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Razzle Dazzle, Part 2: Broadway Triumphs Again

Razzle Dazzle, Part 2: Broadway Triumphs Again
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Razzle Dazzle, Part 2: Broadway Triumphs Again

Razzle Dazzle, Half 2: Broadway Triumphs Once more

SINGULAR SENSATION
The Triumph of Broadway
By Michael Riedel

In 2015, the theater columnist Michael Riedel revealed his first ebook of Broadway historical past: the scrumptious “Razzle Dazzle,” which traced New York’s uptown theatrical fortunes from the Nineteen Sixties to the ’80s. In Riedel’s flashbulb portrait, the Nice White Means noticed robust instances — a long time of neighborhood squalor, rampant corruption, the musical “Starmites” — however honor and income ultimately gained the day. Riedel’s cleverest stroke lay in casting the 2 capos of the Shubert theater empire, Bernie Jacobs and Gerald Schoenfeld, as his protagonists. They wheel! They deal! They take a danger on “A Refrain Line”! When Jacobs dies on the finish of the ebook, it’s a testomony to Riedel’s talent: One lawyer falling feels like thunder.

Their loss is felt all by means of Riedel’s sequel, “Singular Sensation.” Structurally, he’s comfy: Once more Riedel facilities his chapters on reveals, portray his pointillist image of Broadway, this time within the booming Nineties. His gimlet eye for masterstrokes of selling and producing continues to be there, enriching our understanding of the enterprise, as is his ear for the sharp retort and the conflict of egos. He primarily focuses on the banner successes, although, so as soon as he’s completed along with his account of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s fade from Broadway glory, the chapters evince a sure sameness. “Hire” pays out. “The Lion King” roars. “Chicago” sizzles. “Titanic” sinks its competitors. (Greater than as soon as, these tales embrace a scene of him turning to somebody and saying one thing prescient like, “I feel you might have the largest hit in your fingers since ‘The Phantom of the Opera.’” He has an incredible monitor report, if he does say so himself.)

His bibliography for that earlier ebook lists 67 sources; “Singular Sensation,” solely 42. Now, as an alternative of needing to dive deep into analysis and archive, he can draw on his personal lengthy protection of the business, which incorporates 5 years at The Each day Information and a powerful 22 years at The New York Publish. Sadly, in contrast along with his fascinated readability in regards to the flawed Schoenfeld and Jacobs, there’s little perception into the juggernaut personalities of Broadway’s latter days, although — since they’re alive — he has extra entry. (It’s attainable he’s really defending that entry, since we not often hear something unfavourable in regards to the present crop of energy brokers.) “Singular Sensation,” whereas undoubtedly beneficial, thus has much less swagger and muscle than his prior historical past — the ’90s didn’t conveniently comply with a clear-cut story of bust and increase, but in addition Riedel’s imaginative and prescient sharpens as he appears farther away from his personal experiences.

Nonetheless, at its finest, “Singular Sensation” looks like a gossipy dialog, after a present, at a restaurant within the theater district. Studying it, you’ll hear the clink of glassware within the background; Riedel’s prime observe is “dish” — even when dry, his footnotes have a nudge-and-whisper high quality, one thing he’s simply letting you recognize now that somebody extra delicate has left the desk. (Meet me on the backside of the web page for the actual scoop on Broadway’s advertising plans with Continental Airways, he murmurs.) His poignant introduction, written whereas on furlough from The Publish, will itself be a doc for future historians, because the unflagging theater yenta finds his perpetuum cellular stilled. And his enthusiasm for all elements of present enterprise is catching: His sources are producers, sure, but in addition designers and press brokers and attorneys, the oldsters who don’t seem on the marquees. Had you by no means thought in regards to the poster design for “Chicago”? Why not? Somebody put ardour into it, and that zeal attracts Riedel like honey. It’s not a sentimental ebook, by no means. Nevertheless it reads like a love letter all the identical.

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