Musical Theatre & Cabaret Reference Books
American Musical Theater: A Chronicle (Hardcover)
Gerald Bordman. Oxford University Press, USA; 3rd edition, 2001.
Gerald Bordman's American Musical Theatre has become a landmark book since its original publication in 1978. In this third edition, he offers authoritative summaries on the general artistic trends and developments for each season on musical comedy, operetta, revues, and the one-man and one-woman shows from the first musical to the 1999/2000 season. With detailed show, song, and people indexes, Bordman provides a running commentary and assessment as well as providing the basic facts about each production.
Sing For Your Supper: The Broadway Musical In The 1930s
Ethan Mordden. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006.
In the 1930s, Broadway's lights still burned brightly. Ethan Mordden completes his history of the Broadway musical by taking a look at this forgotten era. Shows like Anything Goes brought the glitter of Cole Porter and Merman's brass to the public. Innovations in dance were pioneered by Balanchine and others. Scenic advancements made Astaire's The Band Wagon move across the stage in novel ways. Gershwin's revolutionary Porgy and Bess entered the canon of American Classics. And The Cradle Will Rock and Johnny Johnson took the American political temperature. With his trademark wit and style, Ethan Mordden shines the spotlight on Broadway's forgotten decade.
Beautiful Mornin': The Broadway Musical in the 1940s
Ethan Mordden. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999.
"Music and girls are the soul of musical comedy," one critic wrote, early in the 1940s. But this was the age that wanted more than melody and kickline form its musical shows. The form had been running on empty for too long, as a formula for the assembly of spare parts star comics, generic love songs, rumba dancers, Ethel Merman. If Rodgers and Hammerstein hadn't existed, Broadway would have had to invent them; and Oklahoma! and Carousel came along just in time to announce the New Formula for Writing Musicals: Don't have a formula. Instead, start with strong characters and atmosphere: Oklahoma!'s murderous romantic triangle set against a frontier society that has to learn what democracy is in order to deserve it; or Carousel's dysfunctional family seen in the context of class and gender war. With the vitality and occasionally outrageous humor that Ethan Mordden's readers take for granted, the author ranges through the decade's classics Pal Joey, Lady in the Dark, On the Town, Annie Get Your Gun, Phinian's Rainbow, Brigadoon, Kiss Me, Kate, South Pacific. He also covers illuminating trivia the spy thriller The Lady Comes Across, whose star got so into her role that she suffered paranoid hallucinations and had to be hospitalized; the smutty Follow the Girls, damned as "burlesque with a playbill" yet closing as the longest-run musical in Broadway history; Lute Song, in which Mary Martin and Nancy Reagan were Chinese; and the first "concept" musicals, Allegro and Love Life. Amid the fun, something revolutionary occurs. The 1920s created the musical and the 1930s gave it politics. In the 1940s, it found its soul.
Coming up Roses: The Broadway Musical in the 1950s
Ethan Mordden. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2000.
The 1950s saw an explosion in the American musical theater. The Broadway show, catapulted into the limelight in the 20s and solidified during the 40s thanks to Rodgers and Hammerstein, now entered its most revolutionary phase, brashly redefining itself and forging a new kind of storytelling. In Coming Up Roses: The Broadway Musical in the 1950s, Ethan Mordden gives us a guided tour of this rich decade. With loving detail, Mordden highlights the shift in Broadway from shows that were mere star vehicles, showcasing a big-name talent, to the bolder stories, stuffed with character and atmosphere. During this period, subject matter became more intricate, even controversial, and plots more human and complex; Mordden demonstrates how, in response, musical conventions were polished, writing became more finely crafted, and dance became truly indispensable. Along the way we meet the key players: such greats as Ethel Merman, George Abbott, Jerome Robbins, Gwen Verdon, Bob Fosse, Stephen Sondheim, Frank Loesser, Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein, and many others. We get the backstage scoop on why Guys and Dolls is so well-made, why West Side Story is so timeless, why The King and I and Gypsy pushed the envelope, and why no one ever talks about Ankles Aweigh. All this is peppered with a dash of industry gossip the directorial struggles, last-minute script rewrites and cast replacements, the power of the poster listings that made Broadway so nerve-wrackingly vibrant. This passionate and informed study illuminates a crucial period in American musical theater and shows us the origins of many of the musicals recently revived to huge success on Broadway.
Open a New Window: The Broadway Musical in the 1960s
Ethan Mordden. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan; Reprint edition, 2002.
In the 1960s, the Broadway musical underwent a revolution. What was once a form of entertainment characterized by sentimental standards, such as Camelot and Hello, Dolly! became one of brilliant and bittersweet masterpieces, such as Cabaret and Fiddler on the Roof. In Open a New Window, Mordden continues his history of the Broadway musical with the decade that bridged the gap between the fanciful shows of the fifties, such as Call Me, Madam, and the sophisticated fare of the seventies, including A Little Night Music and Follies. Here in brilliant detail are the decade and the people that transformed the Broadway musical--from the writer who knows it best.
One More Kiss: The Broadway Musical in the 1970s
Ethan Mordden. Palgrave Macmillan; New edition, 2004.
A Broadway musical about a single man living in Manhattan who's surrounded by married couples? A show about aging chorines haunted by the ghosts of their past? Another performed on a bare stage featuring chorus dancers that lands on Broadway like a juggernaut? Reality came knocking in the 1970s when Company, Follies, and A Chorus Line all taught Broadway a new way to sing. Mordden's latest volume in his history of the musical looks at an era that brought the gritty reality of A Chorus Line, the brilliantly bitter works of Sondheim-Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures and Company-and the crowd-pleasers Annie and 42nd St. In the 1970s Broadway both looked to its past and to its future for its blockbusters. With Mordden as our guide to this thrilling era, it's once again 'Curtain going up!'
American Song - The Complete Musical Theatre Companion, 1877-1995. Volumes 1 and 2
Ken Bloom. Schirmer Reference; 1st edition (1996)
This updated second edition features over a thousand new entries, as well as details on 4,800 productions. The two painstakingly researched volumes focus on a wide array of shows: from Broadway musicals to regional productions; from television musicals to ice shows; from nightclub scores to foreign shows by American writers; and many others. This encompasses Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway musicals.
Broadway Musicals Show by Show
Stanley Green. Hal Leonard Corporation; 6th edition (2006)
The most comprehensive and widely used Broadway reference book has been expanded and updated to include more than 300 of the most important and memorable productions of the American musical theatre. Chronologically arranged beginning with The Black Crook in 1866, the sixth edition adds entries on musicals from recent years, including The Lion King, Hairspray, The Producers, Wicked, The Boy from Oz, Mamma Mia!, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Avenue Q, and others. Features a wealth of statistics, inside information, critical reception, cast lists, and pithy commentary about each show.
The Great Song Thesaurus
Roger Lax and Frederick Smith. Oxford University Press, USA; 2nd edition (1989)
Lax and Smith organized their book to cover 10,000 works spanning more than 400 years. Details are provided on the year the song was written, the writers, the various media sources (such as musical theater, radio, television, etc.), as well as brief narrative information introducing more recent years' works, with notes on how the music and the events that inspired the songs interacted.
Lissauer's Encyclopedia of Popular Music in America: 1888 To the Present
Robert Lissauer. New York: Paragon House, 1996.
This book contains information on 19,000 songs that have had major popular appeal. Specifically included is information on the composers and authors, the year the song was first written, when it became a hit, the performers, and incidental information such as any motion picture use or chart positions which may be significant, or multiple recordings by different performers. The information is sorted in three different ways alphabetical by song title, chronological by year, and alphabetical by writers' names.