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All That Jazz: The Life and Times of the Musical Chicago
— —
Ethan Mordden (freelance author)
All That Jazz: The Life and Times of the Musical Chicago by Ethan Mordden (freelance author) at Abbey's Bookshop,

All That Jazz: The Life and Times of the Musical Chicago

Ethan Mordden (freelance author)


Oxford University Press

Theatre Studies;
Film & movie: styles & genres;
Other performing arts;


272 pages

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In 1975, the Broadway musical Chicago brought together a host of memes and myths - the gleefully subversive character of American musical comedy, the reckless glamour of the big-city newspaper, the mad decade of the 1920s, the work of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon (two of the greatest talents in the musical's history), and the Wild West gangsterville that was the city of Chicago itself.

The tale of a young woman who murders her departing lover and then tricks the jury into letting her off, Chicago seemed too blunt and cynical at first. Everyone agreed it was show biz at its brilliant best, yet the public still preferred A Chorus Line, with its cast of innocents and sentimental feeling. Nevertheless, the 1996 Chicago revival is now the longest-running American musical in history, and the movie version won the Best Picture Oscar.

As author Ethan Mordden looks back at Chicago's various moving parts - including the original 1926 play that started it all, a sexy silent film directed by Cecil B. DeMille, a talkie remake with Ginger Rogers, the musical itself, and at last the movie of the musical - we see how the American theatre serves as a kind of alternative news medium, a town crier warning the public about the racy, devious interior contradictions of American society. Opinionated, witty, and rich in backstage anecdotes, All That Jazz brings the American musical to life in all its artistry and excitement.

By:   Ethan Mordden (freelance author)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 237mm,  Width: 164mm,  Spine: 24mm
Weight:   526g
ISBN:   9780190651794
ISBN 10:   0190651792
Pages:   272
Publication Date:   April 2018
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Ethan Mordden is a recognized expert on American musical theatre and the author of When Broadway Went to Hollywood, Anything Goes: A History of American Musical Theatre, Make Believe: The Broadway Musical in the 1920s, Beautiful Mornin: The Broadway Musical in the 1940s, Coming Up Roses: The Broadway Musical in the 1950s and Sondheim: An Opinionated Guide, all published by Oxford University Press. His writing has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The New Yorker. His numerous books include friendly introductions to opera and film, as well as five collections of short stories chronicling gay life in New York City. He lives in Manhattan.

[Mordden] digs deep. He sees all the angles. And even though you can tell he's thought hard about every aspect of his story, he's eminently readable. And he has opinions. And the great thing about those pronouncements is that it's all right to disagree. He backs them up and you still respect his taste despite your own ideas. In many cases you actually end up agreeing with him, gladly willing to lower your own defenses. Oh, and there's a lot of juice too ... I implore you to read the book from the absolute beginning. Though you will be tempted when I tell you that Mordden is quite thorough in describing the plot of the musical. In fact, he goes number to number in his appraisal. And the great thing about that is you can put on the cast recording and play through song by song as he relates what's happening on the stage. --Talkin Broadway

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