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Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  659 Ratings  ·  124 Reviews
Broadway’s most respected (and feared) commentator pulls back the curtain on its stars, its producers, and its mega-hits to reveal all the shocking drama, intrigue, and power plays that happened off stage.

Razzle Dazzle is a provocative, no-holds-barred narrative account of the people and the money and the power that re-invented an iconic quarter of New York City, turning i
Hardcover, 447 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Simon Schuster (first published October 1st 2015)
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Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I love theater, but I don't know as much about it as I would like to. I don't really know a lot about any of the shows that were a thing before I was a teenager, for instance, but I want to change that. I was kind of disappointed by last year's Secret Life of the American Musical , because I wanted to find something that was a little more about the history and the business side of the shows as opposed to literary deconstructions of the songs. That's why I grabbed this book.

And I'm so glad I di
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss

Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway is written by New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel. The book is full of stories about the Shubert Organization and the Broadway shows that they were involved in. The later chapters also give us some insight into the Nederlander theaters and their shows.

I love musical theatre. So I was super excited to read this book.

The book looks in details at all of the key players on Broadway. There is a lot of information about Broadway in the 1960s, 1970s, 19
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
OK, this may be a bit too much inside baseball for the civilian reader. I arrived in NYC for my second stint in 1985, just as the British invasion was fully taking hold; my first big shows were LES MIS and PHANTOM. But Riedel has done exhaustive research on the shifting fortunes of Broadway over the previous decades, from the super-powerful days when the Shuberts ruled the streets to the restoration of their near-monarchy in the 1980s.

It's all great juicy fun, with an army of backstage players,
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: interview
What would the theatre be without egos and tantrums and entanglements?

Michael Riedel masterfully chronicles the highs and lows of Broadway - Times Square - New York through the triumphs, plights and schemes of the Schubert Organization. The personalities are larger-than-life, though not very admirable, at times. Their friendships and partnerships, rivalries and enemies are the epitome of "42nd Street" or "Guys and Dolls".
Riedel captures the atmosphere during industry scandals, the changing neigh
Russell Sanders
Oct 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
With Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway, theater columnist Michael Riedel has provided us theater nuts with a very satisfying look at the last six decades of Broadway, throwing in a bit of history from before the 1960s as well. His book focuses on the enormous influence the Shubert Organization has had on the American theater, starting with the three Shubert brothers and continuing to their successors, Gerald Schoenfeld and Bernard Jacobs, who took over the organization after J. J. Shubert’s ...more
Charlie Smith
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Original review available at my blog, HereWeAreGoing, here:

Saw this in the New Releases section at the library and hesitated. In that fantasy world in which I live where I am pals with Broadway types, I recalled something about theatre-folk not caring for Riedel and, not wanting to be disloyal to my imaginary friends, I was going to pass. Then, I remembered he had been on the late, lamented (by me, at least) Smash, and so, I decided that if Megan Hilty, W
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Chronicle of the birth of New York's Broadway that careens through the years starting with The Schubert family and their control of real estate theater property, the personalities of all these characters involved in the making of shows from musical revues, plays, the Golden Age of the late 40s into the 50s, the British invasion, and the Disney-fication (in the 90s) of an area that was (in the late 60s and 70s into the 80s) a seedy, trash filled, environment of crime and grind house movie theater ...more
Hayley Vomund
Oct 06, 2015 marked it as to-read
I won this book in a goodreads giveaway and I am SO excited!! I can't wait to read it!!

Won this book last October. Never received my copy. Never received a reply when inquiring about it. Disappointed.
Jun 08, 2017 rated it liked it
The hysteria over Hamilton drove home to me that I know almost nothing about the history of American musical theater. Razzle Dazzle was recommended to me by a friend who is looking to get into the theater business. He said it was the best book he read as part of his research.

Razzle Dazzle is an imperfect teacher. I learned a great deal. I think I have a much better understanding now of Broadway, the importance of various musicals, and the story of the deterioration and later revitalization of Ti
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fascinating, slightly gossipy, behind-the-scenes look at Broadway's history.
Lois R. Gross
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In theatre vernacular, this book, a detailed look at the business of Broadway, has a slow first act. The book focuses on how came to be with warring production companies (primarily the Shuberts against everyone, especially the Neidlanders) and corruption in the box offices ("ice") that drove the profit motive to mounting Broadway shows. While interesting, this is not engrossing because it doesn't have big star names. In fact, there's a whole period of Broadway history, the so-called Golden Age o ...more
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Broadway theatre 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, kickback
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
The subject of this book is like catnip to me: New York and Broadway theater in the 1970s and '80s, much of it regarding my husband's current employer, The Shubert Organization. Despite not containing a ton of new information, it does collect many long-told stories in one spot, which is a great thing to have. The book is thorough (though not at all comprehensive), well researched, and well written. The main reason I'm not giving it a 5-star review is that Michael Riedel is a garbage human being: ...more
Dec 28, 2015 added it
This is a perfect book for anyone interested in the history of Broadway and Times Square. It's also a perfect book for anyone just interested in some good entertainment gossip. A Delicate balance has been struck between the two in this fascinating look at the Shubert Organization and how it was instrumental, if not almost totally responsible for, in revitalizing Broadway and Times Square since the early 1900s.
Nov 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Very interesting to learn the history of Broadway & the major theater owners/producers. I found most interesting the near demise & revitalization, as well as the financing details of the productions. But, too much time was devoted to "gossipy" tidbits that did nothing to enhance the book. Also, some more judicious editing would have helped the flow of the book & eliminated much of the needless bitchy fluff with which Michael Riedel pads this book.
Andrew Kosztyo
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
A comprehensive and thoroughly entertaining history of the thinly veiled chaos that markets itself as "Broadway." Even theater neophytes will find the human dramas behind the stage dramas entirely compelling -- and exasperating. I wish that I had a dollar for every time the word "feud" is used in the book.
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
The first 1/3 of the book was just OK for me; the focus was the history of the Shubert brothers and the creation of their theater empire. It really picked up when it started to focus more on the shows and the men behind them like Michael Bennet, Tommy Tune, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. I also like how the book covered not only Broadway, but this history and feel of Times Square over the years.
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Interesting but hard to follow in the beginning. Not sure it gave the whole picture about Broadway.
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who so much as glances at my book reviews knows that I read just about anything having to do with Broadway, especially if it deals with the American musical. I've been passionate about the subject since I was in grammar school. While I haven't been able to read as much about it as I would like (not enough has ever been available in Braille or recorded form to satisfy me, though things have improved dramatically thanks to modern technology), I have spent many happy hours listening to radio ...more
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent look at the state of Broadway, both the street and the theatrical world, from the late 60s until around the turn of the century. Riedel seemed to have the best access to Shubert Organization people and to Michael Bennett, and perhaps more of an inclination to cover them than some of the others he could have explored, so the story is mostly about them. I've read a lot about Sondheim, so this was a nice balance to the theater writers who focus on his work.

Razzle Dazzle prese
Todd Vanderwerff
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Three is probably a little low, but four feels a little high. It's really more of, like, a 3.4.

Anyway, I liked this, but it was a bit breathless, to the degree that major, major events in the history of Broadway happen over a couple of pages. (The AIDS crisis takes up about 30 pages.) I get why it's structured that way -- this is the story of Gerald Schoenfeld and Bernie Jacobs taking over the Shubert Organization and shepherding the company (and by proxy the theater industry and, sort of, the c
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you’re a Broadway theater nut, like me, you’ll revel in this book. Otherwise, probably not so much. Michael Riedel details the struggles, back stabbings, drug and alcohol abuse, thievery, joys and heartbreak that go on behind the scenes of opening a Broadway show. Focused largely on the producers and their productions, from the 80s to the present, we follow them from out of town tryouts to either out of town flops or Broadway hits that reap millions for those who took a chance. Most astonishi ...more
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is perhaps the best book (or at least, my favourite book) that I have ever read and is most certainly the best Broadway history book I've ever indulged in. I (perhaps controversially) am a fan of Michael Riedel's anyway so I assumed I'd enjoy the book, but little did I know that this book would be packed to the brim with such inspiring and charming tales of the rise (and several falls) of Broadway through the 20th century. This book is a must for anybody who is even remotely interested ...more
May 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theatre, essays
Very interesting book. It's intriguing to know what happened "behind the curtain" of the most famous theatre "city" of the world. The battles for theatre, the big families, the rivalry. The parts I enjoyed the most were the ones about the birth of the musicals, especially Cats, The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miz. Of course there's a lot of history told in this book, not just musicals but the people behind the theatre.
I'm not a native speaker, but it's quite easy to read. The first half of the
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I heard of this book because on my way to work I listen to Len Berman in the morning and Michael recently joined him and was always touting his books. It is basically a history of the business of the theatre on Broadway, particularly the Shuberts. It is interesting but he skips around in the chronology of the events too often that can be confusing. He focuses on some of the great directors, like Michael Bennett and composers such as Andrew Lloyd Webber. If you are looking for information on acto ...more
Ashley Lambert-Maberly
It was fine, but never really grabbed me, despite being on a topic I have an abounding interest in. I managed to read 2/3 of it, set it aside for some time, remembered none of it, re-read it from the start, and now I'm done. It was dry (very dry, considering its author is essentially a gossip columnist). The characters never really came to life--it was like reading an encyclopedia's rendition of events, rather than a diverting historian's.

(Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book,
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is gripping showbiz story - with equal parts show and biz. Michael Riedel's excellent book tells how Broadway went from being the Great White Way in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, to falling on hard times in the 60s and 70s and almost being swallowed up by porn shops, to being a billion dollar global entertainment juggernaut and the crown jewel of NYC. It's part business history, part New York City history, and part political whodunit all wrapped up in a glitzy showbiz sandwich full of stars and eg ...more
Kristin Strong
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theater, non-fiction
Maybe you have to be a total musical theatre geek to love this book. If that's wrong, I don't wanna be right.

Michael Riedel's account of the history of the Shubert Organization and its inextricable link to what Broadway was, is, and shall become is packed with insider information and gossipy dish that makes it intensely readable. The story of how the Shuberts rose from obscurity in Syracuse, New York to be arguably the most influential theatre owners, producers, and philanthropists in Broadway h
Sissy Van Dyke
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a fascinating history of the intersection between art, money, politics, and power. Wow! This book was interesting and well-written. This book really illustrates the importance of Broadway to New York City. The history of this relationship is like a troubled marriage that always comes back to love.
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was fascinating. A Must Read for all my fellow Broadway crazies out there. Riedel amazed me with his knowledge of the theatre and the insider history of Broadway. The evolution of the Shuberts and their ties to Jacobs and Schoenfeld, David Merrick, Michael Bennett, Cameron Mackintosh, and so many more. Loved it!
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“But the truth is there’s no such thing as a bad house—just a bad show.” 1 likes
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