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

Carol de Giere
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2008
(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." - "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." -

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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5.0 out of 5 stars de Giere's Defying Gravity defies comparison June 15 2009
Author Carol de Giere's wonderfully detailed, exhaustively researched book "Defying Gravity" perfectly captures both the career and the life of musical theatre giant Stephen Schwartz.
Schwartz's work is thoroughly explored from smash hits like GODSPELL, PIPPIN and WICKED, as well as shows that initially flopped but eventually found their footing thanks to the composer and his collaborator's diligent refining, including CHILDREN OF EDEN, WORKING and THE BAKER's WIFE. An especially unique aspect of the book is the use of "Creative Notes" throughout, giving the reader insight and advice on navigating the challenges of the writing for the theatre. A fair chunk of the book is dedicated to WICKED providing readers with a truly detailed account of the show from the initial idea for the musical through its enormous success as a world-wide phenomenon. Additionally, there are fantastic photos, not only of Schwartz's productions but also shots from his life dating back to his childhood thru more recent times. As well, the book has many "extras" such as the making of the cast recording of WICKED and the specific musical influences on each number in the score of GODSPELL. This is a MUST HAVE for both Schwartz fanatics as well as anyone interested in musical theatre and how it's made.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  40 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvelous book Oct. 13 2008
By Gary Chartrand - Published on
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.

There have been many movies in the past about composers (including Rodgers and Hart, Kern, Gershwin, and Porter). As I read this book, I thought: This book would make a good basis for a very interesting movie. For those individuals interested in Broadway, Broadway musicals and the people who create them (and creative people in general), I highly recommend this book and compliment the author.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kudos to de Giere and Schwartz Nov. 5 2009
By C. H. Horrigan - Published on
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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful journey with an amazing artist Feb. 28 2009
By Joni L. Rodgers - Published on
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding Creativity Oct. 19 2008
By Bettie S. Laven - Published on
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
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Analysis... Oct. 4 2008
By Morgan L. Thornburgh - Published on
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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