It is fitting that "The Producers", an homage to the making of Broadway musicals, is one the biggest hits to end this era of Broadway musicals as the producer once again comes to the forefront. Three producers dominate the era. Nicknamed the Abominable Showman, David Merrick, who was at the tail end of his career, was known as the type of producer who would do anything needed to get what publicity he wanted for his shows. Cameron Mackintosh, the producer of four of the top six most successful musicals ever in "Cats", "The Phantom of the Opera", "Les Misérables" and "Miss Saigon", revolutionized the idea of bringing overseas productions to Broadway, which in turn brought them to the rest of the world via touring companies. And Michael Eisner brought the popular entertainment of the Disney Corporation's animated musical movies to the stage, which introduced the notion of corporate investment in Broadway itself. Other notable musicals of the era include "Sunday in the Park with George", the first collaboration between composer Stephen Sondheim and director James Lapine and whose development mirrors the story of the making of art; "La Cage aux folles", based on the movie La Cage aux Folles (1978), the stage production which is old fashioned in score but revolutionary in story as the first successful show featuring a gay romance at its core; and the Pulitzer Prize winning "Rent", the death of its creator, Jonathan Larson, on the day before the first preview echoing what was being presented on stage. Two events shape the era. The first is the AIDS crisis, which took the lives of many of those associated with Broadway. The second is 9/11, which had the initial effect of making Broadway a ghost town, but whose longer term effect has been the resurgence of the musical comedy and using recognizable titles for new productions, such as "Hairspray" and "Wicked", the latter which has the known connection for the public to The Wizard of Oz (1939).- Written by Huggo
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