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Mr. Broadway: The Inside Story of the Shuberts, the Shows, and the Stars Hardcover – March 1, 2012
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In this posthumously published memoir, Schoenfeld -- the long-standing chairman of the Shubert Organization, who had a hand in producing some of Broadway's biggest shows (e.g., 'Les Miserables', 'Cats,' and 'The Phantom of the Opera') -- reflects in conversational vignettes on his successes and failures. He discusses his progression from lawyer for the temperamental Shubert family -- one of the biggest names in Broadway history -- to chairman of the organization. While Schoenfeld does not hold back with regard to the backstabbing, volatile bosses, and difficult actors he encountered, he also reveals the great joy he garnered from his more than 50 years in the theater world. The book includes a foreword by Hugh Jackman and an introduction by Alec Baldwin; both actors knew Schoenfeld personally. --Library Journal
This posthumous memoir by Mr. Schoenfeld, who led the Shubert Organization for more than 35 years, gives readers a front-row (and backstage) view of the Shubert brothers zany reign over Broadway during the first half of the 20th century, as well as a detailed account of the business's subsequent reorganization and Mr. Schoenfeld's own experience with hits (including 'A Chorus Line' and 'Cats') and occasional misses. . . . He settles some scores. He unabashedly takes credit where it is due. He delivers a primer on how Broadway works. --New York Times
More than any other single individual, Schoenfeld turned the Great White Way into a business and a brand that extends across the world. . . . In the 1970s, when Broadway could easily have gone bust for good, Schoenfeld helped bring about 'A Chorus Line' (which ran for 15 years) and then 'Cats,' whose apt slogan was 'now and forever.' The tourists came back, Midtown got cleared up (mostly at Schoenfeld's behest) and Broadway was, for the first time in years, awash with cash. It never has looked back. --Chicago Tribune
About the Author
Gerald Schoenfeld, chairman of the Shubert Organization for more than 35 years, was one of the most influential people in commercial theater. He is credited with being a catalyst for the revival of Broadway and the theater district/Times Square in New York City.
Top customer reviews
For Mr. Schoenfeld to name two of the Organizations best playhouses after his partner and himself while they were still alive (to hear him tell it HE didn't do it it was an appreciated tribute from his underlings) raised eyebrows - to call his memoir "Mr. Broadway" merely seems hubris. Certainly the subtitle, "The Inside Story of the Shuberts, the Shows and the Stars" is much more promising and the first chapters examining Mr. Schoenfeld's fascinating youth and rise to a powerhouse position in a legal community which still blatantly discriminated against those of his faith is essential reading for all in the theatre or out. There's much there to be justly proud of right up to the self-deprecating story (pages 16 & 17) of his first major case for the Shuberts' main law firm (the famous 1950 Federal anti-trust case) for which he acknowledges he was spectacularly unprepared. "I could move forward in total ignorance, or I could admit that I did not know what I was doing. I chose the former." It's another four solidly interesting (bordering on horrifying) pages and two years before Schoenfeld admits that "In 1952...it became apparent...that they needed more seasoned counsel than I to work on the case." but Schoenfeld was off and running.
The next ten short chapters of Schoenfeld's working his way up with the original Shuberts holds on to that original almost naive sense of wonder as the author simultaneously loses his innocence and our sympathy.
The memoir only runs into serious trouble when it gets into the serious examination of "The Inside Story of the (new) Shuberts..." etc. when it becomes Mr. Schoenfeld's side of the story without regard to what may actually be *believable*. If there is ever a question of ethics or facts, we don't get "the inside story" we get the cover story - or Mr. Schoenfeld's excuse. HE didn't force the Shuberts out - they self destructed (Chapter 13, aptly titled "All Out War With Lawrence"). Right. It's the same thing for most of the next 177 of 282 pages. If only a real friend of Mr. Schoenfeld's had worked with him and been able to persuade him that he didn't HAVE to defend every questionable decision; just tell what HAPPENED and his legacy would come across brighter and more lasting.
In the end, when Schoenfeld is shaking his head over a terrible show he was active in producing, PASSING STRANGE, not winning the Tony Award for Best Musical the way all his "yes men" and sycophantic voters assured him it would ("yes, of course we voted for it") one almost feels sorry for the king who can't get an honest opinion of his new robes - but by then the whole book of self justifications has lost the reader's affection for the subject he or she had *wanted* to like, and it simply doesn't matter.
Schoenfeld, and his also now deceased partner, Jacobs, were by many accounts fascinating gentlemen who were easy to like when business was going well and no harder to deal with than a David Merrick or a Jed Harris when it wasn't. For most of their working lives AS "The Shuberts" business was very good indeed. It's a real shame that Schoenfeld's book isn't the honest, probing memoir we had all hoped for. No one was in a better position to write it.