Anything Goes: A History of American Musical Theatre

My theater shelves are already groaning with books about the history of musical theater. Some are well researched but terribly dry reference works. Some are entertaining but hardly definitive source documents. Many of them bear the imprint “OUP” as in Oxford University Press. Today OUP releases another one, and I’m just going to have to […]

Beating Broadway – How to Create Stories for Musicals That Get Standing Ovations

Writing a musical is a task that takes both talent and training. No one textbook can give you all you need even if you have all the talent in the world. However, while there are many textbooks in print on how to write specific kinds of products – novels, movies, television series, poetry, songs, plays […]

Supporting Player: My Life Upon the Wicked Stage

If you only have time this year to read one autobiography of an actor, make it Richard Seff’s book Supporting Player: My Life Upon The Wicked Stage. If you only have time to read one autobiography of a playwright, make it Richard Seff’s book Supporting Player. If you only have time for one autobiography of […]

Show Boat: Performing Race in an American Musical

With some musicals, there aren’t enough interesting things to write about to make up a single slender volume. Show Boat, on the other hand, has been the topic of a small library of interesting works, including Miles Krueger’s landmark “Show Boat: The Story of a Classic American Musical.” Now, Todd Decker makes a significant addition […]

The Sound of Broadway Music: A Book of Orchestrators and Orchestrations

Before I launched Theater Shelf, my reviews appeared on the website Potomac Stages. One of my favorites of all the books I reviewed for that outlet was Steven Suskin’s “The Sound of Broadway Music: A Book of Orchestrators and Orchestrations.” Wanting to spread the word of this fascinating and invaluable book to my newer readership, […]

Great Moments in the Theatre

The sweep of Benedict Nightingale’s “Great Moments in Theatre” covers not decades or centuries, but millennia. As if his pen were a time machine, he takes the reader back as far as ancient Greece’s Dionysus Festival of 458 BC to imagine what it was like to witness the performance of Aeschylus’ Oresteia. Then he tackles […]

Ben Brantley’s Broadway Musicals

How did this one slip by me last year? In October, the New York Times’ Ben Brantley released a beautiful-to-look-at and rewarding-to-read volume titled “Broadway Musicals” that deserves a spot on either your theater shelf or your coffee table.

Performance of the Century: 100 Years of Actors’ Equity Association and the Rise of Professional American Theater

Let’s start the year off with a book you probably didn’t know you needed. It is one of those books that jump off the shelf at you when you see it, but only if you read the sub-title.

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