This has been a fantastic year for theatre books—just take a look at our seasonal lists for Spring, Summer, and Fall—but these five titles (plus three for young readers) stood out as absolute must-reads.
Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution, by Todd S. Purdum
Why it’s on our list: This book is a great reminder the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals you might think of as old-fashioned were—and are—actually groundbreaking.
Today, the work of Rodgers and Hammerstein has earned the moniker of “classic,” but author Todd S. Purdum puts into perspective just how revolutionary the writers were during their time. While creating such musicals as Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music, Rodgers and Hammerstein demonstrated their aptitude for producing commercially successful musicals that also transformed the canon.
After Anatevka, by Alexandra Silber
Why it’s on our list: It’s not often we get theatre-related fiction, but Broadway favorite Alexandra Silber’s sequel to Fiddler on the Roof fills that void.
Performing in Fiddler on the Roof on London’s West End and Broadway inspired actor and writer Alexandra Silber to fully explore what happens to the characters of the beloved musical after they’re forced out of their shtetl of Anatevka. That inspiration gave birth to After Anatevka, which was released summer 2017. Whether you’ve read After Anatevka or not, you can now check out Audible’s new audiobook version of the novel, which features Silber reading her work (and Fiddler lyricist Sheldon Harnick reading his foreward). Also included is a recording of After Anatevka: Live, an event held at Off-Broadway’s Minetta Lane Theatre in August 2018 that featured excerpts from the novel along with original songs written by a variety of Broadway writing teams.
A Star is Born: Judy Garland and the Film that Got Away, by Lorna Luft and Jeffrey Vance
Why it’s on our list: This classic movie musical has a fascinating and complicated story—not just on the screen. Dig into the history as the new remake heads towards awards season.
As Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s new remake of A Star is Born hits the big screen, fans of the first remake—starring Judy Garland and James Mason—can dig into the 1954 film’s long and storied history in this new book co-authored by Garland’s daughter, Lorna Luft, and film historian Jeffrey Vance. The book takes readers through the entire making of the film, including controversial studio-demanded cuts made in the first wide release and modern attempts to recreate director George Cukor’s original vision.
Take You Wherever You Go, by Kenny Leon
Director Kenny Leon has written his life story, from his humble beginnings in rural Florida to becoming the first African American director to win a Tony Award.
The Complete Lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner, edited by Dominic McHugh and Amy Asch
Why it’s on our list: An illuminating look at the work of this theatrical legend, this book makes a handsome addition to any Broadway fan’s coffee table.
Lyricist Alan Jay Lerner worked on some of Broadway and Hollywood’s most loved musicals, including My Fair Lady, Camelot, Gigi, and Brigadoon. Dominic McHugh and Amy Asch aggregate all of Lerner’s lyrics for the first time, including rarely-seen material such as working draft and alternate lyrics cut songs.
BONUS: Theatre-related reads aren’t just for adults. If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer for a kid you know, consider Tim Federle’s Nate series, including the most recent Nate Expectations (excerpt here), graphic novel The Backstagers by Andy Mientus (excerpt here), or the new Dear Evan Hansen novel.