The Show Makers: Great Directors of the American Musical Theatre

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9780415923477: The Show Makers: Great Directors of the American Musical Theatre
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First published in 2004. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

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About the Author:

Lawrence Thelen is a playwright and director and has published several scripts. He lives in New Jersey.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Expect no Updike from this solid but uninspiring set of profiles of post-Oklahoma! directors from Hal Prince to George C. Wolfe. Aiming to provide ``a seminar with great directors,'' Thelen offers background on the incarnations of the musical (book, concept, and epic), then gets out of the way while his subjects dilate on their craft. Oft-cited influences include Elia Kazan, for understanding how actors make a scene work, and Busby Berkeley, for what Tom O'Horgan calls the ``structural aspect'' of his musicals. Nearly all the directors were shaped by their experience as participants in, or audiences of, West Side Story. No one cites Cats. Auditions are almost universally detested, and the value of out-of-town previews championed. Unsurprisingly, the directors understand their strengths. Arthur Laurents is a dictator ``to a point; James Lapine just ``tell[s] a story; Jerry Zaks counts his innocence about musical comedy a plus in finding fresh takes on revivals of Guys and Dolls and Anything Goes. Most of the directors bemoan current ``pop-opera'' musical theater, sharing Jerome Robbins's belief that most modern shows ``get along on their glamour.'' Only O'Horgan sees promise in the millennial generation bringing ``something else'' to the plate. And everyone agrees that staging revivals requires rethinking, not reverence. As Des McAnuff says: ``You would never . . . imitate a [Shakespeare] production from 1612. Though Thelen seasons each profile with lengthy quotations from his quotable subjects, he does not temper them with critical analysis or an informed authorial presence, leaving the unwary with mere reportage. The mass of directors' voices is impressive for a drama textbook, but produces less than a glowing collection of profiles that might have dazzled with both articulate subjects and authorial acumen. Like a stew without spice, hearty and nourishing, but leaving few fond memories. (12 b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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