News on your favorite shows, specials & more!

Broadway: The American Musical - by Michael Kantor, Laurence Maslon

Broadway: The American Musical by Michael Kantor, Laurence Maslon

Those critics and theatergoers who have for some time lamented the death of the Broadway musical can take heart: thanks to this glorious paean, the hills are once again alive with the sound of music—and much more. Though this nostalgia-laden tome is designed as a companion book to a forthcoming PBS series, it stands on its own as a particularly striking and comprehensive take on a uniquely American art form. The copious illustrations alone are worth "the price of admission," as history unfolds through archival and contemporary photos (Fred and Adele Astaire in 1924; Tommy Tune swooning over Twiggy in 1983's My One and Only); sheet music covers (the Prohibition-era ditty, "How Are You Going to Wet Your Whistle When the Whole Darn World Goes Dry?"); and vibrant photographic spreads (Paul Robeson in a 1928 production of Showboat; Patty Lupone in Evita).The meticulously researched text spans the years 1893 to 2004 in six information-packed chapters, each of which opens with a "Who's Who"—brief vignettes about the period's most celebrated personalities—and is followed by a "Broadway and" section, which covers, depending on the chapter's time frame, such topics as Tin Pan Alley, radio, Hollywood, original cast albums, etc. "Spotlight on" examines a significant musical of the period (from The Follies of 1919 to Sunday in the Park with George). The chapters conclude with especially interesting "Archives" segments—essays by theater veterans past and present. Even the book's endpapers reflect Broadway's evolution: both are photos of the theater district's famed Shubert Alley, but theater posters indicate that the first shot is circa 1962, the second is 2004. And, just as in real life, everything on Broadway that's old is new again. The current blockbuster Wicked (based on Gregory Maguire's novel twist on The Wizard of Oz) and 1975's African-American version, The Wiz? Old news: Broadway audiences saw this classic's first musicalization in 1904. And those recent strikes by Actors Equity that have more than once threatened to close down the Great White Way? Nothing new there: the first Equity pickets were brandished in 1919.With its beguiling blend of entertainment and history, this splendid work is a must-have, whether you're a musical-comedy devotee (i.e., you know that Barbara Cook's Broadway debut was in 1951's Flahooley) or a neophyte (you're not sure who Barbara Cook is).

Available On:
Broadway: The American Musical on Hardcover

Publisher: Bulfinch

Released: 2004

Related Articles
Laurence Maslon Opens Up About His Third Edition of BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL
by Chloe Rabinowitz - March 10, 2020

Emmy Award-nominated writer Laurence Maslon is the co-author of the musical theater tome 'Broadway: The American Musical'. The third edition of the fascinating, comprehensive book has just been published, updated through last season to include The Book of Mormon, Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Hadestown, and more!

New Book BROADWAY TO MAIN STREET to Feature in Conversation at Skirball
by Julie Musbach - October 24, 2018

Oxford University Press and Laurence Maslon will celebrate the new book Broadway to Main Street: How Show Tunes Enchanted America with a special free "Skirball Talks" event at New York's  Skirball Performing Arts Center on Monday, November 19 at 6:30 PM.



Recommended For You