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Thomas S. Hischak

Official Website of the Theatre, Music, and Film Historian, Author, & Playwright

Thomas S. Hischak is an internationally recognized author and teacher in the Performing Arts and one of the foremost authorities on the American Musical Theatre. He is the author of over thirty non-fiction books about theatre, film, and popular music, including The Oxford Companion to the American Musical; The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia; Broadway Plays and Musicals; Through the Screen Door; The Tin Pan Alley Encyclopedia; Off-Broadway Musicals Since 1919; The Disney Song Encyclopedia; Word Crazy: Broadway Lyricists; American Literature on Stage and Screen; Theatre as Human Action; 1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year; and The Oxford Companion to American Theatre.

 

He is also the author of over fifty published plays which are performed in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. Hischak is a Fulbright scholar who has taught and directed in Greece, Lithuania, and Turkey.

 

From 1983 to 2015 he was Professor of Theatre at the State University of New York at Cortland where he has received such honors as the 2004 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activity and the 2010 SUNY Outstanding Achievement in Research Award. Four of his books have been cited as Outstanding Non-fiction Books by the American Library Association and The Oxford Companion to the American Musical was cited as an Outstanding Reference Work by the New York City Public Library in 2008. His playwriting awards include the Stanley Drama Award (New York City) for Cold War Comedy and the Julie Harris Playwriting Award (Beverly Hills, California) for The Cardiff Giant. 

 

Hischak is currently an Adjunct Professor teaching film and theatre at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.

 
 

BOOKS

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Musical Misfires: Three Decades of Broadway Musical Heartbreak

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The Oxford Companion to the American Musical

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The Mikado to Matilda:

British Musicals on the New York Stage

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Thomas Hischak writing as
D. K. Quillan

PLAYS

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The Emperor of North America

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The
Moonstone
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Murder in Bloom
 
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My Fair Limey
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Soapy Smith's Winter Wish
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THE STONE GIANT
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TARTUFFE
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Tiny Tim's Christmas
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The Princess and the Pauper
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The Skinflint of Shickshinney
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Richard Blaine, the Merchant of Morocco
or
If Shakespeare
Had Written
Casablanca
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Soapy Smith's Christmas Wish
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Stopping at Ellis Island
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The Unexpected Reformation of Jimmy Valentine
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Awakening:


The Story
of
Kip Van Winkle
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A CHRISTMAS CAROL
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COCOANUT SOUP AT THE PALACE
or
If the Marx Brothers Had Performed Oedipus the King
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COLD WAR COMEDY
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Escaping the Labyrinth
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Press and Reviews

CUTV News Radio:  Podcast Interview

1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year

Entertainment Weekly Interview

24/7 Wall St. Interview

Internet Movie Database:

Marquis Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement:

Goodreads Author Page:

Amazon Author Page:

Reviews:  1939 - Hollywood's Greatest Year

Oft-published Hischak (100 Greatest American Plays) returns with this sizable account of a tremendous year in American film history. It’s long been a truism that 1939 was the finest year for Golden Age Hollywood. It saw the release of Beau Geste, Gone with the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Stagecoach, and The Wizards of Oz, among others. Hischak goes through 1939 day by day, juxtaposing national and world news with information on all 510 films Hollywood released that year. This is an interesting exercise.... [T]he book’s encyclopedism does a great job in providing context for some favorite films, and its inclusion of every single title makes the staying power of those like Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz all the more extraordinary. It’s likely that die-hard film buffs will appreciate Hischak’s project[.] (Publishers Weekly)

With 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year, author Thomas S. Hischak has created a veritable film almanac of this year. He chronicles the release dates, important filming dates of certain movies, and a meticulous description of plots, cast and characters and a personal and press analysis of each film, short, or cartoon. His writing style and research is phenomenal. Not only has Hischak provided all of that he gives the reader [when a film wasn't opening on that day in 1939] a very informative glimpse of history outside the Hollywood gates. Whether it's the oncoming rise of Hitler in Germany, The Spanish Civil War or what was happening in Japan or China, his clarity and knowledge of the year puts it all into perspective. There are also cultural events in theater, literature and sports in the mix. There is no need to 'turn back time'; just realize that in 1939 a remarkable amount of silver screen history and world and cultural history was being made. Thomas S. Hischak takes you down the 'yellow brick road' in a fascinating way. (EDGE)

Review: The Oxford Companion to the the American Musical

Hischak, author of 16 books on theater, film, and popular music, offers an informative look at American (and some non-American) musicals as they have been presented on stage, screen, and television. In his preface, he illustrates how the American musical has evolved over the past 140 years from the “five-hour-long extravaganza,” The Black Crook, in 1866, to the popular teenybopper television event, High School Musical 2, in 2007.  Entries are well researched and written. Among the 2,000-plus entries are those for composers, performers, directors, choreographers, etc., and for individual musical works. The personal entries feature basic biographical information and chronicle the works the artists helped create in a readable narrative style. The remaining entries are for musical-theater works, with particular emphasis on those produced in more than one medium (e.g., The King and I,  Little Shop of Horrors, etc.) Informative histories of the musicals are followed by  separate entries for productions in different media, helping the reader to focus attention on the history of each, and Hischak notes the similarities and differences and highlights the advantages or pitfalls of one medium over the other. He precedes each work entry with a theater, film, or television icon for easy identification. Hischak also lists cast members for the major musicals, including the important stage, television, and film performers, along with dates of the productions; and in some cases, he lists the important songs. Useful appendixes include “Chronology of Musicals,” “Awards,” and “Guide to Recordings.” There are many encyclopedias on Broadway and musical-theater themes, most notably The Virgin Encyclopedia of Stage and Film Musicals (1999), Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre (2d ed., 2001), and Broadway Musicals, 1943–2004 (2006). Hischak’s new volume adds to this group admirably by offering more up-to-date works and expanding beyond Broadway. Recommended for public and academic libraries. --Steven York (BOOKLIST)

Reviews: The Disney Song Encyclopedia
Reviews: The Encyclopedia of Film Composers

Hischak offers a unique combination of opinion and painstaking research. The author asserts that film composers deserve further recognition for their influence and contributions. His objective is to fill a gap, covering hundreds of lesser-known composers. Included are 252 individuals who either created a significant number of film scores or who mainly composed in other genres but also had notable film score success. Each entry includes a biography; a discussion of the subject's work that includes Hischak's perspective on, for example, which piece was most memorable; feature film credits, including Academy Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and the Golden Globe Award nominations and wins; the director; and country where the movie was produced. It's critical to read the book's introduction to understand that if an artist created the score with three or more composers, for example, it was not included on the list. Closing the volume are comprehensive name and title indexes, necessary for a book with so much detail. Verdict: Hischak's offering presents a wide scope of composers, and anyone who loves film and has previous knowledge of music and/or film will be delighted by its content. (Library Journal)

 

This hefty volume focuses solely on the creators of movie music. From the early silent films to today's blockbusters, accompanying music often draws as much attention as the films themselves and sometimes outlives the pictures in both popular culture and film history. Herein are more than 250 alphabetically arranged entries on composers from all over the world, covering the entire spectrum of cinema history. Entries are generally a few pages in length and contain biographical information, chronological career highlights, and an analysis of the musical style of the composer, and they end with a comprehensive list of film scores. This list is also valuable for indicating the director(s) and country of production for each film as well as any awards won by the composer or nominations for awards. Alternative or English titles are given for foreign films, if any. Although a smattering of composers here will be recognizable to the general user - Henry Mancini, Marvin Hamlisch, and Randy Newman, perhaps - most will likely be unknown. For example, who was responsible for the memorable music in The Wizard of Oz, Psycho, Gone with the Wind, and Lawrence of Arabia? This tome provides the detailed answers: Herbert Stohart, Bernand Herrmann, Max Steiner, and Maurice Jarre, respectively. A user can quickly see what other film scores these composers are responsible for and examine the arc of their careers. Other features include some black-and-white pictures and both a name and title index for quickly locating a particular film or person. . . .The Encyclopedia of Film Composers is recommended as an interesting addition to the reference collection of academic and public libraries and anywhere film is being studied. (Booklist)

Reviews: Broadway Plays and Musicals

Hischak’s aim is to “describe every Broadway production . . . over the past eighty-eight years’”and he hits a bull’s-eye with this comprehensive (work) . . . This rich resource supplies the necessary facts needed when embarking on a study of the American theater. Recommended (Booklist/RBB)

Informative...essential  No other single-volume work is as comprehensive in covering both musical and nonmusical formats. (Choice)

I can’t imagine a book this detailed being published again for many years. A must for libraries and those interested in musical theater. (In The Groove Magazine)

 

This truly is a reference history of New York city’s famous Broadway district. Few (books) have covered all of the activities of Broadway. This is what makes this volume special, especially for reference value.  (ARBA)

Reviews: The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia

The reader will be overwhelmed by the thoroughness and detail found in this work. Historians also will be impressed by the scope of the material in this work as it paints a broad picture of the musical theater during and before Rodgers and Hammerstein's time. Those who cannot get enough of information and trivia about Broadway and the musical theater will devour this book. (American Reference Books Annual)

           

The amazingly productive Hischak, author/editor of 15 theater books to date, turns his attention to two giants of the American musical theater in a work that more aptly should be titled “The Rodgers and Hammerstein and Kern and Hart et al. Encyclopedia,” in that this volume is not limited to shows and films written by the title duo but also encompasses those of their collaborators. The alphabetically arranged, brief entries (100-300 words, with longer entries for specific shows) cover every stage, film, and television project in which either person was involved, as well as entries on notable performers, librettists, songsters, and specific songs, with numerous cross-references. Of particular interest are entries covering such specialized topics as ethnicity, settings, and list songs. Appendixes list Rodgers and Hammerstein's awards and recordings, and the index is particularly useful. Hischak's writing style is both informative and fascinating, with just enough subjectivity to keep users browsing. Music lovers will appreciate the attention he pays to song recordings not from cast albums. This will be an indispensable guide to this most American genre for all theater and music collections. Highly recommended. All undergraduates and general readers. (Choice)

Review: Word Crazy: Broadway Lyricists from Cohan to Sondheim

Hischak . . . presents a lively and insightful analysis of the careers and major works of Broadway's most notable lyricists –Cohan, Berlin, Gershwin, Lerner, Harnick and others. Hischak is able . . .  to analyze numerous examples, to capture the spirit of the works he discusses, and illuminate the story of this heretofore little-appreciated aspect of musical theater. (Publisher’s Weekly)

 

Hischak reviews the achievements of the men and women who wrote the words for the songs in American musicals of the 20th century. . . . He devotes separate chapters to 21 of the more prominent lyricists (such as Oscar Hammerstein II, Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Alan Jay Lerner, and Stephen Sondhiem) and illustrates how each built upon the work of earlier writers or took a different approach. Happily, he does not limit himself to the better-known lyricists. In four chapters he gives briefer treatment to 56 other lyricists (e.g., Carolyn Leigh, Martin Charnin, Joe Darion). Will prove a good supplemental addition in all collections on the musical theater. (Choice).

Reviews: The Jerome Kern Encyclopedia

Hischak credits Kern in the preface with creating "the sound of the American musical," which is the case he attempts to make with this sorely overdue reference work. In prose that is not overly academic, articles cover Kern's musicals, songs, and collaborators, including performers with meaningful connections to the composer. Musicals are consistently presented with information on style, author, lyricist, location and date of debut performance, run, alternate productions and revivals, and key performers; following is a summary of the plot and history of the production, highlighting songs important to the plot or to Kern's career. Overall, the entries about songs are nontechnical, but occasionally dabble in soft music theory. The author instead addresses the song's history: use in a production, notable performances, and appearances in other musicals or innominate interpolations. Hischak introduces performers and collaborators by their connection to Kern, and then expands on their careers with further contextual information. Photographs appear throughout, with excellent captioning providing additional information unavailable in the accompanying article. The highly useful appendixes cover the chronology of Kern's awards, musicals, interpolations, and discography. Extensive bibliography and thorough indexing. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above. (Choice)

 

This volume offers practically one-stop shopping for music students and Jerome Kern enthusiasts. The main body of the work includes entries for songs, stage works, films, and musical styles. Hischak, a veteran musical-theater author, has added biographical sketches for many of Kern’s collaborators—including directors, performers, lyricists, and producers—taking care to put them in context with their work with Kern. A discography, a chronology, and an awards list are added value for this useful text. (Booklist)

Review: The Off Broadway Musical Since 1919

In this needed complement to Larry Stempel's recent Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theatre, Hischak (theater, SUNY at Cortland; Theatre as Human Action: An Introduction to Theatre Arts) surveys nearly 400 musicals, providing opening dates, authors, composers, and cast members. The synopses are concise and informative and, occasionally and enjoyably, snarky (do not invite him to your theater's production of Nunsense or any of its sequels). For the musical-obsessed and the libraries that love them, an appendix listing recordings (LP, CD, and DVD) is provided, together with a brief bibliography. Hischak explains that off-Broadway musicals offer "a more direct kind of music, dance, and comedy" than Broadway shows and often display a more direct connection to the times through music in a more intimate forum. Verdict: Your catalogers may be tempted to place this book in the reference section, but it needs to circulate because patrons will want to take it home to make lists of shows to discover, from Alfred Brooks and Ira J. Bilowit's 1958 Of Mice and Men to Menopause: The Musical. An essential purchase. (Library Journal)

Awards and Honors

Outstanding Reference Work citation for Musicals in Film: A Guide to the Genre by the American Library Association, 2017.

 

One of the six best Arts and Literature books of 2016 citation for Musicals in Film: A Guide to the Genre by the School Library Journal.

 

Winner of the AACT NewPlay Fest for The Emperor of North America, 2016.

 

Recipient of a SUNY Global Grant to teach at Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey, May 2013.

 

Outstanding Achievement in Research Award, SUNY Cortland, 2010.         

 

Outstanding Reference Sources, Booklist, for Broadway Plays and Musicals, 2010.

 

Julie Harris Playwriting Award (Beverly Hills Theatre Guild) for The Cardiff Giant, 2010.

 

Outstanding Reference Book, American Library Association, for Broadway Plays and Musicals, 2009.

 

Best Reference Books of 2009 citation, Library Journal, for The Disney Song Encyclopedia (co-written with Mark A. Robinson).

 

The Oxford Companion to the American Musical named one of the Best 25 Reference  Books of 2008, by the New York Public Library, 2009.

 

Named a Fulbright Senior Specialist by the Council for International Exchange of  Scholars, 2002. Taught and directed American theatre in Greece in 2008 and Lithuania in 2011.

 

Chancellor’s Award (SUNY) for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activity, 2004.  

 

Outstanding Academic Book, Choice Magazine, American Library Association, for The  American Musical Theatre Song Encyclopedia, 1995.

 

Stanley Drama Award (playwriting) for Cold War Comedy, 1995.     

                  

Listed in Dictionary of International Biography, Marquis Who’s Who in Entertainment;  Who’s Who in American Publications; International Authors; Who’s Who in America; Writers Who’s Who; Contemporary Authors; and Who’s Who in American Education.

 

Press and Reviews

Forgotten Hollywood: Podcast Interview

1939 Movies

The Broadway Radio Show: The Mikado to Matilda

Library of Congress: National Recording Registry - Essay

CUTV News Radio:  Podcast Interview

1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year

Entertainment Weekly Interview

24/7 Wall St. Interview

Internet Movie Database:

Marquis Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement:

Goodreads Author Page:

Amazon Author Page:

Reviews:  1939 - Hollywood's Greatest Year

Oft-published Hischak (100 Greatest American Plays) returns with this sizable account of a tremendous year in American film history. It’s long been a truism that 1939 was the finest year for Golden Age Hollywood. It saw the release of Beau Geste, Gone with the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Stagecoach, and The Wizards of Oz, among others. Hischak goes through 1939 day by day, juxtaposing national and world news with information on all 510 films Hollywood released that year. This is an interesting exercise.... [T]he book’s encyclopedism does a great job in providing context for some favorite films, and its inclusion of every single title makes the staying power of those like Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz all the more extraordinary. It’s likely that die-hard film buffs will appreciate Hischak’s project[.] (Publishers Weekly)

With 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year, author Thomas S. Hischak has created a veritable film almanac of this year. He chronicles the release dates, important filming dates of certain movies, and a meticulous description of plots, cast and characters and a personal and press analysis of each film, short, or cartoon. His writing style and research is phenomenal. Not only has Hischak provided all of that he gives the reader [when a film wasn't opening on that day in 1939] a very informative glimpse of history outside the Hollywood gates. Whether it's the oncoming rise of Hitler in Germany, The Spanish Civil War or what was happening in Japan or China, his clarity and knowledge of the year puts it all into perspective. There are also cultural events in theater, literature and sports in the mix. There is no need to 'turn back time'; just realize that in 1939 a remarkable amount of silver screen history and world and cultural history was being made. Thomas S. Hischak takes you down the 'yellow brick road' in a fascinating way. (EDGE)

Review: The Oxford Companion to the the American Musical

Hischak, author of 16 books on theater, film, and popular music, offers an informative look at American (and some non-American) musicals as they have been presented on stage, screen, and television. In his preface, he illustrates how the American musical has evolved over the past 140 years from the “five-hour-long extravaganza,” The Black Crook, in 1866, to the popular teenybopper television event, High School Musical 2, in 2007.  Entries are well researched and written. Among the 2,000-plus entries are those for composers, performers, directors, choreographers, etc., and for individual musical works. The personal entries feature basic biographical information and chronicle the works the artists helped create in a readable narrative style. The remaining entries are for musical-theater works, with particular emphasis on those produced in more than one medium (e.g., The King and I,  Little Shop of Horrors, etc.) Informative histories of the musicals are followed by  separate entries for productions in different media, helping the reader to focus attention on the history of each, and Hischak notes the similarities and differences and highlights the advantages or pitfalls of one medium over the other. He precedes each work entry with a theater, film, or television icon for easy identification. Hischak also lists cast members for the major musicals, including the important stage, television, and film performers, along with dates of the productions; and in some cases, he lists the important songs. Useful appendixes include “Chronology of Musicals,” “Awards,” and “Guide to Recordings.” There are many encyclopedias on Broadway and musical-theater themes, most notably The Virgin Encyclopedia of Stage and Film Musicals (1999), Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre (2d ed., 2001), and Broadway Musicals, 1943–2004 (2006). Hischak’s new volume adds to this group admirably by offering more up-to-date works and expanding beyond Broadway. Recommended for public and academic libraries. --Steven York (BOOKLIST)

Reviews: The Disney Song Encyclopedia
Reviews: The Encyclopedia of Film Composers

This impressive volume describes more than 900 songs written for Disney movies, videos, musicals, television shows, recordings, and theme parks....No other volume offers a comprehensive list or description of Disney songs. Recommended for large performing arts collections. (Booklist)

This first of its kind, this small volume of annotated entries succinctly describes 940 original songs used to date by Disney in its films, television programs, home videos, stage musicals, and more. . . . Hischak is a prolific scholar of popular music and the theater. Being paired here with a first-time author and Disney connoisseur has resulted in a worthwhile and entertaining resource. (American Reference Books Annual)

Hischak (Oxford Companion to American Musical) and Robinson (independent theatre and film scholar) offer descriptions of over 900 Disney songs featured in film, on television, and in their theme parks since 1930. Organized alphabetically by song title, paragraph-long entries detail writers, original context, publication date, and notable performers. For easier entry location, various appendixes give an alternate title list, a song writer's directory, film or program listings, and a guide to various recorded formats. Most at home in collections for Disney enthusiasts or cultural studies scholars. (Library Journal)

Scarecrow has produced a well-bound, well-printed book for the library reference shelf….One page after page, old memories are evoked- memories of time and place beyond the movie or production…. Recommended for libraries with any kind of performing arts collection….Recommend this to future princesses, princes, and the menagerie of Disney fans. (Fontes Artis Musicae)

 

The authors compile over 900 songs, from Disney's earliest cartoons-the ones we all know by heart-to the latest Disney productions like High School Musical , and provides a paragraph about each. . . . As you browse through the book, you realize how influential "Uncle Walt" was on American popular music. (In The Groove)

The book is laid out in clear fashion.... This is a work that should appear in music libraries and academic institutions that have courses covering modern and popular music. I certainly recommend it for purchase for public libraries where readers will find it quite a difficult to put down book. ("American Reference Books Annual")

Hischak offers a unique combination of opinion and painstaking research. The author asserts that film composers deserve further recognition for their influence and contributions. His objective is to fill a gap, covering hundreds of lesser-known composers. Included are 252 individuals who either created a significant number of film scores or who mainly composed in other genres but also had notable film score success. Each entry includes a biography; a discussion of the subject's work that includes Hischak's perspective on, for example, which piece was most memorable; feature film credits, including Academy Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and the Golden Globe Award nominations and wins; the director; and country where the movie was produced. It's critical to read the book's introduction to understand that if an artist created the score with three or more composers, for example, it was not included on the list. Closing the volume are comprehensive name and title indexes, necessary for a book with so much detail. Verdict: Hischak's offering presents a wide scope of composers, and anyone who loves film and has previous knowledge of music and/or film will be delighted by its content. (Library Journal)

 

This hefty volume focuses solely on the creators of movie music. From the early silent films to today's blockbusters, accompanying music often draws as much attention as the films themselves and sometimes outlives the pictures in both popular culture and film history. Herein are more than 250 alphabetically arranged entries on composers from all over the world, covering the entire spectrum of cinema history. Entries are generally a few pages in length and contain biographical information, chronological career highlights, and an analysis of the musical style of the composer, and they end with a comprehensive list of film scores. This list is also valuable for indicating the director(s) and country of production for each film as well as any awards won by the composer or nominations for awards. Alternative or English titles are given for foreign films, if any. Although a smattering of composers here will be recognizable to the general user - Henry Mancini, Marvin Hamlisch, and Randy Newman, perhaps - most will likely be unknown. For example, who was responsible for the memorable music in The Wizard of Oz, Psycho, Gone with the Wind, and Lawrence of Arabia? This tome provides the detailed answers: Herbert Stohart, Bernand Herrmann, Max Steiner, and Maurice Jarre, respectively. A user can quickly see what other film scores these composers are responsible for and examine the arc of their careers. Other features include some black-and-white pictures and both a name and title index for quickly locating a particular film or person. . . .The Encyclopedia of Film Composers is recommended as an interesting addition to the reference collection of academic and public libraries and anywhere film is being studied. (Booklist)

Reviews: Broadway Plays and Musicals

Hischak’s aim is to “describe every Broadway production . . . over the past eighty-eight years’”and he hits a bull’s-eye with this comprehensive (work) . . . This rich resource supplies the necessary facts needed when embarking on a study of the American theater. Recommended (Booklist/RBB)

Informative...essential  No other single-volume work is as comprehensive in covering both musical and nonmusical formats. (Choice)

I can’t imagine a book this detailed being published again for many years. A must for libraries and those interested in musical theater. (In The Groove Magazine)

 

This truly is a reference history of New York city’s famous Broadway district. Few (books) have covered all of the activities of Broadway. This is what makes this volume special, especially for reference value.  (ARBA)

Reviews: The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia

The reader will be overwhelmed by the thoroughness and detail found in this work. Historians also will be impressed by the scope of the material in this work as it paints a broad picture of the musical theater during and before Rodgers and Hammerstein's time. Those who cannot get enough of information and trivia about Broadway and the musical theater will devour this book. (American Reference Books Annual)

           

The amazingly productive Hischak, author/editor of 15 theater books to date, turns his attention to two giants of the American musical theater in a work that more aptly should be titled “The Rodgers and Hammerstein and Kern and Hart et al. Encyclopedia,” in that this volume is not limited to shows and films written by the title duo but also encompasses those of their collaborators. The alphabetically arranged, brief entries (100-300 words, with longer entries for specific shows) cover every stage, film, and television project in which either person was involved, as well as entries on notable performers, librettists, songsters, and specific songs, with numerous cross-references. Of particular interest are entries covering such specialized topics as ethnicity, settings, and list songs. Appendixes list Rodgers and Hammerstein's awards and recordings, and the index is particularly useful. Hischak's writing style is both informative and fascinating, with just enough subjectivity to keep users browsing. Music lovers will appreciate the attention he pays to song recordings not from cast albums. This will be an indispensable guide to this most American genre for all theater and music collections. Highly recommended. All undergraduates and general readers. (Choice)

Review: Word Crazy: Broadway Lyricists from Cohan to Sondheim

Hischak . . . presents a lively and insightful analysis of the careers and major works of Broadway's most notable lyricists –Cohan, Berlin, Gershwin, Lerner, Harnick and others. Hischak is able . . .  to analyze numerous examples, to capture the spirit of the works he discusses, and illuminate the story of this heretofore little-appreciated aspect of musical theater. (Publisher’s Weekly)

 

Hischak reviews the achievements of the men and women who wrote the words for the songs in American musicals of the 20th century. . . . He devotes separate chapters to 21 of the more prominent lyricists (such as Oscar Hammerstein II, Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Alan Jay Lerner, and Stephen Sondhiem) and illustrates how each built upon the work of earlier writers or took a different approach. Happily, he does not limit himself to the better-known lyricists. In four chapters he gives briefer treatment to 56 other lyricists (e.g., Carolyn Leigh, Martin Charnin, Joe Darion). Will prove a good supplemental addition in all collections on the musical theater. (Choice).

Reviews: The Jerome Kern Encyclopedia

Hischak credits Kern in the preface with creating "the sound of the American musical," which is the case he attempts to make with this sorely overdue reference work. In prose that is not overly academic, articles cover Kern's musicals, songs, and collaborators, including performers with meaningful connections to the composer. Musicals are consistently presented with information on style, author, lyricist, location and date of debut performance, run, alternate productions and revivals, and key performers; following is a summary of the plot and history of the production, highlighting songs important to the plot or to Kern's career. Overall, the entries about songs are nontechnical, but occasionally dabble in soft music theory. The author instead addresses the song's history: use in a production, notable performances, and appearances in other musicals or innominate interpolations. Hischak introduces performers and collaborators by their connection to Kern, and then expands on their careers with further contextual information. Photographs appear throughout, with excellent captioning providing additional information unavailable in the accompanying article. The highly useful appendixes cover the chronology of Kern's awards, musicals, interpolations, and discography. Extensive bibliography and thorough indexing. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above. (Choice)

 

This volume offers practically one-stop shopping for music students and Jerome Kern enthusiasts. The main body of the work includes entries for songs, stage works, films, and musical styles. Hischak, a veteran musical-theater author, has added biographical sketches for many of Kern’s collaborators—including directors, performers, lyricists, and producers—taking care to put them in context with their work with Kern. A discography, a chronology, and an awards list are added value for this useful text. (Booklist)

Review: The Off Broadway Musical Since 1919

In this needed complement to Larry Stempel's recent Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theatre, Hischak (theater, SUNY at Cortland; Theatre as Human Action: An Introduction to Theatre Arts) surveys nearly 400 musicals, providing opening dates, authors, composers, and cast members. The synopses are concise and informative and, occasionally and enjoyably, snarky (do not invite him to your theater's production of Nunsense or any of its sequels). For the musical-obsessed and the libraries that love them, an appendix listing recordings (LP, CD, and DVD) is provided, together with a brief bibliography. Hischak explains that off-Broadway musicals offer "a more direct kind of music, dance, and comedy" than Broadway shows and often display a more direct connection to the times through music in a more intimate forum. Verdict: Your catalogers may be tempted to place this book in the reference section, but it needs to circulate because patrons will want to take it home to make lists of shows to discover, from Alfred Brooks and Ira J. Bilowit's 1958 Of Mice and Men to Menopause: The Musical. An essential purchase. (Library Journal)

Awards and Honors

Outstanding Reference Work citation for Musicals in Film: A Guide to the Genre by the American Library Association, 2017.

 

One of the six best Arts and Literature books of 2016 citation for Musicals in Film: A Guide to the Genre by the School Library Journal.

 

Winner of the AACT NewPlay Fest for The Emperor of North America, 2016.

 

Recipient of a SUNY Global Grant to teach at Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey, May 2013.

Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame, Carroll High School, Dayton, Ohio, 2012.

 

Outstanding Achievement in Research Award, SUNY Cortland, 2010.   

 

Outstanding Reference Sources, Booklist, for Broadway Plays and Musicals, 2010.

 

Julie Harris Playwriting Award (Beverly Hills Theatre Guild) for The Cardiff Giant, 2010.

 

Outstanding Reference Book, American Library Association, for Broadway Plays and Musicals, 2009.

 

Best Reference Books of 2009 citation, Library Journal, for The Disney Song Encyclopedia (co-written with Mark A. Robinson).

 

The Oxford Companion to the American Musical named one of the Best 25 Reference  Books of 2008, by the New York Public Library, 2009.

 

Named a Fulbright Senior Specialist by the Council for International Exchange of  Scholars, 2002. Taught and directed American theatre in Greece in 2008 and Lithuania in 2011.

 

Chancellor’s Award (SUNY) for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activity, 2004.  

 

Outstanding Academic Book, Choice Magazine, American Library Association, for The  American Musical Theatre Song Encyclopedia, 1995.

 

Stanley Drama Award (playwriting) for Cold War Comedy, 1995.     

                  

Listed in Dictionary of International Biography, Marquis Who’s Who in Entertainment;  Who’s Who in American Publications; International Authors; Who’s Who in America; Writers Who’s Who; Contemporary Authors; and Who’s Who in American Education.

CONTACT

For any media inquiries, please contact Thomas S. Hischak at:

hischakt@cortland.edu

thischak@flagler.edu

Twitter: @THischak

Website Designed by Mark A. Robinson / Photo By Karen Hischak
 

Press and Reviews

Des Moines Cityview: Escaping the Labyrinth

Des Moines Register: Escaping the Labyrinth

Forgotten Hollywood: Podcast Interview

1939 Movies

The Broadway Radio Show: The Mikado to Matilda

Library of Congress: National Recording Registry - Essay

CUTV News Radio:  Podcast Interview

1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year

Entertainment Weekly Interview

24/7 Wall St. Interview

Internet Movie Database:

Marquis Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement:

Goodreads Author Page:

Review: The Oxford Companion to the the American Musical

Hischak, author of 16 books on theater, film, and popular music, offers an informative look at American (and some non-American) musicals as they have been presented on stage, screen, and television. In his preface, he illustrates how the American musical has evolved over the past 140 years from the “five-hour-long extravaganza,” The Black Crook, in 1866, to the popular teenybopper television event, High School Musical 2, in 2007.  Entries are well researched and written. Among the 2,000-plus entries are those for composers, performers, directors, choreographers, etc., and for individual musical works. The personal entries feature basic biographical information and chronicle the works the artists helped create in a readable narrative style. The remaining entries are for musical-theater works, with particular emphasis on those produced in more than one medium (e.g., The King and I,  Little Shop of Horrors, etc.) Informative histories of the musicals are followed by  separate entries for productions in different media, helping the reader to focus attention on the history of each, and Hischak notes the similarities and differences and highlights the advantages or pitfalls of one medium over the other. He precedes each work entry with a theater, film, or television icon for easy identification. Hischak also lists cast members for the major musicals, including the important stage, television, and film performers, along with dates of the productions; and in some cases, he lists the important songs. Useful appendixes include “Chronology of Musicals,” “Awards,” and “Guide to Recordings.” There are many encyclopedias on Broadway and musical-theater themes, most notably The Virgin Encyclopedia of Stage and Film Musicals (1999), Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre (2d ed., 2001), and Broadway Musicals, 1943–2004 (2006). Hischak’s new volume adds to this group admirably by offering more up-to-date works and expanding beyond Broadway. Recommended for public and academic libraries. --Steven York (BOOKLIST)

Reviews: The Disney Song Encyclopedia
Reviews: The Encyclopedia of Film Composers

This impressive volume describes more than 900 songs written for Disney movies, videos, musicals, television shows, recordings, and theme parks....No other volume offers a comprehensive list or description of Disney songs. Recommended for large performing arts collections. (Booklist)

This first of its kind, this small volume of annotated entries succinctly describes 940 original songs used to date by Disney in its films, television programs, home videos, stage musicals, and more. . . . Hischak is a prolific scholar of popular music and the theater. Being paired here with a first-time author and Disney connoisseur has resulted in a worthwhile and entertaining resource. (American Reference Books Annual)

Hischak (Oxford Companion to American Musical) and Robinson (independent theatre and film scholar) offer descriptions of over 900 Disney songs featured in film, on television, and in their theme parks since 1930. Organized alphabetically by song title, paragraph-long entries detail writers, original context, publication date, and notable performers. For easier entry location, various appendixes give an alternate title list, a song writer's directory, film or program listings, and a guide to various recorded formats. Most at home in collections for Disney enthusiasts or cultural studies scholars. (Library Journal)

Scarecrow has produced a well-bound, well-printed book for the library reference shelf….One page after page, old memories are evoked- memories of time and place beyond the movie or production…. Recommended for libraries with any kind of performing arts collection….Recommend this to future princesses, princes, and the menagerie of Disney fans. (Fontes Artis Musicae)

 

The authors compile over 900 songs, from Disney's earliest cartoons-the ones we all know by heart-to the latest Disney productions like High School Musical , and provides a paragraph about each. . . . As you browse through the book, you realize how influential "Uncle Walt" was on American popular music. (In The Groove)

The book is laid out in clear fashion.... This is a work that should appear in music libraries and academic institutions that have courses covering modern and popular music. I certainly recommend it for purchase for public libraries where readers will find it quite a difficult to put down book. ("American Reference Books Annual")

Hischak offers a unique combination of opinion and painstaking research. The author asserts that film composers deserve further recognition for their influence and contributions. His objective is to fill a gap, covering hundreds of lesser-known composers. Included are 252 individuals who either created a significant number of film scores or who mainly composed in other genres but also had notable film score success. Each entry includes a biography; a discussion of the subject's work that includes Hischak's perspective on, for example, which piece was most memorable; feature film credits, including Academy Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and the Golden Globe Award nominations and wins; the director; and country where the movie was produced. It's critical to read the book's introduction to understand that if an artist created the score with three or more composers, for example, it was not included on the list. Closing the volume are comprehensive name and title indexes, necessary for a book with so much detail. Verdict: Hischak's offering presents a wide scope of composers, and anyone who loves film and has previous knowledge of music and/or film will be delighted by its content. (Library Journal)

 

This hefty volume focuses solely on the creators of movie music. From the early silent films to today's blockbusters, accompanying music often draws as much attention as the films themselves and sometimes outlives the pictures in both popular culture and film history. Herein are more than 250 alphabetically arranged entries on composers from all over the world, covering the entire spectrum of cinema history. Entries are generally a few pages in length and contain biographical information, chronological career highlights, and an analysis of the musical style of the composer, and they end with a comprehensive list of film scores. This list is also valuable for indicating the director(s) and country of production for each film as well as any awards won by the composer or nominations for awards. Alternative or English titles are given for foreign films, if any. Although a smattering of composers here will be recognizable to the general user - Henry Mancini, Marvin Hamlisch, and Randy Newman, perhaps - most will likely be unknown. For example, who was responsible for the memorable music in The Wizard of Oz, Psycho, Gone with the Wind, and Lawrence of Arabia? This tome provides the detailed answers: Herbert Stohart, Bernand Herrmann, Max Steiner, and Maurice Jarre, respectively. A user can quickly see what other film scores these composers are responsible for and examine the arc of their careers. Other features include some black-and-white pictures and both a name and title index for quickly locating a particular film or person. . . .The Encyclopedia of Film Composers is recommended as an interesting addition to the reference collection of academic and public libraries and anywhere film is being studied. (Booklist)

Reviews: Broadway Plays and Musicals

Hischak’s aim is to “describe every Broadway production . . . over the past eighty-eight years’”and he hits a bull’s-eye with this comprehensive (work) . . . This rich resource supplies the necessary facts needed when embarking on a study of the American theater. Recommended (Booklist/RBB)

Informative...essential  No other single-volume work is as comprehensive in covering both musical and nonmusical formats. (Choice)

I can’t imagine a book this detailed being published again for many years. A must for libraries and those interested in musical theater. (In The Groove Magazine)

 

This truly is a reference history of New York city’s famous Broadway district. Few (books) have covered all of the activities of Broadway. This is what makes this volume special, especially for reference value.  (ARBA)

Reviews: The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia

The reader will be overwhelmed by the thoroughness and detail found in this work. Historians also will be impressed by the scope of the material in this work as it paints a broad picture of the musical theater during and before Rodgers and Hammerstein's time. Those who cannot get enough of information and trivia about Broadway and the musical theater will devour this book. (American Reference Books Annual)

           

The amazingly productive Hischak, author/editor of 15 theater books to date, turns his attention to two giants of the American musical theater in a work that more aptly should be titled “The Rodgers and Hammerstein and Kern and Hart et al. Encyclopedia,” in that this volume is not limited to shows and films written by the title duo but also encompasses those of their collaborators. The alphabetically arranged, brief entries (100-300 words, with longer entries for specific shows) cover every stage, film, and television project in which either person was involved, as well as entries on notable performers, librettists, songsters, and specific songs, with numerous cross-references. Of particular interest are entries covering such specialized topics as ethnicity, settings, and list songs. Appendixes list Rodgers and Hammerstein's awards and recordings, and the index is particularly useful. Hischak's writing style is both informative and fascinating, with just enough subjectivity to keep users browsing. Music lovers will appreciate the attention he pays to song recordings not from cast albums. This will be an indispensable guide to this most American genre for all theater and music collections. Highly recommended. All undergraduates and general readers. (Choice)

Review: Word Crazy: Broadway Lyricists from Cohan to Sondheim

Hischak . . . presents a lively and insightful analysis of the careers and major works of Broadway's most notable lyricists –Cohan, Berlin, Gershwin, Lerner, Harnick and others. Hischak is able . . .  to analyze numerous examples, to capture the spirit of the works he discusses, and illuminate the story of this heretofore little-appreciated aspect of musical theater. (Publisher’s Weekly)

 

Hischak reviews the achievements of the men and women who wrote the words for the songs in American musicals of the 20th century. . . . He devotes separate chapters to 21 of the more prominent lyricists (such as Oscar Hammerstein II, Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Alan Jay Lerner, and Stephen Sondhiem) and illustrates how each built upon the work of earlier writers or took a different approach. Happily, he does not limit himself to the better-known lyricists. In four chapters he gives briefer treatment to 56 other lyricists (e.g., Carolyn Leigh, Martin Charnin, Joe Darion). Will prove a good supplemental addition in all collections on the musical theater. (Choice).

Reviews: The Jerome Kern Encyclopedia

Hischak credits Kern in the preface with creating "the sound of the American musical," which is the case he attempts to make with this sorely overdue reference work. In prose that is not overly academic, articles cover Kern's musicals, songs, and collaborators, including performers with meaningful connections to the composer. Musicals are consistently presented with information on style, author, lyricist, location and date of debut performance, run, alternate productions and revivals, and key performers; following is a summary of the plot and history of the production, highlighting songs important to the plot or to Kern's career. Overall, the entries about songs are nontechnical, but occasionally dabble in soft music theory. The author instead addresses the song's history: use in a production, notable performances, and appearances in other musicals or innominate interpolations. Hischak introduces performers and collaborators by their connection to Kern, and then expands on their careers with further contextual information. Photographs appear throughout, with excellent captioning providing additional information unavailable in the accompanying article. The highly useful appendixes cover the chronology of Kern's awards, musicals, interpolations, and discography. Extensive bibliography and thorough indexing. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above. (Choice)

 

This volume offers practically one-stop shopping for music students and Jerome Kern enthusiasts. The main body of the work includes entries for songs, stage works, films, and musical styles. Hischak, a veteran musical-theater author, has added biographical sketches for many of Kern’s collaborators—including directors, performers, lyricists, and producers—taking care to put them in context with their work with Kern. A discography, a chronology, and an awards list are added value for this useful text. (Booklist)

Review: The Off Broadway Musical Since 1919

In this needed complement to Larry Stempel's recent Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theatre, Hischak (theater, SUNY at Cortland; Theatre as Human Action: An Introduction to Theatre Arts) surveys nearly 400 musicals, providing opening dates, authors, composers, and cast members. The synopses are concise and informative and, occasionally and enjoyably, snarky (do not invite him to your theater's production of Nunsense or any of its sequels). For the musical-obsessed and the libraries that love them, an appendix listing recordings (LP, CD, and DVD) is provided, together with a brief bibliography. Hischak explains that off-Broadway musicals offer "a more direct kind of music, dance, and comedy" than Broadway shows and often display a more direct connection to the times through music in a more intimate forum. Verdict: Your catalogers may be tempted to place this book in the reference section, but it needs to circulate because patrons will want to take it home to make lists of shows to discover, from Alfred Brooks and Ira J. Bilowit's 1958 Of Mice and Men to Menopause: The Musical. An essential purchase. (Library Journal)

Awards and Honors

Outstanding Reference Work citation for Musicals in Film: A Guide to the Genre by the American Library Association, 2017.

 

One of the six best Arts and Literature books of 2016 citation for Musicals in Film: A Guide to the Genre by the School Library Journal.

 

Winner of the AACT NewPlay Fest for The Emperor of North America, 2016.

 

Recipient of a SUNY Global Grant to teach at Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey, May 2013.

Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame, Carroll High School, Dayton, Ohio, 2012.

 

Outstanding Achievement in Research Award, SUNY Cortland, 2010.   

 

Outstanding Reference Sources, Booklist, for Broadway Plays and Musicals, 2010.

 

Julie Harris Playwriting Award (Beverly Hills Theatre Guild) for The Cardiff Giant, 2010.

 

Outstanding Reference Book, American Library Association, for Broadway Plays and Musicals, 2009.

 

Best Reference Books of 2009 citation, Library Journal, for The Disney Song Encyclopedia (co-written with Mark A. Robinson).

 

The Oxford Companion to the American Musical named one of the Best 25 Reference  Books of 2008, by the New York Public Library, 2009.

 

Named a Fulbright Senior Specialist by the Council for International Exchange of  Scholars, 2002. Taught and directed American theatre in Greece in 2008 and Lithuania in 2011.

 

Chancellor’s Award (SUNY) for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activity, 2004.  

 

Outstanding Academic Book, Choice Magazine, American Library Association, for The  American Musical Theatre Song Encyclopedia, 1995.

 

Stanley Drama Award (playwriting) for Cold War Comedy, 1995.     

                  

Listed in Dictionary of International Biography, Marquis Who’s Who in Entertainment;  Who’s Who in American Publications; International Authors; Who’s Who in America; Writers Who’s Who; Contemporary Authors; and Who’s Who in American Education.

Amazon Author Page:

Forgotten Hollywood: Podcast Interview

1939 Movies

The Broadway Radio Show: The Mikado to Matilda

Library of Congress: National Recording Registry - Essay

CUTV News Radio:  Podcast Interview

1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year

Entertainment Weekly Interview

24/7 Wall St. Interview

Internet Movie Database:

Marquis Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement:

Goodreads Author Page:

Amazon Author Page:

Reviews:  1939 - Hollywood's Greatest Year

Oft-published Hischak (100 Greatest American Plays) returns with this sizable account of a tremendous year in American film history. It’s long been a truism that 1939 was the finest year for Golden Age Hollywood. It saw the release of Beau Geste, Gone with the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Stagecoach, and The Wizards of Oz, among others. Hischak goes through 1939 day by day, juxtaposing national and world news with information on all 510 films Hollywood released that year. This is an interesting exercise.... [T]he book’s encyclopedism does a great job in providing context for some favorite films, and its inclusion of every single title makes the staying power of those like Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz all the more extraordinary. It’s likely that die-hard film buffs will appreciate Hischak’s project[.] (Publishers Weekly)

With 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year, author Thomas S. Hischak has created a veritable film almanac of this year. He chronicles the release dates, important filming dates of certain movies, and a meticulous description of plots, cast and characters and a personal and press analysis of each film, short, or cartoon. His writing style and research is phenomenal. Not only has Hischak provided all of that he gives the reader [when a film wasn't opening on that day in 1939] a very informative glimpse of history outside the Hollywood gates. Whether it's the oncoming rise of Hitler in Germany, The Spanish Civil War or what was happening in Japan or China, his clarity and knowledge of the year puts it all into perspective. There are also cultural events in theater, literature and sports in the mix. There is no need to 'turn back time'; just realize that in 1939 a remarkable amount of silver screen history and world and cultural history was being made. Thomas S. Hischak takes you down the 'yellow brick road' in a fascinating way. (EDGE)

Review: The Oxford Companion to the the American Musical

Hischak, author of 16 books on theater, film, and popular music, offers an informative look at American (and some non-American) musicals as they have been presented on stage, screen, and television. In his preface, he illustrates how the American musical has evolved over the past 140 years from the “five-hour-long extravaganza,” The Black Crook, in 1866, to the popular teenybopper television event, High School Musical 2, in 2007.  Entries are well researched and written. Among the 2,000-plus entries are those for composers, performers, directors, choreographers, etc., and for individual musical works. The personal entries feature basic biographical information and chronicle the works the artists helped create in a readable narrative style. The remaining entries are for musical-theater works, with particular emphasis on those produced in more than one medium (e.g., The King and I,  Little Shop of Horrors, etc.) Informative histories of the musicals are followed by  separate entries for productions in different media, helping the reader to focus attention on the history of each, and Hischak notes the similarities and differences and highlights the advantages or pitfalls of one medium over the other. He precedes each work entry with a theater, film, or television icon for easy identification. Hischak also lists cast members for the major musicals, including the important stage, television, and film performers, along with dates of the productions; and in some cases, he lists the important songs. Useful appendixes include “Chronology of Musicals,” “Awards,” and “Guide to Recordings.” There are many encyclopedias on Broadway and musical-theater themes, most notably The Virgin Encyclopedia of Stage and Film Musicals (1999), Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre (2d ed., 2001), and Broadway Musicals, 1943–2004 (2006). Hischak’s new volume adds to this group admirably by offering more up-to-date works and expanding beyond Broadway. Recommended for public and academic libraries. --Steven York (BOOKLIST)

Reviews: The Disney Song Encyclopedia

This impressive volume describes more than 900 songs written for Disney movies, videos, musicals, television shows, recordings, and theme parks....No other volume offers a comprehensive list or description of Disney songs. Recommended for large performing arts collections. (Booklist)

This first of its kind, this small volume of annotated entries succinctly describes 940 original songs used to date by Disney in its films, television programs, home videos, stage musicals, and more. . . . Hischak is a prolific scholar of popular music and the theater. Being paired here with a first-time author and Disney connoisseur has resulted in a worthwhile and entertaining resource. (American Reference Books Annual)

Hischak (Oxford Companion to American Musical) and Robinson (independent theatre and film scholar) offer descriptions of over 900 Disney songs featured in film, on television, and in their theme parks since 1930. Organized alphabetically by song title, paragraph-long entries detail writers, original context, publication date, and notable performers. For easier entry location, various appendixes give an alternate title list, a song writer's directory, film or program listings, and a guide to various recorded formats. Most at home in collections for Disney enthusiasts or cultural studies scholars. (Library Journal)

Scarecrow has produced a well-bound, well-printed book for the library reference shelf….One page after page, old memories are evoked- memories of time and place beyond the movie or production…. Recommended for libraries with any kind of performing arts collection….Recommend this to future princesses, princes, and the menagerie of Disney fans. (Fontes Artis Musicae)

 

The authors compile over 900 songs, from Disney's earliest cartoons-the ones we all know by heart-to the latest Disney productions like High School Musical , and provides a paragraph about each. . . . As you browse through the book, you realize how influential "Uncle Walt" was on American popular music. (In The Groove)

The book is laid out in clear fashion.... This is a work that should appear in music libraries and academic institutions that have courses covering modern and popular music. I certainly recommend it for purchase for public libraries where readers will find it quite a difficult to put down book. ("American Reference Books Annual")

Reviews: The Encyclopedia of Film Composers

Hischak offers a unique combination of opinion and painstaking research. The author asserts that film composers deserve further recognition for their influence and contributions. His objective is to fill a gap, covering hundreds of lesser-known composers. Included are 252 individuals who either created a significant number of film scores or who mainly composed in other genres but also had notable film score success. Each entry includes a biography; a discussion of the subject's work that includes Hischak's perspective on, for example, which piece was most memorable; feature film credits, including Academy Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and the Golden Globe Award nominations and wins; the director; and country where the movie was produced. It's critical to read the book's introduction to understand that if an artist created the score with three or more composers, for example, it was not included on the list. Closing the volume are comprehensive name and title indexes, necessary for a book with so much detail. Verdict: Hischak's offering presents a wide scope of composers, and anyone who loves film and has previous knowledge of music and/or film will be delighted by its content. (Library Journal)

 

This hefty volume focuses solely on the creators of movie music. From the early silent films to today's blockbusters, accompanying music often draws as much attention as the films themselves and sometimes outlives the pictures in both popular culture and film history. Herein are more than 250 alphabetically arranged entries on composers from all over the world, covering the entire spectrum of cinema history. Entries are generally a few pages in length and contain biographical information, chronological career highlights, and an analysis of the musical style of the composer, and they end with a comprehensive list of film scores. This list is also valuable for indicating the director(s) and country of production for each film as well as any awards won by the composer or nominations for awards. Alternative or English titles are given for foreign films, if any. Although a smattering of composers here will be recognizable to the general user - Henry Mancini, Marvin Hamlisch, and Randy Newman, perhaps - most will likely be unknown. For example, who was responsible for the memorable music in The Wizard of Oz, Psycho, Gone with the Wind, and Lawrence of Arabia? This tome provides the detailed answers: Herbert Stohart, Bernand Herrmann, Max Steiner, and Maurice Jarre, respectively. A user can quickly see what other film scores these composers are responsible for and examine the arc of their careers. Other features include some black-and-white pictures and both a name and title index for quickly locating a particular film or person. . . .The Encyclopedia of Film Composers is recommended as an interesting addition to the reference collection of academic and public libraries and anywhere film is being studied. (Booklist)

Reviews: Broadway Plays and Musicals

Hischak’s aim is to “describe every Broadway production . . . over the past eighty-eight years’”and he hits a bull’s-eye with this comprehensive (work) . . . This rich resource supplies the necessary facts needed when embarking on a study of the American theater. Recommended (Booklist/RBB)

Informative...essential  No other single-volume work is as comprehensive in covering both musical and nonmusical formats. (Choice)

I can’t imagine a book this detailed being published again for many years. A must for libraries and those interested in musical theater. (In The Groove Magazine)

 

This truly is a reference history of New York city’s famous Broadway district. Few (books) have covered all of the activities of Broadway. This is what makes this volume special, especially for reference value.  (ARBA)

Reviews: The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia

The reader will be overwhelmed by the thoroughness and detail found in this work. Historians also will be impressed by the scope of the material in this work as it paints a broad picture of the musical theater during and before Rodgers and Hammerstein's time. Those who cannot get enough of information and trivia about Broadway and the musical theater will devour this book. (American Reference Books Annual)

           

The amazingly productive Hischak, author/editor of 15 theater books to date, turns his attention to two giants of the American musical theater in a work that more aptly should be titled “The Rodgers and Hammerstein and Kern and Hart et al. Encyclopedia,” in that this volume is not limited to shows and films written by the title duo but also encompasses those of their collaborators. The alphabetically arranged, brief entries (100-300 words, with longer entries for specific shows) cover every stage, film, and television project in which either person was involved, as well as entries on notable performers, librettists, songsters, and specific songs, with numerous cross-references. Of particular interest are entries covering such specialized topics as ethnicity, settings, and list songs. Appendixes list Rodgers and Hammerstein's awards and recordings, and the index is particularly useful. Hischak's writing style is both informative and fascinating, with just enough subjectivity to keep users browsing. Music lovers will appreciate the attention he pays to song recordings not from cast albums. This will be an indispensable guide to this most American genre for all theater and music collections. Highly recommended. All undergraduates and general readers. (Choice)

Review: Word Crazy: Broadway Lyricists from Cohan to Sondheim

Hischak . . . presents a lively and insightful analysis of the careers and major works of Broadway's most notable lyricists –Cohan, Berlin, Gershwin, Lerner, Harnick and others. Hischak is able . . .  to analyze numerous examples, to capture the spirit of the works he discusses, and illuminate the story of this heretofore little-appreciated aspect of musical theater. (Publisher’s Weekly)

 

Hischak reviews the achievements of the men and women who wrote the words for the songs in American musicals of the 20th century. . . . He devotes separate chapters to 21 of the more prominent lyricists (such as Oscar Hammerstein II, Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Alan Jay Lerner, and Stephen Sondhiem) and illustrates how each built upon the work of earlier writers or took a different approach. Happily, he does not limit himself to the better-known lyricists. In four chapters he gives briefer treatment to 56 other lyricists (e.g., Carolyn Leigh, Martin Charnin, Joe Darion). Will prove a good supplemental addition in all collections on the musical theater. (Choice).

Reviews: The Jerome Kern Encyclopedia

Hischak credits Kern in the preface with creating "the sound of the American musical," which is the case he attempts to make with this sorely overdue reference work. In prose that is not overly academic, articles cover Kern's musicals, songs, and collaborators, including performers with meaningful connections to the composer. Musicals are consistently presented with information on style, author, lyricist, location and date of debut performance, run, alternate productions and revivals, and key performers; following is a summary of the plot and history of the production, highlighting songs important to the plot or to Kern's career. Overall, the entries about songs are nontechnical, but occasionally dabble in soft music theory. The author instead addresses the song's history: use in a production, notable performances, and appearances in other musicals or innominate interpolations. Hischak introduces performers and collaborators by their connection to Kern, and then expands on their careers with further contextual information. Photographs appear throughout, with excellent captioning providing additional information unavailable in the accompanying article. The highly useful appendixes cover the chronology of Kern's awards, musicals, interpolations, and discography. Extensive bibliography and thorough indexing. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above. (Choice)

 

This volume offers practically one-stop shopping for music students and Jerome Kern enthusiasts. The main body of the work includes entries for songs, stage works, films, and musical styles. Hischak, a veteran musical-theater author, has added biographical sketches for many of Kern’s collaborators—including directors, performers, lyricists, and producers—taking care to put them in context with their work with Kern. A discography, a chronology, and an awards list are added value for this useful text. (Booklist)

Review: The Off Broadway Musical Since 1919

In this needed complement to Larry Stempel's recent Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theatre, Hischak (theater, SUNY at Cortland; Theatre as Human Action: An Introduction to Theatre Arts) surveys nearly 400 musicals, providing opening dates, authors, composers, and cast members. The synopses are concise and informative and, occasionally and enjoyably, snarky (do not invite him to your theater's production of Nunsense or any of its sequels). For the musical-obsessed and the libraries that love them, an appendix listing recordings (LP, CD, and DVD) is provided, together with a brief bibliography. Hischak explains that off-Broadway musicals offer "a more direct kind of music, dance, and comedy" than Broadway shows and often display a more direct connection to the times through music in a more intimate forum. Verdict: Your catalogers may be tempted to place this book in the reference section, but it needs to circulate because patrons will want to take it home to make lists of shows to discover, from Alfred Brooks and Ira J. Bilowit's 1958 Of Mice and Men to Menopause: The Musical. An essential purchase. (Library Journal)

Awards and Honors

 

Winner of the AACT NewPlay Fest for Escaping the Labyrinth, 2021

Outstanding Reference Work citation for Musicals in Film: A Guide to the Genre by the American Library Association, 2017.

 

One of the six best Arts and Literature books of 2016 citation for Musicals in Film: A Guide to the Genre by the School Library Journal.

 

Winner of the AACT NewPlay Fest for The Emperor of North America, 2016.

 

Recipient of a SUNY Global Grant to teach at Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey, May 2013.

Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame, Carroll High School, Dayton, Ohio, 2012.

 

Outstanding Achievement in Research Award, SUNY Cortland, 2010.   

 

Outstanding Reference Sources, Booklist, for Broadway Plays and Musicals, 2010.

 

Julie Harris Playwriting Award (Beverly Hills Theatre Guild) for The Cardiff Giant, 2010.

 

Outstanding Reference Book, American Library Association, for Broadway Plays and Musicals, 2009.

 

Best Reference Books of 2009 citation, Library Journal, for The Disney Song Encyclopedia (co-written with Mark A. Robinson).

 

The Oxford Companion to the American Musical named one of the Best 25 Reference  Books of 2008, by the New York Public Library, 2009.

 

Named a Fulbright Senior Specialist by the Council for International Exchange of  Scholars, 2002. Taught and directed American theatre in Greece in 2008 and Lithuania in 2011.

 

Chancellor’s Award (SUNY) for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activity, 2004.  

 

Outstanding Academic Book, Choice Magazine, American Library Association, for The  American Musical Theatre Song Encyclopedia, 1995.

 

Stanley Drama Award (playwriting) for Cold War Comedy, 1995.     

                  

Listed in Dictionary of International Biography, Marquis Who’s Who in Entertainment;  Who’s Who in American Publications; International Authors; Who’s Who in America; Writers Who’s Who; Contemporary Authors; and Who’s Who in American Education.