Review by Choice Review
Hischak (SUNY Cortland), author of a book on Broadway lyrics (Word Crazy, CH, Nov'91), here presents a more general look at American musical theater. In one alphabet are approximately 910 short entries for shows, composers, lyricists, performers, and other individuals, institutions (e.g., Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut), and genres (e.g., rock musicals). The volume concludes with a chronological list of the 337 musicals featured, a general bibliography on the musical theater, and an excellent index which includes shows, songs, and individuals mentioned only within entries. Information is given through the 1991-92 season, with artists' credits through September 1, 1992. Emphasis is on American works and performers, but some British shows and performers that have had a major impact on Broadway are included (e.g., Oliver!, Noel Coward). Other guides, like those by Gerald Bordman (e.g., his American Musical Theatre, 2nd ed., 1992; 1st ed., CH, Mar'79), are more comprehensive, but this volume makes a signal contribution in its biographical notes on individuals. Name entries are in natural order (e.g., "Alfred Drake," not "Drake, Alfred"); thus in quick scanning, running heads can seem misleading. Except for two poor frontispiece photographs, there are no illustrations. Valuable in all reference collections on the theater; Hischak should be encouraged to begin assembling material for the next edition. R. D. Johnson; SUNY College at Oneonta
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
This volume highlights 300 or so important Broadway musical shows and the musical careers of scores of people involved in their production. Major performers, composers, lyricists and librettists, directors, producers, choreographers, and others appear in this fascinating look at more than 100 years of musicals, up to and including Jelly's Last Jam (1992). Also incorporated into the alphabetical flow are entries on musical genres and subjects (e.g., Comic Strip Musicals, Flop Musicals) and musical series, such as Ziegfield Follies. A list of these entries appears before the main A-Z section of the book. Cross-references are noted by upper-case letters. A chronological list of shows sketched (from The Black Crook in 1866), a selective bibliography, and a detailed index close the work. Author Hischak has designed the work for the seeker of basic facts on specific shows and show people. Entries are brief but well written. For each show profiled, the year it opened and its main creators and performers are identified, hit songs named, and the number of performances in its original production reported. Sometimes the plot is briefly outlined. The personal sketches are rarely longer than three sentences and list only major credits with no biographical substance except birth and death dates. There are several recent encyclopedic works on the American musical theater, and they are listed in Hischak's bibliography. In the preface, he acknowledges two predecessors in particular: Gerald Bordman and Stanley Green. The former compiled American Musical Theatre, 2d ed. [RBB Jl 92], and the latter edited Broadway Musicals Show by Show (1990). These works and others, such as Ken Bloom's American Song: The Complete Musical Theatre Companion [RBB N 1 85], are similar in scope but do not focus simultaneously upon shows and show people. Therefore, even though the current work is appropriate for all public libraries and worthy of consideration by high school or college libraries, each library must decide if its current holdings of guides to the American musical theater warrant purchasing another. (Reviewed Aug. 1993)
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
The American musical theater has a long and checkered history, ranging from The Black Crook (1866) to Jelly's Last Jam (1992). Hischak (theatre history, SUNY) provides extensive data about musicals, writers, composers, directors, designers, actors, genres, and other matters in this alphabetically organized work. The book succeeds due to its comprehensiveness and useful cross-referencing. In a sense, though, it is frustrating because it makes no sense of the history of musical theater. Fortunately, there is an excellent bibliography that should lead the curious to more substantial sources. Though occasionally sketchy, there is a wealth of information here. For comprehensive theater collections.-- Thomas E. Luddy, Salem State Coll., Mass. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.