The Broadway musical is one of the authentic artistic contributions that our country has made to world culture. The five-CD set Broadway: The American Musical -- a companion piece to the PBS documentary -- celebrates the genre in grand style, throwing light on the illustrious composers and performers who have made theatrical history on the Great White Way. From the early days of the musical to the blockbuster era of today, Broadway gives us a taste of a great many of the legendary figures who exemplify the art form. The exhilarating beginnings of the 1920s are represented by such stalwarts as Al Jolson, Fanny Brice, Bert Williams, Eddie Cantor, Gertrude Lawrence, and Paul Robeson; the glory days of the '30s, '40s and '50s get their due from celebrated names like Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, Fred Astaire, Alfred Drake, Ray Bolger, Robert Alda, Julie Andrews, and Barbara Cook. The '60s and '70s find Dick Van Dyke, Zero Mostel, Barbra Streisand, Joel Grey, and other talents entering the picture, while contemporary musicals are marked by defining performances from Betty Buckley, Bernadette Peters, Michael Crawford, Matthew Broderick, and Hugh Jackman. And the songs! Landmark tune follows landmark tune from such musical icons as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Kurt Weill, Frank Loesser, Jerry Herman, Stephen Sondheim, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Among the multitude of shows touched upon are Show Boat, Oklahoma!, Annie Get Your Gun, Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Mame, Fiddler on the Roof, Chicago, Movin' Out, Wicked, and The Boy from Oz. As a sweeping overview of a glorious national treasure, this gem of a box set is essential for both Broadway aficionados and newcomers to the musical.