Regular readers will recall that I wrote earlier this year about Rick McKay’s film Broadway: The Golden Age, both here and in The Wall Street Journal:
Mr. McKay is one of those starry-eyed small-town types who moved to New York in the ’80s, found that the parade had already gone by, and longed to know what he’d missed. Instead of retreating to his apartment to play his original-cast albums, he bought a digital-video camera and finagled more than a hundred Broadway stars of the pre-“Hair” era into letting him interview them. He shaped the resulting footage into “Broadway: The Golden Age,” in which talking-head interviews with the illustrious likes of Carol Channing, Ben Gazzara, Robert Goulet, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach, Shirley MacLaine, John Raitt, Gwen Verdon, and Elaine Stritch are ingeniously commingled with heart-stoppingly rare performance footage lifted from home movies, newsreels, theatrical trailers and videotapes. The result is an irresistibly nostalgic portrait of a lost era, albeit one that zips along like the Twentieth Century Limited. The editing alone deserves an Oscar.
Not to worry, for Mr. McKay knows when to ease back on the throttle and simply let his subjects talk. And talk they do, often amusingly and always movingly, about what it was like to work alongside such near-forgotten giants as Laurette Taylor (who is seen in her Hollywood screen test, the only sound film she ever made) and Kim Stanley (where on earth did Mr. McKay dredge up what looks like a kinescope of a live performance of “Bus Stop”?). You’ll weep–I did–to hear them share their fond memories of crummy apartments, Automat meals and big breaks.
Produced and marketed on half a shoestring, this one-man labor of love is slowly making its way across America, one screen at a time….
Well, you know what? It still is. I recently received an electronic press release from McKay announcing still more openings for Broadway: The Golden Age, which is already showing all over the place. To find out whether it’s headed for a multiplex near you, go here. A DVD is in the works, but trust me–this film deserves to be viewed in a theater, in the company of hundreds of other stage-struck men and women who either remember the good old days or wish they’d been alive to see them. I myself look forward to its return to New York on Sept. 28. See you there.