I'm starting a new feature here on the Big Bad Wolf blog: Must-See Movies for Theatre People.
Today's film is a documentary by filmmaker and Broadway lover, Rick McKay.
Broadway: The Golden Age is a look at Broadway of the 40's, 50's, and 60's through the eyes of the people who were there, and I mean just about all of them. About twenty minutes into this film, I started scribbling down the names of the legends of theatre and film who were interviewed for this movie: Angela Lansbury, Bea Arthur, Charles Nelson Reilly, Kim Hunter, Eli Wallach, Karl Malden, Tony Roberts, Chita Rivera, Hal Prince, Maureen Stapleton, John Raitt, Carol Channing, Frank Langella, Hal Linden, Elizabeth Ashley, Ben Gazzara, Carol Burnett, Jerry Orbach and over fifty other icons of the stage.
The addition of lots of home movie and archive footage helps complete the picture of a bygone era.
The story of Shirley MacLaine's "life imitates art" turn as the understudy who goes on to rave reviews in The Pajama Game is recounted by the people who were there, including Shirley herself.
Listening to the stories of the tight-knit Broadway community are moving, particularly as these legendary performers share their admiration of other greats like Marlon Brando, Kim Stanley, Geraldine Page, and the greatest actress you've never heard of: Laurette Taylor.
Gwen Verdon talks about working with Bob Fosse. Hal Prince, Stephen Sondheim, and Chita Rivera share their memories of the the risky experiment that was West Side Story.
I just ate this movie up, and I think that you will, too.
(I particularly enjoyed Stephen Sondheim's biting analysis of the modern "standing ovation.")
I checked it out. Broadway: The Golden Age is available at Netflix and Blockbuster.com, and, if you're anything like me, you will want to get your own copy, which you can (and I did) at Amazon.com.