Whether you’re looking for a gift for a theatre-loving valentine or cozying up away from the cold weather, a good book is essential. These eight selections are perfect to curl up and enjoy with a mug of hot tea.
New releases for the month of February include a biography of Oscar Hammerstein II, the story of how Shuffle Along revolutionized Broadway for Black performers, and an in-depth look at gender in theatre.
Try Not to Hold It Against Me: A Producer’s Life
By Julian Schlossberg
Publisher: Beaufort Books
Producer Julian Schlossberg recounts his experience as a producer of over 60 plays, movies, and TV specials in this autobiography. From working with Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli to negotiating deals with Al Pacino, Schlossberg has no shortage of insight into the theatre business. Available now.
When Broadway Was Black
By Caseen Gaines
Pop culture historian Caseen Gaines recounts the creation of Shuffle Along, the first successful all-Black musical on Broadway, and how it launched careers for Black performers for years to come. The book details how composers Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake played a crucial role in kickstarting the Harlem Renaissance as Shuffle Along broke down racial barriers in the 1920s. Available starting February 7.
Gender, Sex, and Sexuality in Musical Theatre: He/She/They Could Have Danced All Night
Edited By Kelly Kessler
Publisher: Intellect Ltd
This collection of articles from musical theatre scholars inspects how gender, sex, and sexuality have influenced the musical. Through exploration of groups like the Rockettes and “chorus boys” or musicals such as Spring Awakening, the book investigates the gendered and sexualized landscape of musical theatre. Available starting February 3.
Oscar Hammerstein II and the Invention of the Musical
By Laurie Winer
Publisher: Yale University Press
Theatre critic and journalist Laurie Winer takes a deep dive into the life of Oscar Hammerstein II, legendary Broadway lyricist and librettist of Oklahoma!, The King and I, and Carousel. Winer describes how Hammerstein “orchestrated a collective reimagining of America,” with a focus on social justice which he aimed to spread to his audiences. Available now.
The Way They Were: How Epic Battles and Bruised Egos Brought a Classic Hollywood Love Story to the Screen
By Robert Hofler
The 50th anniversary of the film The Way We Were, starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, is celebrated with this book from author and theatre critic Robert Hofler. In the first account of the movie’s making, Hofler explores its story and why it was almost never produced at all. Available Now.
Mediatized Dramaturgy: The Evolution of Plays in the Media Age
By Seda Ilter, Enoch Brater, and Mark Taylor-Batty
Publisher: Methuen Drama
This study discusses the evolution of plays in an age dominated by digital media. With investigation into technology and its socio-cultural impacts, the Methuen book examines how media and performance interact in today’s society. Available starting February 23.
American Dramatists in the 21st Century: Opening Doors
By Christopher Bigsby
Publisher: Methuen Drama
From author Christopher Bigsby comes this examination of the careers of playwrights David Adjmi, Julia Cho, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Will Eno, Martyna Majok, Dominique Morrisseau, and Anna Ziegler. Bigsby covers their critical reception and career development, as well as the impact of their diverse racial, religious, and immigrant backgrounds on their work. Available starting February 23.
Broadway Bodies: A Critical History of Conformity
By Ryan Donovan
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Author Ryan Donovan considers how Broadway has historically favored the “hyper-fit, exceptionally able, triple-threat performer.” With investigations into conformity in A Chorus Line or the use of fat suits in Dreamgirls and Hairspray, Donovan tells an intersectional story of body exclusivity on Broadway. Available starting February 24.
First 50 Theater Songs You Should Play on Piano: Simply Arranged, Must-Know Broadway Showstoppers Arranged for Easy Piano with Lyrics
By Various composers
Publisher: Hal Leonard
This collection of simple piano arrangements includes hits from shows like Chicago, Hamilton, Les Misérables, and more. For piano beginners or any theatre fan looking to pick up a new hobby, this book is a great place to start practicing “On My Own” for your personal sing along. Available starting February 16.