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"How Does the Show Go On?" lifts the curtain on what goes on behind-the-scenes at a Broadway musical

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"How Does the Show Go On?" lifts the curtain on what goes on behind-the-scenes at a Broadway musical

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How's this for a somewhat cruel irony? On the very first day that "How Does the Show Go On? An Introduction to the Theater" (Disney Editions, November 2007) was officially available for purchase (i.e. November 27th), the show was NOT going on. As in: 28 of Broadway's theaters were still dark due to Local 1's recent job action.


 Copyright 2007 Disney Editions. All Rights Reserved

Mind you, what happens when the stagehands strike may be the only topic that Thomas Schumacher & Jeff Kurtti didn't touch on this nifty 128-page hardcover. Which (to be honest) is something of a primer for the theater novice.

Schumacher & Kurtti take a rather interesting approach to this topic. In that, while these two do admit that appearing on stage can often be a very glamorous activity (Particularly when you get to work with name performers like Susan Egan and Tom Bosley) ...

 
Susan Egan and Tom Bosley, members of the original Broadway cast
for Disney's "Beauty & the Beast." Photo by Joan Marcus.
Copyright 2007 Disney Editions. All Rights Reserved

... they also stress that there's an awful lot of work that leads up to those all-too-brief moments in the spotlight. Where -- before Belle & Maurice get to sing their touching little father / daughter number, "No Matter What" -- someone actually has to decide what the stage version of their cottage looks like. Or -- for that matter -- what the "boneheaded contraption" that Maurice plans on riding to the fair should look like.


 
A set model for the Broadway version of Disney's "Beauty & the Beast."
Photo by Dusty Bennett. Copyright 2007 Disney Editions. All Rights Reserved

To be honest, it's a somewhat delicate balancing act that Thomas & Jeff are trying to pull off here. As they ask their readers to "Ooh" and "Aah" at some of the more spectacular moments from Disney Theatrical productions (Like when Ashley Brown finally takes flight in the stage version of "Mary Poppins") ...


 
Ashley Brown in flight in the Broadway production of Disney
& Cameron Mackintosh's "Mary Poppins." Photo by
Joan Marcus. Copyright 2007 Disney Editions.
All Rights Reserved

... while -- at the same time -- Schumacher & Kurtti want you to understand & appreciate all of the hard work that leads up to these moments. Like the endless hours of rehearsal that Ms. Brown had to put in before she was eventually able to perfect her performance as that practically perfect nanny.


 Ashley Brown rehearses for the Broadway
opening of Disney & Cameron Mackintosh's
"Mary Poppins." Photo by Joan Marcus.
Copyright 2007 Disney Editions.
All Rights Reserved

Time and again as you read through "How Does the Show Go On?," you're reminded about how -- for every moment that there's something colorful & spectacular going on onstage (Like the show-stopping "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" in the stage version of Disney's "The Lion King") -- ...


 The original Broadway cast of Disney's "The Lion King" performing
"I Just Can't Wait to Be King." Photo by Joan Marcus.
Copyright 2007 Disney Editions. All Rights Reserved

... there's an equally intriguing thing that's going on backstage. Take -- for example -- that enormous rack that had to be built in the wings of the New Amsterdam Theater. Just so they'd then have some place to stash the gigantic giraffe puppets that are featured in this musical number when they're not in use.


 
Giraffe puppets from the "I Just Can't Wait
to Be King" number neatly stacked in their
backstage rack. Photo by Gino Domenico.
Copyright 2007 Disney Editions.
All Rights Reserved

Given that few of us will ever get the chance to play fly-on-the-wall as a new Disney Broadway musical comes together, look on as this show goes through its tech rehearsals ...


 "Tarzan" 's tech team checks all the safety lines
for the apeman's treetop home. Photo by Joan
Marcus. Copyright 2007 Disney Editions.
All Rights Reserved

... Or -- for that matter -- peer over the shoulders of the creative team as they try & work out all the kinks before that show's big Broadway opening ...


The interior of the Richard Rodgers theatre during the last few weeks of
rehearsal for Disney's "Tarzan." Photo by Joan Marcus.
Copyright 2007 Disney Editions. All Rights Reserved

... "How Does the Show Go On? An Introduction to the Theater" is really the next best thing to having an all-access pass to Disney Theatrical's offices. So if you've got a show tunes enthusiast on your shopping list this holiday season , this artfully designed volume (Whose front cover -- appropriately enough -- opens just like a pair of curtains at a Broadway theater) is something that you should seriously consider picking up.


The cast of Disney & Cameron Mackintosh's "Mary Poppins" rehearses that
show's "Step in Time" number. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Copyright 2007 Disney Editions. All Rights Reserved

FYI: If you'd like to purchase an autographed copy of "How Does the Show Go On?," Thomas Schumacher will actually be doing two signings next week. The first will be held at the Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Center on Wednesday, December 12th starting at 6 p.m. The second will be held at the Barnes & Noble in the Grove at Farmers Market on Thursday, December 13th at 5:30 p.m.

Speaking of shopping, If you plan on ordering any Christmas gifts through Amazon.com this year ... Well, you can show your appreciation for all the great stories that you regularly read here on this website by clicking on the banner above. That way, JHM gets a tiny little chunk of whatever you spend.

Thanks for thinking of us, folks. And Happy Holidays!

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