Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway

Broadway theater lovers and fans of scandal, intrigue and back-stabbing will delight in Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway, an acerbic, juicy and well-researched history of the Great White Way by Michael Riedel, bi-weekly columnist for the New York Post and co-host of the PBS series Theatre Talk.

Epic in scope, this history of the rough and tumble business side of Broadway begins in the 1960s--when the financial ledgers were kept in pencil and, thanks to black market ticket sales, kickbacks, price gouging and illegal money handling, everyone was making a lot of undocumented money, except the show investors. (Rudy Vallee, then starring in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, personally scalped his free house seat tickets every night in Times Square.) Riedel traces ticket corruption back to 1850, and when the New York State attorney general begins to unravel this scam in 1963, it implicates everyone from ticket sellers to theater owners.

Although the bulk of Razzle Dazzle covers the theater world from the 1960s through 1990s, Riedel backtracks to the origins of the family-run theaters, where disputes were sometimes settled with murder. There are no dull decades in this Broadway history, at least not with Riedel at the helm to detail feuds, jealousies and bad behavior on and off the stage. He brings energy and insight to his portraits of the legendary and volatile show people who continually reshaped Broadway musicals including Oklahoma!, Hello, Dolly!, Pippin, A Chorus Line, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Dreamgirls and Les Misérables. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

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