Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Trim: 6¼ x 9⅜
978-0-8108-8900-2 • Hardback • September 2016 • $56.00 • (£43.00)
978-0-8108-8901-9 • eBook • September 2016 • $53.00 • (£41.00)
Kat Sherrell is a conductor, pianist, and writer. Her work in New York has included Broadway shows In the Heights, Bring It On and The Book of Mormon and NBC’s Smash, as well as many new musicals in various stages of development, including Sweethearts of Swing, for which she is the lyricist-composer.
Chapter 1: A Great Big Broadway Show: Wicked
Chapter 2: The Roots of American Musical Theater: The Great Ziegfeld
Chapter 3: The Beginnings of Integration: Very Good Eddie, Shuffle Along, and Show Boat
Chapter 4: The Great Depression and The Great American Songbook: Anything Goes and Porgy & Bess
Chapter 5: A Golden Age of Broadway: Rodgers and Hammerstein
Chapter 6: Rock on Broadway: Hair
Chapter 7: Concept Musicals: Sondheim: The Birthday Concert and A Chorus Line
Chapter 8: Mega-Musicals: Andrew Lloyd Webber: Gold Album and Les Misérables
Chapter 9: Musicals for the MTV Generation: Rent and Spring Awakening
Chapter 10: Diversity and Integration: Hamilton
This entry in the Listener’s Companion series covers 15 American musicals, including such classics as Anything Goes, Showboat, and Porgy and Bess as well as the contemporary Rent, Wicked, and Hamilton. Musician Sherrell uses these shows to illustrate why Broadway musicals are so significant in modern popular culture. Chapters cover the plot and songs of each show profiled, and Sherrell intersperses discussion of musical styles and themes throughout the narrative—her various explanations of the music of Hamilton are nothing short of dazzling. There are many glossy coffee-table guides and encyclopedic works on musicals, but this close-lens look will appeal to both Broadway fans and music lovers in general.
'The Listener’s Companion' series aims 'to give readers a deeper understanding of pivotal musical genres and the creative work of its iconic composers and performers.' This latest entry reviews the music of the Great White Way by looking at a selection of some of the most important and enduring shows. Opening with a brief time line of American musical theater, the ten chapters place those productions in historical context and are accompanied by suggested titles for listening and viewing. Early musicals, the Great American Songbook, Broadway’s golden age, concept musicals, and megamusicals are all represented, including Show Boat, Porgy and Bess, Hair, A Chorus Line, Les Misérables, Rent, Spring Awakening, and, just in time for its first national tour, Hamilton. Sherrell, a Broadway pianist, does an excellent job of setting the stage for each show discussed in what she calls 'dramatized listening experiences.' Helpful features include a glossary of terms and a list of selected reading. VERDICT As a supplementary text for a theater class or an engaging read for theater fans, this one takes top billing.
— Library Journal
A professional conductor, pianist, and writer with considerable experience in musical theater, Sherrell writes in her introduction that she has chosen ‘to create a ‘sampler platter’ of approximately one century of American musical theater.’ Including in the discussion the accomplishments of women and the topic of race, she concentrates on a few shows, her ‘sampler.’ For these, she includes what she terms ‘dramatized listening experiences,’ which may focus on a given recording, not necessarily the stage version. She offers detailed plot summaries and comments on songs but supplies no musical examples (except in text) or photos. The book's strength lies in its treatment of post–Golden Age works, e.g., Hair, A Chorus Line, Wicked, Les Misérables, Rent, Spring Awakening, and Hamilton. She also gives particular attention to the works of Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Sherrell handles bibliographic references in an informal manner, and she includes a useful chronology, a glossary of musical terms, and a selective bibliography, discography, and videography. This volume is particularly useful for its treatment of contemporary musicals….
Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers.
— Choice Reviews
Who should buy this book? The casual musical goers who want to understand the genre's rules and tricks, the more committed actors or producers who want to add depth to their involvement in theater, and the educators who want a thorough , well-organized guide that introduces Broadway with the expertise of an insider.
— The Independent