The story of how the 1990s were a transformative decade on Broadway, featuring behind-the-scenes accounts of shows such as Rent, Angels in America, Chicago, The Lion King, and The Producers—shows that changed the history of the American theater.
This juicy, jaunty book is about Broadway in the 1990s, a period of great change that paved the way for the industry’s recent artistic and financial prosperity. Singular Sensation offers less an explanation of present-day abundance, however, than a reminder of all that has been lost ... This is just the kind of stuff Riedel was born to write about. No one gets a quote like him, or an anecdote that speaks to the alternately vicious and thrilling nature of Broadway. Even when the provenance or accuracy of an observation is hazy, you’re still happy to see it included ... If Singular Sensation has a flaw, it is its reluctance to engage with these ideas; you long to see Riedel weigh the pros and cons of Broadway’s increasingly commercial culture ... Then again, that’s not Riedel’s beat. You read him for the broadsheet prose, for the swashbuckling verdicts, for the searing quotes ... To put it more simply: the book made me feel better.
Reading Riedel has long been mandatory for theater insiders. They may complain about his journalistic practices, his tendency to sensationalize and distort, his refusal to let a fair review of the facts get in the way of a good scoop, his speculative and often erroneous conclusions. But his copy is sinfully entertaining, full of dish and drama and delivered with the wicked wit Broadway pros can’t help but admire ... An equal opportunity offender, Riedel is in no one’s pocket. His contrary streak makes his reporting essential even if his proximity to the material hampers his storytelling.
Given his longtime standing as a New York theater doyen, Riedel has unique access to the vast cast of players he surveys, which yields an embarrassment of anecdotal riches ... Readers of this breezy, fun, and informative work are the beneficiaries of the rarefied theatrical air of Broadway inhabited by Riedel. An obligatory purchase for all theater collections.