Book News19 Theatre Reads to Check Out in Fall 2021A stitching memoir from Sutton Foster, a Tommy Tune biography, and a celebration of women in theatre are just a few books out this season.
September 22, 2021
As the leaves begin to change and people return to the comfort of their couches and blankets, there’s no better time to curl up with a good book. This season, there are biographies on Tommy Tune and Charles Boyer, essay collections by Dan O'Brien and Sarah Ruhl, children's books by Cynthia Erivo and Schele Williams, and memoirs by Sutton Foster and Mel Brooks.
Confessions Of An Actress: From Chorus Girl to Broadway Star By Meredith Patterson Inspired by the performer’s podcast of the same name, Patterson writes the intimate, personal, joyous, and often painful stories of her rise to Broadway. From cleaning toilets to impersonating Marilyn Monroe—she did whatever it took to support herself while battling self-doubt and cutthroat competition while trying to stay as human as possible in the industry. Available now from Merie.
Hamilton and the New Revolution By Scott Miller This eighth book in a series of deep dives takes readers on a journey through the second decade of the millennium. Beyond Hamilton, Miller explores Dear Evan Hansen, A Strange Loop, Hadestown, The Color Purple, Bonnie & Clyde, Hands on a Hardbody, and The Scottsboro Boys, shows that broke the rules in a variety of ways. Available now from Amazon.
A Story That Happens… / Our Cancers By Dan O’Brien The playwright’s collection of essays, previously only available in the U.K., has now been published in the U.S. Previously used as lectures at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the pieces take a look at what it means to be an artist in today’s world and how personal pain can be used to create stories. The author's book of poems, Our Cancers, is also available now.
Particle and Wave / Love Like Light By Daniel Alexander Jones This fall, Jones released two books, one being a collection of Jones’s seven plays and performance texts from the past 25 years, along with essays by Vicky Boone, Jacques Colimon, Eisa Davis, and more. The other is a conversation between Jones and poet-scholar-activist Alexis Pauline Gumbs about the way that love, like light, suffuses everything and is the condition and power of change in the world. Both books are available now from 53rd State Press.
Working Backstage: A Cultural History and Ethnography of Technical Theater Labor By Christin Essin With Broadway reopening this fall, this book places backstage workers in the spotlight to acknowledge their essential roles in creating Broadway magic. Illuminating the work of New York City’s theatre technicians, Essin shines a light on the essential contributions of unionized stagehands, carpenters, electricians, sound engineers, properties artisans, wardrobe crews, makeup artists, and child guardians. Available now from University of Michigan Press
Remember to Dream, Ebere By Cynthia Erivo, illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow The picture book is a tale of a mother and child and the dreams they build together. When Ebere's mother puts her to bed at night, she always says, "Remember to dream, Ebere." And dream, she does, imagining herself as the captain of a rocket ship with the ability to go anywhere in the universe. Available September 28 from Little, Brown Books.
Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming of Our Enslaved History By Schele Williams, illustrated by Tonya Engel Beginning in Africa before 1619, Your Legacy presents an unprecedentedly accessible, empowering, and proud introduction to African American history for children. This book celebrates their accomplishments, acknowledges their sacrifices, and defines how Black ancestors are remembered—and how their stories should be taught. Available September 28 from Abrams Books for Young Readers.
Vamp Until Ready By James Magruder A group of theatre professionals are transformed in surprising ways by working on or backstage at the Hangar Theatre, a summer stock outfit in upstate New York in the 1980's. They make—and remake—their families in this closely observed, ultimately comic valentine to the Socialist-leaning hamlet of Ithaca and to the pleasures of putting on a show at warp speed in hot weather. Available September 28 from Rattling Good Yards.
Smile: The Story of a Face By Sarah Ruhl In a series of piercing, witty, and lucid meditations, Ruhl chronicles her journey as a patient, wife, mother, and artist. She explores the struggle of a body yearning to match its inner landscape, the pain of postpartum depression, the story of a marriage, being a playwright and working mom to three small children, and the desire for a resilient spiritual life in the face of illness. Available October 5 from Simon and Schuster.
Tiny Dancer By Siena Cherson Siegel, illustrated by Mark Siegel This graphic novel memoir is a follow-up to Siegel’s To Dance. Chronicling her childhood in Puerto Rico and teenage years as a dancer in training at the School of American Ballet, Siegel explores her difficult decision to quit dancing. From the perspective of an older-but-not-yet-wiser girl, the autobiography deals with questions of identity, finding one’s place in the world, and what it means to dream a new dream. Available October 5 from Simon and Schuster.
50 Women In Theatre Edited by Cheryl Robson A look through the eyes of women celebrating early female pioneers and legends through to the rule breakers and the women in theatre today. The book spotlights 25 legends of post-war theatre, including Chita Rivera, Judi Dench, and Audra McDonald. Then, there are interviews with theatre luminaries like Denise Gough, Lynn Nottage, and Emma Rice. The book aims to create a more inclusive theatre industry. Available October 7 from Supernova Books.
Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life By Sutton Foster The Tony winner found time to do what the rest of us said we were going to do in the middle of a months-long quarantine: write a book. The memoir-guide hybrid offers funny and intimate stories and reflections about how crafting has kept Foster sane while navigating the highs and lows of family, love, and show business. Accompanying the stories, Foster has included crochet patterns, recipes, and more. Available October 12 from Grand Central Publishing.
When The Lights Are Bright Again By Andrew Norlen Spotlighting the theatre shutdown, the book is a collection of over 200 letters from Broadway notables (such as Jerry Mitchell, Keala Settle, Ali Stroker, Sergio Trujillo, Eden Espinosa, Rob McClure, Robyn Hurder, Clint Ramos, Arian Moayed, Amber Iman, and Andrew Barth Feldman), arts workers, and fans paired with portraiture from Broadway photographer Matthew Murphy. It serves as a moment-in-time record of the struggles and hopes of the theatre community during the pandemic. Ninety percent of proceeds will benefit The Actors Fund. Available November 1 from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.
A Bit of Me: From Basildon to Broadway, and Back By Denise Van Outen The Chicago star looks back at her career, including the highlights and low points, that have come to define her artistry. In addition to her time on Broadway, Van Outer has appeared in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tell Me on a Sunday, Legally Blonde, and more in the West End. Available November 11 from Ebury Digital.
Everything is Choreography: The Musical Theater of Tommy Tune By Kevin Winkler For two decades, the director-choreographer presided over a string of popular Broadway musicals. His nine Tony Awards were earned across four categories, not only for behind-the-scenes work, but also as a performer. The artist took the musical forward by looking backward, bringing satiric energy and contemporary style to a trove of show business antecedents, from clog dancing to showgirl formations to precision kick lines. This book celebrates and examines with a critical eye his major projects and summons for readers a glorious period of dance, performance, and theatrical imagination. Available November 15 from Oxford University Press.
Charles Boyer: The French Lover By John Baxter The biography follows the Tony Award recipient from his days as a silent film actor to his career on stage, especially after World War II. In an analysis of Boyer’s choice of roles during and after the occupation of his home nation, Baxter examines how the actor possessed a shrewd perception of his image and showed a readiness to break the mold. Available November 23 from University Press of Kentucky.
My Daddy Can Fly! By Thomas Forster with Shari Siadat, illustrated by Jami Gigot American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Thomas Forster put together this children’s book about a young boy who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer—just like his dad. As Ben’s classmates share their own dream profession, like taekwondo master or doctor, Ben must drop clues so his friends can figure out his own hopeful future. Available November 23 from Random House Studio.
All About Me! My Remarkable Life in Show Business By Mel Brooks The Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony winner, last seen on Broadway in June 2019 in Mel Brooks on Broadway as part of the In Residence on Broadway series, details his Brooklyn childhood, his World War II service, his marriage to the late Anne Bancroft, and his career in show business. Available November 30 from Ballantine Books. The writer-director-actor has also recorded an audiobook of the new tome to be available that same day.
B is for Broadway By John Robert Allman with illustrations by Peter Emmerich If A Is For Audra is a crash course in Diva Studies, Allman and Emmerich’s follow-up is a syllabus for showbiz. That’s not to say that B Is For Broadway won’t be filled with divas. Ethel Merman, Jennifer Holliday, Kristin Chenoweth—and yes, Billy Porter counts—grace the cover. But the new book will also celebrate leading men (like fellow cover stars Lin-Manuel Miranda and Joel Grey) and the folks out of the spotlight, opening doors to the whole process of putting on a show. Let’s start at the very beginning: A is for Auditions, B is for Backstage, C is for Choreographers, and so on. Available December 7 from Random House Children’s Books.