The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway

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The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway
TheSeason.jpg
First edition
Author William Goldman
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Harcourt, Brace & World
Publication date
1969

The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway is an account of the 1967-68 season on and off Broadway by American novelist and screenwriter William Goldman. It was originally published in 1969 and is considered one of the best books ever written on American theater. In The New York Times, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt called the book “Very nearly perfect. ... It is a loose-limbed, gossipy, insider, savvy, nuts-and-bolts report on the annual search for the winning numbers that is now big-time American commercial theatre.”[1]

Goldman reports in the book that he spent over 18 months of reporting on the book, seeing every show on Broadway, many of them more than once, as well as preview productions in the principal try-out towns like Boston, New Haven and Washington, D.C.

The book is presented roughly in chronological order throughout the season. It analyzes the Broadway audience and the economics of Broadway theatre at the time, as well as the shows given during the season, and it profiles or interviews the significant theatrical personalities of the day.

Plays[edit]

The plays and musicals described include:

There are also chapters on the actor Peter Masterson, critics (especially Clive Barnes), ticketing, corruption and homosexuality in the theatre.

Background[edit]

William Goldman decided to write the book after making a large amount of money on the sale of his script for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in the late 1960s. He wanted to attempt a non fiction work and originally intended to do a piece on mental institutions such as Meninger's, but was worried what would happen if the institutions did not co-operate. He then decided to do an article on Broadway instead as he knew there would always be someone who would talk to him.[4] Goldman:

For the original article I wanted to interview everybody who was involved with a show in an important position, before and after. But I realised very early on that all failures have the same song. It's always a case of people not communicating, people not understanding, people lying. It's always the same wail, and I realised that my premise was not valid. But by this time I was into it. It became obsessive and it evolved into whatever The Season is. The Season I enjoyed writing. I don't like writing very much. But doing The Season was social.[5]

Reception[edit]

The book received mixed reviews, The Chicago Tribune calling it "entertaining"[6] and the Wall Street Journal "uneven".[7] Walter Kerr, who was criticised in the book, called it "a good book; crabby, opinionated, honest in its jaudice, loving in its bitterness, well-researched, exasperated, swift and itchy"[8] however he later disagreed with Goldman's contention that all critics darlings were women.[9]

Harold Clurman, who also featured in the book, said it performed "a hatchet job on Broadway... though I agree with a good number of Goldman's statements... I do not find this book, in any serious or truly helpful sense, illuminating." He also complained about Goldman's treatment of critics.[10] Christopher Lehmann Haupt of the New York Times called the book "loose-limbed, insidey, savvy, nuts and bolts report" but complained about Goldman's suggestions to improve theatre and his criticisms of critics.[11]

Goldman later said that he:

Was determined to write as honest a book as I could. It was a year and a half of my life and a lot of people still won't speak to me because of that book and it really shocked me. I was so shocked by people's responses I stopped going to the theatre. For about five years I didn't go at all. I had hoped that somebody would say 'Well, at least it's down now. This is what Broadway is like at this point in time.' And it was, for the most part, atrociously reviewed... and so many people hated it and hated me for writing it... I mean there were actresses who would say, 'If I ever see him, I would hit him.' Things like that. There was a wild reaction to it.[5]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher. The New York Times, reprinted at "The Season, Limelight". HalLeonard.com, accessed July 27, 2011
  2. ^ Rothschild, D. Aviva. The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway, Bursting with Song, RationalMagic.com, 2001, accessed July 27, 2011
  3. ^ "William Goldman: The Season". Portfolio journalism report, New York University School of Journalism, accessed July 27, 2011
  4. ^ Goldman, William, Which Lie Did I Tell?, Bloomsbury, 2000 p 27
  5. ^ a b Dennis Brown, Shoptalk, Newmarket Press, 1992 p 62-63
  6. ^ BOOKS today: The Season Blades, John. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 18 Nov 1969: 21.
  7. ^ Broadway: Scoreboard on a Season Wall Street Journal (1923 - Current file) [New York, N.Y] 09 Sep 1969: 22.
  8. ^ WALTER KERR: Off-Broadway show sets his heart to tap dancing Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 31 Aug 1969: a6.
  9. ^ You Are Looking at a Stage Face: You Know Instantly You Are Looking at a Stage Face By WALTER KERR. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 14 June 1970: 97.
  10. ^ The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway. By William Goldman. 432 pp. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. $6.95. By HAROLD CLURMAN. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 28 Sep 1969: BR20.
  11. ^ Another Vote for the Movies By CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 19 Sep 1969: 45.

References[edit]