An enlightening trip for lovers of musicals.




From overture to final curtain, a close look at how musicals work.

As a screenwriter and drama critic, senior vice president of Jujamcyn Theaters, which owns five Broadway venues, and artistic director of City Center’s Encores! revivals, Viertel is well-steeped in Broadway culture, lore, and productions. He adores musicals, which, he writes, deserve the same kind of attention that literary scholars give to Shakespeare: a scene-by-scene examination, “trying to piece out why every line of dialogue was there, what every lyric accomplished, and how music supported whatever the fundamental idea of the show was.” That’s the project he brings to his class at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, focusing on four musicals from Broadway’s golden age, from Oklahoma! in 1943 to A Chorus Line in 1975. After that, he claims, “formal rigor and craft” faded. This copious book could well serve as his text. Besides the four iconic shows—Gypsy, Guys and DollsMy Fair Lady, and South Pacific—Viertel adds others, including The Music ManA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumFiddler on the RoofThe ProducersWest Side StoryCarousel, and The King and I. He also deconstructs more recent fare, including, among other productions, The Book of MormonWicked, and even the current hip-hop musical Hamilton. Viertel is lively, deeply informed, and irrepressibly enthusiastic, but the problem with translating his analysis into a book is that readers may not know the musicals as well as his students do—students who likely have scripts, lyrics, cast recordings (he offers a list of his favorites), or videos. Nevertheless, he offers discerning insights about structure: the “I want” song that sets out the protagonist’s hopes, the “conditional love song” that starts a romance, energetic interludes known as “the noise,” subplots, next-to-last scenes, star turns, and resolutions. He examines, too, a good show’s “happily unpredictable” qualities.

An enlightening trip for lovers of musicals.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-25692-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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