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Anything Goes


A History of American Musical Theatre

Ethan Mordden

09 July 2015

ISBN: 9780190227937

360 pages

In Stock

Price: £14.99


After six volumes on the musical's history, working decade by decade from the 1920s through the 1990s, Ethan Mordden takes an entirely fresh look at the musical, from The Beggar's Opera to Wicked. Looking at the Star Comic, the Sweetheart Heroine, the war between musical comedy and operetta, the rise of the sexy story in the 1920s, the wedding of ballet and hoofing in the 1930s, the Oklahoma! and Carousel "musical play" in the 1940s, the Novelty Star in the 1950s, and other developments.

  • Comprehensive, detailed, enlightening look at the musical
  • Written by a preeminent authority on musical
  • Correcting many misapprehensions that pepper the popular view of the musical's history

About the Author(s)

Ethan Mordden

Ethan Mordden is a recognized authority on the American musical, and the author of such books as Make Believe: The Broadway Musical in the 1920s, Beautiful Mornin: The Broadway Musical in the 1940s, and Coming Up Roses: The Broadway Musical in the 1950s. He lives in Manhattan.

Table of Contents

    1. Source Material
    2. The Age of Burlesque
    3. At the Turn of the Century
    4. The Witch of the Wood and the Bamboo Tree
    5. Victor Herbert
    6. The New Music
    7. The Variety Show
    8. The Structure of the Twenties Musical Comedy
    9. The Structure of the Twenties Operetta
    10. Dancing in the Dark
    11. Blue Monday Blues
    12. The Rodgers and Hammerstein Handbook
    13. Something to Dance About
    14. After West Side Story
    15. The Sondheim Handbook
    16. Devolutions
    17. That Is the Stae of the Art


"[T]he book takes us to present day, Mr. Mordden has a lot of ground to cover, but his high-energy style carries us along amiably, and it soon becomes obvious that he hasn't set out to write a reference work but... a survey of an art form seen through the eyes of a breathless and opinionated host."" - The Wall Street Journal

"More journalistic than academic, Anything Goes has a relaxed spryness. ("Oklahoma!" in Mordden memorable formulation, "is a musical comedy undergoing psychoanalysis.") It's the work of an expert who is also an unabashed fan, an inveterate theatergoer who can deconstruct a score and reel off sparking backstage anecdotes all in the same paragraph." - Los Angeles Times

"Mordden remains an undisputed heavyweight in his field; his output is impressively comprehensive and his enthusiasm inexhaustible." - Washington Independent Review of Books

"[O]bviously the best-ever history of the musical and likely to remain so for a very long time. Individual shows and even numbers leap to life in Mordden's colorful prose, both in the main text and the hefty bibliographical and discographical essays that propel the volume to a hilarious final bon mot."" - Booklist (starred review)

"For four decades he has been entertaining and enlightening readers with mind-boggling regularity and with perspective, perspicacity, and pizzazz. Now with Anything Goes Mordden miraculously manages to stylishly convey in an indispensable single volume, the uncanny and encyclopedic breadth of his knowledge-and the complexity of this enchanted American art form." - Geoffrey Block, author of Enchanted Evenings: The Broadway Musical from "Show Boat" to Sondheim and Lloyd Webber, and Series Editor of Oxford's Broadway Legacies

"Simply the best one-volume cronicle of the art-form."" - Stage Direction Magazine

"Anything Goes offers the surest description of the musical, and represents Mordden's own revised conclusions after almost forty years of considering these issues." " - The Gay and Lesbian Review