It Happened on Broadway: An Oral History of the Great White Way

Myrna Katz Frommer, Author, Harvey Frommer, Author, Harvey Frommer, Joint Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $35 (320p) ISBN 978-0-15-100280-1
A chorus of more than 100 voices--including stars, celebrities, producers, costume designers, critics, sons and daughters of Broadway greats--lend this oral history of Broadway theater over the past 60 years the heady excitement of a blockbuster show. The editors, whose previous titles include It Happened in Brooklyn and It Happened in the Catskills, understand that what readers want are tales of magic and legend, but here they devote more attention to the drudgery and brute perseverance that go into every Broadway success. Following the lead of Jeff Kisseloff's oral history of television, The Box, the Frommers tell the history of the medium, rather than of individual shows and performances--though there are plenty of those represented here, too. ""The first time I ever set foot on-stage was in grammar school,"" begins Carol Channing, the book's first speaker. The remembrances that follow--of Broadway debuts, of its richest era following WW II, of famous musicals and comedies, stars, hits and unexpected flops and a string of laments over what ""Broadway no longer"" is today--move so seamlessly you often have to check back to see who's speaking. Charles Durning remembers the first laugh he got on stage. John Raitt describes almost not getting to replace the lead in Oklahoma! because he couldn't fit into Alfred Drake's costume. John Lahr says his comedian father ""could get a laugh on a conjunction."" Interspersed with stage and backstage photos, caricatures, playbills and posters, the hundreds of magical, informative, sometimes fallacious, never boring stories the Frommers have gathered demonstrate what it took to fill those seats. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1998
Release date: 10/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-0-299-19704-9
Open Ebook - 290 pages - 978-1-58979-917-2
Paperback - 290 pages - 978-1-58979-916-5
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