Your favorite source for theater news and features chooses the best theater books ready to take their bow.
We miss live theater as much as you do! But during these difficult times, how beautiful it is to see artists sharing their talent by posting YouTube videos, live-streaming performances to raise money for first responders and various charities, friends sharing the cast albums they’re re-listening to for comfort, kids holding their own performances in the living room and so much more. This used to be how we filled the hours until our next chance to sit in a darkened theater, waiting for the curtain to rise. Now it’s the only way we can nourish our love for this art form. So while we eagerly await hearing an orchestra tune-up before the show begins, here are some of the new books that can feed your need for dramatics. Rest assured: the show will go on.
By Anne Enright $26.95; W.W. Norton & Company
One of the breakout novels of the year, this work of literary fiction by Anne Enright combines #MeToo with “me too!” — the desperate plea of a daughter to escape the shadow of her famous mom while both struggle with the sexual encroachments and worse they’ve seen. That mother is Katherine O’Dell, a legendary Irish talent who bus-and-trucked her way from the circuit to the West End to Broadway and then Hollywood. Her daughter is always tagging along. But when Katherine creates headlines by shooting a TV producer in the foot, that daughter becomes her champion. From the footlights to the spotlight of tabloid TV, “Actress” chronicles coming-of-age and coming undone with the usual sharp humor of one of our most acclaimed novelists.
Here are three memoirs to dive into. Woody Allen’s Borscht Belt humor powers much of his new book, Apropos of Nothings, which spends a third of the time reminiscing about his early career (including two hugely successful and — according to him — hugely awful Broadway hits), a third of the time blandly recounting the movie’s he’s made and a third of the time dealing with Mia Farrow and the ugly dissolution of their relationship and his blissfully happy marriage to Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi (now the longest relationship of Allen’s life). It’s defensive, angry, pointed, dismissive and almost by accident fascinatingly revealing. Plus, it paints a Broadway Danny Rose-style portrait of an era in which a high school kid could write gags for newspaper columnists, jump to the Catskills and then accidentally find himself a stand-up comic.
If you aren’t ready to hear Allen’s side of his life story, you’ll find less controversy in two other memoirs. The eminently likable Bob Avian’s story powers his book Dancing Man. A hoofer turned choreographer, Avian worked side by side with Michael Bennett on legendary shows like A Chorus Line and Dreamgirls before (reluctantly) heading out on his own with Miss Saigon, Sunset Boulevard and more. (His story was our February Pick Of The Month.) And Cameron Esposito knows her stand-up. Esposito, the author of Save Yourself, is a pioneering artist with a hit podcast, a TV show on Starz and a new special called Rape Jokes. Fearless doesn’t begin to cover it. And you won’t have to explain yourself when someone asks, what are you reading?
Baby Clown By Kara LeReau; illustrations by Matthew Cordell $16.99; Candlewick
The Music Of Life By Elizabeth Rusch; illustrations by Marjorie Priceman $18.99; Atheneum Books For Younger Readers
Picture books are a great way to bond with your children, nieces and nephews or the kids of friends. And they’re also a sneaky way to get kids interested in the things you love. Maybe it’s outer space or cooking or the zoo. And if you’re like us, it’s live entertainment. These three new picture books cover it all. Baby Clown is an amusing look at the newest edition to a traveling circus: a baby clown that cries and cries and cries…until, maybe, when it’s facing an audience for the first time? The Music of Life reveals the true story behind the invention of the piano. And Hattie In The Spotlight is the latest in the Sophie Mouse series. This time Hattie Frog takes center stage — literally. Hattie eagerly auditions for the big play, gets a part…and then freaks out just a little.
The works of William Shakespeare are foundational to the United States, as much a shared part of this country as the Bible and the Constitution. Travelers from around the world often remarked how even the humblest home often sported a Bible and at least some of Shakespeare’s plays and poems. Historian James Shapiro looks at how those plays were read and what they meant to us over the centuries. Not surprisingly, that’s changed quite a bit, with Shapiro revealing how everyone from the left, the right and the center has found something in Shakespeare that speaks to them and — they believe — speaks for them as well. Whether it’s immigrants, gender, sexuality, war or a thousand other topics, Shakespeare has tackled it and you’ll be amazed how differently people saw Hamlet and The Taming Of The Shrew and Othello depending on where and when they lived in the not so United States.
Two collectible books of photography from the world of theater and dance. Photographer Josh Lehrer offers more than 100 intimate portraits of the cast and creative talent behind the landmark musical Hamilton. This is just the second official book connected to the show and it combines Lehrer’s startling imagery with anecdotes from the cast, ephemera not seen before and introductory remarks by director Thomas Kail and Lin-Manuel Miranda himself. Misty Copeland is one of the most famous dancers in the world and this is only her first authorized collection of photography. It captures several years of Copeland at rehearsal, in performance and in life via the work of photographer Gregg Delman. Both projects are classy, distinguished and well worth the wait.
You Will Be Found By Benj Pasek and Justin Paul $15.99; Little Brown Books For Younger Readers
Here’s a secret: not all picture books are for kids. Sure, kids can enjoy these titles. You Will Be Found brings to life the stirring anthem from the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen. The Tempest takes a Shakespeare’s Globe production as inspiration for this retelling of the Bard’s final bow. And the amusingly macabre work of Edward Gorey thrills any kid who stumbles across it, so who wouldn’t want to learn more about the man behind it? But truth be told, you can gift You Will Be Found to any friend feeling down, The Tempest is illustrated so strikingly that any fan of the play will savor it and Gorey’s life (including a Tony for designing the 1977 revival of Dracula) is odd enough to appeal to any eccentric in our lives. Don’t be surprised to find these on the bookshelves and coffee tables of adults, hipsters and theater buffs everywhere.
The “science” of storytelling? If that sounds like author Will Storr will dissect your favorite movies and plays and TV shows, never fear. Storr illuminates the art of spinning a yarn by drawing examples from Harry Potter to Breaking Bad to King Lear. Anyone looking to write a novel or play or TV pilot should dive in. But anyone who merely loves a great Russian novel or Indian folktale and the like will also enjoy this book. He doesn’t spoil the fun so much as help you appreciate why and how the best stories hold our attention.
Since it debuted in 2004, the loosely linked series of vignettes known as Almost, Maine has become one of the most popular plays in high schools and community theaters around the country. (It’s easy to mount, features lots of roles, the individual sections can be rehearsed separately, it’s sweet, etc.) Now actor and playwright John Cariani has fleshed out the story with this novelization. If everyone who has ever performed in the show or seen the show buys a copy of this book, it’s sure to hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. And if it captures the whimsical charm the show can conjure at its best, plenty of others will fall for it as well.
The giants of classical music challenge and comfort us throughout our lives. When the mother of Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Philip Kennicott was dying, he couldn’t stop listening to the music of Bach. And when she died he set himself a challenge: mastering Bach’s Goldberg Variations. In his most personal book yet, Kennicott illuminates both Bach and eternal questions such as whether one can ever truly know a piece of music any more than one can know another human being or even oneself. And as an aside, he tosses off insights into studying music, his childhood and the history of performing on the piano in the 20th century.
Even more rigorous and suited perhaps only for amateur and professional musicians is Christoph Wolff’s new book. A follow-up to his acclaimed biography of Bach, this one zeroes in on the music and only the music. Wolff ranges widely across the decades and various genres. The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Brandenburg Concertos and so many more are reexamined by a writer who knows Bach like few others.
Six Plays By Luigi Pirandello $14; Calder Publications
Sondheim: Lyrics By Stephen Sondheim; edited by Peter Gethers and Russell Perreault $14.95; Everyman’s Library
Three collections cover poems, plays and lyrics in all their varied glory. T.S. Eliot boldly challenged convention, so we doubt the doggerel that powered Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats will make the cut in a collection of his essential work. But you will find his dramatic work Murder In The Cathedral, alongside his ground-breaking classic The Waste Land. Fiona Shaw of Killing Eve turned the latter into a 40 minute tour de force of theater which those who saw will never forget. If you’re in search of some good plays, you can’t go wrong with the playful, absurdist and convention-shattering work of Luigi Pirandello, including his masterpiece Six Characters in Search Of An Author. Finally, the Everyman’s Library delivers a pocket collection of some of the best lyrics of Stephen Sondheim. Even if you have his collected lyrics or all the cast albums, seeing some of his best work out of context can give them new power and force. And who doesn’t want to dip into a little Sondheim every once in a while? It’s nice to know that even in these dark times, you can turn to Sondheim and discover that something’s coming, something good.
Michael Giltz is the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, where he covers movies, music, TV, and, of course, theater and books. He has written for Huffington Post, New York Post, New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, The Advocate, and many other publications in which Michael profiles talent, covers the theater business, and reviews shows in New York City and London. When he’s not attending the theater, he’s reading about it.
Information We Collect
Information we collect directly from you: Your provision of your personal information to Us is completely voluntary; it is not a statutory or contractual requirement. Personally Identifiable Information (“PII”) is information that is uniquely identifiable to you, such as your name, address, email address, phone number, credit card number and other personal information that is not otherwise publicly available. Certain features of Our website may require that you provide Us with your personal information, including:
Mobile Alert Sign-Up (SMS)
Contact Us (email)
Public forums (e.g. message boards)
E-commerce (ticket purchases)
Your use of any of the features above;
New content on Our website;
News that We think may interest you about Us;
Responses to your questions/comments to us; and
Information relating to a ticket purchase.
We may use your demographic information for in house statistics, advertising and marketing target information. Our processing of your personal information is necessary for the performance and fulfillment of the contract between us and to provide you with Our services. We will also process, transfer, disclose and preserve personal information when We have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary, to resolve disputes, enforce our agreements and otherwise required by law. You can always opt-out of receiving future promotional communications from Us; see the Choice/Opt-out section below.Information We Collect Automatically: Even if you don’t use any of the features above, when you visit Our website, We may collect certain information about you.
From your Browser. For example, Our servers keep an activity log that tracks all visitors to the website. The information in the activity log does not identify you individually. The information collected may include among other data: your IP address, your registered domain or home server, time of access, date of access, web page(s) visited, number of clicks, software crash reports, type of browser used, session identification number, search terms, search results, access times and referring website’s address. We use your IP address to help diagnose problems with Our server and to administer Our website. Your IP address is also used to gather broad demographic information, such as country of origin and geographic location. We use such data in the aggregate to run internal analyses to improve upon your experience on Our website.
Tracking Tags (also known as “web beacons,” “action tags” or “single-pixel gifs”). Our website may also use tracking tags. Tracking tags are invisible graphics embedded in the pages of Our website that are programmed to collect non-personal information about your use of Our website. Like cookies, tracking tags provide overall usage patterns for Our website that We use for analysis and to provide personalized services and advertising content.
We comply with the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising set forth by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA). You can opt-out of targeted advertising from certain providers at www.aboutads.info/consumers.
How We Use Your Personal Information
The personal information We collect allows Us to keep you posted on updates to Broadway Direct. It also helps Us to improve Our services, content, and advertising. If you don’t want to be on Our email list, you can opt out anytime by clicking the “unsubscribe” button or sending an unsubscribe email to [email protected]. From time to time, We may use your personal information to send transactional emails, such as communications about purchases and changes to Our terms, conditions, and policies. Because this information is important to your interaction with Broadway Direct, you may not opt out of receiving these communications. We may also use personal information for internal purposes such as auditing, data analysis, and research to improve Broadway Direct’s services, and customer communications. If you enter into a sweepstakes, contest, or similar promotion We may use the information you provide to administer those programs.
Information Collected By/Shared With Third Parties
Third Parties Doing Work for Us. Third parties have no rights to use any data We have collected on your behalf. However, We may employ other companies or individuals to perform functions on Our behalf, such as sending postal mail, email, and text messages, conducting sweepstakes/contests, prize fulfillment and promotional activities, analyzing data, providing marketing assistance, processing credit card payments and providing customer service. These outside suppliers, agents and vendors have access to your personal information only as needed to perform their functions.
Third Parties with Links from Our Website. From our website, you may be able to click on links to third party sites to buy tickets and merchandise and for other purposes. These third party sites may collect information, including personal information. We are not responsible for, nor do we have access to the information they collect. The collection of this information is governed by the privacy policies on the applicable third party sites.
Social Networking Services. Our website may integrate with social networking services. We do not control such services and are not liable for the manner in which they operate. While we may provide you with the ability to use such services in connection with our website, we are doing so merely as an accommodation and, like you, are relying upon those third party services to operate properly and fairly.
When necessary. We may also release personal information when we believe, in good faith, that such release is reasonably necessary to protect the rights, property or safety of Ourselves, Our clients, Our users, or others. We may disclose personal information about you to law enforcement, other government officials, or other third parties, as We, in our sole discretion, believe necessary or appropriate, in connection with an investigation of fraud, intellectual property infringement, or other activity that is illegal or may expose Us to legal liability.
Transactions With Third Party E-commerce Partners, Vendors and Advertisers
Delivery of Advertising and Other Content
In addition to ads and content that We may serve you directly, We use third-party advertising companies and marketing services companies to serve ads and other content when you visit Broadway Direct and elsewhere on the internet and in other media. Both We and these companies may use information about your visits to Broadway Direct and elsewhere to serve ads and other content to you. In the course of doing so, a unique third-party cookie may be placed or recognized on your browser by such companies. In addition, We and these companies may use Web beacons to help manage Our online advertising and content. These Web beacons enable Us and the third-party companies to recognize a browser’s cookie when a browser visits this Site and to learn which banner ads bring users to our website and to serve you ads that you may find of interest elsewhere on the internet and in other media. Both Broadway Direct and these companies may use information obtained from your visits to Broadway Direct or other websites, and information received from you offline in order to provide advertisements about goods and services and other content of interest to you across the internet and in other media. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used in this manner by Our third party advertising companies, please visit http://www.networkadvertising.org/optout_nonppii.asp and/or www.aboutads.info/choices. European users may opt out of receiving targeted advertising by visiting http://www.youronlinechoices.eu/. In addition, we may provide PII and Anonymous Information to marketing services companies. This may include information we received from you offline or online. These companies may combine information we provide (including PII and Anonymous Information) with personal and anonymous information they may have about you, using cookies they place or that We place on their behalf, as described in the section regarding “Cookies and Tracking Tags”. We require these companies to delete the PII we provide them. These companies may use the resulting non-personal information and such cookies for their own marketing purposes, and they may provide the same to their customers for their customer’s marketing purposes. Some of Our emails may contain tags that allow Us and Our advertisers and other partners to determine the types of content that may be of interest to you. Those tags may contain PII and may be shared with others to the same extent indicated in the section regarding “Cookies and Tracking Tags”. Those tags may not be deleted but you can opt out of receiving the emails.
Use of This Site by Children
The Site is not directed to individuals under the age of thirteen (13), and We request that such individuals do not provide personal information through the Site. If a parent or guardian becomes aware that his or her child has provided Us with PII without the parent or guardian’s consent by, for example, misrepresenting his or her age, that parent or guardian should contact us at [email protected]. If Broadway Direct determines that it has collected personal information of children under the age of 13, Broadway Direct will immediately delete such information and any accounts believed to be held by children under 13. In addition, we may not collect or process information from a citizen of an EU member state under the age of sixteen (16) without such person’s parental consent. If you are a citizen of an EU member state under the age of 16, please tell your parents that you are using the Site and have your parents email Us at [email protected]m so that We may delete any information We may have collected about you.
California Civil Code § 1798.83 permits California residents to request information about whether we have disclosed personal information to any third parties for the third parties’ direct marketing purposes. California residents have the right to request in writing: (a) a list of the categories of Personal Information, such as name, email address and mailing address and the type of services provided to the customer that a business has disclosed to third parties (including affiliates that are separate legal entities) during the immediately preceding calendar year for the third parties’ direct marketing purposes and (b) the names and addresses of all such third parties. To make a request, please contact Us at the following email address: [email protected].
Rights of EU Data Subjects
If you are a resident of the European Union, under the GDPR, European Union residents, as data subjects, have the following rights:
Right to access – This right allows individuals to obtain confirmation as to whether or not personal information concerning him or her is being processed and provide access to such personal information. It also allows individuals to request details of the processing of his or her personal information, including, without limitation, categories of recipients to whom the personal information have been or will be disclosed and purposes of processing.
Right to rectify – This right allows individuals to rectify any inaccurate personal information about him or her.
Right to restrict processing – This right allows individuals to block or suppress processing of personal data under certain circumstances.
Right to be forgotten – This right is also known as the “right to erasure”. It is an individual’s right to have personal data erased or to prevent processing in specific circumstances.
Right of data portability – This right allows individuals to move, copy or transfer personal data from one place to another in a secure manner without interrupting the integrity and usability of the information.
Right to object to processing – This right allows individuals to object to certain types of processing, including direct marketing, profiling and providing for purposes of scientific or historical research and statistics.
An EU resident has the right to access his or her personal data that We hold and to ask that their personal data be corrected or erased and to port their data. An EU resident may also have the right to object to, or request that We restrict certain processing or to withdraw consent previously provided. If you would like to exercise your rights under the GDPR, please contact us at [email protected]. If you are an EU resident and have a concern about our processing of your personal data that we are not able to resolve, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the Data Protection Authority where you reside. For contact details of your relevant local Data Protection Authority, please see http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/article29/item-detail.cfm?item_id=612080
Security of Your Personal Information
Broadway Direct employs reasonable security measures consistent with standard industry practice, for personal information collected through this Site, including physical, electronic and operational measures to maintain security and prevent unauthorized access. While Broadway Direct takes all appropriate steps to safeguard personal information under Our control, unfortunately, no data transmission over the Internet or method of storing data can be guaranteed to be 100% secure. As such, We cannot guarantee that personal information supplied by users will not be accessed on Our servers, or intercepted while being transmitted to Us over the Internet. We assume no liability for any damages you may suffer as a result of interception, alteration or misuse of information during such transfers.
We will retain your information for as long as your account or inquiry is active and for a reasonable time thereafter in accordance with Our standard procedures or as necessary to comply with Our legal obligations, to resolve disputes, and to enforce Our agreements. Even if We delete some or all of your Personal Information, We may continue to retain and use aggregate or anonymous data previously collected and/or anonymize or aggregate your Personal Information. Please note that We will not be liable for disclosures of your data due to errors or unauthorized acts of third parties.
This Site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from Us, at any time, by email at [email protected], or by clicking the unsubscribe link in any email communication. The Site gives users the following options for removing their information from our database, to not receive future communications or to no longer receive our service, at any time.
Users can send mail to the following postal address: Broadway Direct 1501 Broadway 14th floor New York, NY 10036
Users can call the following telephone number: (800) 223-6715.
Users can opt-out of receiving future newsletter emails from Us by selecting the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of our email. However, We are not responsible for removing your information from the lists of any third party who has previously been provided with your information or is collecting your information through their cookies. You have the right to withdraw your consent for Our processing for your personal information by contacting us at [email protected].
This website gives users the following options for changing and modifying information previously provided, at any time.
Users can send mail to the following postal address: Broadway Direct 1501 Broadway 14th floor New York, NY 10036
Users can call the following telephone number: (800) 223-6715
In the event that We are, or any component of our operations is, merged with, or is acquired by, another entity, then any such successor or acquiring entity may become the successor to Our obligations with respect to the personal information that you have provided to Us, which would be necessary for the entity to effectively continue our business. By using this website, you consent to any transfer and use of such personal information by an entity assuming control of Our operations as a result of a merger, purchase of assets, or liquidation in bankruptcy or insolvency.