For those really interested in the financial fracases of the American Theatre that began with three brothers named Shubert and ended with two beautiful Broadway houses renamed for lawyers, Michael Riedel’s “Razzle Dazzle” (Simon & Schuster, $27) is for you. Anyone writing about Broadway would have a sense of the magic, the fun, the history, the talent and the genius, the amusing and the moving anecdote that illustrate the best and the worst in the center of live theatre in this country. Except this author.
Written with the heart of an adding machine oiled by lubricious innuendoes obviously vetted by lawyers, this author is far more concerned with money for the sake of money, the power to control rather than the talent to create. Actors, directors, and writers create the razzle dazzle of the Great White Way, and this book is about the lawyers. And, any theatre buff should recall what happens “in a world where the princes are lawyers”, as Sondheim has it. Riedel doesn’t even have playful or amusing recollections of liaisons, just lawyers conferencing.
The book slides along in the oleaginous style of the tell-all mags of the ’50s while telling all about figures and grosses, and ignoring people who create. This book will cause a minor ruckus because of gossip column the author slides in when there’s space in a New York daily. It will soon slip into the oblivion it so well deserves.