Great Performances – Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age

Air date: 08/14/2021

New Great Performances Documentary Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age Explores 1959-1983 Broadway Shows Through Stars’ Personal Stories Beginning August 14 on PBS


Hosted by two-time Tony nominee Jonathan Groff, featuring shows including “Once Upon a Mattress,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Barefoot in the Park,” “Pippin,” “A Chorus Line,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “42nd Street” and more



Great Performances – Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age explores the world of Broadway from 1959 through the early 1980s as recounted by a diverse cast of Broadway stars who lived through it, creating a first-hand archive of personal backstage stories and memories. Written, directed and produced by the late filmmaker Rick McKay and hosted by two-time Tony Award nominee Jonathan Groff, the new documentary is the long-awaited sequel to McKay’s award-winning 2003 film Broadway: The Golden Age – By the Legends Who Were There. This follow-up to McKay’s acclaimed oral history of Broadway continues the saga into the 60s and 70s, spotlighting beloved classic Broadway shows including “Once Upon a Mattress,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Barefoot in the Park,” “Pippin,” “A Chorus Line,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Chicago” and “42nd Street.” Particular focus is placed on famed directors and choreographers Gower Champion, Bob Fosse, George Abbott and Michael Bennett with anecdotes from 1959’s “Once Upon A Mattress” through 1983 when “A Chorus Line” became the longest-running show in Broadway history. Featuring a galaxy of stars including Alec Baldwin, Carol Burnett, Glenn Close, André De Shields, Jane Fonda, Robert Goulet, Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera, Dick Van Dyke, Ben Vereen and many more, the film also includes rare archival photos and never-before-seen footage both onstage and off.


  • Premieres nationwide beginning Saturday, August 14 on PBS (check local listings), and the PBS Video app.
  • New York metro area premiere Thursday, August 19 at 8 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

Notable Talent:

  • Jonathan Groff
  • Bea Arthur
  • Elizabeth Ashley
  • Alec Baldwin
  • Candy Brown
  • Carol Burnett
  • Glenn Close
  • André De Shields
  • Jane Fonda
  • Robert Goulet
  • Robert Guillaume
  • Cherry Jones
  • Baayork Lee
  • Donna McKechnie
  • Liza Minnelli
  • Robert Morse
  • Jerry Orbach
  • Robert Redford
  • Debbie Reynolds
  • Chita Rivera
  • Eva Marie Saint
  • Liev Schreiber
  • Elaine Stritch
  • Dick Van Dyke
  • Ben Vereen
  • Lesley Ann Warren

Noteworthy Facts:

  • Carol Burnett did not get the part she wanted in a “Babes in Arms” revival, which allowed her to accept her star-making and Tony-nominated role in “Once Upon a Mattress.”
  • After Dick Van Dyke auditioned for “Bye Bye Birdie” for director Gower Champion with Ray Bolger’s signature song, “Once in Love with Amy,” Champion immediately cast Van Dyke in the role of Albert Peterson, which won him a Tony Award.
  • A decades-long passion project for filmmaker Rick McKay who researched, edited, directed and interviewed over 100 Broadway luminaries in a makeshift studio in his apartment, McKay’s untimely death in 2018 halted work on the film until his team of producers brought it to fruition.

Short Listing:
Go backstage with stories from stars like Carol Burnett, Dick Van Dyke, Liza Minnelli and more.

Long Listing:

Go backstage on Broadway from 1959 to the early 1980s through interviews with theater legends including Carol Burnett, Liza Minnelli, Dick Van Dyke and more touching on a variety of classic shows like “Bye, Bye Birdie,” “Pippin” and “A Chorus Line.”

Series Overview:
Throughout its nearly 50-year history on PBS, Great Performances has provided an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. The series is available for streaming simultaneously on all station-branded PBS platforms, including and the PBS Video app, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast. PBS station members can view episodes via Passport (contact your local PBS station for details). Great Performances is produced by The WNET Group.

Production Credits:

A production of Broadway: The Golden Age and Beyond LLC in association with The WNET Group, Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age was written, directed and produced by Rick McKay; with Anne L. Bernstein and Albert M. Tapper as Executive Producers. Jane Klain, Jamie deRoy, Richard Eric Weigle, Michael Anastasio, James Berry and Corey Brunish are producers, with Frances B. Bator, Kimberly Reed and Rachel Roark Stange as co-producers.  For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer and David Horn is Executive Producer.

Major funding for Great Performances is provided by The Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Jody and John Arnhold, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, Rosalind P. Walter, The Starr Foundation, the Seton Melvin Charitable Trust, Ellen and James S. Marcus, and the Estate of Worthington Mayo-Smith. Funding for Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age was provided by the Ted Snowdon Foundation, Nina Beaty, Steven Feuling & Greg Polchow, the DeRoy Testamentary Foundation, the Marta Heflin Foundation, Riki Kane Larimer, Mark & Kathy Ford, the Friars Foundation, Mary Rodgers Guettel, Louise Kerz Hirschfeld, Ted Chapin and others; a complete list is available from PBS.

Websites:,, @GPerfPBS,, #GreatPerformancesPBS

About The WNET Group 

The WNET Group creates inspiring media content and meaningful experiences for diverse audiences nationwide. It is the community-supported home of New York’s THIRTEEN – America’s flagship PBS station – WLIW21, THIRTEEN PBSKids, WLIW World and Create; NJ PBS, New Jersey’s statewide public television network; Long Island’s only NPR station WLIW-FM; ALL ARTS, the arts and culture media provider; and newsroom NJ Spotlight News. Through these channels and streaming platforms, The WNET Group brings arts, culture, education, news, documentary, entertainment and DIY programming to more than five million viewers each month. The WNET Group’s award-winning productions include signature PBS series NatureGreat PerformancesAmerican MastersPBS NewsHour Weekend and Amanpour and Company and trusted local news programs MetroFocus and NJ Spotlight News with Briana Vannozzi. Inspiring curiosity and nurturing dreams, The WNET Group’s award-winning Kids’ Media and Education team produces the PBS KIDS series Cyberchase, interactive Mission US history games, and resources for families, teachers and caregivers. A leading nonprofit public media producer for nearly 60 years, The WNET Group presents and distributes content that fosters lifelong learning, including multiplatform initiatives addressing poverty, jobs, economic opportunity, social justice, understanding and the environment. Through Passport, station members can stream new and archival programming anytime, anywhere. The WNET Group represents the best in public media. Join us. 




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Filmmaker Rick McKay.

Chita Rivera. Photo by Joe Sinnott.

Jonathan Groff. Photo by Jason Bell.

“Ain’t Misbehavin;” Photo credit: Photofest

Cast in golden finale costumes in the Broadway production of "A Chorus Line." Photo by Martha Swope (c) The New York Pulbic Library for the Performing Arts

Carol Burnett, composer Mary Rodgers, and director George Abbott in rehearsal for Once Upon a Mattress, 1959.  Photo by Friedman-Abeles © The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.