is the only reference book dedicated to the "history, people, and places" of the Great White Way. Articles on Broadway history include Billboard, Critics, Dramatists Guild, Federal Theatre Project, Poster
, and Tony Award
. People include important composers, choreographers, critics, producers, directors, playwrights, and performers (e.g., De Mille, Agnes; Kern, Jerome; Merman, Ethel; Simon, Neil
). Biographies run from a few paragraphs to six or more pages. Places include theaters and other establishments such as restaurants, which may or may not be extant. For each theater there is a very detailed chronological history of shows, as well as information about owners, financing, and current status. This is not the place to look up information about a show, since there are few entries by show title. Most shows are covered within the articles on various theaters and retrievable through the index.
There are some odd omissions. The entry for Cats, the longest-running show ever on Broadway, does not give opening and closing dates. There is an article on the history of burlesque, but not on the musical. There are no individual articles on people who some might say merit them (Elia Kazan, Bernadette Peters), though their names are indexed on many pages. There is no general history or time line of Broadway trends and events. A category index would have been useful to see headings for entries for theaters, composers, etc. at a glance.
Black-and-white photos and illustrations grace many of the entries, often replacing those in the first edition. It is clear that many articles have been revised to include more recent facts or productions. Some have been greatly expanded (e.g., Kaufman and Hart; Prince, Harold), and there are also new entries, such as those on individual critics. The biggest strength of this work for reference is found in the histories of the theaters themselves. Libraries with strong theater collections will want to add it. RBB
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'Bloom adds a touch of atmosphere with entries on critics, restaurants, publicity stunts, nightclubs, and other periphery characters and incidents that are so much a part of the Great White Way. As much a storyteller as a chronicler, he uses anecdotes and a plethora of black-and-white photographs, many never before published, to produce and entertaining as well as an informative work. Highly recommended for all theater collections.' – Library Journal
'Recommended. All academic and public library theater and cultural studies collections.' – Choice