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The Book every musical fanatic needs!
on June 28, 2008
The Oxford Companion to the American Musical is a surprisingly detailed overview of the the American musicals of Broadway, film and television as witnessed/researched through author Thomas Hischak. The most exciting part of this book is its careful research of the television musical, until now all but glossed over in books on the subject of musical theatre. There was a point in time where television churned out musicals and it is nice to see them get their due. Holiday Specials by Rankin and Bass added much to our song lexicon and it is nice to see them so well represented.
Obviously, the book has its omissions, something that is inevitable when a book has this size and scope. But entries are lovingly chosen and carefully researched and those that are left out are judiciously put aside, or accounted for under other entries. For example: I am a big fan of the musical flop Nick and Nora. N&N does not have it's own entry, but it is mentioned in several other places such us under Joanna Gleason's entry.It is amazing, through cross referencing, just how much author Hischak has accounted for.
One special note: an earlier reviewer of this book makes mention of the musical Destry Rides Again as being named merely "Destry." This is false, as any student of Stanley Greene's Broadway Musicals: Show By Show will tell you. The musical was indeed called Destry Rides Again.
Any true fan of musical theatre will find minor quibbles with any book that may leave out the particular pieces of minutia that fascinate them. However, this book is one of the best of its kind and it is cram packed FULL of wonderful details and oft cast aside information. A must read.