Broadway Babies Say Goodnight: Musicals Then and Now

Mark Steyn, Author Routledge $200 (352p) ISBN 978-0-415-92286-9
Is Broadway musical theater in terminal decline, fed intravenously from London, in headlong retreat to operetta certainties, emotional platitudes and vapidly luxuriant tunes? Almost, but not quite, suggests Steyn in this delightful, irreverent romp through seven decades of American musical theater from Show Boat to Miss Saigon. Taking the pulse of the Great White Way as a theater critic, he finds that Broadway shows have become amorphous creatures, products of the shifting interests of agglomerations of co-producers, fund-raisers, theater owners and provincial tour bookers. His breezy yet substantial surveya spontaneous mix of vibrant history, juicy gossip, plot and song analysis and pungent criticismloses its fizz about halfway through, yet it is filled with gimlet insights into the craft and business of musicals and valuable close-ups of old-timers (Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Rodgers and Hart and Hammerstein, novelist/lyricist P.G. Wodehouse, the Gershwins, Damn Yankees creator George Abbott, etc.) as well as more recent figures (such as producer David Merrick and choreographer/directors Bob Fosse and Michael Bennett). Separate in-depth chapters cover the massive creative contributions of Jews and gays to the Broadway musical; other chapters offer a scathing look at British musicals and skewer rock musicals from Hair to Rent. Along the way, Steyn memorably tweaks Andrew Lloyd Weber (a classic example of imperial overstretch), Stephen Sondheim and others. With encyclopedic knowledge and unabashed passion for the best of Broadway, Steyn explains how an art form has embedded itself into our cultural vocabulary. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/12/1999
Release date: 04/01/1999
Paperback - 350 pages - 978-0-571-20031-3
Paperback - 346 pages - 978-0-415-92287-6
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-136-68508-8
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-136-68501-9
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-136-68515-6
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