Bring Some Drama To The Beach! Our Best Broadway Summer Reads | Playbill

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Special Features Bring Some Drama To The Beach! Our Best Broadway Summer Reads Don't miss your Broadway fix while you're soaking up the rays this July and August. has compiled a list of Broadway history, memoirs and story-telling that will bring the drama to your deck chairs. Let yourself lounge with selections from Patti LuPone's memoirs or take a dive into the world of Arthur Laurents. Put away the remote, dig your toes into the sand and pick up one of our summer favorites below.

Check out some of our staff picks for books to read this summer. 


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Elaine Paige: "Memories"
Published in 2009, this 144-page memoir from the West End's "First Lady of Musical Theatre" takes readers behind the scenes of many of Paige's stage triumphs including Evita, Cats, Sunset Boulevard and The Drowsy Chaperone, as well as Chess, Grease, Hair and Piaf. The book is full of numerous photographs and promises a "revealing, funny and personal" read.

Patti LuPone: "A Memoir"
Broadway's original Evita tells all in this candid and personal 344-page book that was published in 2011. If you want the story behind the debacle that was The Baker's Wife, how she managed the Evita score, or how her stint Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard began and famously ended, it's all here. Some of the best parts of the book trace LuPone's beginnings at the Juilliard School and her time spent on the road with The Acting Company. Within the memoir LuPone also charts her relationship with playwright-director David Mamet, creating the role of Fantine in the original London cast of Les Misérables and her closing night in the acclaimed Broadway revival of Gypsy. The only unsatisfying thing about the book is that there's more to be told. We're still waiting for chapters on Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and palling around with Lena Dunham on "Girls."

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"Better Nate Than Ever"
By Tim Federle

The debut novel from Broadway actor-turned-author Tim Federle isn't just for kids, we promise. Published in 2013, "Nate" tells the story of 13-year-old musical theatre fanatic Nate Foster who ditches his boring Pennsylvania life for a chance to star in the new Broadway production of E.T. The Musical. The 304-page book is rich with insider jokes for fans of musical theatre and professionals working in the biz and living in New York City. It's also a heartwarming story of love and self acceptance as young Nate begins to wonder if tap shoes aren't the only thing that makes his heart melt. Could it be boys?

"Five, Six, Seven, Nate!"
By Tim Federle

You'll want to know what happens next in Nate's life. Trust us. And in case you haven't yet read the first "Nate," we won't spoil what happens next in his NYC adventure, but the author promises "secret admirers, surprise reunions, and twice the drama of middle school...with a lot more glitter." Besides, don't you want to know if E.T. The Musical is the next Carrie or Cats? The 304-page sequel was just published earlier this year.

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Anthony Rapp: "Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent"
Published in 2006, Rapp's 320-page memoir takes readers back to the very beginnings of the landmark Jonathan Larson musical Rent and his own personal journey to create the role of video artist Mark Cohen. From the downtown beginnings to Broadway juggernaut, Rapp is candid in his tale as he sheds light on how the cast mourned Larson's sudden loss, as well as his own feelings when his mother begins to lose her battle to cancer. Much like Rent, it's a story of love, family and responsibility to one another.

Arthur Laurents: "Original Story By: A Memoir of Broadway and Hollywood"
Arthur Laurents: "The Rest of the Story: A Life Completed"
Tony Award winner Arthur Laurents' double memoir is a must-read for theatre lovers. Caustic, unflinching, dishy and informative, Laurents' offers a no-holds-barred account of his life, his work and those he worked with in the theatre and Hollywood. While the first memoir (448 pages published in 2001) gets Laurents' story off the ground from childhood to Gypsy, West Side Story, "The Way We Were" and more, the second half (210 pages, published in 2012), finds the author in his reflective twilight, coping with the loss of his longtime partner David Hatcher. The epilogue was completed just days before Laurents died in May 2011 at the age of 93.

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"Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical Follies"
By Ted Chapin

If you still haven't read this book, what are you waiting for?! A few of us here at Playbill confess to having read it multiple times. One of Broadway's most legendary musicals comes to life thanks to Ted Chapin, who was just a kid when he found himself lucky enough to observe the development and journey to Broadway of the Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman musical Follies. Chapin kept journals throughout the entire experience and tells all in this first-rate, 336-page account of Follies' journey from rehearsals to Boston try-out to Broadway and beyond. From sitting in rooms with Sondheim, director Harold Prince and co-director/choreographer Michael Bennett, you get to meet the stars of yester-yester-year who returned to the stage for one last song as the stars of Follies. Open up the book and step into Broadway lore.

"The Untold Stories of Broadway, Volume 1"
By Jennifer Tepper

Ambitious young writer-producer Jennifer Tepper bounds from theatre to theatre, star to star in this intimate and awe-struck account of the Broadway stories you haven't heard. No curtain goes unraised and no secret door goes unopened in Tepper's 316-page book. The first volume is just the beginning of the story. Eight Broadway theatres are explored including the Winter Garden, the Richard Rodgers, the Marriott Marquis, the Al Hirschfeld, the Neil Simon, the August Wilson, the Mark Hellinger and the Lyceum. "The Untold Stories of Broadway, Volume 2" will hit shelves in November, just in time for your holiday wish list.

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"Forever Liesl: A Memoir of 'The Sound of Music'"
By Charmian Carr

Charmian Carr's life was forever changed when she landed the role of Liesl von Trapp in the acclaimed 1965 film adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music. The 245-page book explores how Carr almost didn't get the role, to on-set romances, details of the famous "Gazebo Scene," working with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, as well as her lifelong relationship with her on-set siblings.

"Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical"
By Stacy Wolf
Wolf's 320-page book, published in 2011, explores the many heroines of Broadway musicals from Adelaide in Guys and Dolls to Wicked frenemies Glinda and Elphaba. Performers, characters and creators are chronicled as Wolf offers a new feminist history of musical theatre, including passages about Cabaret, A Chorus Line and even Phantom, while highlighting how the musical has featured women on stage, in the wings and back stage for many years.

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"Act One"
By Moss Hart

Step into pre-World War II Broadway, when theatres dominated the New York landscape and a handful of shows would open on Broadway in the same night! Published in 1959, Moss Hart's warm 444-page memoir documents the famed writer-director-lyricist's humble tenement beginnings to landing his first job in a production office, falling into writing his first play and his collaboration with George S. Kaufman on the Broadway hit Once in a Lifetime and beyond. Recently adapted into the sprawling Broadway stage production by Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer-director James Lapine, "Act One" should be on the bookshelf of every theatre lover.

"Venus in Furs"
By Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch

Before there was "50 Shades of Gray" there was Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch's "Venus in Furs." After there was "Venus in Furs" there was David Ives' ultra-sexy, tension-filled, two-hander Venus in Fur, which took Broadway by storm thanks to an unforgettable, Tony-winning performance by Nina Arianda as Vanda. First published in 1870, the 166-page novella is a tale of erotic obsession and power.

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"The Phantom of the Opera"
By Gaston Leroux

You've seen the musical countless times, but still never read the book? This summer is your chance! First published as a serial from 1909-1910, Leroux's novel takes you beyond the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, into the detailed depths of the Phantom's world. Written like a crime investigation rather than a fully narrative novel, the discrepancies between the well-known hit musical and the original novel make for a fun and intriguing read in this gothic thriller.

"Fun Home"
By Alison Bechdel

One of the most celebrated musicals of last season – and potentially again this season on Broadway – was first one of the most celebrated books of 2006. For those who have never read a graphic novel, "Fun Home" is a great entry point. Smart, funny, poignant and adult, author/illustrator/ memoirist Bechdel takes readers through her own coming of age as a lesbian against the parallel story of her father living as a closeted homosexual in rural PA. It's an impressive read, especially considering how well the creative team of the musical – from writers, cast to designers – capture the look and spirit of Bechdel's book.

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"Theater Geek: The Real Life Drama of a Summer at Stagedoor Manor"
By Mickey Rapkin
Go behind the scenes of one of the most beloved theatrical summer camps in the U.S., Stagedoor Mano,r in this 272-page book that hit shelves in 2011. The Catskills theatrical hideaway for kids who love to tap and belt counts Lea Michele, Natalie Portman, Robert Downey, Jr., Zach Braff, Mandy Moore and more among it's previous campers. 35-year-old writer Mickey Rapkin heads into the woods for a summer, documenting three teen actors through their summer of rehearsals, showstoppers, heart break and "All About Eve" moments.

"How I Paid for College"
"Attack of the Theater People"
By author Marc Acito

"How I Paid For College" by Marc Acito (also a frequent Playbill contributor) is the story of Edward Zanni, a 17-year-old musical theatre nerd who is trying to make his way to Juilliard but is in need of tuition money. When his father refuses to help him out, he turns to his friends to help him steal the tuition money needed. "Attack of the Theater People" is the sequel to "How I Paid for College" and shows what happens when the ultimate group of theatre nerds hit Manhattan.

"Making It On Broadway: Actors' Tales of Climbing to the Top"
By David Wienir, Jodie Langel and Jason Alexander

"Making It On Broadway" tells short stories of Broadway actors (including Jason Alexander, Daisy Eagan, Heather Headley, Wilson Heredia, Randy Graff, Donna McKechnie, Donna Murphy, John Rubinstein, Lea Salonga, Scott Wise and Chita Rivera) before they made it big. This is a must-read for any actor struggling in New York City. Broadway actors talk about auditioning hardships, horrible day jobs and the moments when they wanted to give up — until they made it to Broadway with hard work and dedication.

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