Jerry Herman wrote the words and music for some of the most successful and beloved musicals of the 20th century. Best known for his ebullient, optimistic, and hummable songs that personify the “show tune”, Herman (July 10, 1931 – December 26, 2019) was one of the last of Broadway’s Golden Age.

Words and Music by Jerry Herman, a ninety-minute film by Amber Edwards, chronicles his rise from witty off-Broadway revues during the 1950s, to his first Broadway triumphs in the 1960s (Milk and Honey, followed by Hello Dolly and  Mame) through the 1970s (Dear World, Mack & Mabel–which achieved cult status–and The Grand Tour) to his triumphant smash hit in 1983, La Cage aux Folles, which also made social and political history.

The documentary features a truly remarkable collection of photographs and archival footage—much of it never seen in public before—and boasts a star-studded “supporting cast” that includes Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury, Charles Nelson Reilly, Marge Champion, Arthur Laurents, Michael Feinstein, Charles Strouse, Fred Ebb, George Hearn, Phyllis Newman, Jason Graae, Leslie Uggams, Musical Director Donald Pippin, Producer Barry Brown, author Francine Pascal, and theater historians Miles Kreuger and Ken Bloom, the documentary features a truly remarkable collection of photographs and archival footage–much of it never seen in public.

“Amber Edwards’ film is a great reflection of its subject’s work: simply presented and unforgettable.”  

Tom Nondorf, PLAYBILL.COM 

“[A] delicious array of vintage clips, stellar interviewees and treasured songs make this a treat musical-theater fans will enjoy in various formats for years to come.” 

Daily Variety

“It’s the welcome return of a beloved favorite – the old Broadway regular who makes us remember our happy past and a glorious era, a musical elder back for one more embrace before the parade passes by.”

Frank Rizzo, Hartford Courant

Produced, written, directed, and edited by Amber Edwards

Executive Producer Nila Aronow

A production of NJN Public Television, Copyright 2007

Major Funding provided by the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation

Funding also provided by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and the NJN Foundation; additional funding by Anne Evans Estabrook