Many of the people who work on Broadway keep scrapbooks of their experiences: photos, signed posters, ticket stubs, and, of course the Playbills. These are treasured keepsakes, something to be savored over a lifetime, and then passed on to friends and descendants. This fall, Playbill Books will expand this idea into a new project that it hopes will become a Broadway institution: The Playbill Broadway Yearbook. It will take the form of a high school or college yearbook, packed with photos and memorabilia from the entire 2004-2005 season.
The inaugural edition will include chapters on every show that ran during the season — not just the new shows, but the long-running ones from seasons past as well. In addition to all the headshots of all the actors who appeared in Playbill, the book will have photos of producers, writers, designers, stage managers, stage hands and musicians. The goal is to include as many of the faces that worked on Broadway as made themselves available.
And that's not all. The Playbill Broadway Yearbook will include a wealth of photos from Broadway insider events, including "Gypsy of the Year," "Easter Bonnet," "Broadway Bares" and even the annual Broadway League softball championship in Central Park. As a special treat, the Yearbook will include photos of opening-night curtain calls from many shows.
To top it all off, The Playbill Broadway Yearbook has found a correspondent on every production to report on things that only those who worked backstage would know: Opening-night presents, who got the Gypsy Robe, daily rituals, favorite snack foods, celebrity visits, memorable ad-libs — all the little things that will make memories come alive again ten, twenty, thirty years down the road. Correspondents range from dressers and stage doormen to stage managers, dancers, featured players, and, in some cases, the star of the show. Among some of the best known: Brad Oscar (The Producers), Melissa Errico (Dracula), Jackie Mason (Freshly Squeezed), Michael Mulheren (La Cage aux Folles), Mario Cantone (Laugh Whore), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Gem of the Ocean) and Lee Wilkoff (Democracy). The inaugural edition will go on sale just after Labor Day on Playbill.com, and in select bookstores. Playbill Books plans to bring out new editions annually thereafter.
Your Yearbook editor is Robert Viagas, founder of Playbill.com, editor of Louis Botto's "At This Theatre," host of "Radio Playbill," and author of books including "The Back Stage Guide To Broadway" and "On the Line: The Creation of A Chorus Line."