West End Broadway

November 2012
40 black and white illustrations
376 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Boydell Press
BISAC MUS046000, PER013000

West End Broadway

The Golden Age of the American Musical in London

Adrian Wright

eBook for Handhelds
A history and re-evaluation of the American musical in London between 1945 and 1972, a unique panoramic essay on British theatre of the Golden Age.
West End Broadway is the first book to deal specifically with the 'Golden Age' of American musicals in London. Here is a history and a re-evaluation not only of the British productions of Broadway's most popular product but of the works themselves, beginning with a brief account of the origins of the genre and of the shows seen during World War II. The difficult conditions of war-torn Britain prepared the ground for changes that would come with peace. While Britain clung to tried formulas, a refreshing breeze was blowing in from the Atlantic, altering the nature of British theatre by sending New York's commercially successful musicals to the West End. The wider relevance of this history is underscored, as is the fact that these works effectively imported American social history into the culture of a Britain coping with the aftermath of conflict. In London, critical reaction to Broadway musicals was often strikingly different from that awarded in New York, and Broadway success could result in West End failure, while off-Broadway shows struggled to gain hold in Britain.
West End Broadway discusses every American musical seen in London between 1945 and 1972. As the final works of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin made way for a new wave of writers and composers, the arrival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! was celebrated as a breakthrough, heralding a period that included important works by Jule Styne, Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Robert Wright and George Forrest, Harold Rome, Frank Loesser, Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe, and the first stirrings of the next generation in Stephen Sondheim.
Offering a unique panoramic essay on British theatre of the Golden Age, West End Broadway is an authoritative, challenging and diverting contribution to an understanding of a forgotten aspect of the Broadway musical.

ADRIAN WRIGHT is the author of Foreign Country: The Life of L.P. Hartley (1996), John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure (1998), The Innumerable Dance: The Life and Work of William Alwyn (2008) and the novel Maroon (2010). His previous book, A Tanner's Worth of Tune (Boydell & Brewer, 2010), told the story of the post-war British musical. He lives in Norfolk, where he runs Must Close Saturday Records, a company dedicated to British musical theatre.
Keywords: Music

Table of Contents

The War Years: 1939-1945
The Golden Age: 1946-1972
Appendix: American Musicals in London, 1939-1972
Select Bibliography
Index of Musical Works


Musical theatre scholars will appreciate Wright's painstaking documentation of American musicals in London during a key period in the genre's history. THEATRE RESEARCH INTERNATIONAL

It can be mighty difficult to find information on these titles, and here it is. "West End Broadway" is perfect for browsing, packed as it is with things we never knew, and packed with photos as well. PLAYBILL, December 2013

Geared towards a popular audience interested in musical theatre, West End Broadway is an important book and offers significant cultural perspectives on the American musical. Because of its distinctive focus, it is also valuable to students and scholars of the genre. [...] This is the first book to address the transatlantic reception history of the American musical in a thorough and large-reaching fashion, and as such occupies a significant place in the historiography of the popular musical theatre. MUSIC AND LETTERS

With its heavy reliance on newspaper reviews of the period for descriptions, as well as deep mining of programme notes, cast sheets and other theatrical ephemera not easily available for most fans, this is a rewarding book. [...] West End Broadway [...] will become a definite research tool for this narrow yet popular subject. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

[A]n amusing and well-researched account [...] Although I suspect our taste and judgments on individual musicals often differ, Adrian Wright is consistently entertaining, and West End Broadway, being so comprehensive, is an essential reference book for anyone who loves musicals. THE SPECTATOR

[I]t is the kind of book you can pick up at any time [.] difficult to put down. [...] It is a worthy addition to any book shelf belonging to lovers of the musical theatre. I found it absolutely fascinating! JOURNAL INTO MELODY (ROBERT FARNON SOCIETY)

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