The Real Kings of Broadway
I know a Good Story / November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving is celebrated all over the US but most Americans start out their day in New York City. Virtually, that is.  Long before the turkey comes out of the oven, Americans are in front of their TVs, staring at Macy’s famous parade.  Some watch it for the tradition, some tune in for the bands, and lots of kids can’t wait for the balloons but I watch the parade to see Broadway.  Before the main event kicks off, actors perform excerpts from currently running shows.  The stars seem like the kings of Broadway. But are they?  Actors are the most visible part of theatre but how much power do they really wield in Times Square?  Very few, it seems.  Behind them are the financial and creative engineers behind every show: the writers, directors and composers but even they can be hired and fired.  Behind them are those that can make a show work and invest the money needed for the show to open: the legendary Broadway Producers.  Do you think Producers are the ultimate in show-biz power?  According to Michael Riedel, there’s still one group that’s higher. No matter how good it is, no show can open on Broadway, unless it’s…

The Intellectual Heavyweight of Stage Musicals
I know a Good Story / April 7, 2015

I love stage musicals.  We were raised on a collection of cast albums from classic Broadway shows and my sister and I learned every song by heart.  We’ve  continued the tradition, to the present and both of us admire this form that combines the best aspects of art and entertainment. While we both love being entertained (who doesn’t?) it is the experimental side of this form that really draws me, how directors and playwrights and composers alter or recombine the elements of a musical to tell a new story or get the audience to view an known one from a new perspective.  That’s probably why I admire Stephen Sondheim’s work so much and why I’m glad Meryle Secrest’s biography, Stephen Sondheim: A Life is a discerning review of his life and accomplishments.  This composer of cerebral entertainment  deserves an intelligent biography, even if he makes a living in show business. Some would believe Mr. Sondheim was pre-ordained for a life in theatre, given his New York background, a talent for music and the teacher-student relationship he developed with Oscar Hammerstein II. Ms. Secrest’s well-researched biography suggests otherwise.  Rather than developing a relationship with Mr. Hammerstein because of his interest in…