Book News18 Theatre Books to Read This SpringBring these books outside as the weather starts to warm up.
March 19, 2021
As the spring season begins, daylight extends and temperatures rise, which means its time to dust off that picnic blanket and get outside with some new reads. There are plenty of new books for theatre lovers to check out this season, with memoirs by Quiara Alegría Hudes, Tovah Feldshuh, and Brad Fraser; deep-dives into musicals like Shuffle Along and In The Heights; and even an examination of how musicals have changed the myth of King Arthur.
The Untold Stories of Broadway, Volume 4 By Jennifer Tepper Ashley This latest installment explores the Imperial, Jacobs, Studio 54, Minskoff, Friedman, and Golden Theatres, as well as the five Broadway theatres that were destroyed in 1982, changing the course of New York City history. In addition, this edition features over 30 new interviews and hundreds of theatre professionals discussing everything that makes Broadway essential. Available now from Dress Circle Publishing. A portion of the book’s proceeds will benefit The Broadway Advocacy Coalition.
Conversations with Meredith Monk(Expanded Edition) By Bonnie Marranca First published in 2014, this book now includes an eight-page color portfolio and has been updated with discussions of her latest music-theatre work, Cellular Songs, and a work-in-progress, Indra’s Net, in addition to the recent revival of her opera Atlas at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and and the showing of the remastered film of Quarry. Available now from Theatre Communications Group.
From Camelot to Spamalot: Musical Retellings of Arthurian Legend on Stage and Screen By Megan Woller Using adaptation theory as a framework, this tome examines six stage and film musicals, considering how musical versions in 20th and 21st century popular culture interpret the legend of King Arthur. Shifting from an idealistic utopia to a silly place, the myriad notions of Camelot offer a look at the importance of myth in American popular culture. Available now from Oxford University Press.
North by Shakespeare: A Rogue Scholar's Quest for the Truth Behind the Bard's Work By Michael Blanding The true story of a self-taught Shakespeare sleuth’s quest to prove his eye-opening theory about the source of the world’s most famous plays, taking readers inside the vibrant era of Elizabethan England as well as the contemporary scene of Shakespeare scholars and obsessives. Available now from Hachette Books.
A Wonderful Guy: Conversations in Musical Theater By Eddie Shapiro Intimate, career-encompassing conversations with 19 fascinating Broadway leading men. Full of detailed stories and reflections, the book features interviews with Norm Lewis, Gavin Creel, Cheyenne Jackson, and Jonathan Groff as they explore what it means to be a leading player on the Main Stem in the past 50 years. Available now from Oxford University Press.
A Story that Happens: On Playwriting, Childhood, & Other Traumas By Dan O’Brien Originally written as a series of craft lectures for the annual Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the four essays in this collection deliver practical reflections on techniques of storytelling in the theatre that are also relevant to other disciplines. Drawing deeply on O’Brien’s experience of cancer and of childhood abuse and of his ongoing friendship and collaboration with a war reporter, these stories offer hard-won insights into what stories are for and the reasons why we begin to tell them. Available now from CB Editions.
Fearless By Mandy Gonzalez This spooky middle grade novel from the Hamilton star Mandy Gonzalez follows a group of young thespians who must defeat the curse haunting their theatre. Enter 12-year-old Monica Garcia, who has been cast to star in a Broadway musical sendup of ‘80s adventure movies, the theatre’s last chance to produce a hit before it shutters its doors for good. Available now from Simon and Schuster.
My Broken Language: A Memoir By Quiara Alegría Hudes The Pulitzer Prize–winning librettist of In The Heights weaves together her love of books with the stories of her family and the lessons of North Philly with those of Yale in this exploration of exploration of home, memory, and belonging. Available now from One World.
Lilyvile: Mother, Daughter, and Other Roles I’ve Played By Tovah Feldshuh The four-time Tony nominee reflects on her life in the best way she knows how: as a play. Immersing readers in a journey through the acts and scenes of her personal and professional life, from her tomboy childhood to Broadway success, Feldshuh pieces together her often-complicated relationship with her mother. Available now from Hachette Books.
Hirschfeld: The Biography By Ellen Stern Through interviews with Hirschfeld himself, his friends and family (including his daughter Nina), and his famous subjects, as well as through letters, scrapbooks, and home movies, Stern creates a detailed portrait of Al Hirschfeld, one of the most beloved and influential artists of the 20th century. Available now from Skyhorse.
Being a Ballerina: The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life By Gavin Larsen Through episodes from her own career, the former Oregon Ballet Theatre principal dancer describes the forces that drive a person to study dance, the daily balance that dancers navigate between hardship and joy, and the dancer’s continual quest to discover who they are as a person and as an artist. Available now from University of Florida Press.
Dog Squad By Chris Grabenstein When Fred is taken in by a family working in the entertainment business, he gets cast to be one of the lead dogs in the Broadway show Washington. After the show closes, Fred’s new family takes him home to Second Chance Farm where he then gets to flex the acting chops he learned on Broadway by being stand-in for the lead dog performer of the TV series Dog Squad. The book is inspired by the author’s late dog, who played appeared in the Broadway production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Available now from Penguin Random House.
Drama By David Rockwell with Bruce Mau This exploration of Rockwell Group’s system of ideas and methods in action examines the principles at the core of Rockwell’s method, devoting chapters to six fundamental concepts: Audience, Ensemble, Worlds, Story, Journey, and Impermanence. Each chapter demonstrates how these principles may be applied not just to theatre but also to a wide range of creative disciplines. Available now from Phaidon.
Tommy Steele: A Life in the Spotlight By Sebastian Lassandro The authorized biography is a complete chronicle of Steel’s career. Every recording, film, show, and concert is covered in in-depth detail. With forewords by Tim Rice and Elaine Paige, introductions from Petula Clark, Judi Dench, and Lesley Ann Warren, readers will get a full picture of Britain’s greatest showman and a true all-round entertainer. Available May 20 from Fonthill.
All the Rage: A Partial Memoir in Two Acts and a Prologue By Brad Fraser This memoir chronicles Fraser’s rise as he breaks with his past and enrolls as a performing arts student. He is pulled into the newly developing Canadian theatre scene, where he shows great promise. But his early career is one of challenge after challenge, some of which result from his upbringing and prejudice against his queerness, others due to the AIDS epidemic. Available May 18 from Doubleday Canada.
The Play's The Thing by Jessica Barksdale Inclán One evening while helping a colleague stage The Merchant of Venice, English professor Jessica Randall slides momentarily back to 1598, where she meets a Will Shakespeare with some issues. Can she get back to 2018? Despite being thwarted at every turn, Jessica attempts to navigate her new old world and save not only herself but Will Shakespeare and his legacy. Available May 18 from Touchpoint Press.
Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way By Caseen Gaines This is the story of how Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, along with comedians Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles, overcame poverty, racism, and violence to harness the energy of the Harlem Renaissance and produce a runaway Broadway hit, Shuffle Along, that launched the careers of many of the twentieth century's most beloved Black performers. Available May 25 from Sourcebooks.
In The Heights: Finding Home By Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes, and Jeremy McCarter The new book will chronicle the life of Miranda and Alegría Hudes' Tony-winning musical, from its humble beginnings to a highly anticipated motion picture. Inside, readers will find lyric annotations by Miranda and essays by Alegría Hudes as the trio traces the making of an unlikely Broadway hit musical. Italso offers untold stories, newly commissioned portraits, and never-before-seen photos from backstage, the movie set, and productions around the world. Available June 15 from Penguin Random House.
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