David Hyde Pierce, PBS, Great Performances, Joel Grey
As Sir Robin carols merrily to King Arthur in Monty Python's Spamalot, "In any great adventure, if you don't want to lose...you won't succeed on Broadway if you don't have any Jews." Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy is a new, 90-minute documentary by Michael Kantor, creator of the Emmy-winning series, Broadway: The American Musical. The special just aired on Great Performances yesterday, January 1 on PBS. Click below to watch!
Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy - narrated by Joel Grey -- explores the unique role of Jewish composers and lyricists in the creation of the modern American musical. Featuring interviews and conversations with some of the greatest composers and writers of the Broadway stage, Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy showcases the work of some of the nation's pre-eminent creators of musical theatre including Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George and Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Kurt Weill, Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Bock, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, Jule Styne and many others.
Dynamic footage includes performances by stars such as David Hyde Pierce (Spamalot), Matthew Broderick and Kelli O'Hara (Nice Work if You Can Get It), Zero Mostel (Fiddler on the Roof), Betty Comden and Adolph Green (On the Town), Nathan Lane (The Producers), Al Jolson (Sinbad), Fanny Brice(The Great Ziegfeld), Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl), Joel Grey (Cabaret), Dick Van Dyke (Bye Bye Birdie),Danny Kaye (Lady in the Dark), Ethel Merman (Gypsy), and Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel(Wicked).
The film is the first of its kind to examine the phenomenon that, over the 50-year period of its development, the songs of the Broadway musical were created almost exclusively by Jewish Americans. These are the popular songs that our nation took to war, sang to their children at bedtime, and whistled while waiting for the bus; taken in total they comprise the vast majority of what is now commonly referred to as "The American Songbook."