The Oxford Companion to the American Musical: Theatre, Film, and Television

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From the silver screen to the Great White Way, small community theatres to television sets, the musical has long held a special place in America's heart and history. Now, in The Oxford Companion to the American Musical, readers who flocked to the movies to see An American in Paris or Chicago, lined up for tickets to West Side Story or Rent, or crowded around their TVs to watch Cinderella or High School Musical can finally turn to a single book for details about them all. For the first time, this popular subject has an engaging and authoritative book as thrilling as the performances themselves.

With more than two thousand entries, this illustrated guide offers a wealth of information on musicals, performers, composers, lyricists, producers, choreographers, and much more. Biographical entries range from early stars Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Mary Martin, and Mae West to contemporary show-stoppers Nathan Lane, Savion Glover, and Kristin Chenoweth, while composers Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, and Andrew Lloyd Webber all have articles, and the choreography of Bob Fosse, Tommy Tune, and Debbie Allen receives due examination. The plays and films covered range from modern hits like Mamma Mia! and Moulin Rouge! to timeless classics such as Yankee Doodle Dandy and Show Boat. Also, numerous musicals written specifically for television appear throughout, and many entries follow a work-Babes in Toyland for example-as it moves across genres, from stage, to film, to television. The Companion also includes cross references, a comprehensive listing of recommended recordings and further reading, a useful chronology of all the musicals described in the book, plus a complete index of Tony Award and Academy Award winners.

Whether you are curious about Singin' in the Rain or Spamalot, or simply adore The Wizard of Oz or Grease, this well-researched and entertaining resource is the first place to turn for reliable information on virtually every aspect of the American musical.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A magnificent new book about the American musical."—Playbill

"Kudos to Thomas Hischak for The Oxford Companion to the American Musical. Resources such as these are extremely important, not only as historic and academic records, but for future generations of artists who need to understand the legacy they have inherited."—Carol Channing

"Everything you ever wanted to know about the American musical—at your fingertips. What could be better, or more useful?"—Marvin Hamlisch

"Enjoy as I did this wonderful book as you discover the place of the musical in history and its gift for the future."—Jonathan Pryce

"I can't imagine a more comprehensive and useful book for anyone who works in musicals or who simply loves them. It's a great research tool, but also a book to read for the sheer pleasure of finding out anything and everything there is to know on the subject. I'll be referring to it constantly." -Lynn Ahrens

"How wonderful it is to have the entire history of the American musical theater, both on stage and on film, now available in one handy volume. Amazingly comprehensive and thoroughly researched, The Oxford Companion to the American Musical is a must for any theater professional or any theater fan." - Stephen Flaherty

"Join us, leave your fields to flower and journey through this explosive, informative book that is keeping our legacy of the arts alive." - Ben Vereen

"How wonderful it is to have the entire history of the American musical theater, both on stage and on film, now available in one handy volume. Amazingly comprehensive and thoroughly researched, The Oxford Companion to the American Musical is a must for any theater professional or any theater fan."—Stephen Flaherty, Tony and Drama Desk award-winning composer of Ragtime, Once on this Island, and Seussical

"[A] brightly written and handsomely laid-out single-volume reference guide The Oxford Companion's strength lies not only in the breadth of its research but in the ability to capture both minor and major artists and musical projects in just a few words."-Robert Viagas, American Theatre

"The Oxford imprint has long been associated with solidly researched, intelligent reference works. The Oxford Companion to the American Musical is no exception. Whether you buy it as a gift for a friend or yourself, it's too much fun to pick up for quick browsing and too full of interesting facts to gather dust on the bookshelf."—

"This is an impressive single-volume resource targeting this beloved American form....While some of the facts can be found in other sources...this title is considerably more comprehensive....Recommended for all music aficionados, students, public, and academic libraries."—Library Journal

"This volume is an essential reference work on the shelves of all performing arts collections, large public libraries, academic libraries, and the personal libraries of individuals committed to the American musical."—American Reference Books Annual Online

Library Journal

American musicals have achieved and maintained great importance to the American public more than any other performance art. This is an impressive single-volume source targeting this beloved American form. Written by Hischak (SUNY at Cortland), who is highly regarded in the performing arts field, having published 20 plays and 16 books on film and theater, the resource takes a close look at the entire history of American musical theater, from modern hits like Spamalot and Rent to the ageless classics like Oklahoma, with insightful information on productions, composers, choreographers, directors, lyricists, musicians, and performers. The more than 2000 A-to-Z entries are brief (approximately half a page long) but give a detailed, accurate overview. They run the gamut, beginning with Alex Aarons, producer of musicals by the famed Gershwins, to George Zucco, a British character actor specializing in mad scientists and sinister henchmen. Clever icons are inserted next to the title of the entries to indicate stage work, film, or television. The author discusses not only major musicals like The Lion King and people like George Cohan but also less important subjects, e.g., Paleface(1948), whose lively tunes made the film, proving the broad scope of American musicals.
—Bobbie Wrinkle

School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up

From The Beggar's Opera (1750) and The Black Crook (1866) to Wicked (2003) and High School Musical 2 (2007), this volume offers a clearly written, comprehensive overview of the American musical theater on the stage, silver screen, and small screen. The 2000-plus entries are brief but detailed accounts of plots; production histories; careers of actors, dancers, musicians, lyricists, composers, choreographers, and directors; organizations; and genres (animated musicals, frontier musicals). Small icons identify the title entries as stage, film, or TV shows. Cast lists in shaded text boxes include members of different productions of the same work. Other boxes list songs from many of the best-known shows and information such as "Longest-Running Off-Broadway Musicals" and "Musicals Nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award." Related biographies and autobiographies are listed at the end of the personal entries. Black-and-white captioned photographs are scattered throughout. The opening "List of Entries" helps make this a browsing delight for casual fans, while appendixes that include "Awards," "Guide to Recordings," and a bibliography of general works about musicals make it a valuable tool for researchers. This thorough work provides enjoyable reading for anyone interested in American theatrical history in general and musicals in particular.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195335330
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/2/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 960
  • Sales rank: 587,225
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas S. Hischak is Professor of Theatre at the State University of New York College at Cortland. He is the author of sixteen books on theatre, film, and popular music, including The Oxford Companion to American Theatre; the textbook Theatre As Human Action; and the award-winning American Musical Theatre Song Encyclopedia. He is also the author of twenty published plays.

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Table of Contents

List of Entries

The Oxford Companion to the American Musical 1

Chronology of Musicals 829

Awards 843

Guide to Recordings 855

Bibliography 899

Index 903

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