Show Business: The Road to Broadway
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The real drama happens behind the curtain in this fascinating and rare look at four high-profile Broadway musicals (Wicked, Taboo, Caroline, Or Change, and Avenue Q) and their fearless journey to the Tony Awards®. Including a star-studded cast, this entertaining film takes viewers on an unprecedented behind-the-scenes view of the creative process that captures all the heartbreak and hilarity of trying make it big in Show Business!
The playful but intense and vastly informative Show Business: The Road to Broadway is a documentary about four musicals that were contenders for top Tony Awards prizes in the 2004 Broadway season. Following the parallel action between the quartet--"Wicked," "Avenue Q," "Taboo," and "Caroline, or Change"--from concept through casting, rewrites, rehearsals, opening nights and the relative box-office fortunes of each, the film dazzles a viewer by seeming to be everywhere at once. Along the way, one encounters cascades of neuroses and anxieties from the creative community involved in these shows, but there is also tremendous insight shared by the various playwrights, composers, lyricists, producers, directors, and stars who get these productions up and running. There's sundry drama, too, especially concerning the brief run of "Taboo," the financially disastrous musical about Boy George that was largely bankrolled by Rosie ODonnell and ran into a variety of problems. Excellent fly-on-the-wall moments include a dinner sequence involving a handful of well-known theatre critics, whose tastes vary and who often champion shows no one else seems to like. Everything leads to highlights from the 2004 Tony Awards show, which was full of surprises. A final sequence in which one catches up with the many talents involved says everything about how success and failure is often a mere roll of the cosmic dice. --Tom Keogh
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Top customer reviews
We're reading every book about musical crafting in order to learn best practice and I have to say that we enjoyed watching this DVD during one of our writing session.
Watching the composer and lyricist trying to find the right words and mood for the songs, finding the right notes for a musical, we saw the hard work behind the curtain and the light inside the eyes of all the people involved in the creative process.
We learned a lot about a world that is so far from Italian show business and this DVD unveils some of the aspect we always wanted to know.
A musical show will tell you an amazing story, but the crafting of the same musical will tell another exciting story made of passionate people, hard work, anecdotes and authors that are "real" characters that act in a big stage made of music, words and street full of lights like Broadway (and shadows)
This is listed as documentary, but instead of calling documentary I would say that it is a "Storytelling of storytellers"; maybe it could be a new movie genre :)
"Caroline or Change" was always problematic and daring in some ways, but it seemed like an earnest, obligatory show that people ought to see. It was developed at Papp's Shakespeare theater. The fourth show, "Taboo" was extremely controversial and probably suffered from some distracting Rosie publicity.
"Taboo" had music and lyrics by the flamboyant, wildly-costumed Boy George, who was in the show, though Euan Morton played the young Boy George. It ran in London for a year and a half. Rosie O'Donnell saw it there and decided to mount it on Broadway with ten million of her own money. She is a theater buff who probably became too personally involved in the production. She was going through a messy court case that got a great deal of publicity at the time. Nathan Lane, who was in the wildly successful "Producers", ad-libbed a snide comment in his show about "Taboo". Rosie and Boy George didn't hit it off too well apparently.
The documentary is very cleverly constructed. We move between the various creative groups, some producers, and a circle of 4-5 media theater critics who give us insider insights into the shows. Naturally among the creators and performers there's a lot of nervous energy. We get a lot of scenes of the Time Square area. One person says alchemy and timing have a lot to do with a show's ultimate success. The 2003-2004 season was a disastrous one for the theater, and many shows had short, choppy runs. It was one of the worst and coldest January-February periods.
Alan Cumming, one of this movie's producers, was often interviewed and he's a very savvy theater person. Michael Riedel on the "Post" was nasty at the critic dinner roundtables, and he helped do in "Taboo". Insiders will spot some of Manhattan's theater hangouts in interviews--like the Polish Tea Room coffee shop in the Edison Hotel. This is a great treasure for musical theater buffs.
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