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BroadwayWorld Book Club Week Six Discussion Prompts: The August Wilson Theatre

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BWW Book Club

Below are the discussion questions/prompts for the sixth chapter of The Untold Stories of Broadway: The August Wilson Theatre! Feel free to answer as many questions as you would like to get the conversation going! The author of The Untold Stories of Broadway, Jennifer Ashley Tepper, will be hosting a Facebook Live Q & A at 12pm ET today! Please post any questions here that you would like her to answer!

·       Did you have the chance to see Jersey Boys at The August Wilson Theatre, or see the recent Off-Broadway revival?

·       What is your favorite jukebox musical?

·       Were there any shows in this chapter you had never heard of that you are now interested in learning more about?

·       Which story told in this chapter was the most surprising to you?

·       Were there any shows in this chapter you wish you had seen that you hadn’t gotten the chance to?

·       Have you ever listened to either one or both of the cast recordings for The Wild Party? Michael John LaChiusa’s Broadway production or Andrew Lippa’s Off-Broadway production?


I've only been to the August Wilson Theatre once (to see Mean Girls in 2018), but it definitely stands out to me as one of the more unique Broadway houses. 

Unfortunately, I did not get to see Jersey Boys at the August Wilson or the recent Off-Broadway revival, but I did get to see the show on tour at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia a few years ago. I love the music and the story. The movie was great, too!

I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about jukebox musicals, but I for one love them. Some of my favorite jukebox musicals are Jersey BoysMamma Mia!, and On Your Feet!. I also love Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and would love to see Jagged Little Pill once Broadway is back and running. 

I had no idea that A History of the American Film was even a show, let alone played the ANTA! I feel like I would've enjoyed the show, and am excited to do some research on it. I'm also a fan of Christopher Durang, so him writing the book/script is also a plus. 

There were a few surprising things that stood out to me in this chapter, but one of them was Ken Davenport's story of how he got into the Broadway business because of his professor at NYU. I've always been a fan of Ken's work, and to hear how the Virginia was the first Broadway theatre he went backstage at because of his PA duties for the My Fair Lady revival reminded me of how I got my start in the theatre industry. It's nice to hear members of the Broadway community tell some of their first industry stories. 

I would've liked to have seen several shows at the August Wilson, including Carrie, Smokey Joe's CafeFlower Drum Song, and Little Women. All very different shows from each other, but somehow made an impact on the August Wilson Theatre and musical theatre history!

I've never listened to either cast recordings of The Wild Party, but I'd definitely be interested in hearing both, especially the original Broadway cast recording! I think this is a great time to listen to shows I've never listened to before. 

Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend

I have hate the August Wilson since I attended my first show there a thousand years ago.  Don't know whether my first was Spofford or Royal Hunt of the Sun, but it was one of those.  The theatre is ridiculously long and narrow, there is not enough slope in the rows...I will no longer even sit in the orchestra section, unless my wife and I can buy two seats back to back on the aisle.  

I also think it is a really ugly theater.  Unless it has changed  -- I haven't attended since Little Women (saw the Four Seasons musical out of town and didn't like it enough to re-see it on Broadway, and had zero interest in seeing Groundhog Day (hated the OCR) or Mean Girls) -- getting to the mezzanine is one of the worst designed 'maps' any theatre.  I always felt sorry for people in the last row, since there was no divider between their seats and the throngs passingly to go to the mezzanine.

I have wracked my brain and cannot think of a single show that played the theatre that I loved, which is very rare.  I liked Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, with Elizabeth Ashley, almost 50 years ago; I liked Royal Hunt of the Sun, although I do remember it getting a little bogged down in psychobabble towards the end.  I remember seeing a play with Leonard Nimoy and one of the Swedish actresses (can't remember who), 

On the other hand,  I HATED City of Angels  and Smoky Joe's Cafe.  Finally, I sat through about half of A Letter to Queen Victoria, and left when I was starting to lose it.  Robert Wilson is not for everyone.

Thinking further, I can't think of another theatre that I hate as much as this one.