The epic series celebrating the century-old art form with its luminaries like Carol Channing, Adolph Green and Betty Comden, Tommy Tune, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Harvey Fierstein, Ben Vereen, Jerry Orbach, Harold Prince, Stephen Sondheim, Mel Brooks, George C. Wolfe and more debuts Oct. 19-21, starting at 9 PM (ET). Check your local listings.
Featuring commentary by the aforementioned artists with rare archival footage, private home movies, newsreels, still photos, diary excerpts, personal correspondences and original cast recordings, "Broadway: The American Musical" chronicles the 100 year old genre and its relationship with 20th century American life from its early inception to its current proliferation.
Filled with such captured moments in Broadway history as George Gershwin's travels to Folly Island (where he began to compose Porgy and Bess), Oklahoma!'s opening night, and comedienne Fanny Brice's rendition of "My Man," the documentary traces the musical from The Ziegfeld Follies and Ethel Merman's performance of "I've Got Rhythm," to a backstage look at the opening night of the current Broadway musical Wicked.
Produced and directed by Michael Kantor (Ken Burns' "The West" and Ric Burns' "New York: A Documentary Film"), "Broadway: The American Musical" is a co-production of Ghost Light Films, Thirteen/WNET New York, NHK, and BBC in association with Carlton International. Bill O'Donnell is supervising producer. Jac Venza and David Horn are executive producers.
"There's no place in the world like Broadway - it's where the American dream is realized eight times a week, and by and large it continues to embody the optimistic heartbeat of American culture," stated Kantor in a release. "As Times Square celebrates its 100th anniversary, it's crucial to hear from the key Broadway figures who actually had a role in shaping the course of American culture - to document the stories of these creative legends in their own words - before it's too late." Among the accounts — from writers, lyricists, producers, performers, directors, choreographers and critics — assembled for "Broadway: The American Musical,"include Mel Brooks, Carol Channing, Betty Comden, Agnes De Mille, Harvey Fierstein, Bob Fosse, Brendan Gill, Frances Gershwin Godowsky, Adolph Green, Joel Grey, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Jerry Herman, Al Hirschfeld, Margo Jefferson, John Kander and Fred Ebb, John Lahr, Rocco Landesman, James Lapine, Arthur Laurents, Galt MacDermot, Jerry Mitchell, "Ziegfeld Girl" Dana O'Connell, Jerry Orbach, Harold Prince, Jerome Robbins, Gerald Schoenfeld, Stephen Sondheim, Peter Stone, Tommy Tune, Ben Vereen, George Wolfe, and many others.
The series will debut in two-hour blocks Oct. 19-21. The six-hour lineup is comprised of:
Episode 6: Putting It Together (1980-Present) The documentary series of "Broadway: The American Musical" will also be released on home video and DVD by PBS Home Video. An illustrated companion book (by director Kantor and theater scholar Laurence Maslon) as well as a companion five-CD box set (by Columbia Broadway Masterworks and Decca Broadway) are also slated to be released in conjunction with the PBS premiere. The series website will feature extensive educational materials and extras, available online at www.pbs.org/wnet/broadway.