Sunday, February 15, 2009

Five best: books on musical theater

Ethan Mordden, author of Ziegfeld: The Man Who Invented Show Business, named a five best list of books on musical theater for the Wall Street Journal.

One title in his list:
Everything Was Possible
by Ted Chapin
Knopf, 2003

"Making of" books are a delectable genre, and, as too much "Follies" is never enough, I'll cite "Everything Was Possible," not least for the show's poster illustration of a cracked statue (of liberty?) staring out from the dust-jacket spine. Young Ted Chapin, a production "gofer," kept a diary of rehearsals, Boston tryout and New York premiere, in 1971. Following his sometimes dire chronicle, one realizes why one of the staff members solemnly warns him to stay out of show business. "There are divas in our midst," Chapin dryly intones, about backstage shenanigans, mainly verbal shoving matches among the many oldsters in small parts. There are giants as well, as the creative team, from director Hal Prince to set designer Boris Aronson, makes a masterpiece while wheedling, inspiring, reprimanding and even firing some of those divas. "Follies" itself is worried and inconclusive, but in the end, Chapin's book about the show is proud and affirmative.
Read about Number One on Mordden's list.

--Marshal Zeringue