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Jerry Herman: Poet of the Showtune Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (August 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300100825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300100822
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,864,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Citron (The Musical from the Inside Out), the biographer of Broadway greats Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber, offers up a comprehensive overview of composer Jerry Herman’s works and a rose-tinted look at the man behind the music. Drawing on extensive interviews with Herman, Citron relays the arc of his life and career, from the ballad he wrote at the age of 13 (called "It’s Not My Fault") to his critically acclaimed first musical, Milk and Honey (1961), to the smashing success of Hello Dolly! (1963). Citron obviously admires Herman and his oeuvre; in his acknowledgements, he writes "Herman is that rare subject, a joy for a biographer, possessed of total recall and never too busy to answer a question. Honest but never hurtful in discussing colleagues, giving but not controlling." This effusive praise extends to Herman’s musicals: Mame is "foolproof" and "one of the finest musicals of the sixties," while a ballad from Mack and Mabel is "in the top echelon of dramatic art." And as for Herman’s critics, Citron simply dismisses their claims. The result is a one-sided portrait of an unrelentingly nice guy. When Citron isn’t lauding his subject, however, he does offer some knowledgeable insights into the musical qualities of Herman’s shows. Though this is far from an objective look at Herman’s life and work, it is the most thorough biography of this composer to date. As such, it may appeal to theatre scholars and musical aficionados. 40 Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

While Citron never argues that the Broadway tunesmith for hits including Hello Dolly, mame, and La Cage aux Folles is the poet of the American songbook--too many would counter that Hart, Porter, Ira Gershwin, or Sondheim merits that distinction--he strongly advocates Herman's place in the pantheon with such fellow lyricists. His ardent, erudite discussions of Herman's music and lyrics reveal oft-unacknowledged depth, wit, and artistic order in fluffy hits and lead-footed flops alike, but sometimes he seems overly partisan, blaming everyone but Herman for failures and noting every initial box-office stiff that is, thanks to a little tweaking, perky in its after-Broadway life. He is on solider ground recounting Herman's development from talented youth encouraged by parents to wunderkind with two great Broadway hits in a row to middle-aged man who felt abandoned by the theater. A triumphant late-life return to Broadway (La Cage) and the achievement of the mature love relationship that had long eluded him (with the late Marty Finkelstein) make for a bittersweet showbiz ending. Jack Helbig
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Siegel on February 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is without a doubt my favorite composer/lyricist of music. I have every score of Jerrys and I love each and every one. I have read this book 9 times so far, and find him to also be a great writer. Follow him in his own words through his life, he's had quite the life too, being lucky to score Hello Dolly at such a young age. He didn't just get lucky, his music is worthy of the fame of his shows. Mame, La Cage and Dolly are the three most popular, but the scores of Dear World, Grand Tour, Mrs. Santa Clause and especially Mack and Mabel are fantastic.

Jerry is honest with his readers, and talks about his downs as well as the ups. The 1960's, he had 3 hits (Dolly, Mame, Milk and Honey), and in the 1970's, 3 flops in a row, though it was not the scores that defeated these shows but production and management issues. Changes were made before Broadway and Jerry discusses this, but also takes the blame for giving in too much and letting his shows go through changes he didn't feel were right. This was probably his mistake with those shows, not putting his foot down and saying no to the producers and directors.

I really enjoy this book. You'll hear about dinners with Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury, his home on Fire Island and the guests he had there, the terrible months being hospitalized for hepatitis, and also his HIV and he talks about a few of his romances.

I wish the book were updated, because I'd love to hear him talk about the last few years. If you love Broadway, this is a wonderful book written with care and hard to put down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By disheveledprofessor on August 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let me say first that I am a big fan of Jerry Herman's works. I love his musicals. And that is why I turned with interest to this book.

It is an easy read. It is also an effusive read: Stephen Citron says vry little critical of Mr. Herman. He also goes into in-depth detail on the plot and action of every musical. Much more space is devoted to this than to the backstage developments of how the musical evolved, working with other in the theatre world, etc., and more more space than to Mr. Herman's personal life. It's like a 50s MGM technicular movie: all glossy little depth. Those who would be interested in this book already know the plots and actions of the musicals, and want something more. I was left wanting that "more".
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a fabulous book! The book goes into a truly interesting review and thoughts on all of his musicals. It was a different take onhis works.
A very talented man indeed!
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By LORNA DALLAS on December 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting book about a fascinating composer and lyricist. What a gift for writing...beautiful lyrics that are elegant and yet so very heartfelt. It gave a new insight in Jerry...and also made one more in awe of just how prolific he has been! Great read!
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