________, whose theatrical career spanned nearly eight decades, witnessed firsthand the early formation of the modern Broadway musical, its Golden Age, and its decline. He started out as an actor in the teens and turned to playwriting in the twenties. In the forties, he served as the director, book writer, producer, or some combination thereof for nine Broadway musicals (plus many spoken plays), including Pal Joey. In the fifties and sixties, he was even more prolific. His scripts are structurally sound and dramatically logical, but they lack psychological depth. He himself once boasted, "I helped bring plot and common sense into the musical." Exposure to the seedy side of show business during his impressionable years made a profound impact on his career. He became a highly successful television, film, and stage choreographer and director. He began as a performer, appearing in Broadway musicals in the mid-forties and in Hollywood musicals in the fifties. In 1954, he made his Broadway debut as a choreographer with The Pajama Game. The hallmarks of his style - sexually provocative poses and steps, isolated body movements, heightened theatricality - were present early on. He turned to directing beginning with Redhead in 1959. In 1973, he became the first choreographer or director to win an Emmy Award, an Academy Award, and a Tony Award, for Liza with a Z!, Cabaret, and Pippin, respectively. (Note: and to this day, he remains the only artist to win all of these awards in the same year!) ... Altogether he choreographed, directed, or both choreographed and directed thirteen Broadway musicals including Sweet Charity (1966) and Chicago (1975). Because The Music Man and '________', with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, opened during the same theatrical season and completed for the Tony Award in several categories, comparison of the two shows, however different from each other they may be, is unavoidable. Together these two disparate shows tell us something about the xenophobic climate in America during the fifties. Each show deals in its own unique way with American youth, a growing problem in the fifties, when juvenile delinquency was on the rise. Viewed side by side, (this show) and The Music Man highlight the dichotomy between urban and rural life... However, The Music Man relied on nostalgia. By contrast, (this show) confronted the violence and transformed city streets into war zones in the mid-fifties. Stephen Sondheim spent his formative years in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, not far from the country home of ________. His parents had divorced in 1940, and his mother, a fashion designer, kept him from seeing his father, a successful dress manufacturer, by moving with her son from New York to Pennsylvania. By the age of fourteen, Sondheim had discovered an interest in musical theater. From the start, he wrote both words and music. Over a six-year period, (this man) mentored Sondheim in the art of musical theater writing. It was an informal apprenticeship but a profoundly influential one on the young Sondheim. Befitting the term "megamusical", the music, sets, costumes, marketing campaigns, merchandising, reception history, and hype associated with the genre reach mega-proportions. ________ the designer of Cats, Starlight Express, Les Miserables, and Sunset Boulevard, established visual hugeness as a requisite of the megamusical. Indeed, megamusicals have relied on lavish, complex, computerized, and automated scenery. Jonathan Larson, the creator of '________', was a middle-class Jewish kid from White Plains, New York. In high school, he played in band, sang in choir, and acted in theater productions. He admired singer-songwriters such as Elton John and Billy Joel, but he fell in love with theater and the works of Stephen Sondheim... The subsequent events surrounding the production of (this show) stand out as one of the most tragic stories in the annals of musical theater history... In late 1995, Larson quit his restaurant job and prepared to enjoy the fruits of his labors. A few days before dress rehearsals, however, he experienced chest pains, which persisted up to the night of the final dress rehearsal... Sometime after midnight, he collapsed and died from an aortic aneurysm. (This show) opened the next evening to great acclaim and, partly because of the tragedy associated with it, became the musical that everyone wanted to see. ________, a product of the Off-Broadway scene, writes offbeat musicals, often of a semi-autobiographical nature and with mature themes... His so-called Marvin Trilogy propelled him into the spotlight in the early eighties... Falsettos tells the story of a married man and father who one day realized that he prefers to be with men. With a book by James Lapine and (this composer), and directed by Lapine, Falsettos was revolutionary in that its protagonist is not the clichéd suffering or exuberantly campy homosexual of earlier, closeted days... After surviving a brain disorder in 1992, he wrote about his experience in A New Brain (1998). The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (premiered Off-Broadway in 2004), his most commercially successful work, ran on Broadway for 1, 136 performances. His musical adaptation of the film Little Miss Sunshine opened Off-Broadway in 2013. Family dynasties are rare on Broadway. ________ is a third-generation Broadway composer, the grandson of Richard Rodgers, and the son of Mary Rodgers. In the nineties, he established himself with the first of two major book musicals. His first, Floyd Collins (1996), is based on an actual event from 1925. His score emulates the folksiness of Appalachian music without sounding derivative. He blends bluegrass, musical theater, and art music influences. His second, The Light in the Piazza (2003), is the musical retelling of the romantic 1962 film. The lush score, evoking a romance between an American girl with a young Italian man in Florence, is further complicated by a complex mother-daughter relationship. For his efforts, he won the Tony Award for Best Score in 2005. '________' (2008) takes place in a Dominican American neighborhood in the upper reaches of Manhattan and depicts a family crisis that unfolds over the course of three days... (This show) provided an alternative to popular culture's essentialist depictions of Latino Americans as poor laborers, Roman Catholic, superstitious, having a tendency toward criminality, and excelling on the dance floor... In any case, (this show) appealed to a broad demographic because, like Fiddler on the Roof, it explored the universal themes of family, community, and self-determination... Directed by Thomas Kali, Choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, and with Words and Music by the phenomenal Lin-Manuel Miranda, the musical received thirteen Tony Award nominations and won four... This same 'dream team' would go on to create an even bigger hit in 2016 known as Hamilton, which is still currently receiving unprecedented critical and audience praise.