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Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy
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Engaging, humorous, and provocative, Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy examines the unique role of Jewish composers and lyricists in the creation of the modern American musical. The film showcases the work of legends such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George and Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim. Interviews with songwriters and luminaries including Sheldon Harnick, Stephen Schwartz, Harold Prince, Arthur Laurents, Charles Strouse, and Mel Brooks provide insight, alongside standout performances and archival footage.
Narrated by Tony® and Academy Award® winner Joel Grey, this entertaining documentary mingles cultural history with illuminating perspectives on the origins and meanings of some of Broadway's most beloved songs, stories, and shows.
Bonus disc with additional interview clips and performances (3 hours)
16-page viewer’s guide featuring reflections on Jewish Broadway, with an introduction by Executive Producer Barbara Brilliant
Biography of narrator Joel Grey
Top Customer Reviews
With narration by Joel Grey, it begins with early Yiddish theater--quickly the Broadway American Musical began to draw inspiration heavily from the NYC Jewish population. In 1920s 1 in 4 of NYC population was Jewish, partially explaining the heavy participation in musical production. Of course there are exceptions noted on this documentary. A major one being Cole Porter, who actually had 3 shows flops initially. Porter actually told Richard Rogers he was planning to write Jewish tunes--a sure method, accord to Porter, toward musical theater success. Cole Porter scores big in the 1930s.
An abundance of delightful archival footage of NYC and the theater district, Times Square is used. Also footage of old classic performance bits, even including the Marx Bros. For many Jews a name change was necessary to find success, i.e. Israel Baline (Irving Berlin); Jacob Gershowitz (George Gershwin); Isidone Hochbery (Yip Harburg) who wrote "The Wizard of Oz" lyrics, combining with composer Hyman Arluck (Harold Arlen). Jewish Kurt Weill changed from Germany's top theater composer to NYC due to Hitler.
SDH SUBTITLES provided.Read more ›
A fundamental thesis of this documentary is flawed: Broadway musicals actually began more than a century ago, not with Jewish songwriters but with the likes of David Braham (associated with Harrigan and Hart), George M. Cohan, and operetta composers such as Victor Herbert and Rudolf Friml, followed by Harry Tierney. Popular nineteenth-century American comic opera composers like John Philip Sousa and Reginald De Koven had also paved the way.
Are we really to believe that the Broadway musical was born when concepts adapted from Yiddish theater migrated uptown? The musical comedies of Broadway were, in truth, an amalgamation of many influences, including minstrel shows and melodramas; British music halls, Savoyard operas, Viennese and Parisian operettas; sentimental ballads and popular songs from the gay '90s; military marches and waltzes; African-American ragtime and jazz. The kind of musical extravaganza that was most popular in turn-of-the-century New York--like FLORODORA from London or THE WIZARD OF OZ from Chicago--might have started with a fanciful plot and a single pair of songwriters, but the script was, to some extent, little more than a pretext for showcasing the talents of different vaudeville-style singers, dancers, and comedians. The show would soon incorporate specialty numbers created by any number of tunesmiths, and the songs might come and go as various performers joined the cast or left it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
really interesting subject matter, I was looking forward to watching it with my family, as we're Jewish and love musicals, but the quality of the DVD itself wasn't good. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Polly Plum
This really explains the history of the broadway theater, great DVDPublished 15 months ago by Georgeanne Y.
A great documentary. I will view it again and again. A great pleasure.Published 16 months ago by Synergy