Jack Viertel Tells Producing Secrets Of The Trade

One of the highlights of the symposiums on Saturday, Jan. 14, presented as part of the Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals will be the conversation by Jack Viertel with theater writer and critic Frank Rizzo.

Viertel’s book, The Secret Life of the American Musical, is a must-read for musical theater fans. In it, he draws on his years of experience as a critic, producer, and teacher at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts to dissect what makes some musicals great and others also-rans.

“I wrote the book because whenever I gave a talk to lay people about musical theater, they would also ask when would I write a book. So, six or seven years ago, I started writing,” Viertel said.

The book is based on the teaching he did at NYU for theater professionals who wanted to become writers of musicals—lyricists, composers, or book writers.

He has developed a series of what he calls “patterns” that are present in all outstanding musicals. He said that these patterns are still necessary if today’s shows.

“They aren’t being broken,” he said. “They’re being updated and rethought for a different world.”