A Broadway insider's personal reminiscences about the shows that have shaped musical theatre, such as Hello Dolly, Funny Girl, Man of La Mancha, Pippin, Cabaret, 1776, M. Butterfly , and the legends he has encountered in his illustrious career.
A man who has done everything on Broadway, Ostrow began as a prot g of composer-lyricist Frank Loesser, going on to direct (Meredith Willson's 1963 Here's Love), write (Stages, 1978) and, mostly, produce: 1776 (1969), Pippin (1972), M. Butterfly (1988). As other outlets for his energy, he also joined the University of Houston faculty and established the Musical Theatre Lab as "a safe place in which to experiment." The Lab brought professionals and students together for 27 productions, including Really Rosie by Maurice Sendak and Carole King. Here, Ostrow offers a celebration of the Broadway musical and "a meditation on what caused its decline," looking back over half a century of Broadway's best from 1950's Guys and Dolls all the way to Rent. Ostrow, has a penchant for brisk, tart sentences and pulls no punches, admitting that producing has entailed "a few bargains with the Angel of Death." In two startling pages, he explains how Scratch (1971), his effort to bring together "two American poets dramatizing folklore with song," collapsed: "It was a risky idea from the start, but when Bob Dylan betrayed us, 79-year-old Archibald MacLeish was devastated." He also divulges his role in the origins of Bob Fosse's 1979 movie All That Jazz. The project began as a collaboration, a "string quartet" about four characters. But when Ostrow fled the superficiality of Hollywood, Fosse turned it into a symphonic "extravaganza." Ostrow takes such delight in quoting his favorite lyrics that the small-type copyright list fills eight pages. Readers with their own Broadway recollections may wish a CD had been packaged along with this trove of tunes, dances and reminiscences. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.