Singular sensation The triumph of Broadway

Michael Riedel

Book - 2020

At the dawn of the nineties, the British invasion of Broadway was in full swing. Musical spectacles dominated the box office. As American musical comedy made its grand return, plays, always an endangered species on Broadway, staged a powerful comeback. A different breed of producers rose up to challenge the grip theater owners had long held on Broadway, and corporations began to see how much money could be made from live theater. Then the September 11 attacks struck fear into the heart of Americans who thought Times Square might be the next target. Riedel presents the drama behind every mega-hit or shocking flop of that decade, bringing readers into high-stakes premieres, fraught rehearsals, tough contract negotiations, intense Tony Award b...attles, and more. -- adapted from jacket

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New York : Avid Reader Press 2020.
Main Author
Michael Riedel (author)
First Avid Reader Press hardcover edition
Physical Description
xv, 334 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 315-317) and index.
  • Foreword
  • 1. I'm Ready for My Close-up, Mr. Lloyd Webber
  • 2. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
  • 3. 508 Greenwich, #4
  • 4. La Vie Broadway
  • 5. The Gambler
  • 6. I Got the Horse Right Here
  • 7. Winging It
  • 8. Who's Afraid of Edward Albee?
  • 9. Razzle Dazzle
  • 10. The Fran and Barry Show
  • 11. Everything's Coming Up Rosie
  • 12. The Making of a Mogul
  • 13. Be at the Fucking Matinee
  • 14. The Lion Queen
  • 15. The Unmaking of a Mogul
  • 16. The Playmakers
  • 17. It's Good to Be the King
  • Epilogue And the Show Goes On
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
Review by Booklist Review

New York theater critic and author Riedel (Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway, 2015) considers the 1990s "a decade of profound change on Broadway" and here pulls back the curtain on some of its most popular shows. He interviewed more than one hundred people and found that even a theater columnist may not always be privy to what is happening behind the scenes. The saga of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard, which marked the end of the British invasion of Broadway; the phenomenon that was Rent; the 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls; Edward Albee's comeback; the story of Angels in America, and much more are told with all the wit and style readers could wish for. Riedel also tells the story of Mel Brooks' The Producers, from its tryouts in Chicago to its triumph on Broadway and recounts the effects of 9/11 and Broadway's response to it. Theater fans longing to see a show during this sequestered time will enjoy this entertaining look at what happens before and after the curtain goes up.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Riedel, a theater critic and longtime Broadway columnist for the New York Post, follows his bestselling Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway, about Broadway in the 1970s and '80s, with a masterful history of the key moments of the '90s, "a decade of profound change" for the Great White Way. Riedel covers the decade's biggest hits and flops: Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1994 Sunset Boulevard, whose "abrupt collapse" signaled the end of the British invasion of plays including Webber's production of Cats (1982) and Phantom of the Opera (1988). What followed was Tony Kushner's Angels in America (which premiered on Broadway in 1993 and had resounding success throughout the decade), and the groundbreaking Rent, which first took the stage in 1996 in the East Village's New York Theatre Workshop. Riedel details how, thanks to the phenomenal success of culturally inclusive and innovative shows such as The Lion King, the decade's productions had "put Broadway at the center of American popular culture in a way it had not been since the 1950s." Riedel concludes with a strong argument that the successes of the 1990s paved the way for the current moment of "cultural phenomenon" musicals, and that Broadway "is in the midst of its new Golden Age." Broadway aficionados and pop culture geeks will be entertained by this fascinating survey. (Nov.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend creator Bloom offers burst-out-loud-laughing personal essays that explore feeling uncomfortably different from others and finally realizing that she's not (200,000-copy first printing). Back to the Future Fox focuses on issues of hope, fear, toughness, and being realistic as he explains his struggles with Parkinson's and spinal-cord surgery that led to his learning to walk again in No Time Like the Future (350,00-copy first printing). What long-running TV show, now moving from strictly syndication to streaming, is the subject of McNear's Answers in the Form of Questions (60,000-copy first printing)? From Maerz, founding editor of New York magazine's Vulture website, Alright, Alright, Alright shows how Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused proved to be an unexpected success and the making of stars like Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey, and Ben Affleck (75,000-copy first printing). And New York Post theater columnist Riedel ranges from Jonathan Larsen's Rent to Disney's The Lion King as he portrays recent Midas-touched Broadway theater in Singular Sensation (100,000-copy first printing).

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Broadway stages a comeback. As the 1990s began, the Broadway neighborhood hit the skids. Off to see London-imported hits such as The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, and Cats, New York theatergoers sidestepped crack vials and prostitutes. However, Broadway was ripe for a resurrection, which longtime New York Post theater columnist Riedel follows in his brisk, insightful, and deliciously detailed take on the decade. For sure, the author serves up great dish: For example, appearing in a hit revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance, Elaine Stritch, clad only in bra and panties, darts into the crowded theater lobby just before curtain time to check on her house seats. But Riedel is after more than tales of outrageous antics. He chronicles the plays and musicals that brought great American theater back to a spiffed-up Times Square. A poignant and suspenseful chapter follows Jonathan Larson, waiting tables in a lower Manhattan diner while determined to stage a modern-day LaBohème as transported to New York's Lower East Side and called Rent. The brilliant Larson died at 35 from a rare illness, just as his musical became a megahit that garnered the Pulitzer Prize. At the same time, Riedel chronicles an infamous rivalry on 42nd Street. Fresh from his failure as head of Cineplex Odeon, the brutally aggressive Garth Drabinsky restored a derelict theater to house the musical Ragtime. Across the street, Disney returned to grandeur the New Amsterdam, eventually to house The Lion King. Riedel's account of this show's artists at work, particularly director Julie Taymor, is fascinating. Later, playwright Tony Kushner's Angels in America became a landmark chronicle of the AIDS epidemic. Finally, Mel Brooks caps this vivid chronicle with his musical The Producers. Riedel, keenly knowledgeable of the business of show, rounds out his history covering the deals--and swindles--brought off by a colorful cast of producers. An entertaining diversion for fans until the curtains rise again. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.