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|Genre/Form:||Documentaries and factual works
|Named Person:||John Lahr; Bert Lahr; Stephen Sondheim|
|Document Type:||Visual material|
|All Authors / Contributors:||
John Lahr; Michael Kantor; Buddy Squires
|Notes:||Copy of transcript available.
This interview is one of a group of interviews with 90 individuals used in making the documentary Broadway, the American musical. The completed production is available on NCOX 2058.
Credits for completed production from pbs.org: A film by Michael Kantor ; produced by Jeff Dupre, Michael Kantor and Sally Rosenthal ; written by Marc Fields, Michael Kantor, Laurence Maslon, and JoAnne Young ; directed by Michael Kantor.
Time code on frame.
Contains various takes, at occasional brief intervals, audio continues without sound.
|Credits:||Cameraman: Buddy Squires.|
|Performer(s):||Interviewer: Michael Kantor. Interviewee: John Lahr.|
|Event notes:||Videotaped in New York, N.Y. on Oct. 1, 1998.|
|Description:||3 videocassettes (VHS) (125 min.) : sd., col. SP ; 1/2 in.|
|Other Titles:||Broadway, the American musical
John Lahr interview
Interview continues on videocassette two with producer and impressario Florenz Ziegfeld who capitalized on extravanganza, and his own importance, with his Follies revues featuring beautiful showgirls, of which Lahr's mother was one; the stock market crash of 1929, and its impact on Broadway; the function of stars in American culture, as emblems of "pluck and luck"; his father's changing of his name from Irving Lahrheim to Bert Lahr; the watershed musical Show boat, and its expression of Black culture; the declining dominance of the comedian as the driving force of the musical, and his appreciation for comedy. Lahr discusses his father's power as a performer onstage who was able to elicit laughs from his audience; the finely tuned relationship between performer and audience; the Depression-era songwriting of E. Y. (Yip) Harburg, which combined a fabulous sense of wit and wordplay, and that of Cole Porter, whose terrific songs evoked glamour, sophistication and sexiness; the existence, in his opinion, of few shows which address social issues, and his belief that one cannot argue and sing at the same time; the musicals West Side story and Guys and dolls, which are in his view great expressions of the mature American musical; the Vietnam War, which resulted in an expression of disenchantment in the traditional musical, expressed in such offbeat shows as Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd; his views on the Sondheim musicals Follies and Company, which also conveyed attitudes of cynicism derived from post-sixties disillusionment; and his view that a musical must be about a celebration of life.
Interview resumes on videocassette three with recent musicals Jelly's last jam and Bring in 'da noise, bring in 'da funk, which in Lahr's view successfully marry celebration with irony; his dissatisfaction with recent Sondhiem shows, the composer's craftmanship and artistry, and the nihilism contained in his works; performer Savion Glover, whom Lahr feels is extraordinary; the musical A chorus line, which he did not find innovative; the popularity of British musicals of the 1980s and '90s, exemplified by those of Andrew Lloyd Webber, and revivals, both of which reflect a current "dilemma" in the direction of Broadway producing; his feelings on the revitalized Times Square in comparison with how it was in the past; his lack of sentimentality over the destruction of historic theaters; the producing styles of corporate entities on Broadway, and the direction they are likely to go in the future; the musical Rent's place on Broadway; corporate "concept productions" like The lion king, whose artistry Lahr feels is overshadowed by its status as a corporate product; how the musical has changed in his lifetime; the Broadway objectives of Disney Company C.E.O. Michael Eisner, with whom he associated as a youth, the significance of Disney's renovation of the New Amsterdam Theatre; the Broadway music of George Gershwin, which reflects the speed and rhythm and excitement of the city, and the energy of the early 20th century; why Broadway and New York City are the basis of so many musicals; composer Jule Styne, who combined street smarts with the ability to write hit songs, and whom Lahr wrote about in an article entitled "Mr. Broadway"; and lastly, columnist Walter Winchell who popularized a mythology of Broadway as a place of great mystery and glamour.
- Lahr, John, -- 1941- -- Interviews.
- Lahr, Bert, -- 1895-1967.
- Sondheim, Stephen.
- Theater -- New York (State) -- New York.
- Musical theater -- New York (State) -- New York.
- Musical theater -- Production and direction.
- Songwriters -- United States.
- Broadway (New York, N.Y.)
- Drama critics -- Interviews.