cover image The Art of the American Musical: Conversations with the Creators

The Art of the American Musical: Conversations with the Creators

, . . Rutgers Univ., $23.95 (308pp) ISBN 978-0-8135-3613-2

Bryer and Davison, co-editors of The Actor's Art , collect interviews with leading lyricists, composers, librettists, producers and directors who created the masterpieces of late 20th-century musical theater. Conversations with talent like Kander and Ebb, Susan Stroman, and Harold Prince shed light on the various ways to combine music and dance, which resulted in hits such as Cabaret , The Producers and Fiddler on the Roof , respectively. Each interview includes a brief bio and an appraisal of triumphs and failures, though the primary goal is to reveal the secret to successful theatrical collaboration. But that isn't really possible, according to Stephen Sondheim, since "the performing arts involve the final collaborator, the audience." While this work gives a good overview of how the genre has evolved over time, the editors often give too many details without sufficient context, making for tedious reading. Theater professionals and fans will enjoy the backstage gossip, but the real benefactors will be those who want to get into the business. The chance to apprentice with today's greats is rare; reading about them is the next best thing. 14 b&w illus. (Oct.)