The Complete Book of 1940s Broadway Musicals

By (author) Dan Dietz

Hardback - £123.00

Publication date:

02 February 2015

Length of book:

610 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442245273

The debut of Oklahoma! in 1943 ushered in the modern era of Broadway musicals and was followed by a number of successes that have become beloved classics. Shows produced on Broadway during this decade include Annie Get Your Gun, Brigadoon, Carousel, Finian’s Rainbow, Pal Joey, On the Town, and South Pacific. Among the major performers of the decade were Alfred Drake, Gene Kelly, Mary Martin, and Ethel Merman, while other talents who contributed to shows include Irving Berlin, Gower Champion, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Agnes de Mille, Lorenz Hart, Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe, Cole Porter, Jerome Robbins, Richard Rodgers, and Oscar Hammerstein II.

The Complete Book of 1940s Broadway Musicals, Dan Dietz examines every musical and revue that opened on Broadway during the 1940s. In addition to providing details on every hit and flop, this book includes revivals and one-man and one-woman shows. Each entry contains the following information:

  • Opening and closing dates
  • Plot summary
  • Cast members
  • Number of performances
  • Names of all important personnel, including writers, composers, directors, choreographers, producers, and musical directors
  • Musical numbers and the names of performers who introduced the songs
  • Production data, including information about tryouts
  • Source material
  • Critical commentary
  • Details about London and other foreign productions

Besides separate entries for each production, the book offers numerous appendixes, such as a discography, film versions, published scripts, Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and non-musical productions that utilized songs, dances, or background music.

A treasure trove of information,
The Complete Book of 1940s Broadway Musicals provides readers with a complete view of each show. This significant resource will be of use to scholars, historians, and casual fans of one of the greatest decades in musical theatre history.
Dietz continues his excellent series on Broadway musicals with a step back into the Golden Age of musicals. He covers every Broadway show from the 1940s (273 shows altogether), from John Henry (January 1940) through Jule Styne's smash Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (December 1949). As in earlier volumes treating the 1960s and 1950s and complementing the content of Thomas Hischak's Broadway Plays and Musicals, Dietz discusses the ‘book musicals’ (serious drama set to music and song) with new music as well as the revivals, revues, new operas, imports, and other works appearing in New York venues, plus pre-Broadway closings. Each chronologically arranged entry includes opening and closing dates, number of performances, crew, cast (with character names), setting, musical numbers (and performers), two-page plot summaries and critical reception, awards, book availability, and detailed recording history. Names of performers who were billed above the title are italicized for emphasis. Entries are well-written and informative, with ample quotes from the original New York theater critics. Appendixes A–H (including a chronology, discography, and filmography), a bibliography, and a detailed index complete the volume. Any lover of Broadway shows and library collections with strengths in musical theater will want to purchase this volume. Summing Up: Recommended. All students and scholars; general readers; professionals/practitioners.