Examining the rich history of Broadway theater certainly is not a new topic, but Harris, who teaches theater at Texas Christian University, successfully synthesizes decades of writings on the subject to prove a worthy point: the art of theater and the business of theater always have been and always will be in conflict. That said, many live dramas, which surely altered the way America saw itself and made a lot of money, blossomed from this fundamental contradiction. On the flip side of the same coin, the American musical, Harris believes, is "rank commercialism," born from business having had the upper hand. After a fast-paced, highly selective look at the roots of American theater, Harris takes readers through the lives--from inception through opening night--of six carefully chosen Broadway plays, including You Can't Take It with You , Cat on a Hot Tin Roof , Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and, in an especially moving examination, Death of a Salesman . It is truly a unique journey, in which the reader comes to see how art and commerce can weave mysterious magic when carefully applied to one craft. At times the text reads too much like a dissertation, which might frustrate the general interest reader, but those who read beyond that will find themselves at once a history student, a fly on dressing room walls and a witness to the multitude of forces that lead to an opening night.
A new Broadway season is on its way, full of exciting new shows and revivals of beloved classics. While many of them are original concepts or based on plays, five are based on books that you can add to your reading list today.