Broadway: The American Musical
This 6-part series chronicles the history of this uniquely American art form. Hosted by Julie Andrews, it tells two stories: the 100-year history of musical theater, and the story of its relationship to 20th-century American life, from the immigrant experience at the turn of the century to today's Broadway, where big budget new productions and revivals of classic favorites compete side by side for box office success. Peppered throughout are legendary moments in Broadway history and first-person accounts from dozens of theater luminaries.
Broadway: The American Musical Previous Broadcasts
Tradition (1957-1979)/Putting It Together (1980 - Present) (Episode #105W)
V-me: Sun, Aug 19, 2007 -- 8:00 PM
Tradition (1957-1979) - West Side Story not only brings untraditional subject matter to the musical stage, it ushers in a new breed of director/choreographer who insists on performers who can dance, sing and act. But by the time Jerome Robbins' last original musical, Fiddler on the Roof, closes after a record run of 3242 performances in 1972, the world of Broadway has changed forever. Rock'n'roll, civil rights and Vietnam usher in new talents, many trained by the retiring masters, taking musical theater in daring new directions with innovative productions like Hair, the first Broadway musical with an entire score of rock music. By the end of the 1970s, Broadway becomes the centerpiece of a remarkably successful public relations campaign that will lure tourists to New York for years to come.
Putting It Together (1980-Present) - Legendary as the "Abominable Showman," notorious producer David Merrick re-conquers Broadway in 1980 with a smash adaptation of the movie musical 42nd Street. But soon the biggest hits are arriving from an unexpected source - London. Producer Cameron Mackintosh redefines the business of show business as Cats, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon become international blockbusters. Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George defies categorization, while Jerry Herman's crowd-pleasing La Cage aux Folles has two men sing a love song to each other for the first time on Broadway - a breakthrough soon overshadowed by the rising decimation of the AIDS crisis on Broadway. Yet with Julie Taymor's triumphant re-imagining of The Lion King, Disney leads an astonishing resurrection of 42nd Street. After 9/11, Broadway - like the rest of America - emerges from the darkness. Broadway's corporate dominance continues to grow, as evidenced by new shows such as Wicked, the biggest hit of the 2003-04 season with 10 Tony nods.
- KQED Life: Mon, Aug 20, 2007 -- 9:00 PM
I Got Plenty O' Nuttin' (1930-1942)/Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin' (1943-1960) (Episode #103W)
V-me: Sun, Aug 12, 2007 -- 8:00 PM
I Got Plenty o' Nuttin' (1929-1942) - The Great Depression proves to be a dynamic period of creative growth on Broadway, and a dichotomy in the musical theater emerges. Productions like Cole Porter's Anything Goes offer glamour and high times as an escape, while others - such as Of Thee I Sing, which satirizes the American political system, and the remarkable WPA production of The Cradle Will Rock, about a steel strike - deal directly with the era's social and political concerns. When Bing Crosby records "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime," the doleful Broadway ballad takes the hit parade by surprise. The onset of World War II galvanizes the country, and America's troubadour, Irving Berlin, rallies the troops with "This Is the Army."
Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin' (1943-1960) - The new partnership of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II changes the face of Broadway forever, beginning with the record-breaking Oklahoma! in 1943, featuring a landmark ballet by Agnes De Mille. Carousel and South Pacific then set the standard for decades to come by pioneering a musical in which story is all-important. For challenging the country to confront its deep-seated racial bigotry, South Pacific wins the Pulitzer Prize. Irving Berlin triumphs again with Annie Get Your Gun, featuring Ethel Merman and the unofficial anthem of the American musical theater, "There's No Business Like Show Business." TV's "The Ed Sullivan Show" becomes the most important showcase for Broadway musicals. Yet with the death of Oscar Hammerstein II soon after the premiere of The Sound of Music in 1959, the curtain begins to lower on a golden age.
- KQED Life: Mon, Aug 20, 2007 -- 7:00 PM
Give My Regards to Broadway (1893-1927)/Syncopated City (1919-1933) (Episode #101W)
V-me: Sun, Aug 5, 2007 -- 8:00 PM
Give My Regards to Broadway (1893-1927) - When Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. first hits New York in 1893, the intersection of Broadway and 42nd is nobody's idea of "the crossroads of the world." But by 1913, "The Ziegfeld Follies really were an amalgamation of everything that was happening in America, in New York, at that time," says writer Philip Furia. Ziegfeld's story introduces many of the era's key figures: Irving Berlin, a Russian immigrant who becomes the voice of assimilated America; entertainers, such as Jewish comedienne Fanny Brice and African-American Bert Williams, who become America's first "crossover" artists; and the brash Irish-American George M. Cohan, whose song-and-dance routines embody the energy of Broadway. This is also the story of the onset of a world war and the Red Summer of 1919, when labor unrest sweeps the nation - and Broadway.
Syncopated City (1919-1933) - Gossip columnist Walter Winchell gives Broadway a nickname that becomes synonymous with all of New York: "It is the Big Apple, the goal of all ambitions, the pot of gold at the end of a drab and somewhat colorless rainbow." With the advent of Prohibition and the Jazz Age, America convulses with energy and change, and nowhere is the riotous mix of classes and cultures more dramatically on display than Broadway. But as the Roaring Twenties come to a close, Broadway's Jazz Age suffers the one-two punch of the "talking picture" and the stock market crash, triggering a massive talent exodus to Hollywood and putting an end to Broadway's feverish expansion.
- KQED Life: Mon, Aug 20, 2007 -- 5:00 PM