THE BOOK SHELF: Plays By Jez Butterworth, Enda Walsh, Eugene O'Neill, Plus a Guide to Spring Awakening

By Steven Suskin
08 Apr 2012

Cover art for "A Purple Summer: Notes on the Lyrics of Spring Awakening"
Also from TCG — which, by the way, is the Theatre Communications Group — is "Conversations with Anne" by Anne Bogart. This consists of 24 conversations with Anne, or interviews rather. Participants include Martha Clarke, Oskar Eustis, Zelda Fichandler, Richard Foreman, Andre Gregory, Bill T. Jones, Tina Landau, Peter Sellars, Molly Smith, Julie Taymor, Paula Vogel and Mary Zimmerman.

*

If "a song of purple summer" sounds familiar to you, you might want to take a look at "A Purple Summer: Notes on the Lyrics of Spring Awakening" by Steven Sater [Applause]. This brief paperback — 112 pages, with a $9.99 list price — is precisely what the title implies, a lyricist's explanatory notes on his work for the ground-breaking, Tony Award-winning 2006 musical. With Spring Awakening now available for stock & amateur licensing, it seems likely that many young actors across the land (and elsewhere) will be playing these roles and singing these songs. Imagine having the author on hand, offering helpful insights. (Read about Spring Awakening in the Playbill Vault.)

*



"The Actor as Storyteller" by Bruce Miller [Limelight] markets itself as an introduction to the art of acting geared towards high school and college students. Not being a high school or college student, I can't tell you how effective this is; Miller is an acting teacher at the University of Miami, so one expects that he writes with practical knowledge of what today's students walk in needing. At a glance, this book — filled with acting exercises and scene study hints — looks promising.

*

Cover art for "My Awesome Awful Popularity Plan"

Also in the stack is the paperback release of "Dear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant" by Dyan Cannon [itbooks/HarperCollins]. This one sounds like it might just be another one of those celebrity bios, but a couple of minutes of browsing somehow turned into a half-hour and a determination to read the whole thing. Cary Grant was an interesting character, certainly; here, his fourth-of-five wives — an accomplished actress herself, with twin Oscar noms for "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" and Warren Beatty's "Heaven Can Wait" — provides an illuminating view.

*

Finally, we have "My Awesome Awful Popularity Plan" [Random House], a novel for young adults by none other than Seth Rudetsky. Not your everyday young adult novel, but then we wouldn't expect that from Seth. This one is about 15-year-old Justin Goldblatt, whose to-do list starts with "fall in love with someone (please let it be Chuck)." Rudetsky — author of "Broadway Nights," popular radio show host, conductor/pianist, and Playbill columnist — is as always irrepressibly entertaining. The book ends with a note to young adult readers who are having a hard time dealing with high school and other issues, urging them to reach out to TheTrevorProject.org, ItGetsBetter.org, or to Rudetsky himself.

(Steven Suskin is author of the recently released updated and expanded Fourth Edition of "Show Tunes" as well as "The Sound of Broadway Music: A Book of Orchestrators and Orchestrations," now available in paperback, "Second Act Trouble" and the "Opening Night on Broadway" books. He also pens Playbill.com's On the Record and DVD Shelf columns. He can be reached at Ssuskin@aol.com.)

*

Passionate about theatre books? See what the Playbill Store has on its shelves.