A glance at the dramas, musicals, and comedies performed during Broadway’s 1963–64 season tells a great story, but theater critic Filichia’s choppy recounting gives the reader little sense of the context or importance of this remarkable concentration of theatrical talent. Barbara Streisand wowed crowds in Funny Girl, Robert Redford captivated audiences in Barefoot In the Park, and major stars and complete unknowns trod the boards in hits and flops, but the descriptions of the 68 productions staged in this time frame read like rewritten vintage reviews. Some of the pieces are quite fine, like the one about the surprise hit Any Wednesday starring Sandy Dennis and then relative unknown Gene Hackman, and Filichia does offer a wonderful summary of the lineup of musicals. In isolation, there are plenty of good short set pieces, such as the marvelously snarky takedown of The Passion of Josef D., Paddy Chayefsky’s final Broadway play. Filichia’s summary of how Chayefsky’s grinding, real-time account of Stalin’s rise to power in the late stages of the Russian revolution leaves few questions about why it was not a runaway success. While Filichia includes some fine observations throughout (such as the flop drama “But For Whom Charlie” “wasn’t as bad as the title”), they aren’t enough to sustain the narrative. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/30/2015 Release date: 04/07/2015 Genre: Nonfiction
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