An Encyclopedia of Theater and American Culture

by Thomas A. Greenfield, Editor


It is a small piece of a small island, just a few city blocks dissected by a diagonal avenue. Yet for nearly a century and a half, productions at theaters clustered in this crowded section of midtown Manhattan have enthralled audiences, continually redefined excellence, and left an indelible mark on American culture.

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Cover image for Broadway

December 2009


Pages 779
Volumes 2
Size 7x10
Topics Popular Culture/Music and Performing Arts

This is the most comprehensive and insightful reference available on Broadway theater as an American cultural phenomenon and an illuminator of American life.

Broadway: An Encyclopedia of Theater and American Culture is the first major reference work to explore just how much the "Great White Way" illuminates our national character. In two volumes spanning the era from the mid-19th century to the present, it offers nearly 200 entries on a variety of topics, including spotlights on 30 landmark productions—from Shuffle Along to Oklahoma! to Oh Calcutta! to The Producers—that not only changed American theater but American culture as well.

In addition, Broadway offers thirty extended thematic essays gauging the powerful impact of theater on American life, with entries on race relations, women in society, sexuality, film, media, technology, tourism, and off-Broadway and noncommercial theater. There are also 110 profile entries on key persons and institutions—from the famous to the infamous to the all but forgotten—whose unique careers and contributions impacted Broadway and its place in the American landscape.


  • Comprises nearly 200 entries of landmark productions, important theater artists, and topics that highlight Broadway's powerful impact on American culture
  • Brings together the work of 65 contributors, including leading academic writers and researchers in theater and popular culture as well as working theater professionals
  • Presents a timeline of major events, including openings of selected landmark productions and birthdates of selected critical figures
  • Showcases 80-90 photographs of key figures and scenes from landmark productions
  • Provides a survey of both print and online resources, including general references, specific studies, and selected biographies
  • Offers a glossary of selected production and business terms
  • Includes an index of names, productions, and themes


  • Spans the entire history of Broadway, from the earliest productions to the era of the megamusical, including both American and imported productions
  • Encompasses both musicals and legitimate theater—usually treated as separate entities in discussions of Broadway—as well as historical genres such as vaudeville and operetta
  • Spotlights Broadway's most legendary productions, artists, playwrights, and producers
  • Explores the concept of how culture impacts theater to include rarely covered topics such as Broadway's development of national identity through touring, Broadway's influence in the American classroom, and Broadway and religion.
Author Info

Thomas A. Greenfield is professor of English and American studies and lecturer in music at the State University of New York, Geneseo. He is the author of Work and the Work Ethic in American Drama, 1920-1970 and Radio: A Reference Guide in Greenwood's American Popular Culture reference series, as well as numerous articles and essays on drama, theater, media, and popular culture. He is a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching.



"...this one adds something extra by exploring the 'powerful impact of theater on American life.' In addition, it is a fun resource to browse. Recommended for public and academic libraries."Booklist

"This fun and interesting series features nearly 200 entries on an assortmant of topics...If you have serious theatre kids, this is a most valuable resource for research or browsing."Pennsylvania School Librarians Association

"If you have Broadway fanatics at your school that might choose to write a history paper about any aspect of Broadway, this is a great source....Well done."Pennsylvania School Librarians Association

"...provides diversion, insight and inspiration for further exploration. The volumes offer interesting entries on a wide range of topics."DC Theatre Scene

"Editor Greenfield and 77 contributors offer an extensive encyclopedic treatment of Broadway..."Reference & Research Book News

"This set would be a welcome addition to any theater history collection. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers."Choice

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