WNYT.com

Albany native Gregory Maguire donates papers to University

Posted at: 11/20/2012 4:28 PM
Updated at: 11/20/2012 6:08 PM
By: Bill Lambdin

ALBANY - On a day when the musical play "Wicked" is running at Proctor's, as well as its ninth year in New York and on five other major stages worldwide, the author of the novel on which it is based was honored at the place where he studied, the University at Albany.

"When I was growing up in Pine Hills, I saw the towers of the new university campus going up and when I enrolled in the university, the first papers that came through the university, I titled Oz Matters because the towers rising up looked to me like the Emerald City," said author Gregory Maguire at a U-Albany ceremony Tuesday.

Maguire's novel is itself based on characters created more than a century ago by L. Frank Baum.

Maguire transformed the Wicked Witch of the West into a much more sympathetic, although very green figure, Elphaba.

Growing up in Albany, the fledging English and studio art major got exposed slightly to some larger than life figures, like the legendary mayor, Erastus Corning.  

"He would have been a good model for the Wizard of Oz, I think," Maguire said.

Now Maguire's papers, including a first, handwritten draft of his novel "Wicked" have been wheeled into a vault at the University reserved for only its most significant and valuable items.

Absolute evidence, we suppose, that this 58 year old Albany native really has made it.

In the words of the musical he inspired, he really is "popular. I know about Popular".