The Complete Book of 2000s Broadway Musicals. By Dan Dietz. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. 514 p. $125 (ISBN: 978-1-4422-7800-4). E-book available (ISBN: 978-1-4422-7801-1), call for pricing.

The Complete Book of 2000s Broadway Musicals is arranged by year and lists each Broadway musical chronologically. The introduction states that the purpose of the work is to “provide a convenient reference source that gives both technical information (such as cast and song lists) and commentary (including obscure details that personalize both familiar and forgotten musicals” (xi). As in Dietz’s other volumes in this series, the reader comes for the technical information, but stays for the commentary.

Each of the 213 musicals and revues that opened between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2009, is given a full workup: cast information, a list of musical numbers, a general sense of how the work was received, and a roundup of reviews, all sprinkled with trivia. At its best, The Complete Book of 2000s Broadway Musicals puts in one place the facts about a decade’s worth of musical theatre. Details about other shows the cast has been in and the history of revivals’ previous runs truly adds to the disconnected experience of merely reading about the multisensory experience that is a Broadway musical. The commentary is mostly helpful but sometimes crosses into mean-spirited territory, occasionally about the audience.

I did love some of the insults Dietz throws at unsuccessful shows, such as “lacked the Pow Factor” (31) and “the characters had Issues, Problems, and Behavior Patterns from Trendy Playwriting 101” (360). There is also much amusement to be had in reading about true bombs (like Seussical: The Musical). However, I did not love it when he turned those insults toward the audience, especially those who enjoy a flashy spectacle. Dietz’s disdain for big, flashy productions and those who love them is clear, and perhaps is misplaced in a reference book. Perhaps the scope of the volume should have been altered so that only “real” Broadway musicals were included, not garish, crude, or those intended for the “all-important teenage-girl audience” (295), which Dietz references several times in a manner I can’t help but interpret as dismissive.

The volume achieves its goal: each Broadway musical is described in detail, and there is an impressive (perhaps unnecessary) variety of appendixes so that the reader may quickly identify shows by other routes besides date or title. Recommended for academic or specialized libraries focusing on the arts.—Tracy Carr, Library Services Director, Mississippi Library Commission, Jackson, Mississippi


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