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In the Room: Writing Wicked

Episode 41
Writing Wicked with Stephen Schwartz & Winnie Holzman

Composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz and librettist Winnie Holzman discuss their collaborative journey down the yellow brick road; from stumbling upon Gregory Maguire’s imaginative novel, Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West to developing this incredibly complex story into a mega Broadway musical hit.

Extended Version Play Episode 41


Playwright, Screenwriter, Actress

Winnie Holzman is the writer (with acclaimed songwriter Stephen Schwartz) of the international hit musical Wicked. For television she created My SoCalled Life, which starred Claire Danes. Ms. Holzman got her start performing and writing in a comedy group, and writing syndicated comedy sketches for Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. Her big break came when she was invited by Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick to join the writing staff of their groundbreaking TV series thirtysomething. Her work on that show earned her a WGA nomination and a Humanitas Prize. She went on to work with Herskovitz and Zwick again, first on My So-Called Life, and later on Once and Again, starring Sela Ward. More recently she created the short-lived but well-loved ABC Family series Huge with her daughter, Savannah Dooley. Ms. Holzman’s less well known musicals (with composer David Evans) include Birds of Paradise, Back to Back, and Maggie and The Pirate. She has written one unproduced feature film and one produced film: ‘Til There Was You. Also an actress, Ms. Holzman played Larry’s wife’s therapist on Curb Your Enthusiasm and the chocolate-obsessed divorced woman in Jerry Maguire. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, actor Paul Dooley. Their ten minute play Post-its: Notes on a Marriage is performed frequently across the country. They recently wrote and starred in their first full length play, Assisted Living. Ms. Holzman is a graduate of Princeton University and the NYU Musical Theatre program. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild.


Composer, Lyricist

Stephen Schwartz, the current president of the Dramatists Guild, wrote the music and lyrics for the current Broadway hits Wicked and Pippin, and has also contributed music and/or lyrics to Godspell, The Magic Show, The Baker’s Wife, Working (which he also adapted and directed), Rags, and Children of Eden. He collaborated with Leonard Bernstein on the English texts for Bernstein’s Mass and wrote the title song for the play and movie Butterflies Are Free. For children, he has written songs for two musicals, Captain Louie and My Son Pinocchio. He has also worked in film, collaborating with Alan Menken on the songs for Disney’s Enchanted as well as the animated features Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and writing the songs for the DreamWorks animated feature The Prince of Egypt. His first opera, Séance On a Wet Afternoon, was produced at Opera Santa Barbara and New York City Opera. A book about his career, Defying Gravity, has recently been released by Applause Books. Mr. Schwartz has been inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame. Awards include three Academy Awards, four Grammy Awards, four Drama Desk Awards, and a tiny handful of tennis trophies.

Works include: Butterflies are Free (title song/ play and movie) 1969; Godspell (music and new lyrics) 1971; Mass (English texts/in collaboration with Leonard Bernstein) 1971; Pippin (music and lyrics) 1972; The Magic Show (music and lyrics) 1974; The Baker’s Wife (music and lyrics) 1976; The Perfect Peach (children’s book), 1977; Working (adaptation, four songs, direction) 1978 (co-directed television adaptation with Kirk Browning for PBS-TV, “American Playhouse” 1981); Personals (music, three songs), 1985; Captain Louie (children’s show/ music and lyrics) 1986; Rags (lyrics) 1986; Children of Eden (music and lyrics) 1991; Pocahontas  (lyrics) 1995; The Hunchback of Notre Dame (lyrics) 1996; Reluctant Pilgrim (CD of eleven songs) 1997; The Prince of Egypt (music and lyrics) 1998; Geppetto (music and lyrics) 2000 (re-named My Son Pinocchio); Uncharted Territory (CD of eleven songs) 2001; Wicked (music and lyrics) 2003; Mit Eventyr/ My Fairytale (music and lyrics, 9 songs) 2005; Seance on a Wet Afternoon (music and libretto)  2009.

Stephen Schwatz’s DG Member Profile: http://www.dramatistsguild.com/memberdirectory/getmembership.aspx?cid=7791