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Arts & Culture

GREAT PERFORMANCES: Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy

"West Side Story" cast, 2008.
Courtesy of © Getty Images
"West Side Story" cast, 2008.

Airs Fri., March 21, 2014 at 9 p.m. & Sun., March 23 at 12 p.m. on KPBS TV

Composer Irving Berlin
Courtesy of © Culver Pictures
Composer Irving Berlin
Zero Mostel performs “Tradition” in the 1964 Broadway production of "Fiddler on the Roof."
Courtesy of © Photofest, Inc.
Zero Mostel performs “Tradition” in the 1964 Broadway production of "Fiddler on the Roof."

Why has the Broadway musical proven to be such fertile territory for Jewish artists of all kinds? From Broadway’s golden age, names like Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, the Gershwins, Arthur Laurents, Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim immediately come to mind.

More recently, Broadway babies such as Stephen Schwartz, Marc Shaiman and Andrew Lippa represent a sampling of the Jewish talents who continue to leave their mark on musical theater.

In "Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy," filmmaker Michael Kantor focuses on this central question left largely unaddressed in his Emmy-winning BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL series, combining interviews with performance footage, including many of the rousing anthems and timeless ballads America has loved for a century.

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