Nation, Saturday Review

BROADWAY, THE GOLDEN YEARS: Jerome Robbins and the Great Choreographer-Directors, 1940 to the Present

Robert Emmet Long, Author . Continuum $35 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8264-1347-5

A literature critic, commentator on the performing arts, author of hundreds of magazine articles (in the Nation, Saturday Review, etc.) and author or editor of 30 books on subjects like Hawthorne, Fitzgerald, Thurber and the films of Merchant and Ivory, Long certainly has the credentials for this latest project. But his tenure as a New York drama critic (North American Review) cinches the deal. In this colorful history of the Great White Way, he deftly traces the Broadway musical's evolution from WWII to the present, covering such hits as A Chorus Line, Gypsy, The Pirates of Penzance and The Producers. Long documents the fancy footwork of Broadway's great choreographer-directors—Agnes de Mille (Oklahoma!), Bob Fosse (Cabaret), Gower Champion (42nd Street), Michael Bennett (Dreamgirls) and Tommy Tune (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas). While these major talents receive full chapter profiles, Jerome Robbins takes center stage in a 100-page portrait packed with fascinating anecdotes: he turned A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum from flop to hit; his 1943 collaboration with Leonard Bernstein on the innovative Fancy Free ballet evolved into Broadway's On the Town. It might even be said that Robbins choreographed this book, arranging for his associates to be interviewed by Long, and making available the coveted rehearsal tapes. A chapter on Broadway today brings down the curtain on this marvelously entertaining and exuberant critical history. 15 b&w photos. (Dec.)

Forecast:This fine book will be greeted with applause by the many Broadway buffs, show-tune collectors and musical mavens. Booksellers would do well to display it alongside Greg Lawrence's Dance with Demons: The Life of Jerome Robbins (Forecasts, Apr. 30).

Reviewed on: 10/15/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
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FORMATS
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-8264-1462-5
Paperback - 312 pages - 978-0-8264-1883-8
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