American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle / Edition 4

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Hailed as "absolutely the best reference book on its subject" by Newsweek, American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle covers more than 250 years of musical theatre in the United States, from a 1735 South Carolina production of Flora, or Hob in the Well to The Addams Family in 2010. Authors Gerald Bordman and Richard Norton write an engaging narrative blending history, critical analysis, and lively description to illustrate the transformation of American musical theatre through such incarnations as the ballad opera, revue, Golden Age musical, rock musical, Disney musical, and, with 2010's American Idiot, even the punk musical.

The Chronicle is arranged chronologically and is fully indexed according to names of shows, songs, and people involved, for easy searching and browsing. Chapters range from the "Prologue," which traces the origins of American musical theater to 1866, through several "intermissions" (for instance, "Broadway's Response to the Swing Era, 1937-1942") and up to "Act Seven," the theatre of the twenty-first century. This last chapter covers the dramatic changes in musical theatre since the last edition published-whereas Fosse, a choreography-heavy revue, won the 1999 Tony for Best Musical, the 2008 award went to In the Heights, which combines hip-hop, rap, meringue and salsa unlike any musical before it. Other groundbreaking and/or box-office-breaking shows covered for the first time include Avenue Q, The Producers, Billy Elliot, Jersey Boys, Monty Python's Spamalot, Wicked, Hairspray, Urinetown the Musical, and Spring Awakening.

Discussion of these shows incorporates plot synopses, names of principal players, descriptions of scenery and costumes, and critical reactions. In addition, short biographies interspersed throughout the text colorfully depict the creative minds that shaped the most influential musicals. Collectively, these elements create the most comprehensive, authoritative history of musical theatre in this country and make this an essential resource for students, scholars, performers, dramaturges, and musical enthusiasts.

The first comprehensive history of American musical theatre, Bordman's highly-acclaimed volume chronicles the development of this unique institution from 1866 to the 1984-85 season.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Absolutely the best reference of its kind."—Newsweek

"One of the most thorough treatments of the subject to be produced."—RBB/Booklist

"A chronicle of unapproached detail, sweep, and relish."—The Washington Post

"Fun to read...a labor of love."—The New York Times

"THE reference book for the American musical theater...a remarkable achievement."—Musical Opinion

"...Bordman's narrative chronology provides endless entertainment, in addition to a wealth of information. Open American Musical Theatre at almost any page and you will find hours whiz by before you realize it."—Show Music

"Simply put, there is no other work on the American musical theater that provides such comprehensive information to the highlights of major and minor musical productions, nor that provides such information is a highly readable, informative and entertaining format."—American Reference Book Annual 2002

"American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle, Fourth Edition now runs over 1,000 pages....easier to read and easier for browsing."—Steven Suskin,

"....fair, perceptive and interesting readingL.. giving the reader a real feel for what the show was like."—Brad Hataway, Theatre Shelf

"This is the most up-to-date subject reference available and an enjoyable read."— Library Journal

"The fourth edition of American Musical Theatre brings readers up-to-date with early-twenty-first-century developments of musicals and the musical-theater industry through a new section by coauthor Norton... Bordman's passion for this genre is obvious, and the writing is informative and intelligent. Norton follows in the same format for 2000-2010... There are many other Broadway encyclopedias that offer show-by-show details, but Bordman's and Norton's narratives provide an additional perspective beyond lists of facts."— Booklist

Library Journal
This updated and revised edition (following the 2001 third edition) incorporates developments to musical theater from the last decade. Bordman (coauthor, The Oxford Companion to American Theatre) and Norton (A Chronology of American Musical Theater) open this admittedly New York-centric guide with a prolog on the late 18th-century genesis of musical theater. Throughout, sidebars offer thumbnail profiles of actors, directors, and notable figures in musical theater history. The content is organized chronologically by season, and several paragraphs detail the significance and critical reception of each year's debuts. This is the most up-to-date subject reference available and an enjoyable read.
A standard since its original publication in 1978, Bordman's guide chronicles American musicals, show by show and season by season, offering a running commentary and assessment as well as providing the basic facts about each production. This updated edition includes the new shows that have opened on Broadway since the original publication and a complete general index, as well as adding over a hundred musicals newly discovered by Bordman--turn-of-the-century touring shows that never played Broadway. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199729708
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 12/29/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 1032
  • Sales rank: 492,389
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerald Bordman is the author of many books on theatrical history, including American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama, 1930-1969; Jerome Kern: His Life and Music; and the Oxford Companion to American Theatre (with Thomas Hischak). Richard C. Norton, a musical theatre archivist, historian and former producer, is the author of A Chronology of American Musical Theater (2002), an ALA Outstanding Reference Source.

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Table of Contents

Prefaces to the Fourth and First Editions
Prologue: Origins to 1866
Act One: Early Successes, 1866-1892
Intermission: Further British Influences and New Stirrings, 1892-1902
Act Two: The Emergence of American Talent, 1902-1907
Intermission: Viennese Operetta and the American Retreat, 1907-1914
Act Three: The Birth of the Modern Musical, 1914-1921
Intermission: The Cinderella Era, 1921-1924
Act Four: The Golden Age of the American Musical, 1924-1937
Intermission: Broadway's Response to the Swing Era, 1937-1942
Act Five: The American Musical as a Conscious Art Form, 1942-1965
Intermission: Exhaustion, 1965-1969
Act Six: Full Circle? Return of the Brits, 1969-1995
Intermission: Technological Spectacles, Retrospectives, and Revivals, 1995-2000
Act Seven: The Twenty-First Century, 2000-2010
Indexes (Shows, Sources, Songs, People)

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