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Broadway: The American Musical Hardcover – October 13, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Bulfinch; First Edition edition (October 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0821229052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821229057
  • Product Dimensions: 11.5 x 1.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If you enjoyed the PBS series Broadway: The American Musical but wanted a bit more detail and substance, try curling up with the companion book to the series. Expanded from Michael Kantor's script by Laurence Maslon, it follows the same six-part structure but its 470 pages give it more space to stretch out with the history of key musicals and the historical context behind them, or add significant trends such as revivals. What makes the book easy to pick up from the coffee table are the many subheads, the photographs (e.g., Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady) and poster art, and the sidebars and supplemental features. Occupying a page or two, the sidebars delve into such topics as original cast albums or shows that were glossed over or ignored in the series, such as Gypsy and 1776. A particularly effective use of the text is reprinting the lyrics of certain songs, examining the structure of "Soliloquy," providing historical annotations for "You're the Top," and illustrating "Broadway Baby" with pictures of Ethel Schulte on stage in Follies and 50 years earlier. Archive sections offer vintage essays from key figures (Sondheim on Kern, Hart on Rodgers), and Who's Who blurbs spotlight performers or creators (Fanny Brice, Barbara Cook, Bernadette Peters, Audra McDonald). While Broadway: The American Musical can't compete with more encyclopedic work on the subject, it's an enjoyable and worthwhile reference overall, and does provide a year-by-year list of significant shows, a selected bibliography, and maps of the theater district ca. 1928 and 2001. --David Horiuchi

From Publishers Weekly

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).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Everything I can possibly think of is in here.
Janan Neilson
This book is great for anyone - from the Broadway musical savant to the average curious person to the theatre student.
J. Hibbert
I had borrowed this book from the Public Library and dwanted my own copy.
Ruth Claire Doering

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Janan Neilson on December 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was in Barnes and Noble and had watched Broadway the American Musical the week before, I saw this on the shelf and started leafing through it. Before long I had to take the thing home.

I took it to the counter and the lady asked if it was a gift for somebody I knew, and I said "Heavens No!, this is for me!" She asked if I was going to go see The Phantom of the Opera (the movie) when it came to theaters, and I said "Are you kidding me?! of course" and because she was a Broadway buff too, we had a wonderful little conversation about our enduring love for musicals, it was "Loverly" to say the least.

Now about this stunning book.

Each chapter contains all of the following-

1. A Spotlight on a musical that revolutionized theater in some way, or defined the times in which it was created. The surounding shows are described, and their beloved artist as well.

2. Handfulls of biographies on the directors, producers, writers, composers, performers, and stars, that were most influential in their time on the Broadway stage.

3. Excerpts from some of the most popular songs or influential show scripts are included.

4. Pages of archives filled with commentary by artists on other artists, on choreographers, directors, producers, writers, and so on.

5. To top it all off! Each chapter is filled to the brim with pictures from the shows, and artist, that shaped Broadway, and revolutionized musical theater until the year of Wicked and Avenue Q.

There is a beautiful page called EXIT MUSIC which closes the book, leaving any Broadway fan in tears, I myself was no exception.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Plenty of books have been written on Broadway history and productions before: so what makes Michael Kantor and Laurence Maslon's Broadway: The American Musical stand out? Perhaps it's the in- depth color illustration packed into every page of this coverage of Broadway's musical heritage and history, or it's in-depth analysis of Broadway's influence as a cultural force through the decades. Or maybe it's the inclusion of not only Broadway show photos but posters, music covers, production stills and rehearsal shots. Or maybe it's in-depth narratives and handy sidebars highlighting the major stars. All these factors earn Broadway: The American Musical an important role as the companion volume to the six-part PBS series of the same name. All of this sets the volume high above competitors.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. Good on March 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you're into theatre, this book is a must-have! You won't find any other book that gives you such a detailed and accurate history of Musical Theatre. The pictures are great and the reading is outstanding!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By K. Olmos on February 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
If you've seen the PBS television series, Broadway: The American Musical, this book acts as a fantastic companion and will look great on your bookshelf or coffee table!

It's virtually exactly the same as the DVD in terms of following the chronology of the development of Broadway but the great thing about it is it seems to come with additional pictures not seen in the series and great quotes. Forget about flicking on your DVD! If you need a quick reference you could turn to any page and find something interesting about Broadway to read about.

If you enjoyed the series and are passionate about Broadway, I would thoroughly recommend this book as it has everything in there that you'd need to know. Enjoy it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Irish Redhead on January 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I live in Ohio, but my heart belongs to Broadway. I don't get there very often, but this book made me feel like I'd been there from the beginning. I read and loved every single word of this book. It is completely readable, doesn't have a boring word in it, and taught me so much about Broadway that my friends have heard many more facts and stories than they have ever wanted to know. I'll just finish by saying that if you enjoyed the PBS program at all, if you have even a little interest in musical theater or New York history, this book is well worth your time. Cannot recommend it highly enough.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jack D. Glasgow on May 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the best books every written about the Broadway Theatre. Lots of little known facts, lots of pictures. A fountain of knowledge and a must have for every Broadway buff.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Beck on May 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing book that covers from Gilbert and Sullivan to (almost) present day.
It is very much worth it's weight in gold if you love Broadway and Music Theatre.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Hibbert on February 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is great for anyone - from the Broadway musical savant to the average curious person to the theatre student.
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