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4.5 out of 5 stars31
4.5 out of 5 stars
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 2 September 2011
This historical documentary is outstanding.Lasting 342 minutes (2 CD's in six episodes). The production is stunning. The commentary by Julie Andrews is engaging with charming links as expected. This is more than a production review. The social aspects are well documented, rightly so, as I feel this is as much a social history as it is a stage and film history. Wars, depressions, prohibition, strikes,devastation from infections (HIV), are integral to the story with authoritive commentary from ground floor personnel.

Going through the innovative film and sound technical developments, the film explains in graphic detail the difficulties and progression encompassing vaudeville, operetta, minstrel shows allied to the impact of more modern technology. Phonographs, radio, television,picture movies need taking into account. Public and political prejudices and demands needed accommodating. The actors and production staff had to circumvent these to satisfy the public needs and produce profit for the producers. Later inflated payments to the stars were enormous driven by market forces. The earliest black and white features that are available are crucial,enhanced and monumental in reinforcing this scenario.

We now have film and first hand accounts of the problems faced by these innovators delivered in sight and narration. The American censorship, political allegations and racial issues are revealed. The top-line is that we are able to see and hear the musical heritage of Broadway and that the 'The Stars Of Broadway' came through one way or another. All of the creative seminal names are here. Great things will always prevail. Don't get me wrong, this contains the most fabulous multi-talented lead-setting music, writers, directors, producers, performers we have ever seen. Hooray For Broadway! Brings us up to modern day. Any better to come? Absolutely mesmerising and cannot be more highly recommended.
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Six fascinating hours about one hundred years of Broadway - from the early Twenties to the 2004 premiere of "Wicked". Julie Andrews hosts this celebration of a uniquely American art form - result of the bringing together by immigrants of such a rich range of musical tradition.

The documentary is ambitious and totally succeeds - enhanced by archive material (digitally restored), extracts from shows, and contributions from the genre's leading lights.

It tells how the musical ever continues to evolve - from those initial frivolous revues, through fully integrated shows based on a firm plot, right the way towards concepts that break all the rules and forever extend boundaries.

Quite simply, musicals grew up - adapting to the impact of two World Wars and the Depression, the challenges posed by cinema and television. The younger generation also had a part to play, increasingly a voice demanding to be recognized - Rock 'n' Roll sweeping all before it, protests about Vietnam (and many etceteras) helping to add vibrancy and more depth to many shows that followed.

Now the great challenge seems to be the prohibitive cost of putting on a production, overheads severely limiting what can be offered. Although this is daunting, Broadway WILL survive. How, with its track record, can it be otherwise?

A "must buy" for all interested in the musical stage - exhilarating, thoughtprovoking, moving too (as with the devastation throughout the profession caused by AIDS).

(A hope that perhaps others will share.... How splendid if each new production, as a matter of course, were to be preserved on DVD! As with cast albums, these would be wonderful souvenirs for those who savoured their night out, a chance for less fortunates also to enjoy what deserves the widest possible audience.)
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on 22 April 2010
The saintly Ms Julie Andrews (all kneel & bow down, please) guides us through a comprehensive history of the development of Broadway musicals. This is invaluable for teaching English A level courses in musical theatre and quite honestly is a blast from start to finish. Chopped up into neat episodes, covering almost every aspect of social, cultural & historical development, it takes you through to the back end of the 20th century and Disney's takeover of Broadway. Interviews and sound bites from all the greats - Hal Prince, Tommy Tune, Stephen (we adore you) Sondheim - they're all there. Buy it. Watch it again and again and bore your friends to death at dinner parties for years and years.
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on 8 December 2013
I'd first seen this when it was broadcast on BBC4 and had been waiting for it on DVD to come down to an agreeable price.
Whether you're a fan of musicals, or are coming at this from the social history angle, this is an accessible and enjoyable documentary series. Each period from the era of Ziegfeld follies, to today's multimillion dollar productions are looked at with choice musical examples. Alongside this the impact of, and Broadways response to, the Depression, the War, the role of African-Americans, the post -war boom, the permissiveness of the sixties, the physical decay of the area in the 70's & 80's, HIV/AIDS , the Disneyfication of Broadway and even the response to 9/11 are touched upon. Yet do not be put off by that. It is all done with a lightness of touch.
Whilst the discs states bizarrely that this is an ITV product, each actual episode begins with the BBC logo. All that said this is, whatever the case, most definitely an American production. An American style documentary with recaps and chapters within each programme where it has obviously been edited with commercial breaks in mind. All this though is ultimately petty niggles with what is a superior documentary.
This is an excellent DVD at a very good price. If it has a downside it is that you'll soon be buying recordings of tunes that you'd forgotten or even just discovered!
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on 19 March 2012
This title took a little more time than expected to arrived but when was worth the wait (and arrived in pristine condition). The title itself is a terrific documentary and will provide many hours of entertainm3ent. Thank you
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on 17 March 2012
An excellent series that's an absolute bargain at £6. Really interesting with good interviews and some fabulous footage. Well paced and structured, for fans of Broadway who already knowledgable or those wishing to know more, I can't recommend highly enough.
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on 30 August 2010
Brilliant detailed review from the beginning of Broadway to present day. 6, hr episodes of fabulousness. Perfect gift for my mum.
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on 8 March 2014
great 6 episodes narrated by julie Andrews ,a must for lovers of this type of music and better than most .maybe because it was British that the production was unbiased and saw things from the outside looking in ,go and buy it before it goes out of print
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on 18 August 2014
Thoroughly enjoyable walk through Broadway over the decades. Throughout the (almost) six hours running time there are archival and/or interview pieces from the likes of Julie Andrews, Stephen Sondheim, Tommy Tune, Irving Berlin, Carol Channing, Joel Grey, Ethel Merman, Harold Prince, Mel Brooks, Hugh Jackman, Stanley Donen, Fred Ebb, George Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein II, Al Jolson, John Kander, Nathan Lane, Bebe Neuwirth, Jerry Orbach, Mandy Patinkin, Jerome Robbins, Richard Rodgers, Barbra Streisand and Ben Vereen.
This is a wonderful accompaniment to Broadway: The Golden Age. While that feature touches on the heart and emotion of Broadway by the actors who were there, this one focuses more on the details of writers, productions and the times. .
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on 2 May 2014
An enjoyable trip through many decades of the American stage musical. Introduced by Julie Andrews (who gives a rather slow vocal delivery) and featuring some of the stars and choreographers who created these shows. As the history goes back a long way, there were quite a few which were unfamiliar to me but interesting to discover. Anyone who has enjoyed a show or the film version of a show will find this well worth buying. It's a series which will, I think, be watched time and time again and reminds us once again of wonderful songs where the lyrics meant something and the music was tuneful!
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