Paul Laird, professor of musicology at the University of Kansas, recently published an article in the refereed journal Studies in Musical Theatre entitled "It Couldn't Happen Here in Oz: Wicked and the creation of a 'critic-proof' musical." Laird also published a book,"Wicked: A Musical Biography" through Scarecrow Press, Inc.
Laird's article is based upon a review of the critical reaction to WICKED in New York City; his analysis of the musical's score, and consideration of the show's use of the Wizard of Oz connection as a way to relate to the audience.
Laird's book about the renowned musical captures the history of the creation of the show and a detailed analysis of the music. Laird started by researching Gregory Maguire's novel by the same name and provided a detailed plot synopsis so that one could see how the show was adapted from the novel.
"My history of the collaboration was based on published sources and interviews with several of the principals involved, including the composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz and book writer Winnie Holzman," said Laird. "I was granted access to a number of script drafts and used those to show how the show developed over a period of several years, including changes from after the time that this hit show opened. After detailed interviews with Schwartz, access to a number of drafts and sketches of music, and my own analysis of the piano/vocal score, I wrote a detailed chapter on the music and lyrics of Wicked."
He also had access to an orchestral score--a very unusual source to be able to study, according to Laird--and wrote a chapter on the show's orchestration. He also included sections in the book that discuss the show's critical reception in New York and London and the show's place in Broadway history.
Director of the KU musicology division from 2000 to 2009, Laird has taught at the University of Kansas since 1994 after previous experience at Binghamton University and University of Denver. He holds a PhD in music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Laird's research interests include the Spanish and Latin American villancico, Leonard Bernstein, the Broadway musical, and early string instruments. He is the author of Towards a History of the Spanish Villancico (Harmonie Park Press, 1997), Leonard Bernstein: A Guide to Research (Routledge, 2002), The Baroque Cello Revival: An Oral History (Scarecrow Press, 2004), is co-editor of Res musicae: Essays in Honor of James W. Pruett (Harmonie Park Press, 2001) and The Cambridge Companion to the Musical (Cambridge University Press, 2002; 2nd edition, 2008). With William A. Everett, Laird wrote The Historical Dictionary of the Broadway Musical (Scarecrow, 2007), and most recently he published"Wicked: A Musical Biography" (2011, Scarecrow Press, Inc.).Laird's articles and reviews have appeared in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd ed.), Anuario musical, Nassarre, Revista de Musicología, Early Music, Australian Journal of Musicology, CMS Symposium, MLA Notes, Historical Performance, American Music, American Record Guide, Continuo Magazine, and other journals, conference proceedings, and Festschrifts. Laird has presented papers and lectures at many conferences and universities in the United States and Spain. Laird directs the Instrumental Collegium Musicum and is active as a Baroque cellist, performing with the Spencer Consort. In August 2002, he won a University of Kansas W. T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence.
For more information, contact the KU School of Music at 785-864-3436 or visit music.ku.edu.