Book

Coming up Roses

Ethan Mordden

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780195140583
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199848867 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195140583.001.0001
Coming up Roses

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The 1950s saw an explosion in the American musical theater. The Broadway show, catapulted into the limelight in the 1920s and solidified during the 1940s thanks to Rodgers and Hammerstein, now entered its most revolutionary phase, brashly redefining itself and forging a new kind of storytelling. This book gives us a guided tour of this rich decade. With detail, the book highlights the shift in Broadway from shows that were mere star vehicles, showcasing a big-name talent, to the bolder stories, stuffed with character and atmosphere. During this period, subject matter became more intricate, even controversial, and plots more human and complex. The book demonstrates how, in response, musical conventions were polished, writing became more finely crafted, and dance became truly indispensable. Along the way we meet the key players: such greats as Ethel Merman, George Abbott, Jerome Robbins, Gwen Verdon, Bob Fosse, Stephen Sondheim, Frank Loesser, Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein, and many others. We get the backstage scoop on why Guys and Dolls is so well-made, why West Side Story is so timeless, why The King and I and Gypsy pushed the envelope, and why no one ever talks about Ankles Aweigh. All this is peppered with a dash of industry gossip—the directorial struggles, last-minute script rewrites and cast replacements, and the power of the poster listings—that made Broadway so nerve-wrackingly vibrant.

Keywords: Broadway; American musical theater; shows; musicals; directors; scripts; poster listings; plot; talent

Book.  272 pages. 

Subjects: Popular Music

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Table of Contents

The Street, 1950 in Coming up Roses

Chapter

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Guys and Dolls in Coming up Roses

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The Street, 1952 in Coming up Roses

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Kismet in Coming up Roses

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The Street, 1954 in Coming up Roses

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The Street, 1956 in Coming up Roses

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My Fair Lady in Coming up Roses

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