Coming Up Roses

Coming Up Roses : The Broadway Musical in the 1950s

4.32 (61 ratings by Goodreads)
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The 1950s saw an explosion in the American musical theater. The Broadway show, catapulted into the limelight in the 20s and solidified during the 40s thanks to Rodgers and Hammerstein, now entered its most revolutionary phase, brashly redefining itself and forging a new kind of storytelling. In Coming Up Roses: The Broadway Musical in the 1950s, Ethan Mordden gives us a guided tour of this rich decade. With loving detail, Mordden highlights the shift in Broadway from shows that were mere star vehicles, showcasing a big-name talent, to the bolder stories, stuffed with character and atmosphere. During this period, subject matter became more intricate, even controversial, and plots more human and complex; Mordden demonstrates how, in response, musical conventions were polished, writing became more finely crafted, and dance became truly indispensable. Along the way we meet the key players: such greats as Ethel Merman, George Abbott, Jerome Robbins, Gwen Verdon, Bob Fosse, Stephen Sondheim, Frank Loesser, Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein, and many others.
We get the backstage scoop on why Guys and Dolls is so well-made, why West Side Story is so timeless, why The King and I and Gypsy pushed the envelope, and why no one ever talks about Ankles Aweigh. All this is peppered with a dash of industry gossip-the directorial struggles, last-minute script rewrites and cast replacements, the power of the poster listings-that made Broadway so nerve-wrackingly vibrant. This passionate and informed study illuminates a crucial period in American musical theater and shows us the origins of many of the musicals recently revived to huge success on Broadway.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 126 x 214 x 24mm | 381.02g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195140583
  • 9780195140583
  • 1,378,024

Review quote

Recommended for theater collections. * Library Journal * Coming Up Roses, Ethan Mordden's new tome telling all about the Broadway musicals in the 1950's makes a grand gift for anyone who dotes on musical theatre. * Arlene Epstein, Independant Voice * ...the series that the critic Ethan Mordden has recently embarked on is so important....he has given us the opening volume of what will be our first in depth study of this fascinating art form, part play, part opera, part operetta, part revue, part vaudeville. Mr. Mordden is the right person for the job. * Robert Gottlieb,The New York Observer * A brightly breezy discussion of a heady decade for musical genius.... One of the nation's leading authorities on the art form perceptively dissects every major show of the decade and the people and cultural forces that shaped them. His brutally cogent analyses of flops are brilliant; his insights into how The Rain in Spain defines the genius of `My Fair Lady' are nothing short of breathtaking."San Francisco Examiner Ethan Mordden paints a picture of the musical that is warm and sympathetic.... Mordden's book forces readers to rethink much of what they know about the Broadway musical and to listen, and listen again, to their favorite soundtracks. * * While well-researched and of interest to the scholar, this lively book is as entertaining as its subject and will be enjoyed by the casual reader as well> * Library Journal * Coming Up Roses may not be an exhaustive treatment of the 1950's musical, but it's canny and intensely readable. * Randy Hall,Star * a tightly focused discussion of Broadway during its last decade of growth, this isn't a bad little book. * Jack Helbig,Booklist * This volume offers a rich compendium of hits and misses that kept theatergoers lining up at the box office during the decade many remember as bland white bread.... Brimming with opinions, reminiscences and anecdotes, the pleasure here comes from Mordden's jaundiced eye, sharp wit and passion for his subject. This is must for every theater lover. * Publishers Weekly * This account makes an excellent companion to its immediate predecessor, Make Believe.... [Mordden's] analysis is always intelligent and well put.... A must for any fan or student of musical theater. * Kirkus Reviews * In [Coming Up Roses], Mordden dissects the era's greatest successes and biggest flops in witty, fast-paced prose....Mordden effectively shows how the musical evolved over the decade from conventional entertainment to darker, more thought-provoking fare. * Gay & Lesbian Times *
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About Ethan Mordden

Ethan Mordden is a recognized authority on the American musical, and the author of Broadway Babies and Make Believe: The Broadway Musical in the 1920s, both published by Oxford. He lives in Manhattan.
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Rating details

61 ratings
4.32 out of 5 stars
5 48% (29)
4 38% (23)
3 15% (9)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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