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BroadwayWorld.com Daylight Savings Time Book Report

Hello Everyone.   

Well, as we approach Daylight Savings Time (earlier than usual) and face Spring (just around the corner) … I thought it would be a good time to catch up on books – especially since now, that our daylight hours will begin extending, there is more "natural" light to read by.  For me, this is good – because when night falls … I'm useless and have to listen to music, watch movies, television or go to the theatre.  My active brain no longer functions and I need to "receive" information.  

The recent cold-snap we had made me get all my notes together on all the books I had read and this book report will come in 3 installments, as there is much ground to cover and I also wanted to bring some older books to your attention – sparked mostly by recent events.  Lots to choose from here – from books that make great gifts to research material to bios … and … yes, the simply unexplainable.  But no matter what …. Keep reading!

Avenue Q: The Book

Text and Interviews by Zachary Pincus-Roth
Principal Photography by Carol Rosegg
Designed by Headcase Design
Hyperion Press / Melcher Media

four stars (out of 5)

This perfect companion book to the hit musical (recently celebrating its 1500th
performance on Broadway) is just what you would expect – fast, smart, fun and "furry."  Lots of unique stuff here – with illustrations, photos and plenty more for all you AVENUE Q lovers. You also have here the entire award winning text and lyrics.  One BIG drawback … that orange fur is all over my apartment.  Oh, well ….

The Audrey Hepburn Treasures: pictures and mementos from a life of style and purpose

By Ellen Erwin and Jessica Z. Diamond
With a foreward by Sean Hepburn Ferrer


five stars (out of 5)

There has never been a book like this – at least that I have ever seen. It's absolutely "inter-active."  It's full of surprises and the coffee table book of all time.  In the foreward, Sean Hepburn Ferrer (the Chairman, Founder of the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund) states, "Children love books that move, unfold, hide something that delights them, books that come to life."  Well, so do we!  Just order this online or run to a bookstore to feel your way through this treasure for yourself.  A fantastic gift.  Then … go to iTunes and download BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S!

MAMMA MIA! HOW CAN I RESIST YOU? The Inside Story of MAMMA MIA and the songs of ABBA
by Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Judy Craymer
Interviews Conducted by Philip Dodd
(Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

five stars (out of 5)

This book is perfect for any MAMMA MIA! fan ….. and, if you look at the worldwide boxoffice grosses of this musical … there are plenty of them!  The over-sized volume is hefty and handsome and chock full of information, facts, lists and pictures. But don't be fooled – lots of good reading, too.  A steal at the price and a great coffee table addition or gift for that special friend, child, relative, theatre student or fan – who loves this show.

Essays on Theatre & the Art of Collaboration

By Lynn Ahrens, Edward Albee, Angelina Avallone, Jay Binder, William David Brohn, Adrian Bryan-Brown, Kathleen Chalfant, Cy Coleman, Nancy Coyne, Peggy Eisenhauer, Jules Fisher, Stephen Flaherty, Paul Gemignani, Rocco Landesman, Dick Latessa, Peter Lawrence, William Ivey Long, Terrence McNally, Tony Meola, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Cynthia Onrubia, Harold Prince, Chita Rivera, Gerald Schoenfeld, Susan Stroman, Robin Wagner, Wendy Wasserstein, and George C. Wolfe.

Edited by Robert Viagas

Playbill Books / Applause Theatre & Cinema Books

five stars (out of 5)

Well, Robert Viagas and the folks at PLAYBILL, who have brought us two editions of the PLAYBILL BROADWAY YEARBOOK, have done it again.  They have assembled a book that is absolutely fascinating, riveting, educational and so damned entertaining.  Suffice it to say that it is another "must-have" for your collection.  It should also be in every High School and College library in America.  And, what a collection of contributors – who have so much wisdom and first-hand stories to share with us.  The word "collaboration" is very often misunderstood.  In the arts … it is simply essential.  The trick is that some people are better at it than others and the theatre is notorious for being full of colorful characters.  You cannot go wrong with this book.  Love theatre and love to read?  Go for it!!!

We Bombed in New London: The Inside Story of the Broadway Musical Late Nite Comic
by Brian Gari
BearManor Media

half a star (out of 5)

O.K. folks … I am speechless here.  I read this book in utter disbelief that it got published.  Thankfully, I am totally unfamiliar with its author, who also penned the musical in question here.  I must use a phrase from the musical CHICAGO – "unmitigated ego."

This book is so one-sided and so myopic that I was "stunned" at the turn of every page.  It really made me want to do a word count for the words "I" and "me." This book belongs in Ripley's BELIEVE IT OR NOT Museum, in Hollywood, if that's even still around!  Hey!  I just checked on Google and found out that it still is around – at Hollywood & Highland!!!! Oh yeah …. I almost forgot … Gari's grandfather was the legendary Eddie Cantor. Note: Sorry, Mr. Gari - I really tried.


The Life of Jerome Robbins

by Amanda Vaill
Broadway Books

four stars (out of 5)

When I learned there was yet another Jerome Robbins bio coming out, I just couldn't believe it.  But I sat down to read what I thought would be a struggle … and was surprised by Ms. Vaill's skill.  The book and storytelling are really well organized and researched; and although not much new ground is broken here, it's the most accessible and enjoyable read with plenty of juicy bits, comparing it to earlier Robbins biographies.  Jerome Robbins was troubled, demanding and insanely talented - jumping from the ballet world to Broadway musicals and back again.  His legendary nastiness and his passion for his art somehow co-existed in an insecure Jewish gay man, known for naming names to the House Un-American Acivities Committee.  But can you even imagine being present when he and Stephen Sondheim were hammering out the idea that eventually became "Rose's Turn" in GYPSY?  Plenty of backstage gossip, affairs, etc. in this book and a great Broadway read. Jerome Robbins was a real showman - with a real diva's temperament.

A History of Insane Incidents and Absurd Accidents in the Theater

by Brad Schreiber
Thunder's Mouth Press
three stars (out of 5)

Brad Schreiber must have some great sense of humor.  This book is fun … and sort of gossipy.  Theatre folk love telling stories of onstage and offstage antics – to friends and to each other.  Schreiber has gathered a solid collection of short reads - incidents - gathered from all kinds of people in all aspects of the business, well sourced and chaptered oddly.  Something, surely, for everyone to relate to in one way or another.  A niche book.

Portraits of American Playwrights

Photographs by Ken Collins
Interviews by Victor Wishna

Playwrights include: Edward Albee, Robert Anderson, Jon Robin Baitz, Eric Bentley, Eric Bogosian, Constance Congdon, Kia Corthron, Christopher Durang, Horton Foote, Richard Foreman, Maria Irene Fornes, Jack Gelber, Richard Greenberg, John Guare, A.R. Gurney, Jeffrey Hatcher, Beth Henley, Israel Horovitz, Tina Howe, David Henry Hwang, David Ives, Corinne Jacker, Adrienne Kennedy, Arthur Kopit, Howard Korder, Larry Kramer, Tony Kushner, Neil LaBute, Warren Leight, Romulus Linney, Kenneth Lonergan, Craig Lucas, Eduardo Machado, Wendy MacLeod, Emily Mann, Donald Margulies, Tim Mason, Terrence McNally, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage, Dael Orlandersmith, Suzan-Lori Parks, Peter Parnell, David Rabe, Paul Rudnick, Carl Handcock Rux, John Patrick Shanley, Wallace Shawn, Nicky Silver, Neil Simon, Anna Deavere Smith, Alfred Uhry, Paula Vogel, Naomi Wallace, Wendy Wasserstein, Mac Wellman, August Wilson, Lanford Wilson, George C. Wolfe, Doug Wright and Susan Yankowitz.

Umbrage Editions

five stars (out of 5)

Wow!  Here is another "must-have" book.  Just about every contemporary writer is represented in this beautifully done book, including the late Wendy Wasserstein and August Wilson.  The photographic portraits are vivid and the interviews are just FANTASTIC.  Also … plenty of factual, biographical info.  So much insight to be gleaned from this meticulously put together collection covering 60 years of American theater.

Life is Not a Fairy Tale

by Fantasia (Barrino)
A Fireside Book
four stars (out of 5)

At BroadwayWorld's Holiday Show at Joe's Pub late last year, many gifts were handed out to the audience.  One of them was this book.  When I learned that FANTASIA was coming to Broadway to join the cast of THE COLOR PURPLE as Celie (beginning April 10, 2007), I decided to pick it up and read it.  You can laugh if you want to, but this girl is a testament to faith and tenacity.  Happily a winner of American Idol, her story is so much richer than that tedious fact.  Interestingly, the LIFETIME network did a movie of her life, loosely based on this book, and it broke viewing records.  She has a truthful "voice" and knows who she is … probably because she has lived so much for someone so young.

Authored and Edited by The Association of Theatrical Artists and Craftspeople

Applause Theatre and Cinema Books

five stars (out of 5)

Known in "the business" as "The Green Book," this is as indispensable as songs are in a musical.  You can find ANYTHING you might need for production, stage, television, film, etc. in this comprehensively organized resource.  The greatest thing about such a book being made available for purchase, is that, in addition to all the professionals who use this trusty "bible" on an almost daily basis, semi-pros and amateurs alike can now have access to some of the greatest shops, talents and suppliers working in the industry today.  It's a "no-brainer."  Get one!!!

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