BroadwayWorld Book Club
Click Here for More Articles on BroadwayWorld Book Club

BWW Book Club: Read an Excerpt From Michael Riedel's RAZZLE DAZZLE: THE BATTLE FOR BROADWAY - Chapters 10, 11 & 12

Article Pixel
BWW Book Club: Read an Excerpt From Michael Riedel's RAZZLE DAZZLE: THE BATTLE FOR BROADWAY - Chapters 10, 11 & 12

BroadwayWorld Book Club is officially off and running! Or should we say, reading!

Our current BroadwayWorld Book Club selection is Michael Riedel's Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway.

Recap of Chapters 10, 11 & 12

If you would like to join the discussion, you can find a round-up of excerpts and fun facts from chapters 10, 11 & 12 of the book below:

Excerpt from Chapter 10:

Broadway wasn't paying much attention to new shows at The National Theatre in the summer of 1973. The Shuberts may have been vaguely aware of Equus, but nobody fro the company flew to London to attend the opening night and grab it for a Shubert house. It wasn't until September that Equus began to cause a stir in Shubert Alley. And that was because Walter Kerr, the most respected critic of his era, went to London and saw it.

"The closest I have seen a contemporary play come - it is powerfully close - to reanimating the spirit of mystery that makes the stag a place of breathless discovery rather than a classroom for national demonstration is Peter Shaffer's remarkable Equus," Kerr wrote in his influential Sunday New York Times column.


Kerr's review, as well as the London raves, set off a scramble for the Broadway rights to the play. The flamboyant Alex Cohen, one of the most prolific producers around was an early suitor. Cohen kept an apartment in London and was friendly with the major producers, directors, and writers. But a rival producer, who hadn't had a hit in a long time, was looking to make a comeback. Equus, he thought was the ticket. Kermit Bloomgarden had been a force on Broadway in the forties and fifties, having produced The Little Foxes, Death of a Salesman, and The Music Man. But by 1970 his luck had run out. And his health was poor. His right leg was amputated in 1971 due to hardening of the arteries. He had a steel prosthetic, which his office boy, a teenage Scott Rudin, picked up every morning to have oiled at a shop in Harlem. (Shaffer remembers, "His leg creaked!") To out maneuver Cohen, Bloomgarden called his friend Lillian Helman, whose plays he had produced. She was friendly with Shaffer, and she told him, "Kermit needs this." Shaffer gave him the Broadway rights. Bloomgarden, no longer as flush as he once was, teamed up with a rich lady- Doris Cole Abrahams, whose husband owned Aquascutum, one of England's best known makers of luxury outerware. AS they began laying plans for a Broadway production, Bernie Jacobs, having read Kerry's review, requested a script. He and his wife read it one weekend at the kitchen table in their house in Roslyn. They weren't quite sure what it was about, but they couldn't stop talking about it.

A New York producer who had seen it in London advised Jacobs not to take it.

"It's a homosexual play," he said. "It'll never work here. Too gay."

"Bullshit," Jacobs said. "I've read it. It's terrific. We want it."

The Shuberts got Equus.

Excerpt from chapter 12:

On the phone that day, Bennett told Jacobs he was working on a new musical called A Chorus Line. He wanted to know if he and his collaborators- composer Marvin Hamlisch and lyricist Edward Kleban- could come up to the office and play some songs from the show for him. Of course, Jacobs said. He always had time for a talented person with a new show.

In the cab to Shubert Alley, Bennett told Hamlisch, "Just play a couple of the funny songs. Don't do anything too esoteric." The funniest song they had was called "Dance 10; Looks 3," about a dancer who surgically enhances her body to kick-start her career. Bennett, Hamlisch, and Kleban squeezed into the tiny elevator at the side of the Shubert Theatre that took them up to the executive offices. In the reception room was a grand piano that "looked like it hadn't been played in twenty-five years," Hamlisch said. "It was covered in dust."

Hamlisch lifted the lid on the keyboard and placed his fingers on the cracked yellowed keys. He hit the first note of "Tits and Ass," and one of the legs of the piano gave way. The piano fell on its side with a crash. Jacobs, Bennett, Hamlisch, and Smith scrambled to lift it back in place.

My God, this is how we get money for a Broadway show? Hamlisch thought.

Related Articles

More Hot Stories For You