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Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked eBook Kindle
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This is a fantastic book about Stephen Schwartz career, extensively detailed and packed with a huge variety of information. There is also a significant number of photographs, some of them not easy to find in other sources (they are black and white in printed version, but they can be seen in full color in the digital format version). Although this book brings a lot of data on Schwartz personal life, it is not a standard biography, since the primary concern of the author was to adequately describe and analyze Schwartz cultural production over the last decades. The process involved in the creation, conception and execution of each artistic work is fully presented, ever since his first projects (such as Pippin and Godspell), with notes on authorship, partnership, song and lyric writing and necessary improvements and changes along the way to its final stage version. The first chapters are about Schwartz’s childhood and college years, together with the creation of Pippin and Godspell and the lyrics for Bernstein’s Mass. After that, there are chapters on The Magic Show, The Bakers Wife, Working (1 chapter for each show) and some “smaller” productions. Next, it is time for the animated cartoons, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Prince of Egypt (and the contend that took him off Disney’s Mulan, even after going on a field trip to China in preparation for working on this project). By reading these chapters, I notice how often religious themes are present in Schwartz’s works (Godspell, Mass, Children of Eden, Prince of Egypt), and I got surprised in reading that is was entirely unintentional. The most comprehensive section of the book is dedicated to Schwartz biggest hit: Wicked. There are fifteen chapters only about this show – which is a delight to fans. Details are given on:
- the very first moment when Schwartz came up with the idea of turning Maguire’s book into a musical while riding a boat;
- all the way through obtaining the rights and funds for the musical;
the process of writing songs and sharing comments and ideas about lyrics and libretto with Winnie Holzman;
- the choice of the right colleagues and actors to work with (and all the struggles Schwartz had to face with his creative team along the process of putting on the show – actually, something recurrent in his career);
- the first readings and rehearsals;
- the San Francisco try-out and, finally, Broadway opening, followed by the show immediate success.
I got interested in this book by now because I am Brazilian, and two official Schwartz’s musical productions are currently on show in my city, both fully translated into Portuguese – Wicked and Godspell. Reading this book before and after attending those shows gave me a more in-depth understanding of them and so I would recommend it to all theater lovers, in Brazil or anywhere else!
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The last section on Wicked goes through the whole creative process of what is going to probably be the most successful musical of all time. A must for budding musical theater writers.
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!
This book is a musical theatre cornucopia.
Not content to merely recount events, the inclusion of Creative Notes throughout is a bit like a Masterclass of creativity...not just about musical composition but offers "doorways" to unlock all kinds of creativity. Schwartz himself is an inspiration of course...his unwavering talent which has developed through the decades and also his creative angsts (shared by creatives everywhere) is a great struggle and Schwartz one of its finest exponents...one of my favoudite books EVER!