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It Happened on Broadway


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About the Author

Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer met as undergraduates at New York University. The coauthors of five critically acclaimed oral histories, they are cultural historians with a focus on New York City. They are also professors in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program at Dartmouth College. They live in Lyme, New Hampshire.


There's no people like show people to take you behind the scenes [of Broadway theater]. The Frommers haven't written a history of Broadway. They've woven one from the recollections of an all-star cast of more than one hundred actors, directors, producers, designers, choreographers, publicists, authors, composers, and even critics. * The San Francisco Examiner *
A chorus of more than 100 voices, including stars, celebrities, producers, costume designers, critics, sons and daughters of Broadway greats lend this oral history of Broadway theater over the past 60 years the heady excitement of a blockbuster show. The editors, whose previous titles include It Happened in Brooklyn and It Happened in the Catskills, understand that what readers want are tales of magic and legend, but here they devote more attention to the drudgery and brute perseverance that go into every Broadway success. Following the lead of Jeff Kisseloff's oral history of television, The Box, the Frommers tell the history of the medium, rather than of individual shows and performances, though there are plenty of those represented here, too. 'The first time I ever set foot on-stage was in grammar school,' begins Carol Channing, the book's first speaker. The remembrances . . . of Broadway debuts, of its richest era following WW II, of famous musicals and comedies, stars, hits and unexpected flops and a string of laments over what 'Broadway no longer' is today move so seamlessly you often have to check back to see who's speaking. Charles Durning remembers the first laugh he got on stage. John Raitt describes almost not getting to replace the lead in Oklahoma! because he couldn't fit into Alfred Drake's costume. John Lahr says his comedian father 'could get a laugh on a conjunction.' Interspersed with stage and backstage photos, caricatures, playbills and posters, the hundreds of magical, informative . . . never boring stories the Frommers have gathered demonstrate what it took to fill those seats. * Publishers Weekly *
The Frommers, both professors at Dartmouth, specialize in oral histories. . . . Here they provide a fascinating look at Broadway from different perspectives, including interviews with actors, directors, producers, composers, lyricists, playwrights, stage managers, set designers, and critics. The authors have cast a wide net and drawn in voices from past and present. * Library Journal *
An oral history of Broadway by the people who lived it, this volume encompasses the triumphs and glorious failures, fights and betrayals, dedication, and drudgery. * Ingram *

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