Broadway: The American Musical, Putting It TogetherAirs Friday, November 16 at 07:00 PM
Legendary as the "Abominable Showman," notorious producer David Merrick re-conquers Broadway in 1980 with a smash adaptation of the movie musical 42nd Street. But soon the biggest hits are arriving from an unexpected source -- London. Producer Cameron Mackintosh redefines the business of show business as Cats, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon become international blockbusters.
Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George defies categorization, while Jerry Herman's crowd-pleasing La Cage aux Folles has two men sing a love song to each other for the first time on Broadway -- a breakthrough soon overshadowed by the rising decimation of the AIDS crisis on Broadway. Yet with Julie Taymor's triumphant re-imagining of The Lion King, Disney leads an astonishing resurrection of 42nd Street. Composer Jonathan Larson scores a bittersweet victory with the rock-flavored Rent, and the old-style musical is reborn in Mel Brooks' The Producers, which becomes the first must-see musical comedy in decades, despite a ticket price of $480 for each VIP seat. After 9/11, Broadway -- like the rest of America -- emerges from the darkness. Broadway's corporate dominance continues to grow. "Oh, I've been hearing about Broadway disappearing ever since I put on long pants," says illustrator Al Hirschfeld. "I mean, it's been the fabulous invalid. You know, but it survives, it survives."
The episode features interviews with writer/producer Mel Brooks, actor Kristin Chenoweth, Walt Disney Corporation CEO Michael Eisner, actor/bookwriter Harvey Fierstein, composer/lyricist Jerry Herman, actor Nathan Lane, playwright/director James Lapine, producer Rocco Landesman, director Arthur Laurents, Nederlander Theaters chairman James Nederlander Sr., director Susan Stroman and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Highlights include home movies of Jonathan Larson working as a waiter before leaving his job to create Rent, and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of Wicked in rehearsal and opening on Broadway.