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Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway by…
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Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway

by Michael Riedel

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If you've ever wondered who Jacobs and Schoenfeld are, why they have their names on theatres, and how Broadway has weathered the storms of the last century, read on for answers. ( )
  bensdad00 | Jan 10, 2017 |
I love going to the theater and was looking forward to reading this book. Razzle Dazzle did not disappoint and I enjoyed it very much. This was a well written and thoroughly entertaining history of New York theater (with an emphasis on Broadway musicals) from about 1900 up to the present. I learned quite a lot about the people who kept Broadway alive despite wars, unpopular plays, the ebb and flow of the economy and the sometimes sorry state of what came to be known as Times Square. From now on I will pay more attention to the brief histories of the theaters that appear in Playbills.

As to be expected, there were a lot of large, eccentric personalities connected to the theater, on both the business and creative sides of Broadway. There was pettiness, generosity, jealousy and opening night tragedy. If you want to know about the Tony battle between Dreamgirls and Nine or how A Chorus Line and Cats were developed, then this is the book for you. I know that it's blasphemous, but I don't really like musicals very much so, even when I could finally afford to go to the theater, I mostly went to plays. Therefore my quibble with the book is that I missed hearing more about the straight plays. I can't believe that there weren't interesting stories surrounding the plays of Tennessee Williams or Eugene O'Neill or William Inge, or even some juicy tales about Shakespearean productions. I wouldn't have minded if the book had been longer.

Broadway's at kind of a strange place right now, hugely expensive and largely supported by tourists who only want to see musicals or plays starring movie stars. Times Square is now so family friendly that it's impossible to walk on the sidewalks. It will be interesting to see who the next saviors of Broadway will be. But for now we have this book to remind us of how magical it all has been.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. ( )
  fhudnell | Jul 10, 2015 |
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