Jerry Herman


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Poet of the Showtune

Stephen Citron

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The first in-depth biography of the celebrated composer/lyricist who created Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage aux Folles

This revealing and comprehensive book tells the full story of Jerry Herman’s life and career, from his early work in cabaret to his recent compositions for stage, screen, and television.

Stephen Citron draws on extensive open-ended interviews with Jerry Herman as well as with scores of his theatrical colleagues, collaborators, and close friends. The resulting book—which sheds new light on each of Herman’s musicals and their scores—abounds in fascinating anecdotes and behind-the-scenes details about the world of musical theater. Readers will find a sharply drawn portrait of Herman’s private life and his creative talents. Citron’s insights into Herman’s music and lyrics, including voluminous examples from each of his musicals, are as instructive as they are edifying and entertaining.

Stephen Citron is well known for shedding fresh light on the American musical theater and the artists who inhabit it. His previous books include Songwriting, The Musical from the Inside Out, and biographies of Noël Coward, Cole Porter, Alan Jay Lerner, Oscar Hammerstein 2nd, Stephen Sondheim, and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

"Jerry Herman is one of our great treasures. Lifting our minds and spirits with his positive, forever memorable music and lyrics, he is an inspiration."—Chita Rivera 

"Stephen Citron’s Jerry Herman: Poet of the Showtune is an extraordinary biography of a composer/lyricist who is the Irving Berlin of his time—full of the most delightful and fascinating anecdotes and details about the world of musical theater. It is riveting reading and the melodies linger on as well as Citron’s words."—David Brown, Theater and Film Producer  

"This is an extraordinary and invaluable work about the extraordinary and invaluable talent Jerry Herman. Any lover of the musical theatre should be grateful to add it to their library. I know I am."—Fred Ebb, Lyricist

“Should be required reading for anyone who has ever enjoyed a comic lyric or a brassy piece of melody from Hello, Dolly!, Mame or La Cage aux Folles. It’s a splendid biography, festooned with a generous analysis of his libretto and compositions. Herman’s imperishable spirit is all here in this personal, sharp-as-tacks portrait of a composer-lyricist whose heart—and archive—seems to have been an open book.”—Randy Gener, American Theatre

“Fans of Herman, and of musical theatre in general, will find much enjoyment in this book.”—Les Spindle, Back Stage

“This book makes you want to dig out your albums of Herman shows and have a fresh listen. . . . Jerry Herman is a timely, welcome arrival.”—Mark Dundas Wood, Back Stage

"The first in-depth biography of the composer, lyricist. . . . Citron's insights are bolstered by numerous interviews with Herman and his friends, plus extensive examples from each of his musicals. This is a fine work."—Stephen Peithman,



Named an "Outstanding" book in 2005 by the American Association of University Presses
ISBN: 9780300100822
Publication Date: August 11, 2004
352 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
40 halftones