By Meredith Brody
Broadway queens -- you know who you are: you’ve seen The Best of Broadway before they make it to Market Street, your favorite queue is the TKTS booth in Times Square, and you’ve read William Goldman’s The Season more than once) -- if you get Showtime, you’re in luck. The riveting, award-winning documentary called ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway, about the 2003-2004 Broadway season, is currently playing on the network, with the next showings on October 15th, at 3:45 a.m. and 6:45 a.m.
The documentary follows four musicals that end up vying for the Best Musical Tony award: the Rosie O’Donnell-produced Taboo, about Boy George; Avenue Q, written by three young unknowns, and starring puppets; Tony (Angels in America) Kushner’s autobiographical Caroline, or Change, about a Jewish boy growing up in Lousiana with an African-American housekeeper; and Wicked, a new take on The Wizard of Oz by Stephen (Godspell) Schwartz and Winne Holzman, based on the novel by Gregory Maguire.
The doc is heavily influenced by Goldman’s book (subtitled A Candid Look at Broadway, which covered the 1967-68 season) – Goldman, in fact, is one of the talking heads, and cheerfully says that Broadway will continue as long as there are young neurotics eager to work in it. The fact that the show that wins the Tony wins longevity is buoyed by the fact that the one who did win is still playing – despite the fact that the N.Y. Post’s Broadway columnist Michael Riedel gleefully announces he “gives it until January.” (Riedel, who’s portrayed as rather villainous in ShowBusiness, hosts the delightful Theater Talk, seen on some PBS stations – though sadly not KQED.)
But so is one that didn’t, an apparently critic-proof musical. (Hint: it played San Francisco for its out-of-town tryout). Stumped? Watch ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway. Know the answer? Watch ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway. It’s right up your (Shubert) alley.