Monday, November 22, 2010

A Big, Sumptuous Celebration Of Broadway

That's the only way to describe Larry Setmpel's Showtime, A History of the Broadway Musical Theater.
This big, new book is a treasure trove of Broadway lure.
The shows. The music. The stars. The eras. It's all here.
I've been having a great time reading Showtime. It's the kind of book you can read from cover-to-cover (over a long winter) or pick up from time to time and just peruse. Either way, you're going to feel invigorated by this revealing, surprising and ingratiating chronicle of America's unique, high-spirited gift to the world: the Broadway musical.
Beginning with the scandalous Astor Place Opera House riot of 1849, Larry Stempel traces the growth of musicals from minstrel shows and burlesques, through the golden age of Show Boat and Oklahoma!, to such groundbreaking works as Company and Rent.
This meticulously researched and detailed book was more than 30 years in the making.
In covering the expansive subject before him, Stempel combines original research—including a kaleidoscope of primary sources and archival holdings—with deft and insightful analysis. The result is nothing short of the most comprehensive, authoritative history of the Broadway musical.
But please don't think of it as a history book. Because this book is alive with the stories, the legends and the groundbreaking ideas that lit up the Great White Way and made it an entertainment mecca for generations.
Martin, Merman and Merrick are all here -- along with Sondheim, Lowe, Rodgers, Kander, Hammerstein, Lerner, Ebb, Coleman, Hart, Comden, Tune, Robbins, Bernstein, Green and so many more. And they're all given their due.
This book is not just about Broadway. It's not just about music. It's not just about theater. And it's not just about showbiz. It's about America.
I urge you to get your hands on Showtime. You're gonna love it!

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