Broadway The Golden Age by the Legends Who Were There
Marlon Brando (Actor), Bonnie Franklin (Actor), Rick McKay (Director)
Broadway Musicals DVD
BM01 Broadway Musicals DVD - Marlon Brando (Actor), Bonnie Franklin (Actor), Rick McKay (Director) - Broadway The Golden Age by the Legends Who Were There - Broadway Musicals DVD - It's not a comprehensive survey of the American musical theater, but Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There is an invaluable and moving salute to the art form composed of interviews with the people who were there in the 1940s through the 1960s. There are too many to list, but they include John Raitt, Angela Lansbury, Hume Cronyn, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Carol Channing, Jerry Orbach, Robert Goulet, Robert Morse (even he's gotten old.), Jerry Herman, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Stephen Sondheim, and Harold Prince. There are also some rare performance clips, such as Ethel Merman in Gypsy, Patricia Morison in Kiss Me Kate, and Angela Lansbury in Mame, as well as more familiar television performances, but very few film versions (for either authenticity or rights reasons). Director Rick McKay's focus, however, is on evocative stills, a few too many shots of the city, and most of all the words from the stars themselves. Fact is, because Broadway shows are a live performance medium, there simply isn't a lot of footage available, which is why it's a treat--no, it's an obligation--that we hear the stories from the people themselves. It's the best way the form will survive. After a bit of a slow start, the interviews cover the culture of Broadway, hanging out at Walgreen's and Sardi's, taking a show on the road, and thoughts about the current generation. (Broadway in this case refers to the location in New York rather than the musical-theater genre, so non-musicals are a major part of the discussion.) Broadway: The Golden Age had a limited theatrical run in 2004, and there will be inevitable comparisons to Broadway: The American Musical, the six-hour series that played on PBS in the fall of that same year. The PBS series is much longer (especially counting the DVDs' bonus interviews) and unlike The Golden Age, it attempts to be a comprehensive survey of 100 years of American musical theater. The ambition is admirable, but often hard to live up to. The Golden Age offers more rare footage, and a more powerful sense of nostalgia throughout the interviews. On the downside, there's no real structure to the film other than grouping the interviews by random subject, and director McKay relies too much on his own personal experiences as a jumping-off point. But it's a worthwhile, often passionate film that captures a priceless glimpse at a way of life as lived by so many memorable figures whose like will never be seen again. Films can be restored, literature can be reprinted-but what of historic Broadway performances? They leave only memories, and many seem destined to be lost. This widely acclaimed, star-studded documentary tells the stories of our theatrical legends, how they came to NY and how they forged the legend of Broadway. This crowd-pleasing DVD adds plenty of extras and clocks in at nearly three hours. BROADWAY THE GOLDEN AGE is a must-see for all serious admirers and fans of theatre. Rick McKay spent several years tracking down and interviewing almost every surviving Broadway star of the Golden Age to share their entertaining, gripping and often very emotional reminisces. Virtually everybody is included, with highlights being the late great Gwen Verdon (SWEET CHARITY, REDHEAD, CHICAGO, CAN-CAN, DAMN YANKEES), Jerry Orbach (CARNIVAL., PROMISES PROMISES, CHICAGO) and Uta Hagen (STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE). The film is peppered with juicy bits of gossip and info, with Shirley MacLaine, John Raitt and Janis Paige all recounting MacLaine's rise to fame following her historic job of understudying Carol Haney in THE PAJAMA GAME. Angela Lansbury fighting tool and nail for the role of MAME and Lainie Kazan being replaced by one of her closest friends, Michele Lee, in SEESAW. I almost fell out of my chair when rare filmed footage of Ethel Merman in GYPSY and Angela Lansbury in MAME flashed (all-too-briefly) across the screen, and howled with laughter at some of the jokes cracked by Elaine Stritch and Robert Morse. This release should be a mandatory purchase for anyone who cares about theatre. I was so moved by the end that I was speechless....I'm still speechless. This is more than a documentary, it's a life-changing experience.
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