The Art of the American Musical

The Art of the American Musical

Conversations With the Creators

Book - 2005
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Rutgers University Press

Musical theater has captivated American audiences from its early roots in burlesque stage productions and minstrel shows to the million-dollar industry it has become on Broadway today. What is it about this truly indigenous American art form that has made it so enduringly popular? How has it survived, even thrived, alongside the technology of film and the glitz and glamour of Hollywood? Will it continue to evolve and leave its mark on the twenty-first century?

Bringing together exclusive and previously unpublished interviews with nineteen leading composers, lyricists, librettists, directors, choreographers, and producers from the mid-1900s to the present, this book details the careers of the individuals who shaped this popular performance art during its most prolific period. The interviewees discuss their roles in productions ranging from On the Town (1944) and Finian's Rainbow (1947) to The Producers (2001) and Bounce (2003).

Readers are taken onto the stage, into the rehearsals, and behind the scenes. The nuts and bolts, the alchemy, and the occasional agonies of the collaborative process are all explored. In their discussions, the artists detail their engagements with other creative forces, including such major talents as Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse, Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Jule Styne, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, Alan Jay Lerner, Zero Mostel, and Gwen Verdon. They speak candidly about their own work and that of their peers, their successes and failures, the creative process, and how a show progresses from its conception through rehearsals and tryouts to opening night.

Taken together, these interviews give fresh insight into what Oscar Hammerstein called "a nightly miracle"—the creation of the American musical.

Book News
Bryer (English, U. of Maryland) and Davison (English, U. of Delaware) bring together 18 interviews with musical theater composers, lyricists, librettists, directors, choreographers, and a producer from 1992 to 2004: Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Jason Robert Brown, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Sheldon Harnick, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Burton Lane, Arthur Laurents, Kathleen Marshall, Harold Prince, Stephen Sondheim, Susan Stroman, Charles Strouse, Tommy Tune, John Weidman, and George C. Wolfe. Interviews are preceded by biographical sketches and discuss performance, production, collaboration, working with famous actors and composers, and the creative process. Some of the interviews are from the series "Presenting.The American Musical Theatre!", sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute in 1992 in Washington DC, and four are with the volume's editors. There is no bibliography. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: New Brunwick, NJ : Rutgers University Press, c2005
ISBN: 0813536138 (pbk. : alk. paper)
081353612X (hardcover : alk. paper)
Branch Call Number: 782.140922 ART
Characteristics: xvi, 308 p. : ill. ; 24 cm

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