Saturday, January 7, 2012

Open a New Window: The Broadway Musical in the 1960s

Non-fiction, but very much a story all the same. Ethan Mordden's history of Broadway musicals by decade continues in Open a New Window, and this is one volume I've read a couple times because it contains chapters about some of my favorite older shows. The more familiar you are with Broadway history, the more you'll get from this book, but if you're willing to take things as they come this series makes a decent introduction to the shows and the people who made them.

Among other productions, Mordden discusses that musical comedy gem She Loves Me, a personal favorite of mine, and this book is where I first learned of it. There's sections on 1776, Hello, Dolly!, Cabaret, and Fiddler on the Roof, as well as dozens upon dozens of less-known shows. Though not purposely obfuscating, Mordden doesn't hesitate to throw around show business names and jargon. Indeed, it's his familiar and even gossipy style that keeps the book from being a dry textbook history. His anecdotes and opinions ring with authority and keep you interested. The series runs the decades from the 1920s to the 1970s, and he has written many, many other books on Broadway, opera, Hollywood, and related subjects.

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