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Red, Hot and Blue: A Smithsonian Salute to the American Musical
     

Red, Hot and Blue: A Smithsonian Salute to the American Musical

by Amy Henderson, Dwight B. Bowers
 
This lavishly book showcases the Hollywood and Broadway musical from its immigrant roots in 19th-century vaudeville through its heyday on both the "Great White Way" and the silver screen to its respective role taken today in such revivals as Show Boat. Published to coincide with a major exhibition opening in October 1996 at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C

Overview

This lavishly book showcases the Hollywood and Broadway musical from its immigrant roots in 19th-century vaudeville through its heyday on both the "Great White Way" and the silver screen to its respective role taken today in such revivals as Show Boat. Published to coincide with a major exhibition opening in October 1996 at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. 287 illustrations, 126 in color.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Coming as part of a Smithsonian triple-play that also includes an exhibition opening in Washington in October and a simultaneous audio release, this history of the American musical demonstrates that there are few trends easily available for fan or scholar to follow. While the 120 color and 167 black-and-white illustrations are suitably lavish, the text is somewhat kneecapped by truncated length and the sheer contrariness of the subject matter. The American musical seems to have been driven from the outset by bold ideas of showmanship and patriotism, and by a plethora of overblown egos, from Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson to Sophie Tucker and Fannie Brice. The authors (Bowers is a historian at the National Museum of American History, Henderson a cultural historian at the National Portrait Gallery) slip well-worn lore and lesser-known trivia between the indelible images. Vaudeville grew up amid blackface and segregation. Porgy and Bess offered nice tunes and a mildly insulting tone to black audiences. Showboat hits several resonant sociological notes and all the right musical ones. Irving Berlin, by his own admission, never found a more complementary interpreter of his works than Fred Astaire. Agnes De Mille was an inspired choreographer before the term was coined. Readers are advised not to look for a thesis here on why the musical developed as it did but to linger instead on the arresting images and the revealing tidbits: George Gershwin, on hearing that others feared he wanted to write only "serious" music after Porgy, wired his agent: "Rumors about highbrow music ridiculous. Am out to write hits." (Nov.)
Library Journal
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Broadway, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of American History have assembled this lavish coffee-table book celebrating both the stage and the Hollywood musical. With 126 color and 161 black-and-white illustrations in fewer than 300 pages, there isn't room for much text, and what remains is fast and furious without much depth. Browsers and even some researchers will enjoy leafing through the photos and playbill reproductions, but anyone seeking a better historical reference work should purchase Ken Bloom's Broadway: An Encyclopedic Guide to the History, People, and Places of Times Square (LJ 11/1/90) and James Parish's Great Hollywood Musical Pictures (Scarecrow, 1992). Recommended for larger general theater collections, but not as a reference book.Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ. Lib., Tex.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781560986980
Publisher:
Smithsonian Institution Press
Publication date:
09/28/1996
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
9.34(w) x 12.35(h) x 0.97(d)

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