In this documentary former television executive Michael Grade gets to talk about some of his favorite musical performances.
He argued, somewhat contentiously, that the musical only really came alive in the post-1945 era, when musical dramas such as OKLAHOMA! superseded the frothy fare that had prevailed in previous decades (the fact that such "froth" produced memorable work by Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Vincent Youmans and Jerome Kern among others, and thrown up stars such as Fred Astaire was conveniently overlooked). From then on, Grade argued, the musical could no longer be considered "entertainment": it was a dramatic genre in its own right. He supported his argument by looking at some epoch- making works of the last six decades, including MY FAIR LADY, OLIVER!, CABARET and EVITA.
To render such musicals memorable, new stars had to be created who could act as well as sing and dance, including Julie Andrews, Angela Lansbury, Ron Moody, Elaine Paige and Jonathan Pryce. This program celebrated their efforts with plenty of archive footage from films and stage, as well as interviews with some of the stars (Paige, Pryce), whose careers still flourish.
In truth, the program did not say much more than we already know - the contributions of the so-called academic "expert" Dominic McHugh amounted to little more than a series of backstage stories. Nonetheless it was gratifying to see some great stars performing once more, often in little-scene clips (such as Julie Andrews as Eliza Dolittle on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW).
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