The Secret Life of the American Musical

  • by Jack Viertel
  • Narrated by David Pittu
  • 11 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

For almost a century, Americans have been losing their hearts and losing their minds in an insatiable love affair with the American musical. It often begins in actors and reaches its passionate zenith when it comes time for love, marriage, and children, who will start the cycle all over again. Americans love musicals. Americans invented musicals. Americans perfected musicals. But what, exactly, is a musical?
In The Secret Life of the American Musical, Jack Viertel takes musicals apart, puts them back together, sings their praises, marvels at their unflagging inventiveness, and occasionally despairs over their more embarrassing shortcomings. In the process, he invites us to fall in love all over again by showing us how musicals happen, what makes them work, how they captivate audiences, and how one landmark show leads to the next - by design or by accident, by emulation or by rebellion - from Oklahoma! to Hamilton and onward.

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What the Critics Say

"An enlightening trip for lovers of musicals." (Kirkus)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

so good I need to buy the printed book

Where does The Secret Life of the American Musical rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Viertel has written an informed and informative exploration of classic american musicals.


What does David Pittu bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Pittu is an an excellent reader.


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- Richard

In love with the American Musical

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely! This is one of the most engaging and thoughtful audio books I have ever listened to.


What did you like best about this story?

Viertel is an insider whose love of the American musical is exceeded, perhaps, only by his vibrant insights and encyclopedic knowledge. The book is like a musical itself, with the chapters taking us from the overture to the 11 o'clock number--a perfect synchronization of content and form.


What does David Pittu bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narrator channels Viertel's love and enthusiasm for the material and he is clearly familiar enough with the numerous song lyrics quoted in each chapter so that his reading maintains the rhythm and integrity of the lyrics. First rate job.


Any additional comments?

If you love the musical theatre, as I do, listen to this book and will come away loving it even more.

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- Matriplex

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-01-2016
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio