A chronology of American musical theater /

Main Author: Norton, Richard C., 1953-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2002.
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Review by Choice Review

Norton's encyclopedia chronicles exciting times in American musical theater, covering most genres of theatrical productions in "major New York City" venues, 1850 to the present. Norton (theatrical producer and historian) uses mostly primary resources. Entries supply production information, run dates, name of theater, casts, individuals involved with the production, genre, and names of songs. Productions are accessible chronologically by season and production number. Variant titles and three indexes of shows, songs, and selected persons are all useful. Gerald Bordman's American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle (CH, Mar'79), his American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama (CH, Sep'94, Mar'96, Jul'97), and the latest in the series, Thomas S. Hischak's American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama (CH, Sep'01), serve as excellent supplemental works. Unlike these works, Norton focuses on productions only in New York City and excludes the earliest theatrical productions, critical commentary, and plots. Recommended for general readers through professionals. J. R. Carter Wilkes University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

Designed as a companion to Gerald Bordman's American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle (3d ed., Oxford, 2000), this hefty set reproduces the program information for every musical, operetta, or other musical play that opened in a major New York City theater from January 1850 through May 2001. In addition, it includes selective coverage of productions from the previous 100 years, thus providing an impressive chronological record of 4,978 musicals (including revivals) produced on Broadway from 1750 to the end of the 2000^-2001 season. Norton devoted seven years to researching and preparing this compilation, relying on actual theater programs from opening nights or opening weeks, supplemented with information gleaned from Variety, Billboard, the New York Times, and other publications. Arranged by the date each musical opened, the entries provide extensive credits and cast lists, act and scene settings, the beginning and ending dates of the production's run, the total number of performances, and any changes of venue or return engagements. Most entries also include an act-by-act list of songs and other musical numbers and the performers for each. Meticulous footnotes give sources of information for material not found in the programs and additional details, such as revisions or added songs. Preceding the section for each theater season is a black-and-white photograph of a scene from one of the featured musicals. Volume 3 includes indexes to show titles, songs, and selected individuals. In his lengthy preface, Norton provides useful historical background and detailed explanations regarding his criteria for inclusion. His interpretation of "musical theater" is quite broad, encompassing almost any entertainment with musical components, such as revues, burlesques, comic operas, and dance dramas. However, his geographical range is more confined, limited to those New York City venues generally considered to be within the Broadway theater district. As he himself regretfully notes, his exclusion of off-Broadway productions means that The Fantasticks does not appear in this set. Although there is considerable overlap between this work and Ken Bloom's two-volume American Song: The Complete Musical Theatre Companion, 1877^-1995 (2d ed., Schirmer, 1996), each compilation includes productions that are not in the other. While Bloom's work covers slightly fewer shows (4,863), it encompasses not just Broadway but off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway musicals as well as regional theater and original television productions. On the other hand, Norton's chronology covers many Broadway shows not in Bloom's work, and it also provides more extensive information for each musical. By far the most comprehensive and scholarly chronology of Broadway musicals available, A Chronology of American Musical Theater makes a substantial contribution to the history of musical theater in the U.S., and it is highly recommended for larger public, academic, and research libraries.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

Theatrical producer and theater historian Norton offers a "comprehensive picture of the popular American Musical Theatre as presented on first-class stages in New York City, from 1850 to the present [2000-01 season], seen through the details of its theatre programs." The work is intended as a companion to Gerald Bordman's American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle, which provides descriptive narrative about the productions. Norton's work supplies only the production details-e.g., cast, crew, songs by act and scene, and lyricists-but with 3000 entries covers a far greater number of shows. An extensive preface clearly explains how each facet of a show is handled in the entries, and both shows and songs are cross-referenced to original and later productions. Three indexes cover show titles (including variants), approximately 100,000 people, and almost 50,000 songs. Broad criteria were used for selecting the entries, which led to the inclusion of every form of musical show, whether performed in English or in a foreign language, in a major Manhattan venue, taking into account "a number of insignificant" shows omitted by Bordman. Norton does acknowledge the limitations of selecting only major productions presented in Manhattan and hence excluding Off-Broadway, Brooklyn, etc., which means that The Fantastics, the longest-running musical in American history, does not appear here. Also omitted are the revivals of Broadway musicals presented by the Encores Series at New York City Center. However, Norton's meticulously researched information can't be found anywhere else in a publication of this size and scope. Highly recommended for all theater collections.-Laura A. Ewald, Murray State Univ., KY (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.