This six-part documentary series chronicles the Broadway musical throughout the 20th century and explores the evolution of this uniquely American art form. The series draws on a wealth of archival news footage, lost and found television moments, original cast recordings, still photos, feature films, diaries, journals, intimate first-person accounts and on-camera interviews with many of the principals involved in creating the American musical. Julie Andrews is the series' host.
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Sunday, March 10 at 2:30 p.m. Sycopated City (1919-1933)
Gossip columnist Walter Winchell gives Broadway a nickname that becomes synonymous with all of New York: “It is the Big Apple, the goal of all ambitions, the pot of gold at the end of a drab and somewhat colorless rainbow….” With the advent of Prohibition and the Jazz Age, America convulses with energy and change, and nowhere is the riotous mix of classes and cultures more dramatically on display than Broadway. While brash American women flapped their way to newfound freedoms, heroines of Broadway like Marilyn Miller become a testament to pluck and luck and Broadway opened its doors to black talent.
Sunday, March 10 at 4:00 at p.m. I Got Plenty o' Nuttin' (1930-1942)
The Great Depression proves to be a dynamic period of creative growth on Broadway, and a dichotomy in the musical theater emerges. Productions like Cole Porter’s Anything Goes offer glamour and high times as an escape, while others – such as Of Thee I Sing, which satirizes the American political system, and the remarkable WPA production of The Cradle Will Rock, about a steel strike – deal directly with the era’s social and political concerns. When Bing Crosby records “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,” the doleful Broadway ballad takes the hit parade by surprise.
Sunday, March 10 at 5:30 at p.m. Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ (1943-1960)
The new partnership of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II changes the face of Broadway forever, beginning with the record-breaking Oklahoma! in 1943, featuring a landmark ballet by Agnes De Mille. Carousel and South Pacific then set the standard for decades to come by pioneering a musical in which story is all-important. For challenging the country to confront its deep-seated racial bigotry, South Pacific wins the Pulitzer Prize. In On the Town, an exuberant team of novices — Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jerome Robbins — captures the energy, humor and pathos of New York City during World War II.
Sunday, March 10 at 7:00 at p.m. Tradition (1957-1979) West Side Story not only brings untraditional subject matter to the musical stage, it ushers in a new breed of director/choreographer who insists on performers who can dance, sing and act. But by the time Jerome Robbins’ last original musical, Fiddler on the Roof, closes after a record run of 3,242 performances in 1972, the world of Broadway has changed forever. Rock ‘n’ roll, civil rights and Vietnam usher in new talents, many trained by the retiring masters, taking musical theater in daring new directions with innovative productions like Hair, the first Broadway musical with an entire score of rock music.
Sunday, March 10 at 8:30 at p.m. Putting It Together (1980-Present)
Legendary as the “Abominable Showman,” notorious producer David Merrick re-conquers Broadway in 1980 with a smash adaptation of the movie musical 42nd Street. But soon the biggest hits are arriving from an unexpected source – London. Producer Cameron Mackintosh redefines the business of show business as Cats, Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, and Miss Saigon become international blockbusters. After 9/11, Broadway – like the rest of America – emerges from the darkness. Broadway’s corporate dominance continues to grow, as evidenced by new shows such as Wicked, the biggest hit of the 2003-04 season.
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