Razzle Dazzle

The Battle for Broadway

About The Book

The story of the rise, fall, and redemption of Broadway—its stars, its biggest shows, its producers, and all the drama, intrigue, and power plays that happened behind the scenes.

“A rich, lovely, debut history of New York theater in the 1970s and eighties” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), Razzle Dazzle is a narrative account of the people and the money and the power that turned New York’s gritty back alleys and sex-shops into the glitzy, dazzling Great White Way.

In the mid-1970s Times Square was the seedy symbol of New York’s economic decline. Its once shining star, the renowned Shubert Organization, was losing theaters to make way for parking lots and losing money. Bernard Jacobs and Jerry Schoenfeld, two ambitious board members, saw the crumbling company was ripe for takeover and staged a coup and staved off corporate intrigue, personal betrayals and criminal investigations. Once Jacobs and Schoenfeld solidified their power, they turned a collapsed theater-owning holding company into one of the most successful entertainment empires in the world, spearheading the revitalization of Broadway and the renewal of Times Square.

“For those interested in the business behind the greasepaint, at a riveting time in Broadway’s and New York’s history, this is the ticket” (USA TODAY). Michael Riedel tells the stories of the Shubert Organization and the shows that re-built a city in grand style—including Cats, A Chorus Line, and Mamma Mia!—revealing the backstage drama that often rivaled what transpired onstage, exposing bitter rivalries, unlikely alliances, and inside gossip. “The trouble with Razzle Dazzle isyou can’t put the damn thing down” (Huffington Post).

About The Author

Michael Riedel has been a theater columnist for the New York Post since 1998. He worked at the Daily News (New York) for five years before returning to the Post and has written for The Guardian, Harper’s Bazaar, Mirabella, Departures, and Commentary. Riedel is the cohost of Theater Talk with PBS, is a contributor to the BBC, and has appeared on Larry King Live, the Today show, Good Morning America, and many other news programs. He lives in New York City.

Raves and Reviews

“This book is a love letter to Broadway, both a splendid history of this American institution and a wonderful account of how art gets made. It made me fall for Broadway’s magic all over again: its history and its myths, its heroes and its villains, its up and its downs, its dirt and its dish, its failure and its glory.”

– Hugh Jackman

“There have only been a handful of books in history that have come close to accurately depicting the energy and drive that run the business of Broadway. Michael Riedel’s Razzle Dazzle joins that very short list that includes William Goldman’s legendary The Season and Richard Maney’s classic Fanfare—and is every bit the equal of those books that those of us who love Broadway can recite by heart.”

– Scott Rudin

“Razzle Dazzle is a fantastically fun book, full of high energy, anecdotes, and wit. Michael Riedel lays bare the secret history of Broadway in all its grease paint, shady dealings, and shining moments. Written with love but also a piercing eye, this is one show no one should miss.”


– Amanda Foreman

Riedel brings enthusiasm and authority to this rich, lively debut history of New York theater in the 1970s and '80s…. Riedel masterfully builds suspense as he chronicles productions from idea to stage to reviews to Tony Awards. A captivating gift to theater lovers.

– Kirkus (starred)

"Riedel may be known, where he is known, for his sharp wit and sharper tongue, but when it comes to Broadway as an institution, as a history, and as a legend, he’s very much a man in love."

– Booklist

“Just finished RAZZLE DAZZLE, a vivid page-turner that’s basically a history of Broadway by longtime theater observer Michael Riedel. It starts with a ticket-scalping scandal that practically brought down the industry, then flashes back to the sharp-elbowed early days of the Shubert empire, and then fills in with anecdotes both well-known (to aficionados) and long-forgotten (by nearly everyone). Startling deaths, unexpected demolitions, backstage gossip, inside stories — it’s every bit as theatrical as its subject matter.”

– Bob Mondello, NPR

"Michael Riedel’s new book, Razzle Dazzle, brings this gritty world [of 1970's and 80's Broadway] back to life.... Riedel unearths treasures from the recent past and contextualizes events that would otherwise be too easily forgotten."

– The Washington Post

"The trouble with Razzle Dazzle, Michael Riedel's new book about Broadway, is that from the first page -- on which a man complains to the attorney general's office that "I made an investment in a play, and the producer used the money to buy a lobster boat in Montauk" -- you can't put the damn thing down.... Riedel subtitles his book "The Battle for Broadway," and he follows through by giving us a fascinating, eye-popping view of all the bloody carnage."

– Steven Suskin, Huffington Post

“This book is a love letter to Broadway, both a splendid history of this American institution and a wonderful account of how art gets made. It made me fall for Broadway’s magic all over again: its history and its myths, its heroes and its villains, its up and its downs, its dirt and its dish, its failure and its glory.”

– Hugh Jackman

“There have only been a handful of books in history that have come close to accurately depicting the energy and drive that run the business of Broadway. Michael Riedel’s Razzle Dazzle joins that very short list that includes William Goldman’s legendary The Season and Richard Maney’s classic Fanfare—and is every bit the equal of those books that those of us who love Broadway can recite by heart.”

– Scott Rudin

“Razzle Dazzle is a fantastically fun book, full of high energy, anecdotes, and wit. Michael Riedel lays bare the secret history of Broadway in all its grease paint, shady dealings, and shining moments. Written with love but also a piercing eye, this is one show no one should miss.”


– Amanda Foreman

“If you've ever wondered how Times Square got its name, how the great New York theatres were built and who they were named after; or how on Broadway the word 'ice' can also mean corruption, Michael Riedel's revealing book on the history of the Great White Way will be a brilliant gift for any reader. It’s an epic and entertaining study of the stage and the impresarios and artists who became not just legends—but very wealthy ones at that. And while there may still be some 'ice' melting on the streets of mid-town, Riedel shows us that what the scalpers, producers and bookies, in and around Shubert Alley, were doing with kickbacks and bribes, makes the moral decay in Washington look like a badly run lemonade stand. Riedel's journey unfolds faster than a curtain going up on opening night; and his nimble choreography with language brings a full understanding and appreciation of how the artistry, decisions, and backstage shenanigans made these men and women of Broadway titans of the American theater. A must read.”

– Kevin Spacey

Riedel brings enthusiasm and authority to this rich, lively debut history of New York theater in the 1970s and '80s…. Riedel masterfully builds suspense as he chronicles productions from idea to stage to reviews to Tony Awards. A captivating gift to theater lovers.

– Kirkus (starred)

"Riedel may be known, where he is known, for his sharp wit and sharper tongue, but when it comes to Broadway as an institution, as a history, and as a legend, he’s very much a man in love."

– Booklist

“Just finished RAZZLE DAZZLE, a vivid page-turner that’s basically a history of Broadway by longtime theater observer Michael Riedel. It starts with a ticket-scalping scandal that practically brought down the industry, then flashes back to the sharp-elbowed early days of the Shubert empire, and then fills in with anecdotes both well-known (to aficionados) and long-forgotten (by nearly everyone). Startling deaths, unexpected demolitions, backstage gossip, inside stories — it’s every bit as theatrical as its subject matter.”

– Bob Mondello, NPR

"Michael Riedel’s new book, Razzle Dazzle, brings this gritty world [of 1970's and 80's Broadway] back to life.... Riedel unearths treasures from the recent past and contextualizes events that would otherwise be too easily forgotten."

– The Washington Post

"The trouble with Razzle Dazzle, Michael Riedel's new book about Broadway, is that from the first page -- on which a man complains to the attorney general's office that "I made an investment in a play, and the producer used the money to buy a lobster boat in Montauk" -- you can't put the damn thing down.... Riedel subtitles his book "The Battle for Broadway," and he follows through by giving us a fascinating, eye-popping view of all the bloody carnage."

– Steven Suskin, Huffington Post

Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway byMichael Riedel, the New York Post's flamboyantly mischievous Broadwaycolumnist, tells the thrilling history of the larger-than-life impresarios whohelped transform the Great White Way from cultural ugly duckling in the seedy1970s to the grand billion-dollar swan it is today.”
– Los Angeles Times

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