Razzle Dazzle is a provocative, no-holds-barred narrative account of the people, money, and power that reinvented 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 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 amid 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.
With wit and passion, Michael Riedel tells the stories of the Shubert Organization and the shows that rebuilt a city in grand style, revealing backstage drama that often rivaled what transpired onstage, exposing bitter rivalries, unlikely alliances, and, of course, scintillating gossip.
©2015 Michael Riedel (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Michael Riedel puts his undergraduate History background & insiders knowledge of Broadway & it's movers & shakers to showstopping good use in "Razzle Dazzle". Part Theater History, how Broadway was developed, part personality history of influential producers & creatives -- directors, composers, playwrights & performers and the back stories on Broadway's most successful shows & painful flops, this book covers it all. It makes you want to listen to those shows & find your old Playbills. It will join the ranks of Goldman's "The Season" if you love & want to fully appreciate Broadway.
Retired Political Science professor from a community college. Especially like Legal Thrillers.
The book is almost three separate stories. The beginning recounts the story of the large theater owning families. The middle is about some of the iconic producers. The third part is about some of the most popular productions of the past 40 years; Cats, A Chorus Line, etc.
I love the book and the stories here, but the narrator is awful. He makes everything feel so smarmy and sleazy. Even when the people aren't.
Fantastic book!! The narration not so much. BUT....if you speed it up it is much better. If you are interested in theater, then this book is a must read!
If you are interested in theatre, Riedel's book will broaden your knowledge, and your stock of after-dinner tales. He presents two histories in one. The first is of the business people of the theatre, those who provide the money for the art while making money from the art. The second is of their productions, a concise survey of those stagings, mostly musicals, that created Broadway as we now know it and of the people who created the stagings. Both are presented in a crisp, journalistic style, often even gossipy, that makes almost no attempt to evaluated the artistic achievements of these productions but concentrates on the money, maneuvering, and manipulation that got them mounted, and how they made and lost astonishing fortunes while transforming the city of New York.
How musicals dominate Broadway is reflected in his attention, perhaps of necessity, and if you expect to learn much of anything about significant plays on Broadway - save a lengthy and fascinating description of the importance of Equus and Nickleby to the Schubert fortunes - you'll be disappointed. Once he gets past Nickleby, I can't remember his talking at any length about a play, though his hopes for future choreographers is worth his time.
More significant an irritation is the narration. The narrator is one of those breathless "I don't trust the words to be exciting, so I will make them exciting" readers who forces emphasis and significance onto words, like a library reader trying to force small children to enjoy a book. Then too, his attempts to pronounce some words - 'sui generis' as "sue -EE gen-AIR-is - becomes more of a problem when he mispronounces the name of a significant person.
Sill, I speeded him up and finished the book, glad to have the information. Reidel's accomplishment is to make quite clear why we call Broadway's version of theatre "show biz."
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