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Broadway: The American Musicalby Michael Kantor
Synopses & Reviews
Along with jazz and abstract expressionism, the Broadway musical is one of the few uniquely American art forms. A companion to the six-part PBS documentary series, BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL is the first comprehensive history of the musical, from its roots at the turn of the 20th century through the smashing successes of the new millennium. The compelling, in-depth text is lavishly illustrated with a treasure trove of photographs, sheet-music covers, posters, scenic renderings, production stills, rehearsal shots, and caricatures, many previously unpublished. Complementing the narrative are lively sidebars that highlight the stars, the shows, and the songs--the key ingredients that make the musical great. Each chapter also included essays written by some of Broadway's most fascinating luminaries, past and present. An entertaining amalgam of unpublished material, candid and production photographs, and a trunkful of anecdotes and Broadway lore, BROADWAY will appeal to eighth-graders in their first high school musical as well as to connoisseurs of the art form.
"Those critics and theatergoers who have for some time lamented the death of the Broadway musical can take heart: thanks to this glorious paean, the hills are once again alive with the sound of music — and much more. Though this nostalgia-laden tome is designed as a companion book to a forthcoming PBS series, it stands on its own as a particularly striking and comprehensive take on a uniquely American art form. The copious illustrations alone are worth 'the price of admission,' as history unfolds through archival and contemporary photos (Fred and Adele Astaire in 1924; Tommy Tune swooning over Twiggy in 1983's My One and Only); sheet music covers (the Prohibition-era ditty, 'How Are You Going to Wet Your Whistle When the Whole Darn World Goes Dry?'); and vibrant photographic spreads (Paul Robeson in a 1928 production of Showboat; Patty Lupone in Evita).The meticulously researched text spans the years 1893 to 2004 in six information-packed chapters, each of which opens with a 'Who's Who' — brief vignettes about the period's most celebrated personalities — and is followed by a 'Broadway and' section, which covers, depending on the chapter's time frame, such topics as Tin Pan Alley, radio, Hollywood, original cast albums, etc. 'Spotlight on' examines a significant musical of the period (from The Follies of 1919 to Sunday in the Park with George). The chapters conclude with especially interesting 'Archives' segments — essays by theater veterans past and present. Even the book's endpapers reflect Broadway's evolution: both are photos of the theater district's famed Shubert Alley, but theater posters indicate that the first shot is circa 1962, the second is 2004. And, just as in real life, everything on Broadway that's old is new again. The current blockbuster Wicked (based on Gregory Maguire's novel twist on The Wizard of Oz) and 1975's African-American version, The Wiz? Old news: Broadway audiences saw this classic's first musicalization in 1904. And those recent strikes by Actors Equity that have more than once threatened to close down the Great White Way? Nothing new there: the first Equity pickets were brandished in 1919.With its beguiling blend of entertainment and history, this splendid work is a must-have, whether you're a musical-comedy devotee (i.e., you know that Barbara Cook's Broadway debut was in 1951's Flahooley) or a neophyte (you're not sure who Barbara Cook is). FYI: The PBS series runs October 19, 20 and 21. 75,000 first printing. So said Twyla Tharp. This year is the centenary of the birth of master choreographer George Balanchine (d. 1983), who propelled ballet into the 20th century with the neoclassical style. Two excellent short studies — one a viewer's guide for beginners, one a short bio for novices and sophisticates alike — offer perspectives on the life and work of Mr. B (as he was affectionately known)." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A companion to the six-part PBS documentary series, this book is a colorful and fascinating exploration of how Americans defined the Broadway musical and how the musical defined us as Americans. 440 illustrations/photos, 200 in full color.
Along with jazz and abstract expressionism, the Broadway musical is one of the few uniquely American art forms. This companion to the six-part PBS documentary series is a colorful and fascinating exploration of how Americans define the Broadway musical and how the musical defines Americans. Compelling, in-depth text is complemented by lavish illustrations, including photographs, sheet-music covers, caricatures, and more. 0-8212-2905-2$60.00 / Time Warner Book Group
About the Author
Laurence Maslon teaches at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and has written extensively on Broadway. He also wrote the American Masters biography of Richard Rogers and edited an edition of George S. Kaufman's comedies for the Library of America.
Michael Kantor is a producer of documentary films such as The West with Ken Burns, Lindbergh, Out of the Past, and Ric Burn's New York series. Prior to his work in documentary film, Mr. Kantor was a freelance theater director and writer, and has been published in Newsday, TheatreWeek, and Interview.
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