 2009
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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 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!

Frankenstein - A New Musical
Frankenstein - A New Musical

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful work of musical theatre, September 2, 2008
I had the pleasure of seeing this show Off-Broadway at 37Arts. I knew some of the score from the Workshop production (the cast recording of which is hard to come by these days) prior to seeing the show, but didn't know what to expect with this production. Little did I know that I would fall head-over-heels for the cast, the music, and the design of this show.

Of course, this new recording (featuring the entire cast from 37Arts minus Eric Michael Gillett - who is replaced by the splendid Richard White) doesn't SHOW anyone the design or staging of the show...but it manages to capture 74 minutes of the 95 minute show perfectly!

The cast includes Hunter Foster (URINETOWN, THE PRODUCERS), Steve Blanchard (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST), and Christiane Noll (JEKYLL & HYDE). I won't go into detail about these wonderful performers, but I will say that each gives a truly unique and powerful performance. Foster's "Birth to My Creation" and "The Coming of the Dawn" are more than worth the price of the CD (or download). Blanchard's savage "The Waking Nightmare" and haunting "These Hands" show a tortured Creature worthy of pity. Noll's beautiful voice and presence deserve a standing ovation, especially on "Dear Victor" and "The Workings of the Heart." Also a standout is Jim Stanek (LESTAT), particularly in "The Modern Prometheus."

The orchestrations are not the "biggest," but that lends to the show's intimacy. The recording is perfectly engineered and produced.

If anyone were to make the perfect cast recording of a fantastic musical, this would be it!

Gone Missing
Gone Missing
Price: $14.02
25 used & new from $7.92

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short but sweet, June 30, 2008
This review is from: Gone Missing (Audio CD)
Running less than 20 minutes, GONE MISSING (by the theatre group THE CIVILIANS) may seem a bit short for musical theatre lovers. But it's certainly worth the listen. Clever lyrics, fun and very moving music, and a talented cast come together on this CD to show us who or what "goes missing" and how this affects people. Especially beautiful is "Lost Horizon," sung flawlessly Robbie Collier Sublett.

Bright Lights, Big City
Bright Lights, Big City
Price: $14.85
42 used & new from $3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best musical scores I've heard in a long time, June 30, 2008
This review is from: Bright Lights, Big City (Audio CD)
Not only does this recording feature an all-star Broadway cast - Patrick Wilson (The Full Monty, Oklahoma), Jesse L. Martin (Rent), Eden Espinosa (Wicked, Brooklyn, Rent), Sherie Renee Scott (Aida, Rent, The Last Five Years), just to name a few - but it preserves one of the best musical theatre scores in recent years. A contemporary rock score sung by some of Broadway's finest, BRIGHT LIGHTS offers a look at sex and drugs in 1984 without getting sappy or dated. This recording is a must for any fan of RENT, BARE, SPRING AWAKENING, or other rock-flavored musical.

Adding Machine: A Musical
Adding Machine: A Musical
Price: $14.99
23 used & new from $4.95

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-have for any fan of intelligent musical theatre!, June 10, 2008
When I first heard about ADDING MACHINE, I felt the need to purchase the cast recording. Little did I know that the score is disturbingly lovely and the performances are brilliant. The subject matter is dark and somewhat twisted - I must confess, I am usually attracted to such storylines, and here is no different. The score is just as dark but manages to be touching and heartwarming at times. Particularly noteworthy - at least, for my own personal tastes - are the songs "Zero's Confession," "The Gospel According to Shrdlu," and "Daisy's Confession." Overall, the show is both smart, striking, and beautiful. This recording is certainly a must for any serious theatre lover.

In The Heights (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
In The Heights (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Price: $13.89
93 used & new from $13.89

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous, spicy, and magical!, June 3, 2008
I had the pleasure of seeing IN THE HEIGHTS twice during its Off-Broadway run at 37 Arts in 2007. Now, the show is on Broadway, and the beautiful, heart-warming score is preserved for the ages on this glorious cast recording. Lin-Manuel Miranda - both the lyricist/composer and star of the show - is a musical genius, both onstage and off. He has created something unique, a show that uses musical styles seldom heard on Broadway. Latin rhythms combine with more traditional "show tune" music in a perfect blend. And the cast is absolutely wonderful, especially Mandy Gonzalez, Christopher Jackson, Andrea Burns, Robin de Jesus, Karen Olivo, and Olga Meridez. If you love Broadway and crave something new and entertaining, this show is for you!

Turning Me Loose
Turning Me Loose
Price: $8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing, fun, and brilliant!, April 10, 2008
This review is from: Turning Me Loose (MP3 Music)
It's a relief to know that artists like Erik DiNardo exist in the world today. Not only are his songs fun, touching, and heartwarming, but his music falls into a category all its own - not quite rock, not quite pop, not predictable like John Mayer, smart and sensitive like Jason Mraz and the Goo Goo Dolls. DiNardo's songs are about love, personal experiences, heartbreak, and finding the right person; however, never are his songs cheesy or typical. His voice is sweet and sexy. His melodies range from light and fluffy to somber. Although some songs stand out - "Ms. Serendipity," "Girl Next Door," "Smile," and "Rearrange" come to mind - it's hard not to listen to the entire album in one sitting. The whole CD is a masterpiece in a world ruled by pop-princesses, American Idols, Disney, and other processed music. Thank heaven for Erik DiNardo!

Wicked 4 Kids
Wicked 4 Kids
Price: $13.74
37 used & new from $0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pathetic attempt at recording the show, February 28, 2008
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This review is from: Wicked 4 Kids (Audio CD)
I own many recordings of the score, including several karaoke versions and non-professional versions. This is by far the worst recording of the score. Then again, it's made specifically "4 KIDS," so one shouldn't expect it to appeal to a broader audience. There are indeed kids singing the songs and, most annoyingly, they join in the chorus sections of most of the songs (including "Defying Gravity," which they ruin) we have normally-solo lines sung by a gaggle of children. It's not fun. Anyway, ONLY buy this if you don't mind being disappointed AND if you're a hardcore WICKED fan. Don't expect anything special.

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