Broadway: The American Musical

This is the five-disc companion to the television documentary Broadway: The American Musical, covering 100 years of Broadway musicals, from Little Johnny Jones to The Producers, with performers from Al Jolson to Kristin Chenoweth. Undoubtedly it won't please all Broadway fans: not enough Rodgers and Hammerstein; too much Lloyd Webber; why "If I Were a Rich Man" instead of "Sunrise, Sunset"; why include shows that originated in England; and so on. But, as the companion to the TV series, its selections are based on what was used in the documentary. There is very little that isn't familiar in some way to Broadway fans, and true aficionados will already have many of these songs in the original cast recordings of complete shows. The set is much more valuable as a survey for Broadway novices, with the enclosed notes giving a brief historical perspective for each show. Because the music is presented more or less in chronological order, generally with original artists, one can hear how singing styles have changed as much as the musical styles have changed. It's also interesting to note that once upon a time, Broadway shows produced songs that ended up in the American vernacular, but today, Broadway shows are created from pop songs. The collection does seem to be over-packed with recent musicals that haven't yet proved their worth (six songs from shows produced between 2000 and 2004, compared to seven from shows produced between 1920 and 1930); on the other hand, it shows the increasing diversity of Broadway. At the very least, it's a fun tour through the life of an American art form. So "Try to Remember" to "Glitter and Be Gay" because the "Fascinatin' Rhythm" and "The Sweetest Sounds" of "My Favorite Things" and "All That Jazz" are found "On Broadway," where "Everything's Coming Up Roses" and "People" can dream "The Impossible Dream."[/RoviLink]

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