Synopses & Reviews
In the 1930s, Broadway's lights still burned brightly. Ethan Mordden completes his history of the Broadway musical by taking a look at this forgotten era. Shows like Anything Goes
brought the glitter of Cole Porter and Merman's brass to the public. Innovations in dance were pioneered by Balanchine and others. Scenic advancements made Astaire's The Band Wagon
move across the stage in novel ways. Gershwin's revolutionary Porgy and Bess
entered the canon of American Classics. And The Cradle Will Rock
and Johnny Johnson
took the American political temperature. With his trademark wit and style, Ethan Mordden shines the spotlight on Broadway's forgotten decade.
"The Great Depression not only stifled the U.S. economy, it slowed down the innovation of the Broadway musical. Despite that, and despite the fact that this era left behind few remnants for future generations, master theater historian Mordden cobbles together a breezy but comprehensive sixth edition to his series (from the 1920s to the 1970s) on the Golden Age of the Broadway musical. While economic woes forced many producers to turn to seemingly safe star vehicles and extravagant revues, Mordden points out that some notable artists commanded attention. Cole Porter's bewitching music and witty lyrics shone in 1934's Anything Goes
. The following year George and Ira Gershwin elevated the black musical to new heights with Porgy and Bess
. Rodgers and Hart
showed their versatility with such shows as On Your Toes
and The Boys from Syracuse.
Agnes de Mille and George Balanchine led the integration of dance into story. And The Band Wagon
, starring Fred and Adele Astaire, was responsible for an innovative scenic design element, the double revolve, which sped up scenery changes and revolutionized the way musicals could be staged. Sure, the era may best be remembered for political musicals, ranging from Marc Blitzstein's The Cradle Will Rock
to the jaunty satire Of Thee I Sing
Mordden points out that these were just one dish in a gigantic buffet of musical styles. Mordden is an encyclopedia of knowledge about the Broadway musical. Fortunately, his information is so well organized and his conversational writing style so smooth that this tome never feels like a mere onslaught of facts. Those who are devoted to musical theater will love this comprehensive historical look,
but those with only a passing interest may be overwhelmed." --Publishers Weekly
"Ever the enthusiastic aficionado, Mordden ferrets out the fascinating moments and important details of this period...invaluable..."--Booklist "Mordden is] masterful at his description and analysis...and also excels at delineating the the contrasting styles and personalities [of] Broadway's busiest -- and in showbiz terms, best-- songsmiths of the 1930s." --Richmond Times-Dispatch
Ethan Mordden completes his history of the Broadway musical by looking at how The Great White Way kept the lights burning in the depths of the Depression
About the Author
is the author of many books, including The Happiest Corpse I've Ever Seen: The Last Twenty-Five Years of the Broadway Musical
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).
Table of Contents
A Lady Needs a Change: The State of the Art * Carry On, Keep Smiling: Musical Comedy I * We're Off to Feathermore: Nymph Errant, Anything Goes, and Jubilee * Harlem on My Mind: The Black Shows and Porgy and Bess * Leave it to Katarina: Operetta Begins its Forty-Year Death Scene * Fun To Be Fooled: Revue * A Song with Social Significance: Politics * It's Better with a Union Man: The Leftist Revue * Life's a Dance: The Choreography of the 1930s * I Got Rhythm: The Music of the 1930s * All in Fun: Musical Comedy II