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The Secret Life of the American Musical
The Secret Life of the American Musical: How Broadway Shows Are Built | Jack Viertel
14 posts | 9 read | 1 reading | 22 to read
For almost a century, Americans have been losing their hearts and losing their minds in an insatiable love affair with the American musical. It often begins in childhood in a darkened theater, grows into something more serious for high school actors, and reaches its passionate zenith when it comes time for love, marriage, and children, who will start the cycle all over again. Americans love musicals. Americans invented musicals. Americans perfected musicals. But what, exactly, is a musical? In The Secret Life of the American Musical, Jack Viertel takes them apart, puts them back together, sings their praises, marvels at their unflagging inventiveness, and occasionally despairs over their more embarrassing shortcomings. In the process, he invites us to fall in love all over again by showing us how musicals happen, what makes them work, how they captivate audiences, and how one landmark show leads to the nextby design or by accident, by emulation or by rebellionfrom Oklahoma! to Hamilton and onward. Structured like a musical, The Secret Life of the American Musical begins with an overture and concludes with a curtain call, with stops in between for I Want songs, conditional love songs, production numbers, star turns, and finales. The ultimate insider, Viertel has spent three decades on Broadway, working on dozens of shows old and new as a conceiver, producer, dramaturg, and general creative force; he has his own unique way of looking at the process and at the people who collaborate to make musicals a reality. He shows us patterns in the architecture of classic shows and charts the inevitable evolution that has taken place in musical theater as America itself has evolved socially and politically. The Secret Life of the American Musical makes you feel as though youve been there in the rehearsal room, in the front row of the theater, and in the working offices of theater owners and producers as they pursue their own love affair with that rare and elusive beastthe Broadway hit.
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Chrissyreadit
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vivastory The amount of work that goes into any performance is astonishing, I can't even fathom what it takes to run a Broadway show 10mo
Itchyfeetreader Oh this looks interesting 10mo
Cinfhen This does seem like a fascinating read!! @Itchyfeetreader 10mo
89 likes4 stack adds3 comments
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danimgill
Pickpick

Do you like musicals? Do you like analyzing story structures to see what makes them work? If so, a) we have things in common but b) you would also enjoy this book!

Jack Viertel breaks down the typical structure of broadway musicals and supplies plenty of examples of shows following (and not following) the form, and how that made them successful or not. Bonus points for his very thorough cast album recommendation list at the end 🎶

Pamwurtzler That‘s a good book! I read it last year and would happily read it again. 2y
38 likes3 stack adds1 comment
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akfreeborn
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I really enjoyed this book and saw a classic musical right after and it fit right in to the formula but that formula really does work. This one‘s for any theatre fan or budding thespian.

21 likes1 stack add
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Pamwurtzler
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Pickpick

Super interesting- he talked about the structure of musicals and what makes them work. I‘ll watch with a new perspective waiting for the ‘I want‘ song and the ‘conditional love song‘.

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bookishkris
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Heh. "Does anyone still wear a hat?" Gettin' my theater geek on.

BestOfFates ❤️❤️❤️ 2y
55 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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Natilovesbooks
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After almost 2 weeks, I have finished this book. I'm actually a little sad that it's over as it was very informative on musicals.

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seebiscan
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Pickpick

I love musicals, so this was a highly enjoyable read. Each chapter is a different song in the musical (for example: the "I Want" Song, Conditional Love Songs) and Viertel tracks how the songs developed and how they're used in musicals. I do wish he had covered more musicals, but of course, there's only so much he can write about! Recommended for anyone else who loves musical theater.

tpixie Beautiful puppy! A red lab? 3y
seebiscan @tpixie Thanks! She's a chocolate lab--I think the lighting might be a little odd. I'm surprised she even noticed me taking a picture, it's definitely past her bedtime! 😝 3y
respekt1111 Sleepy pup💕 3y
tpixie @seebiscan pretty girl!! 3y
31 likes2 stack adds4 comments
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bookishkris
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No Super Bowl in this house; I was a long time Pats fan, now turned proud Bronco Country resident, and I can't stand Tom Brady. So this is my plan for the weekend: finish The Light Between Oceans and start both the musicals book and Under a Pole Star. Preferably on the couch with snuggly puppy in my lap and a continuous supply of hot tea.

britt_brooke Broncos 💙 3y
beagle.mama No super bowl. 💜 3y
rubyslippersreads Kitten Bowl! 😸🏉 3y
See All 9 Comments
Alfoster Husband's a football coach so Super Bowl for him🏈! I'll look up from my book for the commercials!😜 3y
AnnieReads No super bowl at my place. No television! 3y
mjdowens Puppy Bowl🐶 3y
mcctrish @Alfoster Super Bowl plays at my house, I make the food and watch the commercials and half time show ( and read in a corner happily) 3y
andreadmw Super bowl house here too. I like the cooking and gathering of friends/family that's not holiday forced 3y
merelybookish Kids and I will tune in to half-time show to see Hamilton performance. 3y
87 likes9 comments
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BeveragesAndBooks
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New #Audible listen. About an hour in and it's so interesting!

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JSW
Pickpick

🙌🏼 If you are a musical theater fan(atic) like me, this is a must read. Concise and knowledgeable, Viertel analyzes the structure of the musical in an easily readable style. Like hashing out plots with a pal who loves the same shit as you. 🙌🏼 SO GOOD.

JSW @BookishMarginalia no, must stack!!!! ❤ 3y
BookishMarginalia 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 3y
21 likes3 stack adds3 comments
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JSW
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"Every good show is about a mountain that's hard to scale." Pretty much like every good story.

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JSW
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This was on the table at the Library when I walked in. So naturally I'm reading it. 😍 I love musicals.

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jelisdeslivres
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I never thought anyone could make this incredibly messed up song funny but here we are, folks.

annkuch13 Omg. Same here. Who knew someone could make me giggle about Judge Turpin! 3y
1 like1 comment