Apparently committed to producing a new book each year no matter what, Engel fills this slight volume with the lists and pedantic diagramming of theater songs and musical comedies familiar from Words with Music and The American Musical Theater: A Consideration. Here, for instance, you'll find 30 songs listed (with space-consuming accompanying data) for no other reason than to show that verses can be of different lengths. Or 60 ballads--to tell you that not all ballads are exactly alike. Similarly, when confronting a whole show, Engel will summarize ""character song assignments"" (Nellie--9 songs; Emile--9 songs) or label each song in a score as ""ballad"" or ""charm song"" or ""comedy song"" or: ""Having outlined the nature of the comedy song, I would like to proceed to the opposite end of the spectrum and speak about the sad song."" Zzzzz. Presumably, this slavish categorization and leaden analysis give rise to a set of rules for would-be writers for the musical theater, and Engel includes the assignments that he in fact gives to students in his workshops. But his old-fashioned generalizations thud and have little to do with Broadway's current hits or promising talents, leading one to believe that the critical principles now considered passÃ‰ for most branches of literature (counting lines, labeling) don't work any better for America's great, native contribution to the arts.