Learn about the fascinating lives of the gifted composers who were most influential in creating and shaping the unique sound of the American musical. Hear vintage recordings*, many in which these beloved songwriters perform their own work. See rare film footage* (on video) of these celebrated songwriters at work and at play. Enjoy scenes from their smash hit and lesser-known musicals, performed by Broadway and Hollywood’s greatest song and dance stars.


The entire series of presentations covers the early influences of vaudeville, operetta and the Ziegfeld Follies and then focuses in on the lives and works of the 5 greats: Jerome Kern ("Show Boat"), Irving Berlin ("Annie Get Your Gun"), George Gershwin ("Porgy & Bess"), Cole Porter ("Kiss Me Kate"), Richard Rodgers of Rodgers & Hart ("Pal Joey") and Rodgers & Hammerstein ("Oklahoma!")



Lyric writers – unless they also write their own music – like Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim – rarely receive the acclaim that is lauded upon their composer partners. Yet without these wordsmiths, the richness of thought and feeling, wit and whimsy that are such a crucial part of our most cherished show tunes and popular songs would not exist.


In this series we give these verbal virtuosos their due. We look at the early influences that shaped their art and the types of issues and experiences they chose to put into song. We’ll also explore how several of these songs were constructed and answer the question: Wwhich comes first – the words or the music?

Students will also be treated to filmed or taped performances of these lyricistsmost beloved tunes as well as some forgotten gems. Most of the performances will be by the great song and dance men of the golden age of the Broadway and Hollywood musical. But you will also have a chance to see many of these marvelous lyricists singing their own tunes.

The series includes the work of: Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein, Yip Harburg ("The Wizard of Oz", "Finian's Rainbow"), Dorothy Fields ("Sweet Charity"), Howard Dietz ("The Bandwagon") , Comden & Green ("On the Town"), Sheldon Harnick ("Fiddler on the Roof"), Alan Jay Lerner ("My Fair Lady", "Camelot") , Fred Ebb ("Cabaret", "Chicago")



What makes for a great Broadway musical diva? To answer this question we’ll look at the lives and work of some of our most celebrated leading ladies of the stage musical: Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, Julie Andrews, Carol Channing, Gwen Verdon, Bernadette Peters and others. We’ll explore the range and depth of their acting and singing talents - as well as the special magic that has launched each of these ladies into super stardom.




Famed choreographer/director Busby Berkeley once described Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland as "the greatest kid performers in show business". MGM studios agreed and starred them in a series of smash hit "let's put on a show" movie musicals. In this series, we'll explore what made Mickey and Judy such a terrific and amazingly versatile team. You'll have the opportunity to enjoy some wonderful song and dance scenes from their films*, "Thoroughbreds Don't Cry", "Babes in Arms", "Strike Up the Band", "Babes on Broadway" and "Girl Crazy". What's more, you'll see some fascinating newsreel footage of the two young stars romping off screen, plus scenes of Mickey and Judy as toddlers, performing in their parents' vaudeville acts. An added treat will be Mickey's appearance on Judy's 1963 TV show, in which they lovingly spoof their entire career together.




Learn about the fascinating lives of the marvelous men of the movie musical who have enchanted us with their fabulous feet and way with a song. See rare film footage on video of these beloved entertainers from their early careers through the heights of their stardom.

Performers featured in this six-part series:

Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Ray Bolger, Buddy Epsen, Dan Dailey, Gene Nelson,
Donald O'Connor, The Nicholas Brothers, Bill (Bojangles) Robinson
- and more!



In this series, we’ll explore the development and proliferation of the tunes that tickle our funny bones – from the scintillating – to the satiric – to the just plain silly.   We’ll look at how the comedy song emerged on the stage and screen and it’s many permutations through the years.   Included will be patter songs, charm songs, political and social satires, and songs that mock the art of songwriting, itself!.

Plus, you’ll get to enjoy  performances of these delightful ditties by some of the legends of Broadway, Hollywood and cabaret.  Among them are Fanny Brice, Eddie Cantor, Bert Lahr, Grouco Marx, Danny Kaye, Ethel Merman, Donald O’Connor, Mickey & Judy, Fred & Ginger, Gene Kelly, Betty Hutton,  Carol Burnett, and more……..


Featuring Rare Video Footage and Recordings

What makes Stephen Sondheim the most exciting and revolutionary composer/lyricists of our time? This fascinating in-depth look at his life and work will dramatically demonstrate exactly why theatre critics, classical music experts and music lovers find him so compelling and controversial. You’ll get to see and hear delightful and riveting scenes from such early endeavors as his un-produced musical Saturday Night (which finally made it to off-Broadway in '99) and his youthful work as lyricist of West Side Story and Gypsy, through his innovative collaborations with producer/director Hal Prince (Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, etc.) and James Lapine (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods), Passion). An added treat will be the rare chance to see Sondheim, himself, singing, playing, and describing how he creates some of his own songs - both masterpieces like "The Epiphany" from Sweeney Todd - and early works which are unpublished and have never been performed in public.

Musical theatre historian, writer, reviewer, Bonnie Weiss, brings a unique knowledge of her subject to this seminar. She has produced 6 critically acclaimed tributes to Stephen Sondheim, has spent over 10 years corresponding with him, and has had the honor of being invited to his home to talk with him about his work. She is also mentioned on page 396 of his most recent biography, Sondheim: A Life (Alfred A. Knopf, publisher, 1998) by Meryle Secrest. Bonnie is founder of Musical Theatre Lovers United, an educational and networking organization for Broadway and Hollywood musical buffs. Website:


All of the above series can be divided into six separate presentations - each can be tailored to the needs of your organization in time segments of 60 90 or 120 minutes.

*Video and audio footage courtesy of George Moffatt. Mr. Moffatt is a collector/archivist of rare recordings and videos of Broadway and Hollywood musicals, jazz and pre-rock pop music. He designs background music for theatre productions, film festivals and other special events. To contact him, e-mail him at:


P.O. Box 460482, San Francisco, CA 94146-0482