A documentary about the genesis, success, press, and fallout of four Broadway musicals would have to be quickly paced. Besides that, the well-rounded content of Dori Berenstein's 'Show Business-The Road to Broadway' is whole and complete--entertaining, fun, informative, eventful, and fascinating. If you love musicals, this is a must-see. If you're only luke warm, you'll probably love it anyway just to trace the creative sparks back to their origins.
Well, it's just so exciting! Especially if you don't know the outcomes (like me). Watching four selected Broadway musicals from 2004, we witness each one get created from the piano to the stage. Only a hair less satisfying are the steps of creation for the choreography, rehearsals, and press conferences. It's all in the details. Some of the participants strive for the American dream from the bottom: One got off of welfare; another was working as a temp. Then, as the show takes a life of it's own, we make our bets (like on our favorite horse race) and see which one wins (financially and/or critically). Sort of an entertainment version of 'The Apprentice' without The Donald, Adam Zucker's editing never leaves us yawning in the aisles. The film is effective enough as it reaches its climax at The Tony Awards.
How can you not love a movie that gives you a real look at 'Wicked,' 'Avenue Q,' 'Caroline or Change,' and 'Taboo'? The film features substantative sound bites from a myriad of producers, actors, writers, and artists. As an overview, I loved the round-table discussions by critics at a New York restaurant. Or how about the feistiness and passion of Boy George and Rosie O'Donnell? Then, we're left in suspense as we see which show is left standing and for how long.
Noting that some musicals make millions in a few weeks and others fold the same night, 'Show Business...' gives us "the big idea" and runs off with it. Off the stage, that is, where all the players sip champagne--and celebrate their triumphs or drown out their sorrows. Vibrant like Broadway itself, it is quite a show!
(Especially featuring--besides the aforementioned--Tony award-winning Actor, Alan Cumming and 'The New Yorker' Chief Critic, John Lahr.)