Break a Leg (Read a book about the theater)
December 9, 2021
There’s nothing quite like the experience of live theater: the hum of the audience, the orchestra, the anticipation of the cast, even the on-stage mistakes! The pandemic may have made it harder to enjoy our favorite plays and musicals in-person, but we can still get a taste of the stage lights through these books about the theater.
The Secret Life of the American Musical by Jack Viertel
Written by an iconic artistic director, musician, critic, and author, this is an insider’s look at how a musical gets made. It includes examples ranging from classic musicals (The Music Man, Carousel) to today’s modern hits (Hamilton, Wicked). The book even includes a list of recommended cast recordings to get your toes tapping!
Footnotes by Caseen Gaines
In 1921 Broadway was introduced to the musical Shuffle Along, which was not only a massive hit but also the first Broadway musical created by and starring an all-Black creative team. Explore the history of this groundbreaking show which not only changed the face of American theater, but also helped usher in the Harlem Renaissance!
Drama High by Michael Sokolove
Fans of the TV series Rise will find the story of Drama High familiar, and with good reason. The high school drama program in Levittown, PA described in this book was the inspiration for the show! This high school theater program has been so successful that Broadway and West End producers looking to put their hit shows on school stages start in Levittown, finding success with shows like Les Misérables as well as a source of new Broadway talent.
In the Heights: Finding Home by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes, & Jeremy McCarter
Before there was Hamilton there was In the Heights. This book combines essays, anecdotes, remembrances, photographs, and more detailing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning first musical and its journey from page, to stage, to silver screen.
Singular Sensation by Michael Riedel
Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination by Thomas A. Bogar
Razzle Dazzle by Michael Riedel
The business of Broadway is front and center in this book as the theater scene fights to bring 1970’s Times Square out of its reputation for crime and drugs and back to the glittering symbol of Broadway’s glory days. Get all the gossip around the fight to control Broadway, with one-upmanship resulting in classics like A Chorus Line and Annie.
Shakespeare in a Divided America by James Shapiro
It’s impossible to discuss drama without including Shakespeare, and scholar James Shapiro has explored how Shakespeare’s plays have been used throughout American history to justify a variety of cultural and political stances across the spectrum.
Putting It Together by James Lapine
This story of the creation of the hit musical Sunday in the Park with George brings together legendary theater names like Stephen Sondheim, Bernadette Peters, and Mandy Patinkin to describe the creative process. See the show came together through interviews, photographs, script pages, and sheet music for a true insider’s look at how a one-of-a-kind show gets made.
A Wonderful Guy by Eddie Shapiro
Get to know Broadway’s brightest leading men through this collection of candid interviews. The actors range from classic Broadway stars, like Pippin’s Ben Vereen, to modern showstoppers like Hamilton’s own King George, Jonathan Groff.