Anyone who spends longer than a few minutes with me knows that I like theatre, particularly musical theatre. When the lights dim, the house hushes, and the first notes of the overture start—there aren’t many moments more magical than that.
Fortunately, even when I’m not able to attend a show, there are plenty of books around that make me feel as if I’m practically there. Even better are the books that pull back the curtain and show the inner-workings of a production. After all, what shows up on the stage is only the final part of the process.
How do performers prepare for a role? What’s the writing process like? What happens if a show is a flop? Who are the crew members who make the whole show work night after night?
All of those questions and more are answered in the books below.
Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical Follies
by Ted Chapin
In 1971, Ted Chapin kept a diary of his time working as a production assistant on the musical Follies, chronicling its tumultuous out-of-town tryout in anticipation of a Broadway run. Theatre giants Stephen Sondheim, James Goldman, Michael Bennett, and Hal Prince clash in this reflection first published thirty years later.
Nothing Like a Dame: Conversations with the Great Women of Musical Theater
by Eddie Shapiro
In the Broadway musical, the Leading Lady is king. Here, author Eddie Shapiro interviews twenty-one of the best, from Chita Rivera to Patti LuPone, with each explaining their Broadway conquests in their own words.
Not Since Carrie: 40 Years of Broadway Musical Flops
by Ken Mandelbaum
In recent years, Carrie: The Musical has had some image revitalization. However, in the 1990s, it was still a punchline as the most notorious flop in Broadway history. Here, Ken Mandelbaum explores a wide array of shows from the 1950s to the 1990s— some better, some worse, but all flops.
Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical In Broadway History
by Glen Berger
Perhaps the most famous of recent flops, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was a massive critical and commercial failure. Bookwriter Glen Berger chronicles his time adapting the comic book for the stage.
The Untold Stories of Broadway: Tales from the World’s Most Famous Theaters
by Jennifer Ashley Tepper
Broadway historian Jennifer Ashley Tepper has compiled an encyclopedia of Broadway anecdotes and stories. Told by the individuals working in all facets of the industry, sections are broken up based on the most important buildings on Broadway— the theatres themselves.