BWW Blog: Musical Theatre Books to Read During Quarantine
One of my favorite activities is reading books and what better time to do that then right now when we're all stuck at home? Unfortunately, there are many theatre related activities we cannot participate in right now but one of the best ways we can learn more about our crafts and read about others in our fields is by reading about them. There are hundreds of Broadway related books, script writing and acting guides, memoirs by our favorite stars, and more! I thought I would share some of my favorites with you all to hopefully get you all back in the mindsets of creating art and learning about those who you look up to.
Unmasked: A Memoir by Andrew Llyod Webber - 2018.
This one is for everyone. If you're a fan of the Phantom of the Opera or Jesus Christ Superstar, if you're looking into composing music for a show, or you want to learn more about getting a show to Broadway then this is a great addition to your personal library by a musical genius no less.
Too Much Is Not Enough by Andrew Rannells - 2019.
Andrew Rannells is one of my favorite stage actors, widely recognized for his portrayal of Elder Price in the Book of Mormon, and this biography is filled with great, personal stories dealing with sexuality, being a struggling actor, and trying to get through life as someone who is 'different'. You don't even have to love musical theatre to enjoy this book because anyone can relate to Rannells personal struggles.
Failing Up: How to Rise Above, Do Better, and Never Stop Learning by Leslie Odom Jr. - 2018.
This is another great memoir by another wonderful Broadway stage actor. Leslie Odom Jr. is known for his breakthrough role as Aaron Burr in Hamilton but this book explores the years before his success and how he struggled getting to where he is now. This is a great book for any aspiring artists, actors, or writers who want to strive for their goals. Part memoir and part motivational guide, this book is a must have for any artist who is struggling to find their place in the world.
Dear Evan Hasen: The Novel is essentially a novelization of the famous Broadway show 'Dear Evan Hansen'. Since we cannot attend any Broadway shows at the moment, this is a great way to read about this show you've either always wanted to see or want to revisit. I've never had the pleasure to see this show live, but reading this book made me feel closer to the story and the characters I've only listened to on the cast recording. It's a wonderful tale about a boy that deals with social anxiety and his fight to fit in with society and the decision he makes when one of his fellow students commits suicide. It isn't an easy read but it is an important one and a story that will surely touch anyone.
The Secret Life of the American Musical by Jack Viertel - 2017.
This is one of those books if you're looking to find out more about the history of musical theatre. This is great for anyone who loves musicals, wants to write or act in one, or those who want to discover the history of some of their favorite shows. It delves into how the Golden age of Broadway was born, the song structures of musicals, and what each moment in a musical signifies. This is a great book to expand your knowledge at this time.
Read all of the plays you can. Most people are fascinated by musical theatre, but plays are just as important. As a screenwriter and a playwright, I love devouring a play. The way words can make a story so raw. The way words can make you rethink your life. Plays can touch you in a way perhaps musicals cannot. Some of my favorite plays you can purchase are Burn This by Lanford Wilson, Betrayal by Harold Pinter, and The Boys in the Band by the late, great Mart Crowley. There's a play for any situation, story, and character you want to read about. Plays feel so personal and are great for any type of artist to explore their craft.
Besides these, there are hundreds more books on musical theatre, crafting plays, memoirs by our favorite stage actors, and more. This is certainly a scary and unpredictable time but getting to read some of these amazing books allows us all to broaden our minds and practice our crafts in a time where most things aren't available to us.