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Stephen Schwartz biography Defying Gravity Defying Gravity Stephen Schwartz biography coverArticles and Reviews

Defying Gravity Schwartz biography Reviews

...the mind, heart and soul of Stephen Schwartz

Ms. de Giere has done a masterful job of entering into the mind, heart and soul of Stephen Schwartz in learning to understand his creative and collaborative processes. She has structured her insights with a wonderful dramatic arc - early successes, troubled middle career, recent acclaim amid some continuing travail and disappointment. The resulting book is a gift to fans of musical theater and to students of creativity... Al Chase - White Rhinoreport Blog

...makes fascinating reading.

Yes, she covers the creative career of Stephen Schwartz, but in the process she does something much greater. Here is a book that explains just why it is so hard to make a musical – what “collaboration” actually means over the months and years that it takes to carry a concept from brainstorm to curtain call. Read full review at: DC Theatre Scene - Defying Gravity review by Brad Hathaway

"Buy it...GIVE it!!!!!"

"This is a fantastic book, scrapbook, story and photo collection....The author has a tremendous sense of respect and admiration and celebration for Schwartz and the subject still LOVES what he does--politics and all. There's a lot of "craft" in this book--which I loved--and GREAT pix. Buy it. GIVE it!!!!!" --Naomi Plume, 2008 Book Roundup

"Not just a he-did-this-then-he-did-this biography"

"'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. There were turbulent roads ('The Baker's Wife' was particularly rocky) and there are many moments of inspiration. Along the way, de Giere sprinkles in insight from the composer-lyricist, peppering the narrative with archival photos and quotes from dozens of interviews...." --The Journal News, The 'Wicked' Process, November 8, 2008, by Peter D. Kramer

"A must-have for fans"

"Carol de Giere's Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz from Godspell to Wicked isn't just about these two shows, although a remarkable 152 pages (out of 535) are dedicated to the current hit Broadway show. De Giere seamlessly interweaves details about Schwartz's personal life with accounts of the creative process of all of his musicals, plus such animated films as Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The book also includes several full-page photographs and copies of Schwartz's original hand-written music, making it a must-have for any of the composer's many fans." -- Zachary Stewart, December 2008, theatre books,

Insightfully charts journey

"The first authorized biography of the Broadway composer-lyricist insightfully charts his flower-power youth, resilient maturity, hits (Pippin) and flops (Working). Most fascinating: how Wicked overcame pitfalls to become a Broadway blockbuster." --Michael Grossberg, The Columbus Dispatch

"A nifty look at the career of Stephen Schwartz"

"Wicked is discussed in great detail in Defying Gravity (Applause, $24.95) Carol di Giere’s nifty look at the career of Stephen Schwartz....Books like this usually lionize the hits (and Schwartz had had them via Godspell, Pippin, and The Magic Show) and always give short shrift and excuses for the flops (and Schwartz has had THEM, via The Baker’s Wife, Working, and Children of Eden), so give di Giere credit for creating a greater balance than one usually sees. Considering that this is a trade paperback, this is one handsome book, with a lot of white space to make for an enjoyable reading experience. It should be pretty populer — uh, lar." -- Peter Filichia for his December 10, 2008 column at

Fascinating...."Defying Gravity" is a winner.

Schwartz is the subject of a fascinating new book, “Defying Gravity,” by Carol De Giere (Applause Theater & Cinema Books, 2008). Unlike many showbiz biographies, this one gives more than equal time to the process of bringing Schwartz’s many theatrical productions to life, and the very long uphill struggle he has had to win acceptance in the Broadway world....The book is filled with Schwartz’s reminiscences. De Giere includes anecdotes and comments from 100 different collaborators and colleagues who demonstrate that theatrical success is often a long and arduous road.  De Giere’s writing is clear and concise, and the beautifully designed, large-format paperback has dozens of photographs, as well as numerous examples of Schwartz’s lyrics, both in early drafts and in their final versions. For anyone who aims to peer behind the proscenium,  “Defying Gravity” is a winner. -- Donald Sosin, The Lakeville Journal and other papers in Northwestern CT June 11, 2009

"An exceptionally readable and visually appealing tome"

Carol de Giere's deluxe and comprehensive soft-cover book delves into the creative process of this musical genius and is a must-read for anyone interested in musical theatre.  Compiled from interviews, mostly first hand, that she conducted from 2000-2008, "Defying Gravity" defies the boundaries of conventional showbiz biographies and backstage narratives.  It actually puts the reader into a one-on-one conversation with a man who has counted more than his share of commercial successes, creative disappointments and outright failures.  One gets the sense of wonder as Ms. de Giere attempts to pinpoint the exact inspiration for a memorable lyric, the prestige of being invited into the hallowed sanctum of the "Wicked" recording session, and the honor of being grafted into the inner workings of the artistic mindset.....

Not only does author Carol de Gire give us a carefully researched and thought-provoking account of this extraordinary talent, she organizes and assimilates her source into an exceptionally readable and visually appealing tome.  Her chapters are nicely annotated with "creativity notes" capturing quotes from Schwartz and his collaborators that shed further light on the work at hand.  Generous black and white photography informs both the backstage process and onstage results.  And the book is studded with lyrics, working notes and original music sheets to give us a full and rich picture of the art of making art. --Joe Stead, Steadstyle Chicago, a Chicago theatre review site, June 2009: Full review of Stephen Schwartz biography Defying Gravity

"Then came "Wicked" and here's where author de Giere hits her stride."

ARTICLE/REVIEW - The Hour, November 9, 2008, by David Rosenberg

De Giere...illuminates not only Schwartz but the creative process. Working professionals, general readers and anyone who loves musicals will be enriched. Before "Wicked," Schwartz had four flops in a row....Then came "Wicked" and here's where author de Giere hits her stride. In more than 150 pages, she tells of the twisting path that brought Schwartz through the initial idea to determining plot and characters, to tryouts, conflicts, revisions and opening of the giant hit now in its fifth year. And, of course, we learn a great deal about writing songs. The Hour - Author/Composer "Defying Gravity" -- The Man Behind the Curtain

"Consistently impressed..."

AMERICAN THEATER WEB - November 6, 2008 - Andy Propst (who in July 2009 moved on to

"...I've only gotten up to the point where Schwartz is about to begin work on the troubled musical The Baker's Wife, but I have been consistently impressed so far with De Giere's research, and the obvious access she's had to Schwartz. The book is filled with fascinating insights and quotes – even about such things as his collaboration with Leonard Bernstein on "The Mass" which opened the Kennedy Center....

Applause, Applause...

From Playbill's January 2009 National Edition:

Let’s give it up for Applause Books for just putting on book shelves a couple of real winners—Oscar winners, in fact, and both distinguished the stage: Rage and Glory: The Volatile Life and Career of George C. Scott by Backstage’s David Sheward and Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz from Godspell to Wicked by Carol de Giere. Smart titles, both. Sheward darkly explores those two twin forces that sent Scott careening through his career, an alcoholic at peace only with his art, and de Giere chronicles the songwriter’s journey from flower power to witchcraft.

"I was allowed into Schwartz’s life and into his head."

By Sophie Bruhn who attended a Stephen Schwartz concert in Australia:

...Defying Gravity delighted me. I was allowed into Schwartz’s life and into his head. The book doesn’t squirm away from hairy details, rough patches or failures, and because of this, makes Schwartz seem inherently human. Even though I was lucky enough to meet and chat with... Schwartz post show, I feel like I got more of an idea about the kind of person he is from the book than I did actually talking to him and hearing him talk about his work.

"Will appeal to a wider range of readers than just Schwartz fans"

...De Giere has written Defying Gravity in such a way that it will appeal to a wider range of readers than just Schwartz fans, although that category alone is legion....I especially like the Creativity Notes, separate commentaries in which Schwartz offers insights, humor or painful lessons from the experience of getting a show to the stage. These are worthy reading for any theatre professional.

Rhetta Blaney's Life Upon the Sacred Stage blog

Could be the basis of a "very interesting movie."

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. ... 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. Look for the review after the book blurb here: Doll Brooke blog review of Defying Gravity

An engaging, conversational tone

Over 80 hours of interviews with Schwartz, 100 hours of interviews with his friends and family, and over 200 photographs and illustrations give de Giere’s narrative an engaging, conversational tone, with many passages directly from Schwartz himself.  DEFYING GRAVITY is a must for any Schwartz fan – and for anyone interested in modern musical theatre. -- MTI Marquee blog review by Kath.

The Entire Journey of Wicked... a fascinating read

Posted 3/6/2012 in honor of Stephen Schwartz's birthday, a Book Nook Club reviewer has written a nice review focused on the Wicked section of Defying Gravity. She's also doing a give-away of the book.. Book Nook Club

A DISNEY-FOCUSED REVIEW - October 1st - Jim Hill

"Defying Gravity" details Stephen Schwartz's sometimes difficult dealings with the Walt Disney Company

Jim Hill, a popular Disney/Entertainment Industry Blogger, has posted a review at

He concludes:

if you're a Disney animation fan and/or a Broadway buff, there's lots of great stuff to be found in "Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz from Godspell to Wicked." Everything from photos of the notes that Schwartz took as he was getting ready to write "Colors of the Wind" (Here's a few words that rhyme with "Wind" that Stephen didn't wind up using: thinned, unpinned and chagrinned) as well as his initial story pass on the musical version of "Wicked" (Which is significantly different from the version that's appearing on Broadway right now).

So if you're up for reading a biography that's surprisingly plain spoken when it comes to discussing how some of your favorite films & shows actually came into being, then I urge you to pick up a copy of Carol de Giere's "Defying Gravity."


Local Writer Captures the Creative Talent of Composer Stephen Schwartz

RIDGEFIELD -- Carol de Giere was a freelance writer with a desire to learn how the creative process manifests itself in extremely talented people and how those people reach great heights of success... Danbury News Times "Local Writer captures the creative talent of composer Stephen Schwartz," Sept. 2009.

Author Times Broadway Bio Perfectly

Sometimes timing is everything. For instance, Madison native Carol de Giere decided to try to write a book about the Broadway musical composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz right about the time Schwartz was plotting his Broadway comeback with "Wicked." article Sept 25, 2008, "Author Times Broadway Bio Perfectly."

There's No Place Like Home: Wicked Returns to San Francisco

This article mentions Defying Gravity and quotes Carol de Giere. We've been given permission to reprint it here. There's No Place Like Home

Selected Print Reviews

December 2008 issue of Cabaret Scenes Magazine

December 2008/January 2009 issue of Musicals: Das MusicalMagazin (German)

January 2009 issue of Dramatics Magazine

February 2010 American Theatre