Broadway: The American Musical DVD - 3 Disc Box Set. Color, Widescreen. Running Time: 360 minutes.
Broadway: The American Musical is the first documentary film to showcase the entire razzle dazzle story of this uniquely American art form. Each episode explores a different era in American musical theatre, spotlighting the Broadway shows and songs that defined that period. Featuring on-camera interviews with many of the principles involved in the development of the medium, the series draws on a wealth of rare performance footage and newly- restored film clips. Hosted by Julie Andrews, the six-part series offers the best seat in the house to the greatest Broadway shows of all time.
Like its fellow PBS series Ken Burns' Jazz, Broadway: The American Musical is an ambitious and absorbing exploration of a unique American art form that has always been best experienced in live performance. The six-part, six-hour documentary traces the history of musical theater from its roots in vaudeville, operetta, and minstrel shows, to the dawn of what would become the modern American musical, Show Boat, and on through many changes that seemed to reflect those in American culture itself. Significant creators discussed include Florenz Ziegfeld, George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Bob Fosse, and David Merrick, and notable shows (Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, Company, Cats, and recent hit Wicked, among others) are analyzed through performance clips and interviews with songwriters, stars, directors, producers, critics, and historians.
Special Features Include: Additional performances and over three hours of interviews, (including extensive footage of Stephen Sondheim at the piano). Other bonus performances include vaudeville films from the Library of Congress, original-cast television performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "If I Loved You" (from Carousel, unfolding over 12 minutes) and "Some Enchanted Evening" (the reprise version from South Pacific), Rent's Jonathan Larson spoofing Sondheim, and two behind-the-scenes looks at Wicked. -David Horiuchi