Paul R. Laird Wicked: A Musical Biography

ISBN 13: 9780810877511

Wicked: A Musical Biography

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9780810877511: Wicked: A Musical Biography

In 2004, the original Broadway production of Wicked earned 10 Tony nominations, including best musical. Based on the best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire, the show continues to run on Broadway and has touring companies throughout the United States and around the world. In Wicked: A Musical Biography, author Paul Laird explores the creation of this popular Broadway musical through an examination of draft scripts, interviews with major figures, and the study of primary musical sources such as sketches, drafts, and completed musical scores.

Laird brings together an impressive amount of detail on the creation of Wicked, including a look at Maguire's novel, as well as the original source material, The Wizard of Oz. This volume also offers a history of the show's genesis along with examinations of the draft scenarios and scripts that demonstrate the show's development. Laird also explores Stephen Schwartz's life and work, providing an analysis of the composer and lyricist's work on the show through song drafts, sketches, and musical examples.

Laird also surveys the show's critical reception in New York and London, noting how many critics failed to appreciate its qualities or anticipate its great success. The unusual nature of Wicked's story—dominated by two strong female leads—is also placed in the context of Broadway history. A unique look into a successful Broadway production, Wicked: A Musical Biography will be of interest to musicologists, theatre scholars, students, and general readers alike.

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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).


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)

The impetus for Paul Laird’s book came from his fortuitous meeting with composer Stephen Schwartz at an academic conference in 2004 and was further fueled by witnessing the fervent responses of young women and girls in Wicked’s audiences. Schwartz provided generous access to his office, manuscripts, and papers, and Laird was able to speak at length with the composer and most of his collaborators on multiple occasions. It is fair to say that few scholars of any musical styles, especially commercial genres, have had such unfettered access to the sources of a living composer at the height of his career. This is . . . a strength of the book. (Journal of the Society for American Music)

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