Great Showtunes of the American Stage

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Disher, M. Music Hall Parade. London: Charles Scribners Sons, A celebration of music hall history, with some fascinating illustrations. Hard to find but rewarding. Dunn, Don. The Making of No, No, Nanette. Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, Although hard to find, this is the dishiest book ever on the madness involved in putting a Broadway musical together.

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Ewen, David. American Musical Theatre. Underrated and now out of print, this is a thorough encyclopedia of important American musicals up to Fields, Armond and Marc Fields. I live to find books like this! Evocative, well researched and a pleasure to read, it offers solid scholarship without any hint of academic gobbledygook. The often overlooked role of Lew Fields in the development of musical theatre gets full coverage, with a superb overview of popular entertainment from the late 's through the midth Century.

Filichia, Peter. New York: Watson-Guptill, The key production requirements for all the major musicals, aimed to help your group pick the perfect show. Other books have tried to do the same thing, but none are as practical or as thorough. Flinn, Denny Martin. New York: Schirmer Books, A wide-ranging and eloquent look at the history of the American musical on stage and screen. Clear, informative and insightful, even when expressing viewpoints I disagree with.

Fordin, Hugh. New York: Ungar Publishing Co. Sensitive and superb biography of a gentle giant.

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One of the best theatrical biographies ever. Frank, Rusty E. New York: DaCapo Publications, A much needed book on an all too rarely covered subject. Comprehensive and informative, with plenty of illustrations. It gives the rarified art form of tap a human face. Furia, Philip. Irving Berlin: A Life in Song.

8. Stephen Schwartz

New York: Shirmer Books, Delightful bio, written with great insight into Berlin's life and career. Ganzl, Kurt. Lydia Thompson: Queen of Burlesque. Detailed and thoroughly researched, this long overdue bio of a burlesque legend offers a fascinating glimpse into a lost theatrical era. Georges-Graves, Nadine.


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New York: St. Martin's Press, A well researched look at one musical family act that spent decades touring the TOBA black vaudeville circuit. Too many good ideas get bogged down in academic jargon such as "applying semiotics" and "Lacanian psychoanalysis". Gilbert, Douglas. American Vaudeville: Its Life and Times.


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  • Suggested Reading.

New York: Dover Publications, This was the first serious attempt to tell vaudeville's story, and still one of the best books on the subject. Still very much worth a look, and a pleasure to read. Glenn, Susan A. An insightful, clear academic look at how theatre and vaudeville helped redefine the role of women in American society. Includes extensive discussion of various vaudeville stars and Ziegfeld's Follies. Goldman, Howard. A well researched and readable biography of the woman who inspired Funny Girl , proof that truth can be far more fun than fiction.

Great insights into the show business world of the early 20th Century. The appendix includes Fanny's detailed performance catalog. Goldman's first show biz bio is the best, most thoroughly researched Jolson biography. In fact, it is one of the best theatrical bios ever. The appendix covering Jolson's entire performance history still astounds me, both as a career and as an academic resource.

Gottlieb, Robert and Robert Kimball. Reading Lyrics. New York: Pantheon Books, A wonderful, much needed collection of lyrics for over a thousand songs penned between and Grafton, David.

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New York: Stein and Day, As much a memoir of Porter's times as of his life, a great collection of memories from his friends and contemporaries. Green, Stanley. Broadway Musicals Show By Show. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Books, A show-by-show approach to the history of musical theatre, with excellent photos and the essential statistics. Encyclopedia of the Musical. A priceless resource covering NY and London productions up to the mid's.

Super feature: separate chronologies allow you to review the development of careers with a glance. New Rochelle, NY: Lavishly illustrated and packed with detailed info on every musical that played the Main Stem during this turbulent decade. One of my all-time favorite books, well worth tracking down. Green, Stanley, editor. Every major production either Rodgers or Hammerstein were involved with up is included, with statistics, reviews -- an amazing collection of data. The World of Musical Comedy. New York: A. One of the most popular overviews of American musical theater, focusing on major composers.

Numerous illustrations, plus a detailed appendix with production stats and discography. Grubb, Kevin Boyd. Entertaining and thorough, with many rare Fosse photos. Grun, Bernard.

Charming and informative, this book includes extensive coverage of The Merry Widow and a refreshing assessment of Lehar's controversial final years. Hanson, Bruce. The Peter Pan Chronicles. New York: Birch Lane Press, Every incarnation of Peter Pan is chronicled with affection and solid research, right up to Cathy Rigby.

Lots of rare photos, plus cast lists, etc. Haskins, Jim, and M. Mitgang, Mr. Bojangles: The Biography of Bill Robinson. A straightforward, well-researched and long overdue look at the life and career of the legendary tap dancer. Henderson, Mary C. New York: James T. The errors are corrected in the handsome edition, which includes many new illustrations. Herman, Jerry. New York: Donald I. Fine Books, Hirsch, Foster. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, A frank and thorough chronicle of the most powerful and hated dynasty in the American theater.

Far more extensive and revealing than previous efforts. Harold Prince and the American Musical Theater. A detailed look at Prince's directorial work up to Phantom of the Opera. Hirsch makes some ill-advised points, but there are plenty of useful facts and observations along the way for serious students of these works. Hischak, Thomas S. New York: Prager, An intelligent if wordy overview of lyric writing via the work of several of the theatre's most important lyricists.

Hoyt, Harlowe R.

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Town Hall Tonight. New York: Braham House, The author's family operated a theater in the days of variety and vaudeville. He captures that lost era with affection, from minstrelsy to melodramas like East Lynne. Israel, Lee.

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