Catalogue


Make believe : the Broadway musical in the 1920s /
Ethan Mordden.
imprint
New York : Oxford University Press, 1997.
description
257 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
019510594X
format(s)
Score
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Oxford University Press, 1997.
isbn
019510594X
general note
Includes index.
catalogue key
1220447
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1997-03-31:
The 1920s was the decade that transformed the American musical from a string of generic formula tunes and specialty acts into a cohesive play that advanced plot and expressed characterization through individualized and dramatic songs. So claims critic and author Mordden (Broadway Babies; How Long Has This Been Going On?) in this convincing book that goes even beyond musicals and operettas. Mordden, who often writes for The New Yorker, seems to be familiar with every star, song and show that appeared on Broadway during that decade, but his erudition is happily leavened by a schmoozy, jocular style, which embraces the reader as another theater insider. Examining the reactionary appeal of operetta, the domination of personalities like Eddie Cantor and Marilyn Miller, and the advancement of stagecraft, Mordden shares new insights into the black musicals‘both revues and book shows‘of the time, and into the influence of jazz on George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rogers and the other composers who were to shape what would be the golden age of musicals. In one chapter, Mordden persuasively argues that the 1927 musical "Show Boat," based on Edna Ferber's novel of race and show business, introduced that age. Sprightly, opinionated and well-informed, this will be a hit with theater lovers. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"...a beautifully written history of Broadway musicals in the 1920s."--Richard Christiansen, The Chicago Tribune
"Deploying a novelist's descriptive subtlety, [Mordden] brings long-ago stars and stage business affectionately to life. Though impressively informative, Make Believe doesn't deconstruct or dessicate its subject into submission. Mordden never forgets that what he is analyzing isentertainment."--The Boston Globe
"Filled with wonderful bits of lore...and pungent asides about the history of musical theater."--Robert Leiter, The Jewish Exponent
"In this breezy, fascinating book, Mordden chronicles that amazing Broadway decade.... Mordden writes with the authority of a true devotee..."--Booklist
"Make Believe brings an imaginative gift to its material than can only come from the author's love of his subject and fervor for embracing the reader in the rush of his enthusiasm."--Steven Bach, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Make Believe inspires appreciation for the importance of the '20s in the history of the American Musical and admiration for Mordden's stylish approach to serious musical scholarship."--John Glassie, Theater
"Mordden...seems to be familiar with every star, song, and show that appeared on Broadway during that decade, but his erudition is happily leavend by a schmoozy, jocular style, which embraces the reader as another theater insider.... Sprightly, opinionated, and well-informed, this will be ahit with theater lovers."--Publishers Weekly
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, March 1997
Booklist, May 1997
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
The 1920s represented a turning point in the history of the Broadway musical, breaking with the vaudeville traditions of the early twentieth century to anticipate the more complex, sophisticated musicals of today. Composers Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, and their contemporaries revitalized the musical with the sound of jazz and other new influences. Productions became more elaborate, with dazzling sets, tumultuous choreography, and staging tricks, all woven into tightly constructed story lines. These dramatic changes of the 1920s ushered in the "golden age" of the American musical theater. Ethan Mordden captures the excitement and the atmosphere of Broadway during the 1920s in Make Believe. In captivating, lively prose, Mordden describes in superb detail the stars, the songs, the jokes--the sheer fun of this era. Here are shows great, interesting, or even bizarre-- Sally , The Student Prince, Rose-Marie, Lady, Be Good!, No, No, Nannette, Rainbow, Good News!, Ziegfeld Follies, The "Coconuts", The 5 Oclock Girl, Blossom Time, Whoopee. Early on, the charisma of entertainers such as the bragging Al Jolson ("You ain't heard nothin' yet!"), the bewitching Marilyn Miller, the madly prancing Eddie Cantor, the unpredictable Gertrude Lawrence, and the indescribable Marx Brothers were the essential element in a hit musical. But, as Mordden demonstrates, the stars lost power and the authors took control, as shows like Desert Song , Peggy-Ann, Strike Up the Band, and Sweet Adeline reinvented the old forms. The musical became more "adult," too, baiting the censor in the lyrics of Lorenz Hart, Cole Porter, and B. G. DeSylva. And Broadway became more racially integrated, with "blackface" acts dying out while all-black musicals such as Shuffle Along and the Blackbirds shows enjoyed mainstream success. Make Believe reaches its climax with Morddens' deep look at Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's 1927 masterpiece, Show Boat. With its intricate story line spanning four decades, its gala interracial cast, its stunning physical production, its powerful score including "Ol' Man River," "Bill," "Mis'ry's Comin' Aroun'," "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," "Life on the Wicked Stage," and "Why Do I Love You?," Show Boat was the first American musical universally hailed as a classic. Fusing the decade's developments into one epic show, Kern and Hammerstein created something at once timeless and contemporary, the ultimate twenties show but, as producer Florenz Ziegfeld called it on the posters, "the all American musical comedy."
Main Description
The 1920s represented a turning point in the history of the Broadway musical, breaking with the vaudeville traditions of the early twentieth century to anticipate the more complex, sophisticated musicals of today. Composers Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, and theircontemporaries revitalized the musical with the sound of jazz and other new influences. Productions became more elaborate, with dazzling sets, tumultuous choreography, and staging tricks, all woven into tightly constructed story lines. These dramatic changes of the 1920s ushered in the "golden age"of the American musical theater. Ethan Mordden captures the excitement and the atmosphere of Broadway during the 1920s in Make Believe. In captivating, lively prose, Mordden describes in superb detail the stars, the songs, the jokes--the sheer fun of this era. Here are shows great, interesting, or even bizarre-- Sally , TheStudent Prince, Rose-Marie, Lady, Be Good!, No, No, Nannette, Rainbow, Good News!, Ziegfeld Follies, The "Coconuts", The 5 Oclock Girl, Blossom Time, Whoopee. Early on, the charisma of entertainers such as the bragging Al Jolson ("You ain't heard nothin' yet!"), the bewitching Marilyn Miller, themadly prancing Eddie Cantor, the unpredictable Gertrude Lawrence, and the indescribable Marx Brothers were the essential element in a hit musical. But, as Mordden demonstrates, the stars lost power and the authors took control, as shows like Desert Song , Peggy-Ann, Strike Up the Band, and SweetAdeline reinvented the old forms. The musical became more "adult," too, baiting the censor in the lyrics of Lorenz Hart, Cole Porter, and B. G. DeSylva. And Broadway became more racially integrated, with "blackface" acts dying out while all-black musicals such as Shuffle Along and the Blackbirdsshows enjoyed mainstream success. Make Believe reaches its climax with Morddens' deep look at Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's 1927 masterpiece, Show Boat. With its intricate story line spanning four decades, its gala interracial cast, its stunning physical production, its powerful score including "Ol' Man River," "Bill,""Mis'ry's Comin' Aroun'," "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," "Life on the Wicked Stage," and "Why Do I Love You?," Show Boat was the first American musical universally hailed as a classic. Fusing the decade's developments into one epic show, Kern and Hammerstein created something at once timeless andcontemporary, the ultimate twenties show but, as producer Florenz Ziegfeld called it on the posters, "the all American musical comedy."
Main Description
The 1920s represented a turning point in the history of the Broadway musical, breaking with the vaudeville traditions of the early twentieth century to anticipate the more complex, sophisticated musicals of today. Composers Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, and their contemporaries revitalized the musical with the sound of jazz and other new influences. Productions became more elaborate, with dazzling sets, tumultuous choreography, and staging tricks, all woven into tightly constructed story lines. These dramatic changes of the 1920s ushered in the "golden age" of the American musical theater. Ethan Mordden captures the excitement and the atmosphere of Broadway during the 1920s in Make Believe . In captivating, lively prose, Mordden describes in superb detail the stars, the songs, the jokes--the sheer fun of this era. Here are shows great, interesting, or even bizarre-- Sally , The Student Prince, Rose-Marie, Lady, Be Good!, No, No, Nannette, Rainbow, Good News!, Ziegfeld Follies, The "Coconuts", The 5 Oclock Girl, Blossom Time, Whoopee . Early on, the charisma of entertainers such as the bragging Al Jolson ("You ain't heard nothin' yet!"), the bewitching Marilyn Miller, the madly prancing Eddie Cantor, the unpredictable Gertrude Lawrence, and the indescribable Marx Brothers were the essential element in a hit musical. But, as Mordden demonstrates, the stars lost power and the authors took control, as shows like Desert Song , Peggy-Ann, Strike Up the Band, and Sweet Adeline reinvented the old forms. The musical became more "adult," too, baiting the censor in the lyrics of Lorenz Hart, Cole Porter, and B. G. DeSylva. And Broadway became more racially integrated, with "blackface" acts dying out while all-black musicals such as Shuffle Along and the Blackbirds shows enjoyed mainstream success. Make Believe reaches its climax with Morddens' deep look at Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's 1927 masterpiece, Show Boat . With its intricate story line spanning four decades, its gala interracial cast, its stunning physical production, its powerful score including "Ol' Man River," "Bill," "Mis'ry's Comin' Aroun'," "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," "Life on the Wicked Stage," and "Why Do I Love You?," Show Boat was the first American musical universally hailed as a classic. Fusing the decade's developments into one epic show, Kern and Hammerstein created something at once timeless and contemporary, the ultimate twenties show but, as producer Florenz Ziegfeld called it on the posters, "the all American musical comedy."
Table of Contents
Little Angel Cake: The State of Musical Comedyp. 3
The Second Violin: The State of Operettap. 36
Hooray for Captain Spalding: The Star Comicp. 53
The Girls of My Dreams: The Variety Showp. 83
Yankee Doodle Rhythm: The New Musicp. 99
Let's Merge: The New Social Attitudesp. 132
In Love with Love: Operetta Reinventedp. 161
Add a Little Wiggle: Musical Comedy Reinventedp. 184
Go, Little Boat: The All American Musical Comedyp. 205
My Future Just Passed: What Happened Afterp. 233
Indexp. 237
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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