American Musical Revue: From the Passing Show to Sugar Babies

American Musical Revue: From the Passing Show to Sugar Babies

by Gerald Bordman


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American Musical Revue: From the Passing Show to Sugar Babies by Gerald Bordman

"In American musical theater, Bordman has become as important a historian as Stephen Sondheim is a writer," according to Library Journal. The author of the monumental American Musical Theater: A Chronicle ("absolutely the best reference book on its subject"—Newsweek) here completes his trilogy which began with American Operetta and American Musical Comedy, each focusing on a specific musical theatre genre.
Revues—Broadway musicals where plot was unimportant or nonexistent and the emphasis was on comedy skits, specialty vocal and dance numbers, catchy songs, and chorus lines of beautiful girls—flourished for half a century, from the 1890s to about 1950. After looking at some forerunners of the revue form, Bordman examines the 1894 Passing Show, generally accepted as the first traditional revue and then traces the genre's development, its long decline and ultimate fate. He then pays homage to the apothesis of the revue, the almost yearly editions of the Ziegfeld Follies (1907-1927) which featured leading comics, singers, and songwriters and prided itself on "glorifying the American girl." In the 1930s, Bordman points out, revues were more modest in scale and more satiric in intent and featured performers like Fred Astaire, Fred Allen, Clifton Webb, and Ethel Waters. The postwar period, Bordman notes, saw few memorable revues and television took over many of the functions of the revue. The most successful recent revues—Ain't Misbehavin', Eubie, and Sophisticated Ladies—hve been primarily retrospective concerts of older music. So it may be that the revue now belongs simply to history. But as anyone knows who has ever been fortunate enough to see a revue—or to vicariously enjoy one through this book—what a legacy!
About the Author:
Gerald Bordman's most recent book is The Oxford Companion to American Theatre.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195036305
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 09/19/1985
Pages: 191
Product dimensions: 5.75(w) x 8.56(h) x 0.75(d)

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