Musical Theatre

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Musical Theatre

Who doesn’t love a good show? Let’s look at an overview of one of America’s great homegrown institutions as well as some of the people and shows that have contributed to its history.

Anything Goes: A History of American Musical Theatre by Ethan Mordden
With its original roots in European opera, and drawing influences from operetta, minstrel shows and burlesque, what we now call the American Musical Theatre began to coalesce in the 1920’s. Considered one of the two most American contributions to world art, the other being jazz, musical theatre has seen great innovations and innovators in its long history. Victor Herbert, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Bob Fosse and Stephen Sondheim are just a few of the individuals who left their mark on this art form. Mordden also touches on what he calls the “Devolution” of Broadway, the increasing reliance on revivals. The Further Reading and Discography sections in the back are quite extensive.
 
We'll Have Manhattan: The Early Works of Rodgers and Hart by Dominic Symonds
Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart wrote the songs for more than 40 shows during their partnership. The songs from these shows have contributed to what is known as the Great American Songbook, including classics such as “The Lady is a Tramp,” “Dancing on the Ceiling,” and “My Funny Valentine.” The book concentrates on their early work between 1919 and 1931. In addition to biographical information on the two of them, Symonds analyses the shows and songs they produced. A wonderful study of a creative duo from the early days of Broadway.
 
Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution by Todd S. Purdum
Both Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein worked with other partners before they teamed up, but together they changed the face of musical theatre. In addition to the personal lives of both men, we get to meet the behind-the-scenes talent that helped make the duo the force they became. Something Wonderful tells of the creation of each of their successful, and not so successful, shows. Along with producing their own work they also began, for financial reasons, to produce other shows, Annie Get Your Gun being one. Wary of Hollywood, they eventually relented and had their shows turned into films. However, not all of them became the hits their Broadway incarnations were. A wonderful insight into what makes success, not just artistic success but financial as well.
 
Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof by Alisa Solomon
Written to commemorate its 50th anniversary, Wonder of Wonders explains the how and why of this iconic show.
Beloved the world over, Fiddler on the Roof depicts subjects everyone can identify with: the loss of roots and tradition and the gulf between generations. Solomon begins with the origin of Tevye the Milkman on the stage in Yiddish theater, carries the story through its stage run and into its movie adaptation. When performed in Tokyo, the producer there wanted to know how Americans could possibly understand a play that was “so Japanese.” A must-read for all Fiddlerphiles.
 
Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
Yes, the revolution is upon us. In addition to the entire libretto of the show in this book, Hamilton: The Revolution
contains insights and footnotes from creator Miranda, as well as behind-the-scenes photos. The reader is let in on the writing process and musical influences of its creators too. Even lyrics cut from the show are included. A treasure for Hamilton fans everywhere!