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GREAT PERFORMANCES: Broadway: Beyond The Golden Age

Great Performances - Chita Rivera
Courtesy of Joe Sinnott
Chita Rivera (undated photo)

Friday, Jan. 20, 2023 at 9 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 22 at 2 p.m. on KPBS 2 / On demand now with KPBS Passport!

GREAT PERFORMANCES “Broadway: Beyond The Golden Age” explores the world of Broadway from 1959 through the early 1980s as recounted by a diverse cast of Broadway stars who lived through it, creating a first-hand archive of personal backstage stories and memories. Written, directed and produced by the late filmmaker Rick McKay and hosted by two-time Tony Award nominee Jonathan Groff, the new documentary is the long-awaited sequel to McKay’s award-winning 2003 film "Broadway: The Golden Age – By the Legends Who Were There."

Broadway: Beyond The Golden Age: Preview

This follow-up to McKay’s acclaimed oral history of Broadway continues the saga into the 60s and 70s, spotlighting beloved classic Broadway shows including “Once Upon a Mattress,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Barefoot in the Park,” “Pippin,” “A Chorus Line,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Chicago” and “42nd Street.”

Particular focus is placed on famed directors and choreographers Gower Champion, Bob Fosse, George Abbott and Michael Bennett with anecdotes from 1959’s “Once Upon A Mattress” through 1983 when “A Chorus Line” became the longest-running show in Broadway history.

"I Think An Empty Theatre is Exciting"

Featuring a galaxy of stars including Alec Baldwin, Carol Burnett, Glenn Close, André De Shields, Jane Fonda, Robert Goulet, Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera, Dick Van Dyke, Ben Vereen and many more, the film also includes rare archival photos and never-before-seen footage both onstage and off.

Carol Burnett Meets George Abbott

Notable Talent:

  • Jonathan Groff
  • Bea Arthur
  • Elizabeth Ashley
  • Alec Baldwin
  • Candy Brown
  • Carol Burnett
  • Glenn Close
  • André De Shields
  • Jane Fonda
  • Robert Goulet
  • Robert Guillaume
  • Cherry Jones
  • Baayork Lee
  • Donna McKechnie
  • Liza Minnelli
  • Robert Morse
  • Jerry Orbach
  • Robert Redford
  • Debbie Reynolds
  • Chita Rivera
  • Eva Marie Saint
  • Liev Schreiber
  • Elaine Stritch
  • Dick Van Dyke
  • Ben Vereen
  • Lesley Ann Warren

Noteworthy Facts:

  • Carol Burnett did not get the part she wanted in a “Babes in Arms” revival, which allowed her to accept her star-making and Tony-nominated role in “Once Upon a Mattress.”
  • After Dick Van Dyke auditioned for “Bye Bye Birdie” for director Gower Champion with Ray Bolger’s signature song, “Once in Love with Amy,” Champion immediately cast Van Dyke in the role of Albert Peterson, which won him a Tony Award.
  • A decades-long passion project for filmmaker Rick McKay who researched, edited, directed and interviewed over 100 Broadway luminaries in a makeshift studio in his apartment, McKay’s untimely death in 2018 halted work on the film until his team of producers brought it to fruition.
Filmmaker Rick McKay
Filmmaker Rick McKay

Watch On Your Schedule:

The episode is available on demand now with KPBS Passport, a benefit for members supporting KPBS at $60 or more yearly, using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now.

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GREAT PERFORMANCES is on Facebook/ @GPerfPBS on Twitter #GreatPerformancesPBS


A production of Broadway: The Golden Age and Beyond LLC in association with The WNET Group. Written, directed and produced by Rick McKay; with Anne L. Bernstein and Albert M. Tapper as executive producers. Jane Klain, Jamie deRoy, Richard Eric Weigle, Michael Anastasio, James Berry and Corey Brunish are producers, with Frances B. Bator, Kimberly Reed and Rachel Roark Stange as co-producers. For GREAT PERFORMANCES, Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.