With spring just around the corner, a picnic blanket and a good book are all you need for a relaxing afternoon at the park. We’ve found 11 theatre must-reads for Broadway loving bookworms to shove in their backpacks for that first sunny day.
This month’s new releases include a children’s book from Broadway couple Leslie Odom Jr. and Nicolette Robinson, a look at LGBTQ+ politics in theatre, and a collection of plays addressing climate change. And columnist Seth Rudetsky trades in the Playbill yellow this month for the release of his Musical Theatre For Dummies edition. Check out our reading recommendations below.
I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know
By Leslie Odom Jr. and Nicolette Robinson
This heartfelt story from Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton) and Nicolette Robinson (Waitress) is all about the love parents experience for their children. Complete with illustrations, the couple’s first collaborative book is a “comforting and lyrical refrain” that is perfect for story time. Available March 28 from Macmillan Publishers.
Careful the Spell You Cast: How Stephen Sondheim Extended the Range of the American Musical
By Ben Francis
Legendary composer Stephen Sondheim is often misunderstood, according to author Ben Francis. While Sondheim is frequently described as cynical or distant, Francis’ book shows how he was instead aspirational, with a focus on how the late composer’s characters are defined by their dreams. Available March 9 from Methuen Drama.
Third Girl from the Left
By Christine Barker
Christine Barker moved to London to perform in A Chorus Line. Shortly after, she ended up in New York City in the midst of the AIDS crisis. Barker’s new memoir explores the world of theatre in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as how the community—and her brother and partner, fashion designer Perry Ellis—were impacted by the devastating epidemic. Available March 14 from Delphinium.
Musical Theatre for Dummies
By Seth Rudetsky
This “behind-the-curtain view” from Broadway insider Seth Rudetsky breaks down the world of musical theatre, from production history to how to pursue a career onstage. Whether you’re new to the musical theatre genre or looking to brush up on the basics, Rudetsky’s book is an all-inclusive guide. Available March 8 from For Dummies.
Love Is Love Is Love
By Aaron C. Thomas
In this in-depth look at LGBTQIA+ politics in theatre, author Aaron C. Thomas analyzes shows including Promises, Promises, Newsies, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Color Purple, and Frozen. Thomas addresses issues including casting and queer identities as he considers how musical theatre can help us understand the state of LGBTQIA+ politics in America. Available March 24 from Routledge.
Wigs, Hair and Make-Up: A Backstage Guide
By Helen Casey
Wig, hair, and makeup designers play a critical role in any theatre production, but their contributions are often overlooked. Helen Casey, Deputy Head of Makeup and Wigs at London’s National Theatre, shares her perspective in this book, offering a backstage look at her department’s artistic process. Available March 9 from Methuen Drama.
A Fine Romance: Adapting Broadway to Hollywood in the Studio System Era
By Geoffrey Block
Perhaps you saw Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story or Jon M. Chu’s In the Heights, but have you ever wondered how a show gets from stage to screen? Block’s book explains the relationship between Broadway musicals and their Hollywood adaptations, including making artistic choices, re-envisioning stories through sociocultural lenses, and more. Available March 31 from Oxford University Press.
100 Plays to Save the World
By Elizabeth Freestone, Jeanie O’Hare, and Daze Aghaji (Foreword)
This book serves as a guide to 100 different plays, all of which are related to some aspect of the climate crisis. By exploring each play with a short essay, authors Elizabeth Freestone and Jeanie O’Hare aim to start conversations surrounding climate change and how theatre can change the future. Available March 21from Theatre Communications Group.
DIVA 2.0 12 Life Lessons From Me For You
By Sheryl Lee Ralph
In actress Sheryl Lee Ralph’s (Dreamgirls, Abbot Elementary on ABC) second book, she shares the most invaluable lessons she’s learned throughout her career. Through personal anecdotes and memorable moments, Ralph helps readers to “discover what a true Diva must know– and the first step is respecting themselves.” Available March 14 from Wordeee.
Plays for the Plague Year
By Suzan-Lori Parks
Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog) set a goal on March 13, 2020 to write a play every day. The resulting anthology is a “breathtaking chronicle of our collective experience” during the beginnings of the pandemic. Available March 21from Theatre Communications Group.
Master of the House: The Theatres of Cameron Mackintosh
By Michael Coveney
This book takes a historical look at eight iconic West End theatres, each refurbished and rebuilt due to the efforts of producer Cameron Mackintosh (Les Misérables, Cats, Phantom of the Opera). Through photographs, architect plans, and archival materials, Master of the House explores the impact of these cultural establishments. Available March 9 from Unicorn Publishing Group.