Broadway: The American Musical


Broadway is the light that never grows dim, the fire that never burns low—the heart that always palpitates.
—Walter Winchell


There’s no place in the world like Broadway. The longest boulevard in Manhattan, over the course of the last 100 years it has become inextricably linked to one of America’s greatest original art forms, the Broadway musical. In the new millennium, the ongoing revitalization of the theater district has reaffirmed the Broadway musical as a vital and ever changing American cultural marker.

Broadway: The American Musical is a six-part historical documentary series that chronicles the Broadway musical over the last century and explores the evolution of this uniquely American art form. Hosted and narrated by Julie Andrews, this high definition series was a landmark television event when it was first broadcast in 2004, winning the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Nonfiction Series in that season.


Broadway: The American Musical tells two stories: the 100-year history of musical theater and the story of its relationship to 20th-century American life. Peppered throughout are legendary moments in Broadway history: George Gershwin’s sojourn to Folly Island, where he began to compose his legendary score for Porgy and Bess; the thrill of Oklahoma!’s opening night; comedienne Fanny Brice’s heart-grabbing performance of “My Man.” From the titillating yet artful spectacle of The Ziegfeld Follies to Ethel Merman’s brassy rendition of “I’ve Got Rhythm,” and from Julie Taymor’s visionary staging of The Lion King to a behind-the-scenes look at Wicked’s opening night, the series enlightens, educates and offers unique insight into this truly American art form.

The whole of Broadway is represented herein: writers, lyricists, producers, performers, directors, and critics. Among them are Mel Brooks, Carol Channing, Jerry Herman, Margo Jefferson, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Joel Grey, Harvey Fierstein, John Lahr, Rocco Landesman, Arthur Laurents, Harold Prince, Stephen Sondheim, Tommy Tune, Ben Vereen, George Wolfe, and many others. Beginning production in 1996, BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL interviewed dozens of theater luminaries – and the final film features many late greats such as Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Brendan Gill, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Jerry Orbach, Peter Stone, “Ziegfeld Girl” Dana O’Connell, Frances Gershwin Godowsky, Al Hirschfeld, and Gerald Schoenfeld.