Come experience the early years of the American musical with Ziegfeld girls and Irving Berlin at a screening of the first episode of the acclaimed PBS series Broadway: The American Musical this Friday, April 26. The screening, sponsored by the Friends of the Weston Library, will begin with a wine and cheese reception at 7 p.m. with the movie starting at 7:30 in the library”s community room.
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. The six-part series begins with the immigrant experience when a melting pot of voices gave rise to a popular new form of entertainment, and ends with today’s Broadway, where big-budget productions and revivals of classic favorites compete for box office success.
Episode One: Give My Regards to Broadway will showcase the beginning of musical theater from 1893 to 1927. When Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. arrives in New York in 1893, the intersection of Broadway and 42nd is nobody’s idea of “the crossroads of the world.” But by 1913, “the Ziegfeld Follies really were an amalgamation of everything that was happening in America, in New York, at that time,” says writer Philip Furia. “Flo Ziegfeld was like the Broadway equivalent of the melting pot itself.”
Ziegfeld’s story introduces many of the era’s key figures: Irving Berlin, a Russian immigrant who becomes the voice of assimilated America: entertainers like Jewish comedienne Fanny Brice and the African-American Bert Williams, who become America’s first “crossover” artists; and the brash Irish-American George M. Cohan, whose song-and-dance routines embody the energy of Broadway.
Additional episodes will be screened at future dates. For more information, email [email protected] or call the library at 203-222-2665.