In a star-studded third season, America’s most passionate music preservationist explores the enduring popularity of Broadway show tunes, the pas de deux between music and choreography, and the indelible impact of radio on popular music in the golden age. This time some of the biggest stars in musical theater, stage, and screen come along for the ride. Offering an intimate look at the performer on stage, behind the scenes, and on the road, Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook takes viewers on a cultural journey across America and through time.
SEASON 3 EPISODES:
Stars in the Broadway universe don’t shine much brighter than Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury and Christine Ebersole, all of whom appear in this episode about great American musicals. Sondheim reveals the composers he most admires and shows Feinstein some rare home movie footage of the original Broadway production of the classic Follies. Tony Award-winner Ebersole gives a tour de force performance of a showstopper from the stage musical Funny Girl, and Lansbury reflects on her Broadway career, from Mame to Sweeney Todd and Gypsy. (Lansbury is surprised to tears when Feinstein shows her previously unseen film of her star turn in the 1974 revival of “Gypsy.”) Feinstein discusses his personal relationship with the lyricist Ira Gershwin and performs the classics “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Let Me Entertain You” and “No One Is Alone.”
Fred Astaire is Michael Feinstein’s favorite singer—but he also was the favorite singer of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and the Gershwins. Why was this dancer, first-and-foremost, so beloved by the America’s great composers? With that question Feinstein launches into an exploration of the marriage between music and choreography, unearthing rare home movies of Astaire rehearsing on set, and some remarkable memorabilia from that other screen-dance icon, Gene Kelly. Kelly stuns in never-before-seen footage of his star-making role in the original Broadway production of Pal Joey. Liza Minnelli struts her stuff in two rare vintage clips—including a duet with Gene Kelly. Feinstein indulges his inner Astaire with private dance lessons, explores the endless popularity of ballroom dance in America and performs the classics “Change Partners”, “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Shall We Dance” and “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.”
On the Air
Today, “American Idol” is the country’s biggest music star-maker, but decades ago, the Golden Age of Radio fulfilled the idol-making role in the U.S. Feinstein traces the phenomenon with archival clips of Bing Crosby, Cab Calloway, Kate Smith and many others. He visits with TV and stage star Rose Marie (best known as “Sally Rogers” on “The Dick Van Dyke Show”) and learns about her career as a highly paid child radio star named “Baby” Rose Marie. On his own NPR program, Feinstein showcases the virtuoso talents of classical superstars, including violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk. Finally, he discovers a lost radio program that featured Rosemary Clooney, and recalls his own memorable duet with her.
2 DVD discs: 3 hour-long episodes plus a 2-hour bonus disc.
- Featuring: Michael Feinstein, Angela Lansbury, Liza Minnelli, Stephen Sondheim, Joshua Bell
- Directed by: Amber Edwards
- Produced by Amber Edwards & Dave Davidson
- Format: DVD 2 discs | Region: 0 | Run Time: 270 minutes