Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway
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Broadway’s most respected (and feared) commentator pulls back the curtain on its stars, its producers, and its mega-hits to reveal all the shocking drama, intrigue, and power plays that happened off stage.
Razzle Dazzle is a provocative, no-holds-barred narrative account of the people and the money and the power that re-invented an iconic quarter of New York City, turning its gritty back alleys and sex-shops into the glitzy, dazzling Great White Way—and bringing a crippled New York from the brink of bankruptcy to its glittering glory.
In the mid-1970s Times Square was the seedy symbol of New York’s economic decline. Its once shining star, the renowned Shubert Organization, was losing theaters to make way for parking lots. Bernard Jacobs and Jerry Schoenfeld, two ambitious board members, saw the crumbling company was ripe for takeover and staged a coup amidst corporate intrigue, personal betrayals, and criminal investigations. Once Jacobs and Schoenfeld solidified their power, they turned a collapsed theater-owning holding company into one of the most successful entertainment empires in the world, ultimately backing many of Broadway’s biggest hits, including A Chorus Line, Cats, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, and Mamma Mia! They also sparked the revitalization of Broadway and the renewal of Times Square.
Now Michael Riedel tells the stories of the Shubert Organization and the shows that re-built a city in grand style, revealing the backstage drama that often rivaled what transpired onstage, exposing bitter rivalries, unlikely alliances, and—of course—scintillating gossip. This is a great story, told with wit and passion.
Layer, the cat who would be redeemed. Andrew played her the Cats theme, and Nunn handed her a rough lyric he’d cobbled together from an Eliot poem called “Rhapsody on a Windy Night.” The working title of the song was “Memory.” Paige showed the song to her lover, Tim Rice. He liked it and wanted to “have a go,” as the British say, at the lyric. Lloyd Webber agreed, and Rice dashed off some verses. But he wasn’t the only writer working on the song. Nunn asked Don Black, whose songs included “Born
more and more like a rock concert.” Meanwhile, Robert Fox and other members of the production team went to Holland to see the giant video wall Bennett wanted. It had been designed by Philips, the technology company located in Amsterdam. “The viddy wall,” as Fox called it, would cost several hundred thousand pounds—plus shipping to London. In the fall of 1985, Bennett moved to London to conduct auditions. Elaine Paige, Murray Head, and Tommy Körberg were signed to play the leads but the ensemble
378, 379, 388, 400, 401, 403 Philadelphia, musicians’ union, 90–91 Philips, 323 Phillips, Stevie, 106 Pickwick Papers, The, 219 Pinero, Arthur Wing, 285 Pinter, Harold, 224 Pippin, 100–102, 274 Pitchford, Dean, 385 Playbill, 91, 157, 279 Play It Again, Sam, 189 Playwrights Horizons, 359, 380 Plaza Suite, 71 Plumeri, Jimmy, 124 Plummer, Amanda, 273 Plummer, Charles, 21 Plymouth Theatre, 12, 32n, 33, 115, 119, 132, 220, 397 Poland, Albert, 55, 204n and Jacobs, 224, 235, 271, 302,
The session lasted twelve hours, and was so fruitful that Bennett decided to hold another one on February 18. By all accounts, the second session was not as successful as the first. It was, as Ken Mandelbaum notes in A Chorus Line and the Musicals of Michael Bennett, unfocused and repetitious. Most of the material for the show would come from the first session. When Bennett told Breglio about the tapes and his plan to make a show from them, the lawyer blanched. “Wait a minute. You can’t have all
He got up and as he passed Phil Smith a few rows behind him, leaned down and said, “Merrick wants to see me.” A few minutes later he was back at Smith’s side. “Gower Champion is dead,” he whispered, “and David doesn’t want anybody to know.” The overture began, the curtain went up—only a quarter of the way—and the audience roared with delight as a line of legs tap-danced to the title song. But then the dramatic scenes began, and the show deflated. “My heart sank,” Rich would later write. “42nd