Thirteen's acclaimed BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL will return to PBS for a show-stopping encore on Sunday, October 7 at 10 pm/ET. The landmark six-part series, hosted by Julie
Andrews, brings alive the epic story of musical theater and its inextricable link to 20th-century American life
With Mel Brooks, Carol Channing, Betty Comden, Joel Grey, Kitty Carlisle Hart, John Lahr, Arthur Laurents, Harold Prince, Stephen Sondheim, Tommy Tune, Ben Vereen, George C. Wolfe, and many more, series includes an extraordinary collection of rare archival footage, private home movies, and original cast recordings
Today, with musicals such as THE BOOK OF Mormon enjoying phenomenal box office success, revivals like The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess delighting new generations, and musical stage versions of popular films such as Once and Newsies dominating the Tony Awards, Broadway is proving yet again that its vitality and magic endure. Nominated for five 2005 Primetime Emmy Awards and winner of two, including Outstanding Nonfiction Series, THIRTEEN's landmark Broadway: The American Musical returns Sunday, October 7 at 10 p.m., and continues on six consecutive Sundays through November 11 (Check local listings.)
The first comprehensive documentary series on the history of the American musical created for television, Broadway: The American Musical is a co-production of Ghost Light Films, THIRTEEN, NHK, and the BBC in association with Carlton International. The series was produced and directed by Michael Kantor, whose credits include Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, Give Me the Banjo and Quincy Jones: In the Pocket for the American Masters series.
Julie Andrews, Academy Award-winning star of stage, film and television - and public television's unofficial "ambassador for the Broadway musical" - is the series host. In her introduction to the series' companion book, Andrews fondly recalled, "I was so pleased that Michael [Kantor] asked me to participate because the Broadway musical has been a passion of mine for so long. It was about time, truthfully, for this kind of attention to be paid to such an influential art form. There is something visceral about the appeal of a great American musical...it just grabs you."
Broadway: The American Musical tells two stories: the 100-year history of musical theater and the story of its relationship to 20th-century American life. Kantor's chronological approach begins with the immigrant experience at the turn of the century, when a melting pot of voices and styles gave rise to a popular new form of entertainment. The series ends with contemporary Broadway, where big-budget new productions and revivals of classic favorites compete side by side for box office success.
When the series first aired in 2004, People Magazine named the series one of the "Top Ten Television Programs" of the year. Matt Zoller Seitz in the Newark Star-Ledger, declared, "'Broadway' is such an immense and immensely enjoyable documentary with a cheery relentlessness [legendary producer Florenz] Ziegfeld himself might have appreciated." And Nancy DeWolf Smith in the Wall Street Journal affirmed, "'Broadway' unfurls a vivid history of America itself in the last century." Ed Siegel in the Boston Globe raved, "'Broadway: The American Musical' beautifully create(s) a near perfect blend of entertainment and art."
Peppered throughout are legendary moments in Broadway history: George Gershwin's sojourn to Folly Island, where he began to compose his legendary score for Porgy and Bess; the thrill of Oklahoma!'s opening night; comedienne Fanny Brice's heart-grabbing performance of "My Man." From the titillating yet artful spectacle of The Ziegfeld Follies to Ethel Merman's brassy rendition of "I've Got Rhythm," and from Julie Taymor's visionary staging of The Lion King to a behind-the-scenes look at Wicked's opening night, the series enlightens, educates and offers unique insight into this truly American art form.
Broadway: The American Musical assembled first-person accounts from dozens of theater luminaries: writers, lyricists, producers, performers, directors, and critics. Among them are Mel Brooks, Carol Channing, Jerry Herman, Margo Jefferson, John Kander, Joel Grey, Harvey Fierstein, John Lahr, Donna McKechnie, Chita Rivera, Stephen Sondheim, Tommy Tune, Ben Vereen, and many others. The many late greats interviewed for the series include Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Brendan Gill, Peter Stone, "Ziegfeld Girl" Dana O'Connell, Al Hirschfeld, Fred Ebb, Arthur Laurents, Jerry Orbach, Kitty Carlisle Hart, John Raitt, Gerald Schoenfeld, Marvin Hamlisch, and Frances Gershwin Godowsky.