Video: Michael Riedel on how Broadway saved New York

“New York has one thing that no other city in the world has, and that’s Broadway,” author Michael Riedel told a recent Denver Center audience as he introduced his new book, Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway. But with New York City within hours of filing for bankruptcy in the late 1960s, Broadway was in danger of drying up and blowing away.

Riedel, the gleefully controversial New York Post theater columnist, turns thoughtful journalist in his compelling telling of Broadway’s recent history from the vantage of the industry’s power brokers. In the video excerpt above, Riedel talks about the legendary showmen who stepped up to save the day with productions like Equus, 42nd Street, Cats and, especially, A Chorus Line.


Riedel was in Denver on Oct. 15 for a visit coinciding with the launch of the If/Then national touring production. Moderating the conversation at the Denver Center’s Conservatory Theatre was David Stone, producer of Broadway shows including Wicked, The Vagina Monologues and If/Then.

Video by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


Here is the official description of Michel Riedel’s Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway, from publisher  Simon & Schuster:

Michael Riedel Quote. Photo by John MooreBroadway’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 its gritty back alleys and sex-shops into the glitzy, dazzling Great White Way—and bringing a crippled New York from the brink of bankruptcy to its glittering glory.

In the mid-1970s Times Square was the seedy symbol of New York’s economic decline. Its once shining star, the renowned Shubert Organization, was losing theaters to make way for parking lots. Bernard Jacobs and Jerry Schoenfeld, two ambitious board members, saw the crumbling company was ripe for takeover and staged a coup amidst corporate intrigue, personal betrayals, and criminal investigations. Once Jacobs and Schoenfeld solidified their power, they turned a collapsed theater-owning holding company into one of the most successful entertainment empires in the world, ultimately backing many of Broadway’s biggest hits, including A Chorus Line, Cats, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, and Mamma Mia! They also sparked the revitalization of Broadway and the renewal of Times Square.

Now Michael Riedel tells the stories of the Shubert Organization and the shows that re-built a city in grand style, revealing the backstage drama that often rivaled what transpired onstage, exposing bitter rivalries, unlikely alliances, and—of course—scintillating gossip. This is a great story, told with wit and passion.

'Wicked' and 'If/Then' producer David Stone leads the conversation with Michael Riedel Photo by John Moore‘Wicked’ and ‘If/Then’ producer David Stone leads the conversation at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts with author Michael Riedel. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA’s NewsCenter

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