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It Happened on Broadway: An Oral History of the Great White Way Paperback – May 15, 2004


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A chorus of more than 100 voices?including stars, celebrities, producers, costume designers, critics, sons and daughters of Broadway greats?lend this oral history of Broadway theater over the past 60 years the heady excitement of a blockbuster show. The editors, whose previous titles include It Happened in Brooklyn and It Happened in the Catskills, understand that what readers want are tales of magic and legend, but here they devote more attention to the drudgery and brute perseverance that go into every Broadway success. Following the lead of Jeff Kisseloff's oral history of television, The Box, the Frommers tell the history of the medium, rather than of individual shows and performances?though there are plenty of those represented here, too. "The first time I ever set foot on-stage was in grammar school," begins Carol Channing, the book's first speaker. The remembrances that follow?of Broadway debuts, of its richest era following WW II, of famous musicals and comedies, stars, hits and unexpected flops and a string of laments over what "Broadway no longer" is today?move so seamlessly you often have to check back to see who's speaking. Charles Durning remembers the first laugh he got on stage. John Raitt describes almost not getting to replace the lead in Oklahoma! because he couldn't fit into Alfred Drake's costume. John Lahr says his comedian father "could get a laugh on a conjunction." Interspersed with stage and backstage photos, caricatures, playbills and posters, the hundreds of magical, informative, sometimes fallacious, never boring stories the Frommers have gathered demonstrate what it took to fill those seats.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The Frommers, both professors at Dartmouth, specialize in oral histories; their other titles include It Happened in Brooklyn (LJ 11/1/93) and It Happened in the Catskills (Harcourt, 1991). Here they provide a fascinating look at Broadway from different perspectives, including interviews with actors, directors, producers, composers, lyricists, playwrights, stage managers, set designers, and critics. The authors have cast a wide net and drawn in voices from past and present. While some interviewees are noticeably missing (Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber, to name two), this book will be enjoyed by anyone who has ever been captivated by live theater, though the price may keep it off the shelves of smaller libraries.?J. Sara Paulk, Coastal Plain Regional Lib., Tifton, GA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (May 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299197042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299197049
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,216,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The stars, both onstage and off, that have helped create the Broadway theatre of today have committed their lives to one of the most important and vital of all the arts. This book gives them their due in a way few others have. It Happened on Broadway is a very well-done book recording for posterity the fine tradition that is Broadway theatre, using almost entirely the words of the people that actually lived their lives there. It is funny, touching, englightening, and a must-read for anyone who loves Broadway and theatre as much as those in the book who gave their lives to it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Schock on December 8, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is a one of a kind Broadway book. The stories, the photos, the whole feel . . .it is like table hopping at Sardi's.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "jbk@musicals101.com" on April 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Paging through this book is like stepping back through those years in the mid to late 20th Century when Broadway was bursting with fresh talent and wonderous creativity. Fantastic photos (many of which I have not seen elsewhere) and the collected personal memories of an army of Broadway veterans. Instead of muddying these memories with reams of connecting text, the editors have grouped related anecdotes into chapters and let those who lived this history speak for themselves. A great read for anyone who loves the theatre -- Broadway in particular.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 17, 1998
Format: Hardcover
"For theater lovers, this holiday brings books that should satisfy even the pickiest soul. My favorite is a gossipy portrait of Broadway over the past 60 years - IT HAPPENED ON BROADWAY, AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE GREAT WHITE WAY..... It's fun to browse in (lots of nice pictures), but addictive as a bag of potato chips."
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Format: Hardcover
IT HAPPENED ON BROADWAY: AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE GREAT WHITE WAY By Myrna Katz Frommer & Harvey Frommer
The Bloomsbury Review, November-December 1998
What better way to write a history of the last fifty years of Broadway theater than to get the information from those who made it all happen! The Frommers have compiled an oral history that is told by many of those wonderfully talented, hardworking people who spared no effort to create great hits and, yes, occasionally, flops. More than one hundred actors, directors, choreographers, producers, composers, lyricists, and playwrights as well as set, costume, and lighting designers, extras, and publicists have contributed to this deliciously enjoyable compilation of material about the great white way.
It Happened on Broadway is filled with background information about the Broadway shows of the last half century, and the successes, failures, struggles, and uncertainties of many personalities. Many interviewees have been household names for generations, others are just achieving recognition, and some names are not likely to mean much to most readers. Yet they all bring us some of the most interesting experiences and insights about the Broadway theater of recent years. One wonders how the Frommers managed to persuade so many luminaries to share their tales.
The first chapter "Broadway Calling," should be required reading for every theater student, aspiring actor, and budding theater professional.
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