When the Summer months roll around, everyone starts looking for that perfect book to read on the beach or by the pool. If you’re looking for a great read that will feed your theatre craving, I’ve got you covered! Here are my top 6 Summer reading picks for the theatre nerd:
Hamilton: the Revolution
by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
You probably know it by its nickname, the #HAMILTOME. This book chronicles the conception, development, and success of Hamilton through interviews with the cast and creatives, and even gives more historical information about Alexander Hamilton and the American Revolution. The book also includes the complete libretto of Hamilton, with annotations from Lin-Manuel Miranda himself.
Now this book is pretty big and probably isn’t the easiest to lug to the beach, but it’s definitely a light and fun read! If you’re a diehard Hamilton fan like, well…everyone, you’ll get through this 300 pager in a flash.
Razzle Dazzle: the Battle for Broadway
by Michael Riedel
I read this book in about a week. It’s just so packed with Broadway trivia and behind-the-scenes factoids that it’s hard to stop reading! Razzle Dazzle explains the history of Broadway, tracking the rise of the Shubert brothers and the Nederlanders. It chronicles the “ice” ticket scandal that went on for years all over the theatre district and explains how Broadway was integral in turning Times Square into the tourist attraction it is today. The book also highlights the development of all of the classic shows that played Broadway, like Cats, Annie, A Chorus Line, and Dreamgirls. It truly is a love letter to Broadway.
After reading this one, you’ll know all the things you didn’t even know you needed to know about Broadway. For example, you know that small gift shop in Shubert Alley between the Shubert Theatre and the Booth? That was originally built as a box office to sell tickets to Ballroom, Michael Bennet’s next musical after the smash hit A Chorus Line. They thought there would be so much hype that they wanted to have a second box office to accommodate the frenzy. If you haven’t heard of Ballroom, that’s because it flopped. The box office wasn’t needed, so now its a theatre gift shop where me and thousands of other theatre fans buy overpriced Color Purple mugs. Good times.
Michael Reidel is a pretty controversial theatre critic, but this book is a definite hit. If you love Broadway, you won’t be able to put this book down. You’ve been warned!
by Ron Chernow
Not as light a read as Hamilton: the Revolution, but it definitely should be on your list of books if you’re a fan of the show! A hefty 700 pages, this book was (of course) the inspiration for the musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda. If you were intrigued by the story you saw on the stage and want to know more, this is the book for you! While it’s a big history book, historian Ron Chernow’s writing is exciting and fresh. It never gets too dense, and I found it hard to put the book down once I got into it!
Lin-Manuel Miranda himself admitted that there was so much of Hamilton’s story that he had to leave out of the show; he could have written half a dozen musicals about Hamiton without repeating any information or plot points. And of course, he took a few creative liberties to make the show work. Some chronology was changed around and certain facts were left out (for example Angelica Schuyler had lots of brothers and the Hamiltons had lots of children, not just Phillip). So if you want to know fact from creative fiction, or if you want to find out all the juicy facts that didn’t make the cut, dig in!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
by Mark Haddon
The 2015 Tony winner for Best Play is closing in September, so this is your perfect chance to read the inspiration for the stage adaptation before you catch one final performance! The book centers on Christopher Boone, a young boy who, while it is never explicitly stated, suffers from some form of autism (most people believe he asaspergers). He lives a relatively normal life in London with his father until one day, he finds his neighbor’s dog lying dead in her front yard. Christopher makes it his mission to find out who murdered the dog, and makes quite a few unexpected discoveries along the way.
Get it here!
by Annie Baker
The Flick is about three people who work in a small, run-down movie theater in Massachussetts. It’s written by award-winning playwright Annie Baker, and oh yeah, and it won the freakin’ Pulitzer Prize.
The play centers around Avery, Sam, and Rose, who work at “The Flick,” home to one of the last thirty-five millimeter projectors in the state. As the three navigate their mundane workdays, their seemingly insignificant discussions provide keen insight into relationships, acceptance, and living up to your potential.
As Charles Isherwood of The New York Times put it, “Ms. Baker’s peerless aptitude for exploring how people grope their way toward a sense of equanimity, even as they learn to accept disappointment, is among the things that make her such a gifted writer.”
This was the best play I’ve read in recent memory; it’s one of those plays that stays with you long after you return it to the bookshelf.
The Untold Stories of Broadway (Volumes 1 & 2)
by Jennifer Ashley Tepper
Who doesn’t love some great behind the scenes anecdotes from your favorite actors, directors, composers, and producers? Theatre historian Jennifer Ashley Tepper has conducted countless interviews with Broadway insiders, from above-the-title stars to unknown ushers. In “The Untold Stories of Broadway,” Tepper takes each Broadway theatre and attempts to wring every bit of history from it through these interviews. The books are chock full of information you won’t find anywhere else. From ghost sightings to dressing room stories to secret backstage passageways, you’ll never look at a Broadway Theatre the same way again!
Jennifer Ashley Tepper, who is also the director of programming at Feinstein’s/54 Below, will be releasing the third volume of the “Untold Stories” series in the fall. So this is the perfect time to get caught up!
Get it here: