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Broadway Books: 10 Theatre-Themed History Books to Read While Staying Inside!

Looking for something new to read while stuck inside, but still need your Broadway fix? We've rounded up 10 of our favorite theatre-themed history books to fill the void!

History not your thing? Check out our favorite memoirs, Part One and Part Two, as well as our favorite theatre children's books here!


Broadway: The American Musical

by Michael Kantor and Laurence Maslon

Broadway Books: 10 Theatre-Themed History Books to Read While Staying Inside!A comprehensive companion to the six-part Emmy-winning PBS documentary series, Broadway: The American Musical is the gold standard of musical theater history books, tracing the roots of the art form at the turn of the twentieth century through the smashing successes of the new millennium.

The in-depth text is lavishly illustrated with a treasure trove of photographs, scenic renderings, production stills, and rehearsal shots, many previously unpublished. With a foreword by Julie Andrews, this edition is revised and updated, with brand-new material on all the Broadway musicals through the 2018-2019 season, including The Book of Mormon, Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and Hadestown.

Purchase on Amazon here.


History of the Theatre

by Oscar G. Brockett and Franklin J. Hildy

Broadway Books: 10 Theatre-Themed History Books to Read While Staying Inside!This 40th Anniversary Edition retains all of the traditional features that have made History of the Theatre the most successful text of its kind, including worldwide coverage, more than 530 photos and illustrations, useful maps, and the expertise of Oscar G. Brockett and Franklin J. Hildy, two of the most widely respected theatre historians in the field. As with every edition, the text reflects the current state of knowledge and brings the history of theatre up to the present. This tenth edition continues to provide the most thorough and accurate assessment of theatre history available.

Purchase on Amazon here.


The Cambridge Companion to African-American Theatre

by Harvey Young, ed.

Broadway Books: 10 Theatre-Themed History Books to Read While Staying Inside!This Companion provides a comprehensive overview of African American theatre, from the early nineteenth century to the present day. Along the way, it chronicles the evolution of African American theatre and its engagement with the wider community, including discussions of slave rebellions on the national stage, African Americans on Broadway, the Harlem Renaissance, African American women dramatists, and the 'New Negro' and 'Black Arts' movements. Leading scholars spotlight the producers, directors, playwrights and actors whose efforts helped to fashion a more accurate appearance of Black life on stage, and reveal the impact of African American theatre both within the United States and further afield. Chapters also address recent theatre productions in the context of political and cultural change and ask where African American theatre is heading in the twenty-first century.

Purchase on Amazon here.


Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical

by Stacy Wolf

Broadway Books: 10 Theatre-Themed History Books to Read While Staying Inside!In this lively book, Stacy Wolf illuminates the women of American musical theatre - performers, creators, and characters -- from the start of the cold war to the present day, creating a new, feminist history of the genre. Moving from decade to decade, Wolf first highlights the assumptions that circulated about gender and sexuality at the time. She then looks at the leading musicals to stress the key aspects of the plays as they relate to women, and often finds overlooked moments of empowerment for female audience members. Along the way, Wolf demonstrates how the musical since the mid-1940s has actually been dominated by women - women onstage, women in the wings, and women offstage as spectators and fans.

Purchase on Amazon here.


The 100 Most Important People in Musical Theatre

by Andy Propst

Broadway Books: 10 Theatre-Themed History Books to Read While Staying Inside!In 100 Most Important People in Musical Theatre, Andy Propst profiles the individuals who have helped shape this beloved art form. Songwriting greats such as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Stephen Sondheim, and Andrew Lloyd Webber are some of the familiar names in the book. So, too, are performers such as Nathan Lane, Ethel Merman, Audra McDonald, and Patti LuPone, and directors and choreographers such as Bob Fosse, Harold Prince, Jerome Robbins, and Tommy Tune. Readers learn not only about these men and women's exceptional lives and achievements, but can peek backstage at such groundbreaking shows as Show Boat, Oklahoma!, West Side Story, Company, and A Chorus Line, among others. Period reviews and interviews highlight both the shows and the people who contributed to them.

Purchase on Amazon here.


The Show Won't Go On: The Most Shocking, Bizarre, and Historic Deaths of Performers Onstage

by Jeff Abraham and Burt Kearns

Broadway Books: 10 Theatre-Themed History Books to Read While Staying Inside!There has never been a show business book quite like The Show Won't Go On, the first comprehensive study of a bizarre phenomenon: performers who died onstage. The Show Won't Go On covers almost every genre of entertainment, and is full of unearthed anecdotes, exclusive interviews, colorful characters, and ironic twists. With dozens of heart-stopping stories, it's the perfect book to dip into on any page.

Purchase on Amazon here.


Not Since Carrie

Broadway Books: 10 Theatre-Themed History Books to Read While Staying Inside!by Ken Mandelbaum

Not Since Carrie is Ken Mandelbaum's brilliant survey of Broadway's biggest flops. This highly readable and entertaining book highlights almost 200 musicals created between 1950 and 1990, framed around the notorious musical adaptation of Carrie, and examines the reasons for their failure.

Purchase on Amazon here.


Broadway Musicals: Show by Show

by Stanley Green

Broadway Books: 10 Theatre-Themed History Books to Read While Staying Inside!This updated edition of one of the bestselling and comprehensive Broadway reference books, first published in 1985, has been expanded to include many of the most important and memorable productions of American musical theater, including revivals. Arranged chronologically, beginning with musicals from just after the Civil War, each successive edition of the book has added valuable updates about trends in musical theater as well as capsule features on the most significant musicals of the day. The ninth edition documents important musicals produced since the end of the 2012-2013 season through spring 2019.

Purchase on Amazon here.


Free for All: Joe Papp, The Public, and the Greatest Theater Story Ever Told

by Kenneth Turan and Joseph Papp

Broadway Books: 10 Theatre-Themed History Books to Read While Staying Inside!Free for All is an irresistible behind-the-scenes look at one of America's most beloved and important cultural institutions. Under the inspired leadership of founder Joseph Papp, The Public Theater and the New York Shakespeare Festival brought revolutionary performances to the public for decades. This compulsively readable history of those years-much of it told in Papp's own words-is fascinating, ranging from a dramatic early showdown with Robert Moses over keeping Shakespeare in the Park free to the launching of such landmark productions as Hair and A Chorus Line. To bring the story to life, film critic Kenneth Turan interviewed some 160 luminaries-including George C. Scott, Meryl Streep, Mike Nichols, Kevin Kline, James Earl Jones, David Rabe, Jerry Stiller, Tommy Lee Jones, and Wallace Shawn-and masterfully weaves their voices into a dizzyingly rich tale of creativity, conflict, and achievement.

Purchase on Amazon here.


The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway

by William Goldman

Broadway Books: 10 Theatre-Themed History Books to Read While Staying Inside!The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway is an account of the 1967-1968 season on and off-Broadway by American novelist and screenwriter William Goldman. It originally was published in 1969. The book is presented roughly in chronological order throughout the season. It analyzes the Broadway audience and the economics of Broadway theatre at the time as well as the shows given during the season, and it profiles or interviews the significant theatrical personalities of the day.

Purchase on Amazon here.


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