Broadway: The Golden Age (Digital Video)
Films can be restored, literature can be reprinted-but what of historic Broadway performances? They leave only memories, and many seem destined to be lost. This widely acclaimed, star-studded documentary tells the stories of our theatrical legends, how they came to NY and how they forged the legend of Broadway.
It's not a comprehensive survey of the American musical theater, but Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There is an invaluable and moving salute to the art form composed of interviews with the people who were there in the 1940s through the 1960s. There are too many to list, but they include John Raitt, Angela Lansbury, Hume Cronyn, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Carol Channing, Jerry Orbach, Robert Goulet, Robert Morse (even he's gotten old!), Jerry Herman, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Stephen Sondheim, and Harold Prince. There are also some rare performance clips, such as Ethel Merman in Gypsy, Patricia Morison in Kiss Me Kate, and Angela Lansbury in Mame, as well as more familiar television performances, but very few film versions (for either authenticity or rights reasons). Director Rick McKay's focus, however, is on evocative stills, a few too many shots of the city, and most of all the words from the stars themselves. Fact is, because Broadway shows are a live performance medium, there simply isn't a lot of footage available, which is why it's a treat--no, it's an obligation--that we hear the stories from the people themselves. It's the best way the form will survive. After a bit of a slow start, the interviews cover the culture of Broadway, hanging out at Walgreen's and Sardi's, taking a show on the road, and thoughts about the current generation. (Broadway in this case refers to the location in New York rather than the musical-theater genre, so non-musicals are a major part of the discussion.)
In their own words, and not a moment too soon - 'Broadway' tells the stories of our theatrical legends, how they came to New York, and how they created this legendary century in American theatre. This may be the last chance that these stories may be documented, for unlike film and television, live theatre exists only in the memories of those who were there watching, or more importantly, creating this magic. 'Broadway' tells the stories of these legendary performers, composers and writers while illustrating their tales with amazing, rare, archival performance footage and these legends' own home movies and photos.