The Shuberts and Their Passing Shows by Jonas Westover Book Summary:
The Shubert name has been synonymous with Broadway for almost as long as Broadway entertainment itself. With seventeen Broadway theatres including the Ambassador, the Music Box, and the Winter Garden, The Shubert Organization perpetuates brothers Lee and Jacob Shubert's business legacy. In The Shuberts and Their Passing Shows: The Untold Tale of Ziegfeld's Rivals, author Jonas Westover investigates beyond the Shuberts' business empire into their early revues and the centrifugal role they played in developing American theatre as an art form. The Shubert-produced revues, titled Passing Shows, were terrifically popular in the teens and twenties, consistently competing with Florenz Ziegfeld's Follies for the greatest numbers of stars, biggest spectacles, and ultimately the largest audiences. The Shuberts and Their Passing Shows is the first-ever book to unpack the colorful history of the productions, delving into their stars, costumes, stagecraft, and orchestration in unprecedented detail. Providing a fresh and exciting window into American theatrical history, Westover traces the fascinating history of the Shuberts' revue series, presented annually from 1912-1924, and covers more broadly the glorious days of early Broadway. In addition to its compelling history of Broadway's Golden Age, The Shuberts and Their Passing Shows also provides a revisionary argument about the overarching history of the revue. Bolstered by a rich collection of documents in the Shubert Theater Archive, Westover argues against the popular misconception that the Shubert's competitor, producer Florenz Ziegfield - responsible for the better-known Follies - was the sole proprietor of Broadway audiences. As Westover proves, not only were the Passing Shows as popular as the Follies but also a key component in a history of the revue that is vastly more complex than previous scholarship has shown. The Shuberts and Their Passing Shows brings to fruition years of original research and invaluable insights into the gilded formation of present day Broadway.