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Colored Lights: Forty Years of Words and Music, Show Biz, Collaboration, and All That Jazz

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The autobiography, in dialogue, of the composer and lyricist of "Chicago" and "Cabaret "as well as a wise and witty memoir of forty years of American musicals. Composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb are the longest-running composer-lyricist team in Broadway history, having first joined forces in 1962. The creators of such groundbreaking musicals as "Chicago," "Cabaret, The autobiography, in dialogue, of the composer and lyricist of "Chicago" and "Cabaret "as well as a wise and witty memoir of forty years of American musicals. Composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb are the longest-running composer-lyricist team in Broadway history, having first joined forces in 1962. The creators of such groundbreaking musicals as "Chicago," "Cabaret," and "Kiss of the Spider Woman," Kander and Ebb have helped to push American musical theater in a more daring direction, both musically and dramatically. Their impact on individual performers has been great as well, starting with the handpicked star of their first musical: an untested nineteen-year-old named Liza Minnelli (who writes of this experience in her introduction). Colored Lights covers the major shows of Kander and Ebb's partnership, from "Flora, The Red Menace "(starring a then-unknown Liza) to "The Visit," due to open on Broadway in 2004. The pages and musicals in between reveal what has made theirs such a long-lived musical partnership--and one so valued by the artists they have worked with. In recounting the genesis and controversies of "Cabaret," reflecting on the superstar mentality of such artist as Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand, and recalling their work with Bob Fosse on "Chicago "(as well as their views on the blockbuster 2002 film), John Kander and Fred Ebb provide a history not only of their own lives but also of the American musical theater of the late twentieth century.


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The autobiography, in dialogue, of the composer and lyricist of "Chicago" and "Cabaret "as well as a wise and witty memoir of forty years of American musicals. Composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb are the longest-running composer-lyricist team in Broadway history, having first joined forces in 1962. The creators of such groundbreaking musicals as "Chicago," "Cabaret, The autobiography, in dialogue, of the composer and lyricist of "Chicago" and "Cabaret "as well as a wise and witty memoir of forty years of American musicals. Composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb are the longest-running composer-lyricist team in Broadway history, having first joined forces in 1962. The creators of such groundbreaking musicals as "Chicago," "Cabaret," and "Kiss of the Spider Woman," Kander and Ebb have helped to push American musical theater in a more daring direction, both musically and dramatically. Their impact on individual performers has been great as well, starting with the handpicked star of their first musical: an untested nineteen-year-old named Liza Minnelli (who writes of this experience in her introduction). Colored Lights covers the major shows of Kander and Ebb's partnership, from "Flora, The Red Menace "(starring a then-unknown Liza) to "The Visit," due to open on Broadway in 2004. The pages and musicals in between reveal what has made theirs such a long-lived musical partnership--and one so valued by the artists they have worked with. In recounting the genesis and controversies of "Cabaret," reflecting on the superstar mentality of such artist as Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand, and recalling their work with Bob Fosse on "Chicago "(as well as their views on the blockbuster 2002 film), John Kander and Fred Ebb provide a history not only of their own lives but also of the American musical theater of the late twentieth century.

30 review for Colored Lights: Forty Years of Words and Music, Show Biz, Collaboration, and All That Jazz

  1. 4 out of 5

    Greg Kerestan

    Jay Gatsby insists that you can repeat the past, and John Kander and Fred Ebb would be likely to agree. Though the nuts and bolts of their writing style evolved over the years, they remained rooted in the pre-rock sounds of jazz and sweeping romanticism. This book is less of a biography than a master class on fifty years of creative process, taught as a conversation between the two inherently lovable characters of Kander and Ebb. As a writer myself, this is invaluable.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    Essentially a very long interview with John Kander and Fred Ebb, reading their back and forth with each other is especially charming. Really excellent break down for anyone wanting to know more about their creative process.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This wasn't as fascinating and lively as I hoped it would be (I love Kander and Ebb), but it's still worth the time if you're into musical theater and/or Kander and Ebb shows. It's pretty cool to read their reminiscences of all the shows they did together. The conversational interview format (most of the book is transcribed conversations between the two of them) makes it very engaging. This wasn't as fascinating and lively as I hoped it would be (I love Kander and Ebb), but it's still worth the time if you're into musical theater and/or Kander and Ebb shows. It's pretty cool to read their reminiscences of all the shows they did together. The conversational interview format (most of the book is transcribed conversations between the two of them) makes it very engaging.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    Their story is entertaining enough, but this is kind of a sloppy approach to biography. Apparently they sat down with a ghost writer and just kind of talked about things, which were mostly transcribed. It does give you an insight into the way the two men interact with each other, but it also means that the narrative meanders. I enjoyed it, but it shouldn't be the final word on these careers. Their story is entertaining enough, but this is kind of a sloppy approach to biography. Apparently they sat down with a ghost writer and just kind of talked about things, which were mostly transcribed. It does give you an insight into the way the two men interact with each other, but it also means that the narrative meanders. I enjoyed it, but it shouldn't be the final word on these careers.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Judith

    Very interesting set of interviews with John Kander and the late Fred Ebb about their lives and careers. If anyone has questions about their careers and works I would consult this book first. Very candid but not sensationalistic. Nice job by their co-writer Greg Lawrence. Recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael Pierce

    Liza Minelli is a mess! I began reading this book after seeing a concert on PBS of Kandler & Ebb songs and f finished just after seeing the new blueray version of Cabaret. I liked it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    Some good anecdotes, but pretty disappointing after reading Sondheim's collection of lyrics and stories about the theater. Some good anecdotes, but pretty disappointing after reading Sondheim's collection of lyrics and stories about the theater.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Duncan

  9. 5 out of 5

    Steven Jones

  10. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Childs

  11. 4 out of 5

    heather dawn

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gibster Wallis

  13. 5 out of 5

    Neil Schleifer

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bradley Hayward

  15. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gillian Toner

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bill

  18. 5 out of 5

    Larry Stuckey II

  19. 4 out of 5

    David

  20. 4 out of 5

    Troy Tillman

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ben

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adina

  25. 5 out of 5

    Atar Hadari

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jackie Leibowitz

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  28. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

  29. 5 out of 5

    Colleen McCormack

  30. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

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