The new innovative musical on Broadway starting this era was "West Side Story", the first musical to integrate dance movement into the everyday movement of the characters. The movement was matched by ...
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Broadway was dominated by two names: George M. Cohan and Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.. Cohan wrote and starred in his own shows. Ziegfeld pioneered the revue show, ...
Engaging, humorous, and provocative, Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy examines the unique role of Jewish composers and lyricists in the creation of the modern American musical. The film ... See full summary »
Mary Ellen Barrett,
This six part documentary miniseries presents the evolution of the Broadway musical from its inception in 1893 to current day 2004. It presents those influential players both on stage and behind the scenes, as well as a variety of influential Broadway shows, a handful which are known to have transformed the musical into what the audience knows it to be today. The Broadway musical was often a reflection of what was happening in the world, but almost as often was meant to be an escape from problems of the world. Specific world events had a profound influence on the overall tone of Broadway shows, some of these events being wars (especially the world wars), Prohibition, the stock market crash, the Great Depression, and 9/11. Broadway musicals were also affected by the onset on various new media, such as talking movies and television. They in turn influenced other popular culture, especially what was known as the popular music of the day, especially up until the 1960s. Broadway musicals ...Written by
The unidentified two-strip Technicolor sequences used to illustrate "The Ziegfeld Follies" were lifted out of Glorifying the American Girl (1929). The star of this film, also unidentified although frequently shown in the clips, was 'Mary Eaton', sister of interviewee Doris Eaton. See more »
A two-strip technicolor clip of Dennis King and Jeanette MacDonald from The Vagabond King (q.v.) is used to illustrate the pre-Ziegfeld shows seen on Broadway before the turn of the century. The Vagabond King was not performed on Broadway until 1925, and the film was made four years later (1929) and released in 1930. See more »
For many of us, with only a passing knowledge of American musical theatre, this is a godsend. I always suspected that these composers borrowed freely from each other and was not surprised to find out that they were often each others mentors.
The section on the THE CRADLE WILL ROCK was an alarming history lesson in recent censorship and should be as much a part of school curriculum as prohibition or blacklisting. Perhaps New York would not be so quick to condemn other states if it faced its own history of oppression since the behaviour of the city has often been the forerunner of standards, including censorship, elsewhere.
The series captures the social and artistic effects of SHOW BOAT, OKLAHOMA!, WEST SIDE STORY, HAIR and A CHORUS LINE among many others and beautifully highlights the effect they had not only on audiences but also on the talent behind the scenes.
One surprising (and annoying) feature of this set is the misguided effort to highlight the contribution of African Americans by segregating black performances into sections. The final effect is an "us and them" result that will appear racist as the years go by. Surely the contribution of black talent is not any more or less important than that of any other minority in the melting pot and the series easily integrates Jewish, Irish and Hispanic contributions effortlessly. Surely there is no need to suggest that Ethel Waters brought more to the stage by way of personal baggage than Fanny Brice or Harvey Fierstein. One obvious and major contributing element that becomes an elephant in the room to anyone who has ever seen a Broadway musical is delicately footnoted. This element is the fact that these shows are usually, dare I say it, quite gay in every sense of the word. Perhaps this is a current mutation of the badly kept Hollywood secret that the studios were mostly run by Jews. Do the producers really think it unimportant or simply too obvious to address?
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