THE DVD SHELF: "Strictly Ballroom," "Broadway Musicals," Judi Dench in "A Fine Romance" and Ian McKellen in "The Scarlet Pimpernel"

By Steven Suskin
21 Apr 2013

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Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy, which was seen on PBS in January, is now available on DVD from Acorn Media. The special—produced, written and directed by Michael Kantor and narrated by Joel Grey—examines the work of songwriters including Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George & Ira Gershwin, Rodgers & Hart & Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. There are interviews with the likes of Sheldon Harnick, Hal Prince, Arthur Laurents and even Mel Brooks. Performance clips galore, too.

Viewers who enjoyed the telecast will be especially pleased with three hours-worth of bonuses. These include extended interviews with Harnick, Sondheim, Kander, Strouse, Prince, Yeston, Phyllis Newman, Margaret Styne and Jo Sullivan Loesser, along with children of Berlin, Rodgers, Bernstein, Harburg and Dorothy Fields. There are also three songwriter demonstrations taken from the interviews: Stephen Schwartz doing "Magic to Do" (from Pippin), Marc Shaiman singing "A Doctor, A Doctor" (a song celebrating his sister's wedding), and Amanda Green—lyricist/composer of the recent Hands on a Hardbody, and daughter of the fabled Adolph—giving an a cappella rendition of the Comden-Green-Styne "If You Hadn't But You Did."