Some say America's musical theater began in a courtroom in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1735 when the English ballad opera Flora was staged without benefit of scenery or costumes, footlights or limelight. Others say it was not until 1828 when John Poole starred in a burlesque of Hamlet. Certainly it was no later than 1843 when Dan Emmett's Virginia Minstrels opened in New York. From that time to the present, classical and popular theater music developed to musical comedy as we know it today. Ewen shows how it evolved from the European operetta through the personalities who created the words and music and the principal roles, and there are some all time favorites here. Victor Herbert, Olsen and Johnson, Kurt Weill, Gershwin, Berlin, Ziegfeld, Rodgers & Hart, etc., etc. Replete with anecdotes as well as solid facts about dates, costs, successes and failures, the reader often feels that he is on personal terms with a glamorous world. Competent.