17 New Theatre Books to Put On Your List This Fall | Playbill

Lists 17 New Theatre Books to Put On Your List This Fall From novels by actors-turned-authors like Andy Mientus to biographies of Jerome Robbins and Stephen Schwartz, grab one of these new titles.

Autumn has arrived, which means a new run of hot-off-the-presses fall reads. We’ve got a selection of theatre-themed reads that will keep the shelf of any fan fully stocked!


1. Broadway General Manager: Demystifying the Most Important and Least Understood Role in Show Business
by Peter Bogyo
Available now from Allworth Press.
Do you know what a general manager does? Spoiler alert: they are one of the most pivotal parts of Broadway behind the scenes, with hands in almost every area of a Broadway production from inception to the final performance. Veteran Broadway GM Peter Bogyo has drawn from his more-than-20 years of experience in the industry to write this book, which takes a deep dive into the role of a general manager and how to break into the business.



2. A Star is Born: Judy Garland and the Film that Got Away
by Lorna Luft and Jeffrey Vance
Available now from Running Press.
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.


3. Nate Expectations
by Tim Federle
Available now from Simon & Schuster.
Writer and former Broadway performer Tim Federle’s Nate series, written for young audiences, is back for a third and final entry: Nate Expectations. After E.T.: The Musical fails on Broadway, Nate returns to Jankburg, Pennsylvania and starts high school. With theatre firmly in his blood, Nate soon finds himself writing a musical adaptation of Great Expectations for an English project, but some outside life drama looks like it might get in the way.



4. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Going to the Theatre* *(But Were Too Sloshed to Ask, Dear)
by West End Producer
Available now from Nick Hern Books.
London’s answer to Annoying Actor Friend is West End Producer, an anonymous Twitter sensation with mischievous insider gossip. Now this witty and wicked producer has made the ultimate guide for anyone who’s ever been to the theatre, or thinks they might like to try it one day.



5. The Backstagers and the Ghost Light
by Andy Mientus with illustrations by Rian Sygh
Available now from Harry N. Abrams.
The Backstagers has made the jump from comic books to young audience novels, thanks to writer and Broadway favorite Andy Mientus (Les Misérables, Spring Awakening, Smash). The first in their new book series sees the stage crew at St. Genesius Prep facing a strange entity that is threatening to ruin their production of Phantasm.



6. The Making of King Kong
by George E. Turner and Dr. Orville Goldner
Available now from Pulp Hero Press.
Currently in previews and readying to open on Broadway in November, King Kong is the latest classic film to receive the Broadway treatment. Before you see the new musical adaptation, learn about the film that started it all with this newly-updated and expanded look at the 1933 monster classic. Turner and Gardner’s book examines the genesis of the now-legendary story of a giant ape that is brought to Manhattan, how the film was made, and the remakes and spin-offs that followed.


7. The Road to Oz: The Evolution, Creation, and Legacy of a Motion Picture Masterpiece
by Jay Scarfone and William Stillman
Available now from Lyons Press.
The Wizard of Oz, the quintessential American movie-musical, will celebrate its 80th anniversary in 2019, and Jay Scarfone and William Stillman have written a new history of the beloved classic to celebrate. Drawn from newly-discovered period interviews, never-before-published imagery, media resources from the era, and new contemporary interviews with people who were there, The Road to Oz illuminates the making of this true cinematic masterpiece.


8. After Anatevka
by Alexandra Silber
Available now from Audible.
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.


9. Jerome Robbins: A Life in Dance
by Wendy Lesser
Available now from Yale University Press.
Speaking of birthdays, 2018 is the centennial year of ballet and Broadway director-choreographer Jerome Robbins, the mind behind such classics as West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, and On the Town. In this new biography, Wendy Lesser explores Robbins’ life by focusing on his major dances, uncovering how this Broadway legend’s work illustrated his influences and unique artistic voice.



10. Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You
by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Available October 16 from Headline.
Hamilton and In the Heights writer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda has been sending out affirmations to his thousands of Twitter followers every morning and evening for years. Now these original sayings, aphorisms, and poetry have been brought together in a new volume, fully illustrated by Jonny Sun. If you’re in need of a mood-enhancing quick fix, this book might just be the ticket.

Defying Gravity Cover Applause Books

11. Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked
by Carol de Giere
Available October 16 from Applause.
The updated and revised second edition of this Stephen Schwartz biography marks the 15th anniversary of Schwartz’s most successful Broadway show Wicked, which opened October 30, 2003. The expanded release includes a forward from composer and frequent Schwartz-collaborator Alan Menken, along with new sections covering Schwartz’s work with translators on international productions of Wicked and the recent stage adaptation of the 1998 animated film The Prince of Egypt.


12. My Love Story
by Tina Turner
Available October 16 from Atria Books.
London’s sell-out smash Tina, the new musical which tells the story of recording sensation Tina Turner, has been announced as Broadway-bound. If you can’t wait for opening night, pass the time by reading Turner’s incredible life story. This new memoir takes bookworms from Turner’s early days in Nutbush, Tennessee, to her meteoric rise in the recording industry, to dark moments in her personal life and beyond.


13. Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey
by Mark Dery
Available November 6 from Little, Brown and Company.
This eccentric personality reportedly lived alongside over 20,000 books and six cats as he wrote and illustrated over a hundred books. Dubbed the grandfather of goth. Broadway fans may remember Gorey for his Tony-winning designs in the 1977 production of Dracula starring Frank Langella, but this new biography pulls from newly discovered correspondence and interviews to dig into the entire story behind this mysterious and darkly hilarious genius.


14. Keeping On Keeping On
by Alan Bennett
Available in paperback November 7 from Picador.
This volume collects the diaries of British playwright Alan Bennett from 2005 to 2015—a decade that saw the premieres of his plays The Habit of Art, People, Hymn, and Cocktail Sticks, as well as the film adaptations of his The Lady in the Van and The History Boys. Together with Bennett’s essays, comic pieces, and reviews, Keeping On Keeping On chronicles a true theatrical artist during an especially tumultuous period.


15. Rise Up!: Broadway and American Society from Angels in America to Hamilton
by Chris Jones
Available November 15 from Methuen Drama.
Chicago Tribune chief theatre critic Chris Jones has traced theatre’s place in American society from the AIDS crisis through the biggest breakout hit of our time, Hamilton, in his new book Rise Up!. Jones explores how theatre achieved a new renaissance and rejoined the zeitgeist by reinserting itself into the national conversation, only for its political messages to come under new scrutiny following the 2016 Presidential Election, specifically when the cast of Hamilton famously addressed Vice President Mike Pence from the stage of the Richard Rodgers Theatre.


16. Little Dancer Aged Fourteen: The True Story Behind Degas’s Masterpiece
by Camille Laurens, Translated by Willard Wood
Available November 20 from Other Press.
Many dance and theatre fans have long admired the work of Edgar Degas, a French impressionist known for his many paintings depicting the world of ballet. French novelist and essayist Camille Laurens has taken a deep dive on the model for one of Degas’ most beloved works, a sculpture entitled La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans, in this new book, exploring who she was and what her life was like in late 19th-century France.


17. Leonard Bernstein 100: The Masters Photograph the Maestro
Edited by Jamie Bernstein and Steve J. Sherman (December 18, 2018 from powerHouse Books)
Available December 18 from powerHouse books.
2018 is also the centennial year of conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, writer of such theatrical classics as On the Town, West Side Story, Wonderful Town, Trouble in Tahiti, and Candide. Curator and photographer Steve J. Sherman has teamed up with Bernstein’s eldest daughter, Jamie Bernstein, to mark the centennial with this collection of 100 iconic images—some never-before seen—to capture Bernstein’s life story. Also included are handwritten music sketches, letters, speeches, and poems, illuminating the life and genius of this American musical legend.

Logan Culwell-Block is a musical theatre historian, Playbill's manager of research, and curator of Playbill Vault. @loganculwell

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