Composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb were the longest-running composer-lyricist partnership in Broadway history, having first joined forces in 1962. (Ebb died in 2004.) The fruits of their collaboration an ever-exciting blend of the traditional and the modern helped push American musical theater in a more daring direction, both musically and dramatically. At the same time, their influence and impact on individual performers, while less well known, was also substantial. As their longtime friend and protégée Liza Minnelli writes in her introduction, "John and Fred made everything possible."
Told through a dialogue between the two men and enlivened with excerpts from Fred Ebb's lyrics and sixteen pages of photographs, Colored Lights is a unique and wonderful work. Starting with Flora, the Red Menace, their first show together, and continuing with such groundbreaking works as Cabaret, Chicago, and Kiss of the Spider Woman, John Kander and Fred Ebb ably assisted by Greg Lawrence discuss their lives and careers with the same wit and acuity that distinguish their work for the stage, concluding with a lively discussion of the recent Academy Award-winning film adaptation of Chicago and of their final musical, The Visit.
Whether they are exploring what goes into creating a truly original work such as Cabaret, reflecting on what makes a song succeed (and what makes a singer a great singer rather than merely a good one), or discussing how their own collaborative process works, John Kander and Fred Ebb provide a rich, one-of-a-kind history not only of their own careers but also of the American musical theater of the late twentieth century.