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BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL - new series on PBS

 
 
mac11
 
Reply Wed 20 Oct, 2004 01:50 pm
Hey this looks like a great PBS series! I'll post a press release about it below. Click here to check your local listings for air times. Looks like it started last night in some cities, tonight in others. They're running one of the three parts every night for a week here in Houston.

Today, with new musicals such as Wicked enjoying phenomenal success with 10 recent Tony Award nominations, revivals like Fiddler on the Roof filling the house and the Hollywood adaptation of Chicago winning the 2003 Oscar for Best Picture, Broadway is proving once again that its vitality and magic endure. BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL, an unprecedented six-part, six-hour documentary series, airs on PBS Tuesday-Thursday, October 19-21.

The first comprehensive documentary series on the history of the American musical ever created for television, BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL is hosted by Julie Andrews, Academy Award-winning star of stage, film and television - and PBS's unofficial "ambassador for the Broadway musical."

BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL tells two stories: the 100-year history of musical theater and the story of its relationship to 20th-century American life. Producer Michael Kantor's chronological approach begins with the immigrant experience at the turn of the century, when a melting pot of voices and styles gave rise to a popular new form of entertainment. The series ends with 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: George Gershwin's sojourn to Folly Island, where he began to compose his celebrated score for Porgy and Bess; the thrill of Oklahoma!'s opening night; comedienne Fanny Brice's heart-grabbing performance of "My Man." From the titillating yet artful spectacle of The Ziegfeld Follies to Ethel Merman's brassy rendition of "I've Got Rhythm," and from Julie Taymor's visionary staging of The Lion King to a behind-the-scenes look at Wicked's opening night, the series enlightens, educates and offers unique insight into this truly American art form.

BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL assembled first-person accounts from dozens of theater luminaries - among them late greats such as Adolph Green, Brendan Gill, Peter Stone, "Ziegfeld Girl" Dana O'Connell, Al Hirschfeld and Frances Gershwin Godowsky. The whole of Broadway is represented: writers, lyricists, producers, performers, directors and scholars. Among them are Mel Brooks, Carol Channing, Betty Comden, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Jerry Herman, Margo Jefferson, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Joel Grey, Harvey Fierstein, Robert Kimball, Chita Rivera, John Lahr, Rocco Landesman, Jerry Orbach, Arthur Laurents, Harold Prince, Gerald Schoenfeld, Stephen Sondheim, Tommy Tune, Ben Vereen, George Wolfe and many others.

"There's no place in the world like Broadway - it's where the American dream is realized eight times a week, and even though it's become an expensive ticket, it continues to embody the optimistic heartbeat of American culture," says Kantor. "As Times Square celebrates its 100th anniversary, it's crucial to hear from the key Broadway figures who actually had a role in shaping the course of American culture - to document the stories of these creative legends in their own words - before it's too late."

Executive producer Jac Venza says the series is a sterling addition to Thirteen/WNET's four-decade tradition of showcasing musical theater and its creative talents on PBS with such series as GREAT PERFORMANCES, THEATER IN AMERICA, DANCE IN AMERICA and STAGE ON SCREEN. "Our long history of collaboration with the theater community, as well as our extensive track record in performance programming, has provided us with the access and relationships necessary to tell the complete, epic story of Broadway."

The series traverses a century of national events with seismic reverberations on the Broadway stage, including recorded sound, the rise of Hollywood, the Great Depression, both World Wars, labor relations, the advent of television, civil rights, the sexual revolution and AIDS. Each of the six films demonstrates how America's ever-changing cultural landscape is reflected back from the Broadway stage.

To bring this story to life, BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL uses an extraordinary collection of archival footage, newsreels, private home movies, original cast recordings, still photos, diary excerpts, personal correspondences, rare television and audio archives, and autobiographical material.

BROADWAY is geared to audiences of all ages, offering insights from Irving Berlin, Bert Williams and Yip Harburg through to Agnes DeMille, Hal Prince and George C. Wolfe, while spanning a century of musical productions from Show Boat, Anything Goes and On the Town to Company, Hair and The Producers.

"With this series, we not only showcase the magic of the musical theater, we discover its underlying connection to history," says executive producer David Horn. "And it's a history underscored by some of the most memorable music ever written - songs that are brash, unforgettably passionate and indelibly American."

To complement and expand the reach of the series, Kantor and co-writer Laurence Maslon are creating a lavishly illustrated companion book, to be published by Bulfinch Press in conjunction with the PBS premiere. A companion five-CD box set, a dynamic Web site and a variety of educational outreach activities are also in development.
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Raggedyaggie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Oct, 2004 03:46 pm
Thanks so much for posting this, Mac. I wasn't aware of it until now. The first show was last night. I'll be sure to watch or tape it tonight. It starts at 9PM here.
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willow tl
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Oct, 2004 03:59 pm
we are currently without cable but if you tape it i will gladly pay for a copy of the tape..love the musicals...thanks Mac.
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Raggedyaggie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Oct, 2004 04:10 pm
Willow: It's on Public Broadcasting which is not a cable station. Check your local PBS station. I missed the first night, but PBS always repeats their shows. Maybe not right away, but you can be sure it will be shown again.
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willow tl
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Oct, 2004 04:15 pm
Unfortunately here in Wichita, if you don't have cable you can't see anything...we have an antenna and all we can pick up is fox and WB on a clear night...Maybe Barnes and Noble will carry a tape of the program ..:-)
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Oct, 2004 04:54 pm
Incredible documentary worthy of anything Ken Burns has produced. Found it just in time for Part 1 but not in time to burn a DVD so I'll get all the other parts and hope they repeat Part 1!

You don't have a PBS station in Wichita, willow?
It's also broadcast. Maybe you should invest in a larger antenna with UHF?

It's being shown in hi-def here and twice each evening.
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willow tl
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Oct, 2004 04:56 pm
it's about finances at the moment LW..but thanks
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Oct, 2004 05:03 pm
Ah, yes -- that doesn't help. A really good antenna can be over $100.00.
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Raggedyaggie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Oct, 2004 09:25 am
I saw the second part last night. I loved it. Can't wait until tonight's showing. Brother Can You Spare a Dime with Bing and Supper Time with Ethel Waters had me in tears. I was elated when they showed Alfred Drake (Kismet) and John Raitt (Carousel). I saw him perform Carousel in an outdoor arena here. (When an airplane flew over, he stopped during Soliloquy, until the plane was gone, and picked up right where he left off and the audience went wild. (lol) And, Tod Duncan in Porgy and Bess. (he was the original in Lost in the Stars) And Mary Martin, and ----- I could go on forever. (lol)
Thank you for this post, Mac.
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mac11
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Oct, 2004 09:32 am
You're welcome!

I only watched the second hour of the 2nd part last nite. (I'm a West Wing junkie, and it was the season premiere.)

Loved it! It's wonderful to see the performances by the original artists, even if they were on Ed Sullivan or whatever.

And my favorite quote from last nite was from Stephen Sondheim - "There's Porgy and then there's everything else." Very Happy
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Raggedyaggie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Oct, 2004 09:42 am
Oh yes! And what about what author John O'Hara wrote:

George Gershwin died today and I don't have to believe it.
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Oct, 2004 09:44 am
Hope you were able to record it, mac11. I'm just hoping they repeat the showing or else I'm in for buying the five DVD set -- I think it can be had for less than $50.00. I'm recording on DVD from and HD signal so I'm getting the best DVD quality.

There were several moments, Raggedy, when I wished I had a time machine to go back to some of those monumental premiere shows. The premiere of "Oklahoma" where they invited in servicemen to fill out the audience was very touching.
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Raggedyaggie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Oct, 2004 09:59 am
Oh yes, Lightwizard, the Oklahoma segment was great, as was Irving Berlin singing the song from This Is the Army.
Oh, I do hope they repeat the show as I missed the first night. A few years ago they had a Rogers and Hammerstein, and a Lerner and Lowe special, that showed some of the scenes that were on last night. I'm going to dig those out and put them on DVD - not the quality you have - but, I'm quite pleased with the way the tapes are recording onto DVD.
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Oct, 2004 10:10 am
I've done some dubbing of video tape onto DVD -- those rare movie or programs that will eventually deteriorate on video tape. Most of my VHS are going to end up in a garage sale or given away to freidns and relatives.

I did buy the DVD of "Annie Get Your Gun" with Betty Hutton (who was a close friend of one of my friends in the past).

The series gives a new historical perspective on how the American musical theater evolved. I can hardly wait for the Sondheim episode today but can't figure out what they have left for the Sunday and Monday episodes.
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mac11
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Oct, 2004 10:21 am
You should be able to access your local PBS schedule for the series by using the link on my first post. When you get there, click on the "check local listings" link on the right.

The Houston station is repeating the series each night for a week. Very Happy
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Raggedyaggie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Oct, 2004 10:22 am
It will conclude here tonight. PBS has three showings, two hours each. The conclusion is:

a. "Tradition" (1957-1979) when culture is all the rage." West Side Story; Fiddler on the Roof; Hair, Chicago, A Chorus Line

b. Putting It Together (1980-present)David Merrick produces "42nd St." and London exports many of its successes.
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Oct, 2004 10:35 am
So it is ten episodes? The DVD set includes five disks which is why a thought it would be ten episodes (two hours for each DVD). I followed the link but couldn't find how many episodes.
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mac11
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Oct, 2004 10:35 am
It's six hours - three episodes.
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Oct, 2004 10:38 am
There's two episodes tonight here but it continues on Sunday night and Monday night. Perhaps they are repeating? Don't know what's on the five disk set as it wouldn't take that many for a six hour series.
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mac11
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Oct, 2004 10:38 am
Sorry, I just looked at the link again. They're calling each hour a separate episode. So it's six episodes total, and they're running it in two hour segments. I can't imagine what will be on five DVDs. Maybe extra footage?
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