David Merrick: The Abominable SnowmanPaperback
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- Publisher: Applause Theatre Book Publishers
- Format: Paperback | 576 pages
- Dimensions: 180mm x 254mm x 53mm | 1,021g
- Publication date: 1 April 2000
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 1557831726
- ISBN 13: 9781557831729
- Edition statement: New.
- Illustrations note: 25 b&w photographs
- Sales rank: 1,868,839
David Merrick is the most astonishing showman of our time.
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A dishy but disappointing first biography of the legendary producer/ogre (who will be 82 in November) - as told by the chief theater critic for the New York Daily News. Kissel tells the story of the guy in the pinstripe suit (a vestment Merrick chose early in his flight from the hollowing meanness of his childhood) who dominated the Broadway theater from the 1950's until he began failing in the 1970's - first out of step, then out of steam, and finally felled by a stroke. Along the way, Merrick specialized in the tony American musical and the classy British import. His shows included Gypsy; Hello, Dolly!; Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead; and Look Back In Anger. Merrick, Kissel explains, had a genius for generating publicity: When Subways Are for Sleeping appeared weak in the knees out of town, he ran a full-page advertisement in The New York Herald-Tribune that featured little raves written by namesakes of prestigious critics. When director Crower Champion died just before the opening of 42nd Street, Merrick squelched all news of his death so he could announce it himself at the final opening-night curtain. No matter that Champion was a friend of old: Merrick was, by Kissel's account, a veritable monster who ruled by tantrum and menace - weapons allegedly honed by old anger and new cocaine. Was Merrick crazy as a fox or just plain crazy? Did his meshugaas help or hinder his fabulous productions? The questions are asked throughout, but the answers are impeded by turgid writing and an erratic overview that shrugs off much of consequence. Kissel's at his best when dealing with the post-stroke Merrick, where the focus is insistently sharp and the pathos keen. (Kirkus Reviews)