Breezy, upbeat memoir from the impresario who produced Broadway musicals like Guys and Dolls and Can-Can, as well as the film version of Cabaret.
Born in 1911 to immigrant parents in Brooklyn, Feuer became a trumpet player with the encouragement of his mother. Actually, this enthusiastic Boy Scout wanted to play the bugle, but Mom thought the trumpet would be a more practical instrument. And she was right, because after the death of his father (manager of a Yiddish theater on Second Avenue), the family needed money, and Feuer quit school to play with various pick-up bands that provided music for political campaigns. Next he was accepted at Juilliard and soon began making big money playing with club bands. And on to California, where he arranged music for the movies, as well as making lots of good and useful friends like Frank Loesser, Jule Styne, and Susan Hayward. The pay was good and the life easy—he learned to play polo and tennis—but Feuer could never entirely forget that Hollywood was the land of painted sunsets and rocks you could move. Once his service making WWII training films was over, he was ready for more satisfying work than the studios provided. He moved back to New York and with business partner Ernie Martin produced musicals that were not (just) vehicles for star performers but had real content and logical storylines. Feuer vividly recalls shows like Where’s Charley?, Guys and Dolls, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, while giving a crash course in the often frustrating business of entertainment. He tells readers how to improve a production in out-of-town tryouts and what it was like to work with Ray Bolger, Liza Minnelli, George Kaufman, Cole Porter, Bob Fosse, and a host of others. He also wryly recalls such flops as the movie version of A Chorus Line.
Entertaining, informative, and shrewdly perceptive.