The Art of the American Musical: Conversations with the Creators

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2005 Hard cover New. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 308 p. Contains: Illustrations.

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2005 Hard cover New. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 308 p. Contains: Illustrations.

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Overview

Musical theater has captivated American audiences from its early roots in burlesque stage productions and minstrel shows to the million-dollar industry it has become on Broadway today. What is it about this truly indigenous American art form that has made it so enduringly popular? How has it survived, even thrived, alongside the technology of film and the glitz and glamour of Hollywood? Will it continue to evolve and leave its mark on the twenty-first century?

Bringing together exclusive and previously unpublished interviews with nineteen leading composers, lyricists, librettists, directors, choreographers, and producers from the mid-1900s to the present, this book details the careers of the individuals who shaped this popular performance art during its most prolific period. The interviewees discuss their roles in productions ranging from On the Town (1944) and Finian's Rainbow (1947) to The Producers (2001) and Bounce (2003).

Readers are taken onto the stage, into the rehearsals, and behind the scenes. The nuts and bolts, the alchemy, and the occasional agonies of the collaborative process are all explored. In their discussions, the artists detail their engagements with other creative forces, including such major talents as Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse, Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Jule Styne, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, Alan Jay Lerner, Zero Mostel, and Gwen Verdon. They speak candidly about their own work and that of their peers, their successes and failures, the creative process, and how a show progresses from its conception through rehearsals and tryouts to opening night.

Taken together, these interviews give fresh insight into what Oscar Hammerstein called "a nightly miracle"—the creation of the American musical.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bryer and Davison, co-editors of The Actor's Art, collect interviews with leading lyricists, composers, librettists, producers and directors who created the masterpieces of late 20th-century musical theater. Conversations with talent like Kander and Ebb, Susan Stroman, and Harold Prince shed light on the various ways to combine music and dance, which resulted in hits such as Cabaret, The Producers and Fiddler on the Roof, respectively. Each interview includes a brief bio and an appraisal of triumphs and failures, though the primary goal is to reveal the secret to successful theatrical collaboration. But that isn't really possible, according to Stephen Sondheim, since "the performing arts involve the final collaborator, the audience." While this work gives a good overview of how the genre has evolved over time, the editors often give too many details without sufficient context, making for tedious reading. Theater professionals and fans will enjoy the backstage gossip, but the real benefactors will be those who want to get into the business. The chance to apprentice with today's greats is rare; reading about them is the next best thing. 14 b&w illus. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813536125
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2005
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


JACKSON R. BRYER is a professor of English at the University of Maryland. He is the editor of The Playwright's Art and coeditor of The Actor's Art.

RICHARD A. DAVISON is a professor of English at the University of Delaware. He is the coeditor of The Actor's Art and has published books on Frank, Charles, and Kathleen Norris and numerous articles in major literary journals.

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Table of Contents

Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty 1
Jason Robert Brown 23
Betty Comden and Adolph Green 50
Sheldon Harnick 73
John Kander and Fred Ebb 95
Burton Lane 112
Arthur Laurents 130
Kathleen Marshall 148
Harold Prince 166
Stephen Sondheim 186
Susan Stroman 206
Charles Strouse 224
Tommy Tune 238
John Weidman 257
George C. Wolfe 282
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