The Sunday Giveaway: A Big Set of Broadway Books

Remember summer reading lists?

When I was in high school, I got a list of books from my English teacher to read during the three months of summer vacation.  And we got quizzed when we got back to school in September.

And most of ’em were boooooooooring.

If only they were Broadway books!

Consider this week’s Sunday Giveaway your holiday reading list as we give away four great reads, including:

  • Song of Spider-Man by Glen Berger (yep, it’s the tell-all filled with all sorts of inside gossipy scoop)
  • A Fine Romance by Candice Bergen (which isn’t even out yet – this is an advance copy)
  • A View from a Broad by Bette Midler (who’s “Bette-r than Bette?)
  • Hope by Richard Zoglin (the untold story of Mr. Bob Hope)

These fun reads will keep you busy for awhile.  Actually knowing you guys, you’ll probably devour ’em all in a day!

But you gotta win ’em first.

To enter this week’s giveaway, let’s come up with our own Broadway Summer Reading List.

What book would you recommend for the list?  I’d start with The Abominable Showman, the David Merrick story.  It’s an awesome blend of ridiculous antics and brilliant producing.

Comment your suggestion below and you’ll be entered to win the Broadway books above!

And this week . . . there will be two winners! That’s right, two of you will walk away with this set of four good reads. So get commenting!


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Aaron Deitsch says:

    I’m obsessed with the Untold Stories of Broadway series by Jennifer Tepper

  • Susan says:

    Sondheim’s book Finishing the Hat.

  • Jen Sandler says:

    The Untold Stories of Broadway Volumes 1 & 2- Jennifer Ashley Tepper

    Seth’s Broadway Diary- Seth Rudetsky

    Lady Parts- Andrea Martin

    Without You-Anthony Rapp

    Broadway: The American Musical- Lawrence Maslon

    Broadway Musicals: The Biggest Hits and The Biggest Flops- Peter Filichia

    A Natural Woman- Carole King

    Forever Liesl- Charmian Car

    Everything Was Possible- Ted Chapin

  • Woody Schultz says:

    Lady Parts by Andrea Martin!

  • Noah P says:

    Fosse by Sam Wasson. Best show biz bio I’ve ever read.

  • Mike says:

    The Hammersteins: A Musical Theatre Family, obviously.

  • Francesca says:

    Oh my God. I love Broadway Books and this would be the best Christmas gift ever to win this giveaway!

    Anyway, I would recommend:

    -Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen. Amazing book on technique and philosophy of acting.

    -Better Nate Than Never and 5, 6, 7, Nate by Tim Federle. So funny and heartwarming.

    -On The Line, which is about the creation of A Chorus Line. Perfect for anyone like me who is obsessed with this show.

    -I Got In! by Mary Anna Denard. Nice for any student auditioning for college programs.

    Happy holidays! Excited to see what other people recommend!

  • Jenna Rich says:

    Definitely Act One by Moss Hart. It’s one of my favorites. Also Ben Brantley’s Broadway Musicals book.

  • Ashlyn Smith says:

    Stages: A Life in the Theatre by Joe Stockdale (a LONG read, but good read)

    Stage Money: The Business of the Professional Theatre by Tim Donahue and Jim Patterson (a little basic, but an interesting read for anyone curious about Broadway finances)

    American Women Stage Directors of the Twentieth Century by Anne Fliotsos

  • Andrew says:

    I would say the Jim Henson Biography by Brian Jay Jones

  • Madison says:

    -Act One by Moss Hart (currently reading and loving)

    -Everything Was Possible by Ted Chapin

    -Without You by Anthony Rapp (an amazing look into the process of bringing RENT from readings to Broadway. Also a touching look into Jonathan Larson’s involvement in the show.)

  • I’d put Julie Andrews’ memoir, Home, on there. Really inspiring to watch her early career path, and all of her juicy backstage memories from My Fair Lady and Camelot, in particular.

    But also the classic, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. Anyone in this business needs the we’ve-all-been-there comfort, as well as the kick in the butt to DO things!

  • Richard Patterson says:

    Mainly On Directing by Arthur Laurents (so dishy!)

    Everything Was Possible by Ted Chapin

    Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh by John Lahr (just read this one this year, and it was mind-blowingly good)

  • The Dramatic Imagination – Robert Edmund Jones
    Josh Logan’s autobiographies
    The Season – William Goldman
    Broadway – Atkinson
    Design for Living – Margot Peters, a biography of the Lunts
    Stagestruck – Zolotow, another biography of the Lunts.
    Noel & Cole – Citron, plus whatever other biographical or autobiographical material that can be had on these guys

  • Sarah P. says:

    Definitely ‘Not Since Carrie’ by Ken Mandelbaum and ‘Second Act Trouble’ by Steven Suskin, because not only are the myriad of stories behind Broadway flops usually hilarious and/or fascinating, they really can be even more instructive than those behind the “hits”! Talk about compendiums of “what not to do”! 🙂 These are must-reads for Broadway fans, because some of these flops really have been forgotten and unsung elsewhere…

    • Lewis says:

      In NOT SINCE CARRIE, Mandelbaum sorts through the debris left by POUSSE CAFE, a major flop (which got the producer, who was the husband of Lilo, the show’s star, in so much trouble with the N.Y. State Att’y General, that he fled the U.S. to avoid prosecution — seems he could not account for the money he raised! I don’t think he ever returned.)
      The author has strong words of praise for a brilliant performer who played Havana, the madam of the brothel (in 1920’s New Orleans) and who sang a song entitled “The Spider And The Fly” at the top of the show in this 1966 re-envisioning of the classic Marlene Dietrich film THE BLUE ANGEL. Between the performer’s amazing work and a fine song, the show got off to a good start and then “exited for the crapper”! I saw the show on Broadway and have a vivid memory of TRAVIS HUDSON in that role! She was in another number and reprised “The Spider … ” at the show’s end. The show played five previews — it had its opening night, played two performances the next day … and closed!
      Grand total? Eight!
      So,skip forward over fifteen years and I had become an A.E.A. franchised agent who sought out “Trav” for possible representation! She had played in other shows following POUSSE CAFE — but only one ran longer than six months (VERY GOOD EDDIE) and her final Broadway show (BROADWAY FOLLIES) in ’81 played only 14 previews and then opened and closed on the same day (total of 15)! We worked together — hands down, one of the greatest performer/agent relationships I have experienced — until Trav passed away, a devastating loss. Among MANY credits she earned in those years was being the second performer to play the Mother Superior in NUNSENSE Off-B’way, which she played numerous times later in other productions. I found work for her in television, too (including the “re-boot” of Candid Camera) — Trav got “into the habit” once again during her appearances there — but the vast majority of Travis Hudson’s credits were in theatre.
      A couple side-notes here: for some years, Travis worked as a club duo with Ronny Whyte, a first-rate singer/pianist with whom I still enjoy a pleasant relationship. Another member of that POUSSE CAFE cast was Altovise Gore, who was a gem and, a few years after that, became a very dear friend as well. She is gone now … but was Sammy Davis, Jr.’s widow. Small world, indeed.
      Also, check those IBDb credits for POUSSE CAFE! There are some “majorly impressive” names there!

  • Jess says:

    Because it hasnt been mentioned yet and is kinda dishy, patti lupone’s “a memoir.”

  • Jose says:

    “Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof” by Alisa Solomon, informative, inspiring and so addictive. The last part is brilliant!

  • Jeffrey F says:

    I love autobiographies. So either

    judy greer autobiography or not my fathers son by Alan cumming.

    I’m also addicted to political fiction and love both of Nicole Wallace’s (The View) books.

    Happy reading.

  • Ryan says:

    Without You by Anthony Rapp

  • Scott says:

    Memoirs by Julie Andrews and Patti Lupone
    Everything Was Possible by Ted Chapin
    The Decade books by Ethan Mordden

  • Elizabeth T says:

    Definitely check out Broadway Tails: Heartfelt Stories of Rescued Dogs Who Became Showbiz Superstars by Bill Berloni. Our four legged friends need some love too!

  • Mary Gahagan says:

    Act one by Moss Hart

  • Sean S says:

    A tribute to the career of the wonderful Stephen Schwartz: Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked by Carol de Giere

  • Jayson Kerr says:

    Memoirs by Patti Lupone
    Musical Stages by Richard Rodgers

  • Adolpho says:

    Most of my favorites have been said already: “Act One” by Moss Hart, “Everything was Possible” by Ted Chapin, “Mainly on Directing” by Arthur Laurents, “David Merrick: The Abominable Showman” by Howard Kissel, “Not Since Carrie” by Ken Mendelbaum.

    I also love “Making it On Broadway: Actors Tales of Climbing to the Top” by David Wienir and Jodie Langel. And for a GREAT read is “Diary of a Mad Playwright” by James Kirkwood about the Disastrous tour of “Legends” starring Mary Martin and Carol Channing.

    For those true Theatre aficionados, 2 books are GREAT that are out of print but if you can find them on Amazon or the Strand – they are a real treat. One is “Smash” by Garson Kanin which is a roman a clef novel by the director about his experience directing the Broadway musical “Funny Girl”. It was also the (VERY) loose inspiration for the tv show “Smash”. Also great is “Contradictions: Notes on twenty-six years in the theatre” by Harold Prince. He talks candidly about starting out as a producer and then making the transition to director, breaking down project by project – the good choices and less than stellar choices.

  • David McKibbin says:

    Since everybody already put Jen Tepper’s book on the list, I thought I’d put on “Audition” by Michael Shurtleff. It’s about 50 years old, but still a good resource for any actor trying to tread the boards in New York (or anywhere really).

  • Philip V says:

    Everything Was Possible by Ted Chapin

    Broadway Nights by Seth Rudetsky

    An Ideal Theatre by Todd London



  • Veronica says:

    Stage Manager: The Professional Experience
    Wicked: The Grimmerie, a Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Hit Broadway Musical

  • Brandon says:

    I just finished reading #SOBLESSED by Annoying Actor Friend.

    Even though the book is very sarcastic in tone, it had a lot of truth behind it. There are a lot of lessons and I think it would truly be a great read for anyone in school or the early stages of being in the “biz”…or anybody for that matter.

  • Michelle says:

    I would highly recommend “Audition” by Michael Shurtleff. It’s a great book full of behind the scenes stories about auditions by famous people. It also contains a lot of great advice for how to get started in a career in theatre.

  • Randi says:

    Seth’s Broadway Diary

  • Claire says:

    One of my favorites is Frank Rich’s Ghost Light.

  • Derek T. Pickens says:

    In the fictional Broadway realm, two must-reads are Marc Acito’s “How I Paid For College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship, and Musical Theater” and its follow-up “Attack of the Theater People.” These should be required reading for all theatre majors!

  • Yoni Weiss says:

    I couldn’t just choose one! Here are my top picks.

    – The Godspell Experience: Inside a Transformative Musical by Carol de GIere
    – Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops by Ken Mandelbaum
    – Diary of a Mad Playwright: Perilous Adventures on the Road with Mary Martin and Carol Channing by James Kirkwood
    – Lady Parts by Andrea Martin
    – Free for All: Joe Papp, The Public, and the Greatest Theater Story Ever Told by Kenneth Turan
    – Nothing Like a Dame: Conversations with the Great Women of Musical Theater by Eddie Shapiro
    – Tradition!: The Highly Improbable, Ultimately Triumphant Broadway-to-Hollywood Story of Fiddler on the Roof, the World’s Most Beloved Musical by Barbara Isenberg
    – Strippers, Showgirls, and Sharks: A Very Opinionated History of the Broadway Musicals That Did Not Win the Tony Award by Peter Filichia
    – Hat Box: The Collected Lyrics of Stephen Sondheim

  • Jeff says:


    Without You – Anthony Rapp


    Everything Was Possible – Ted Chapin

  • Fred Hartwell says:

    In high school, I read Moss Hart’s autobiography, Act One. I may have forgotten House of the Seven Gables, but never Act One. Sometimes when I see a Broadway play that isn’t quite up to par, I think what Moss Hart would have done. What changes he would have made during the night to make the play work better. Although it would have taken me years before I got to Broadway after high school, Broadway has never left me either.

  • David says:

    Not Since Carrie – Ken Mendelbaum
    Act One – Moss Hart
    On The Line: The Creation of A Chorus Line – Robert Viagas, Baayork Lee and Thommie Walsh
    Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theater – Larry Stempel

  • When I was directing “Bye Bye Birdie” at a Middle School, a mom gave me a great book “Put on a Happy Face: A Broadway Memoir: By Charles Strouse. I also loved Patti LuPone’s Memoir. She didn’t pull any punches.

  • Margie Goldsmith says:

    Diary of a Mad Playwright: Perilous Adventures on the Road with Mary Martin and Carol Chamming (James Kirkwood)

    Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops (Ken Mandelbaum)

    The Whorehouse Papers (Larry L. King)

    The Untold Stories of Broadway: Tales from the World’s Most Famous Theatres (Jennifer Ashley Tepper)

  • I love “inside baseball” books about Broadway–let’s eat ’em like candy!!

    One I’ve read:
    Without You, Anthony Rapp

    One I plan to:
    Strippers, Showgirls, and Sharks: A Very Opinionated History of the Broadway Musicals That Did Not Win the Tony Award, Peter Filichia

  • David Rigano says:

    Of course both of Jen Tepper’s books, both of Stephen Sondheim’s books. I haven’t seen anyone mention Jerry Herman’s autobiography Showtune. Also, every Christmas I get the latest Playbill Yearbook, which is a great read!

  • Sylvie says:

    -Fosse by Sam Wasson
    – Patti LuPone’s memoir
    -Broadway Musicals: the 101 Greatest Shows of All Time by Ken Bloom and Frank Vlastnik

    All wonderful reads that I personally loved and found quite entertaining.

  • Bill Hicks says:

    Not since Moss Hart’s ACT ONE have I read a theater book
    as god as John Lahr’s biography of Tennessee Williams.
    Filled with heroes and villains, betrayal and loyalty, genius
    and stupidity (often in the same person), I loved every paragraph.

    Also excellent is the Anthony Perkins bio of a decade ago (whose name escapes me)

  • Brian says:

    Forbidden broadway: behind the Mylar curtain

  • Gillien Goll says:

    I want to read everything already mentioned! OK, I’d add
    Wendy & the Lost Boys by Julie Salamon,
    Free for All: Joe Papp, The Public, and the Greatest Theater Story Ever Told
    by Kenneth Turan and Joseph Papp
    (what more can be said if the title says it’s “The Greatest Theater Story Ever Told”?)

  • David Zak says:

    Mainly on Directing by Arthur Laurents. For too many, directing can be an solitary venture. Mr. Laurents is informative, dishy, fun, and compelling.

  • Laurie B. says:

    I’d have a full on Broadway Diva month and read:

    Patti Lupone: A Memoir
    Kristin Chenoweth: A Little Bit Wicked
    Gypsy: A Memoir of America’s Most Celebrated Stripper (OK, she wasn’t a Broadway star but this book is amazing and reminds me of all the Diva’s I’ve ever seen play Mama Rose.)
    Carol Channing: Just Lucky I Guess
    Debbie Reynolds: Unsinkable: A Memoir
    Carol Burnett: One More Time
    and of course-Julie Andrews-Home-A Memoir of my Early Years

  • John Olson says:

    Hal Prince’s autobiography.

  • Owen Leonard says:

    + 1 on The Untold Stories of Broadway Volumes 1 & 2- Jennifer Ashley Tepper

    I won Volume 2 last giveaway and love the book!!

  • Byron says:

    The Empty Space, by Peter Brook

  • MichaelC says:

    My book choice would be “American Rose” by Karen Abbott. Subtitled “A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee”. This book is the iconic entertainer’s biography that reads like a novel. Ms. Abbott’s book sheds new light on, and provides great detail to, the life many believe they already know from the oft produced musical “Gypsy”.

  • “But He Doesn’t Know the Territory: The Making of Meredith Willson’s ‘The Music Man'”, by Meredith Willson , because:
    1. It’s finally back in print.
    2. How often do we get to read a composer’s first-hand account of the making of a classic Broadway musical?
    3. It’s the next live NBC television musical next year!

    • MichaelC says:

      Wilson’s prequel. “And There I Stood With My Piccolo” is equally entertaining and truly sets the stage for his creating “The Music Man” which he covers in the follow up book you mention.

  • Tom B. says:

    Not My Father’s Son!!! Alan Cumming!!

    Happy Holidays & Happy New Year Ken!!!

  • “Hello Gorgeous”, the latest Barbra Streisand biography. The book ends on the Opening Night of Funny Girl, so it’s really her life/career before becoming a huge star which I found completely fascinating.

  • Jeffrey Sweet says:

    I’m proud of THE O’NEILL (about the O’Neill Center) and SOMETHING WONDERFUL RIGHT AWAY (about the birth of Second City). Very pleased to have had the first crack at telling the stories of two of the most important American theatre companies.

    Others? Yes, the Sondheim books, Prince’s autobiography, the Fosse bio, Hugh Fordin’s bio of Oscar Hammerstein, Harry Thompson’s bio of Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller’s SUBSEQUENT PERFORMANCES, Janet Coleman’s THE COMPASS, anything by Viola Spolin, FROM FRINGE TO FLYING CIRCUS by Roger Wilmut. Currently reading John Lahr’s Tennessee Williams bio, but any of Lahr is worth reading. Also, collections of Tynan’s stuff. Brustein’s THEATRE OF REVOLT. CHANGING STAGES by Richard Eyre and Nicholas Wright. Bios of Kazan and Robbins, of course (including KAZAN ON DIRECTING). Sheldon Patinkin’s history of musical theatre. Lehman Engel’s books on musical theatre. Simon Callow’s books on Orson Welles. And my favorite “making of” book — THE NICH9OLAS NICKLEBY STORY by Leon Rubin.

  • Corey says:

    It’s more of an extended article than book, but “Showstopper” by Abigail Pogrebin is a fascinating read about being in the original cast of “Merrily We Roll Along”

  • Tim Donahue says:

    I’d be overly modest if I didn’t recommend “Stage Money,” by me and Jim Patterson.

  • Elizabeth Hofker says:

    The Untold Stories of Broadway by Ashley Tepper. Very well done!

  • Dan D. says:

    On the slightly more academic side, I’d put Stacy Wolf’s 2 books- “There’s Something About Maria” and “Changed For Good.” Andrea Most’s “Making Americans” is fascinating. And I’m obsessed with DA Miller’s “Place For Us,” but it’s not an easy read at all.

  • Finishing the Hat and Look I Made a Hat

  • Bway Jack says:

    The Season by William Goldman, still the definitive look at the business of Broadway.
    Making it BIG by Barbara Isenberg, the seminal history of one of the biggest flops in Broadway history (then!)

  • Cathy Flynn says:

    What a reading list ~ I’ll add two of the pillars of Broadway ~ George and Flo (forgive me)
    George M. Cohan ~ The Man who Owned Broadway by John McCabe
    Ziegfeld: The Man Who Invented Show Business by Ethan Mordden

  • David H. says:

    I think my number one choice would be William Goldman’s The Season, which even though it was written in 1969 still is one of the best books for an inside look at Broadway. Also for those on the way up, Stage Geek: The Real Life Drama of a Summer at Stagedoor Manor, by Mickey Rapkin.

  • Strippers, Showgirls, and Sharks: A Very Opinionated History of the Broadway Musicals That Did Not Win the Tony Award, Peter Filichia



  • Michael says:

    In the sensational DROPPED NAMES, Frank Langella has engaged me with his wit, honesty, and trenchancy. Perfect for the subway, Laundromat, or TKTS, this collection of self-revelatory anecdotes honors and/or criticizes only the dearly (and sometimes reprehensibly) departed of mostly show biz luminaries. With a gentleman’s integrity -and wisdom – he spares his still-breathing contemporaries from his pen. I must confess. however. I cannot wait for more of Mr. Langella’s “pals” to make their final exits, setting the stage for a covetable sequel.

  • Jake says:

    First ones that come to mind:

    -Fun Home (graphic novel)
    -Finishing the Hat/Look I Made a Hat
    -The Playbill Broadway Yearbook

  • Jeff Revels says:

    DEFINITELY Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical Follies- AMAZING access and intelligent observations. It felt like I was in the rehearsal room.

    And Making It Big: The Diary of a Broadway Musical.

    Both these books put you in the heat of the moment like Song of Spiderman. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but you feel like you want to call someone and give your input on decisions! That means those are well-written tomes.

    And, I have to go through everyone’s comments to make sure I get everything.

  • Bryan Austermann says:

    Hard to pick just one!

    I LOVE

    Patti LuPone: A Memoir
    A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth

    And the Finishing the Hat/Look, I Made A Hat collection by Sondheim is an incredibly valuable resource.

    And I haven’t read them yet, but I can’t wait to do so,
    The Untold Stories of Broadway Volume 1 and 2 by Jen Tepper!

    Yay books!

  • Gayle Griffith says:

    Act One by Moss Hart. I read it looong ago as a teenager and it made such a strong impression, I’ve never forgotten it!

  • Allison M says:

    My favorite Broadway book right now is definitely Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle. It’s just so cute!

  • Yosi Merves says:

    Finishing the Hat is good. The Playbill Broadway Yearbooks can have great tidbits as well.

    I also like “Making It on Broadway” by Jodie Langel
    “Second Act Trouble” and “Not Since Carrie” are both very informative about Broadway flops and shows that didn’t quite come together.

    “The Gentlemen Press Agent”, a biography of Merle Dubuskey, is also very great.

    Many wonderful books to choose from!

  • Cash Tilton says:

    “Slings & Arrows: The Theater in My Life,” by Bobby Lewis. Favorite Moment of Mine #1: Bobby never got much respect as an actor in The Group Theater, and was cast in a role with one scene and no lines in their last production–a role that he turned into a Personal Triumph. Favorite Moment of Mine #2: Production meeting for “The Other Scottish Play”–Bobby is directing, Alan Jay Lerner is writing book and lyrics, Fritz Loewe is writing music. The eternal question arises: “What is this show about?” “It’s about a magical village that reappears ….” No! “It’s about nostalgia for the simpler …” No! “It’s about kilts and bagpipes.” NO! And Bobby finally said, “It’s about a man who realizes that he doesn’t have to be a cynic.”

  • Brian says:

    Mainly on Directing – Arthur Laurents
    Finishing The Hat – Stephen Sondheim
    Dance With Demons – The Life Of Jerome Robbins
    The Joy of Music – Leonard Berstein
    Then read
    Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare

    Then write your musical based on R & J for extra credit

  • Lawrence says:

    Many choices, but here are some off my bookshelf that I would recommend:

    Fosse by Sam Wasson
    The Godspell Experience: Inside a Transformative Musical by Carol de Giere
    I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short
    Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater by
    Michael Sokolove

  • Jo Frankel says:

    I’m always desperately looking for novels set in and around the theatre world. There are tons of non-fiction but not enough stories. I think you should add Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway Nights.

  • Ed Friedman says:

    Frank Rich’s Hot Seat.It’s rare to see a reviewer reconsider his opinions and just as entertaining to revisit those original reviews and conjure up those performances; and in some cases recall the debuts of actors that are now household names

  • Donald I says:

    “”All His Jazz: The Life and Death of Bob Fosse” by Martin Gottfried. It had me hooked from the first chapter.

    The other one is about the early days of American popular entertainment because I think it’s really important to know where the profession and traditions came from. “Dan Rice: The Most Famous Man You’ve Never Heard Of” by David Carlyon.

  • John Sweeney says:

    Without hesitation: ANYTHING GOES by Ethan Mordden.

    Actually, ANYTHING theater-themed by Ethan Mordden.

    And for a fictional piece, I cannot recommend Susan Cooper’s KING OF SHADOWS highly enough. It’s a story about the first production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM through the eyes of a time-traveling boy playing Puck. Shakespeare is a major character and Elizabeth I makes a guest appearance.

  • Becca Stoll says:

    Act One (the original book) by Moss Hart
    Free For All (a history of the nysf/public theater)
    Mainly on Directing by Arthur Laurents

    And, while it’s not a one-time read per se, I’d have to include Finishing the Hat.

  • I’d recommend: A sense of direction by William Ball

    Happy Holidays!

  • Jennifer Jenkins says:

    “Pieces at Eight” by Walter Kerr
    Very interesting read about the Broadway seasons a few decades ago.

  • Solange De Santis says:

    “Musical Stages,” Richard Rodgers’ autobiography, as fascinating for what it leaves out as for what it puts in.

  • David Buffington says:

    Not Since Carrie by Ken Mandelbaum — great fun learning about the fabulous flops on Broadway

    Broadway: The American Musical byMichael Kantor and Laurence Maslon — beautiful book to go along with the PBS series…got to learn our Broadway history.

    Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle — YA novel about trying to get that break on Broadway…gotta dream.

  • Brian P says:

    All of the books by Seth Rudetsky – yes, even the books for kids.

    If you have extra time, read the books with Sondheim’s lyrics – both books. That will definitely take most of the summer!

  • Margaret Layding says:

    “Getting to Know Him” by Hugh Fordham. It’s best telling of Oscar Hammerstein’s story, which is clearly required Summer Reading!

    And thanks to the person above who mentioned the Meredith Wilson Music Man story – sounds great, that one is going on my list.

  • Great books, above, many of which are new to me! Thanks, everyone.

    My list:
    – Act One by Moss Hart (which many have already recommended);
    – Backwards and Forwards by David Ball (the best little book on playwriting and directing I know of, and you’ll want to re-read Hamlet as you read the book);
    – Notes on Directing by Frank Hauser (another wonderful little book, with fun and true philosophical musings about directing);
    – Playing Shakespeare (the book is the companion piece to the video series, whose 10 hours or so are the best education an actor/director can get on playing the Bard, direct from Royal Shakespeare Company members of the 1980’s).
    – Ken Davenport’s blogs (fascinating reading).

  • Andy says:

    Lots of great choices already. “Act One” and “The Season” would be at the top of my list along with a complete set of Ethan Mordden books for Musical Theatre fans.

    I’d add “The Making Of No, No, Nannette” for everyone who likes Everything Was Possible.

  • Ben says:

    The Street Where I Live – Alan Jay Lerner

    The Whorehouse Papers – Larry King

    Ghost Light – Frank Rich

    The Season – William Goldman

  • Jeff Miele says:

    I am a firm believer everyone needs to read “Act One.” If you’re a theater love it’s a treat, but anyone can get joy and motivation out of it. It represents passion and love and what one individual would do it fulfill a destiny and life long dreams.

    You also can’t go wrong with the memoir of the one and only Patti LuPone.

    Gene WIlder also has a fantastic autobiography called “Kiss Me Like a Stranger.” Quick but fantastic read.

  • Kevin Sigman says:

    True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor – David Mamet

    [Though I don’t 100% subscribe to his ideas, this book completely changed my outlook on the craft of acting for the better.]

    What They Did for Love: The Untold Story Behind the Making of ‘A Chorus Line’ – Denny Martin Flinn

    [Though some of this is covered in the awesome documentary Every Little Step, this book gives you even more insight into the creation of this monumental show and the struggle to put a show on the Broadway stage.]

    Patti Lupone: A Memoir

    [Beyond just a fan’s enjoyment of reading about her life, it’s an interesting peek at the business from the perspective of someone who’s been in it as long as she has with all the ups and downs that go along with that.]

    Broadway: The American Musical – Michael Kantor and Laurence Maslon

    [A great book to read up on the history of musical theatre in this country, and a wonderful companion to the PBS series.]

  • David says:

    Ethan Mordden’s “Anything Goes.” He is a brilliant and passionate writer with a wicked sense of humor, who has written this expansive history of the American Musical Theatre. It is delightfully academic in detail and analysis, but a hell of a good time as well!

  • Queerbec says:

    My favorite Broadway books include;

    Wendy and the Lost Boys by Julie Salamon
    Lessons in Becoming Myself by Ellen Burstyn
    Ted Chapin’s Everything Was Possible

  • Alexa B. says:

    The Producer’s Guide to Producing, by CTI!

  • Dean Lance says:

    Harpo Speaks! by Harpo Marx! The Marx Brothers starred in three Broadway hits, not to mention all those years in vaudeville. As a member of the famed Algonquin Round Table, you also heard of the adventures and accomplishments of Broadway veterans like George S. Kaufman, Ben Hecht, Edna Ferber, Dorothy Parker, Charles MacArthur, Alexander Woollcott, Marc Connelly, Robert Sherwood, Moss Hart et al not to mention the likes of Irving Berlin and George Gershwin.

    Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof by Alisa Solomon.

    George S. Kaufman: An Intimate Portrait by Howard Teichmann

    Act One: An Autobiography of Moss Hart

  • Candy says:

    Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondheim <3

  • Donald Sanborn III says:

    “The Sound of Broadway Music” by Steven Suskin: an excellent history of some of the great Broadway orchestrators, and a thorough discussion of their craft.

  • Heather says:

    Unnaturally Green – Felicia Ricci

    Neil Patrick Harris ‘ Choose Your Own Autobiography (the Hedwig part alone is worth it!)

    How I Paid For College and Attack of the Theatre People by Marc Auto

    Any of the coffee table books about Broadway in general, or about specific shows…all are excellent!

    Any of the Playbill Broadway Yearbooks

    Any of Seth Rudetsky’s books…all are excellent!

  • Patrick McGregor II says:

    It has to be Finishing The Hat. Such brilliant anecdotes.

  • Lynn says:

    I have so much to catch up on now –

    i enjoyed –
    1-Musical Theatre – A History by John Kendrick
    This is a great book that allows the reader to peek behind the curtain while studying musical theater’s evolution. I simply loved it.
    2-Harold Prince and The American Musical Theatre – Foster Hirsch
    Really in depth and honest.

    So many…

  • Lauren Letellier says:

    The Season — William Goldman
    Act One — Moss Hart
    Sondheim (biography) — Meryl Secrest

    Happy Holidays!

  • Alex Bernstein says:

    Neil Patrick Harris ‘ Choose Your Own Autobiography
    Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondheim
    What They Did for Love: The Untold Story Behind the Making of ‘A Chorus Line’ – Denny Martin Flinn

  • Mark Selby says:

    My Broadway reading summer of required reading would start and end with The Season by William Goldman. In between, Not Since Carrie by Ken Mandelbaum and Words and Music by Lehman Engel would kick off an extraordinary list of truly engrossing books. And I would also try to fit in as many books by the wonderfully entertaining and incredibly informative Peter Filichia.

  • Bobby says:

    Creating Musical Theatre: Conversations with Broadway Directors and Choreographers by Lyn Cramer

    Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theater by Larry Stempel

    Broadway: The American Musical by Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor

    Blue-Collar Broadway: The Craft and Industry of American Theater by Timothy R. White

  • Matthew Turkle says:

    SO many great reads out there. Here are my top picks.

    1. Broadway Nights – Seth Rudetsky
    2. Untold Stories of Broadway Vol. 1 and 2 – Jennifer Ashley Tepper
    3. Everything Was Possible – Ted Chapin
    4. Stephen Sondheim: A Life – Meryle Secrest
    5. Strippers, Showgirls, and Sharks: A Very Opinionated History of the Broadway Musicals That Did Not Win the Tony Award – Peter Filichia

    Happy Reading!

  • I will pull out my fun to read THE ART OF COARSE ACTING

    -a brilliant book that deserves to get back into print real soon.This book is a deliciously hilarious spoof of the British stage, with heavy emphasis on ‘cultural’ amateur societies. It is a satire on producing as well as acting, directing,–and the gurus who teach it.

  • Emily Herschbein says:

    Broadway Nights by Seth Rudetsky

  • Sue says:

    How Does the Show Go On? An Introduction to the Theater, by Thomas Schumacher is a book every child should read.

    Thank you for this blog. Now I have my reading list for years!

  • Shauna Hagan says:

    Love, Janis by Janis Joplin’s sister Laura Joplin. I just started reading it – it was the basis for the show of the same name. These two women had a powerful connection and it’s amazing to hear Janis’s story from someone with such a deep personal perspective.

    I would love to win the book set!! You know I am a big fan of your blog. I just had a baby on December 1 and it would be so great to have some reading material after I finish the Janis book.

  • Howard Levitsky says:

    Finishing the Hat and Look, I Made a Hat by Stephen Sondheim – The Gospel according to the master!

    Everything Was Possible by Ted Chapin – a minor miracle of a book by Ted Chapin as a student go-fer/fly on the wall during the original production of FOLLIES and Ted Chapin as an adult well-connected in the music and theater business who puts everything into perspective and adds the benefit of hindsight.

  • As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin

    The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker

  • Geri W says:

    Finishing the Hat- Sondheim

  • Matthew says:

    Thank you Ken for sharing the thoughts and experience with your blog audience. Your daily email update is something I look forward to reading every day.

    Honestly one of my favourite books about Broadway is the ebook of your top 100 posts! You back up your discussions about how to blog, how to create and market great theatre by continually setting great examples of how it can be done. I’ve used your ebook as a resource both in terms of helpful content that I return to time and time again and as an example of how by freely sharing thoughts and ideas you can build a great community around the thing that you love to do.

    Darn you too – in a sense – because this particular competition has generated so many great reading suggestions from your awesome friends and readers that my Amazon wish list has just grown by another 30+ books.

    I love reading about theatre and the people and stories behind it. I keep many such reads nearby on my bookshelf – I’ve listed a few below because I want to contribute to the resource that this post has fast become.

    But my very favourite Broadway Book at the moment is the book of the original show I’m working on. Admittedly it’s not ready for a Broadway run just yet – but one day it will be and I dream that it will be in the hands of a team of people with as much passion for theatre, theatre people and theatre audiences as you clearly have, Ken.

    Happy Holidays to you, Tracy and the entire Davenport Theatrical family!

    – – – – –

    My Broadway reading list includes:

    Original Story By and Maibly on Directing – Arthur Laurents

    Finishing the Hat and Look I Made a Hat – Stephen Sondheim

    Musical Stages – Richard Rodgers

    The American Musical Theatre: A Consideration – Lehman Engel

    Everything Was Possible – Ted Chapin

    Stephen Sondheim: A Life – Meryle Secrest

    The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway – William Goldman

    The Sound of Broadway: A book of Orchestrators and Orchestrations – Steven Suskind

  • JM says:

    The Fervent Years by Harold Clurman
    Blessings in Disguise Alec Guinness
    Merry & Happy!

  • Joe Fab says:

    While I revere Ghost Light, Act One and The Season (as well as many others offered here), I don’t think anyone has mentioned Peter Neufeld’s wonderful memoir FOR THE GOOD OF THE SHOW.

  • Cole Horsfall says:

    So many good reads listed here. I offer my suggestions….in no real order.

    The Making of No, No, Nanette by Don Dunn
    Moose Murdered by Arthur Bicknell
    The Gentlemen Press Agent (Merle Debuskey) by Robert Simonson
    The Season by William Goldman
    Not Since Carrie by Ken Mandelbaum
    Making It Big, the Diary of a Broadway Musical by Barbara Isenberg

  • EllenFD says:

    FINISHING THE HAT – (both) by Sondheim

    I MUST SAY – by Martin Short (OK, not exclusively about Broadway, but it does touch generously on the original production of GODSPELL in Toronto and Mr. Short’s Broadway adventures.

    Any book by Peter Filichia

  • Cydney Halpin says:

    An absolute read…”The Street where I Live” – Alan Jay Lerner
    Great insider stories…”Backstage Pass to Broadway” – Susan L. Schulman
    Authoritative Biography…”The Sound and Their Music” – Frederick Nolan
    Opinionated History…”Strippers, Showgirls and Sharks” – Peter Filichia

    I could go on and on!!! What a fun exercise! And what an amazing gift on this Christmas Day…a reading list for years!! Thank you!

  • Sabrina says:

    Jen Tepper’s Untold Stories of Broadway books – both of them! What treasure troves!

  • Amanda says:

    I’m going to go old school and say Act One!

  • Darcey Priss says:

    I adore so many theater related books. Here’s a selection:
    Nothing Like a Dame: Conversations with the Great Women of Musical Theater by Eddie Shapiro

    Everything was Possible by Ted Chapin

    Strippers, Showgirls, and Sharks: A Very Opinionated History of the Broadway Musicals That Did Not Win the Tony Award by Peter Filichia

    Hat Box: The Collected Lyrics of Stephen Sondheim

    Thank you for all your hard work and dedication! Happy holidays

  • Margaret W. says:

    For a longer read, I’m going to go with Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theater by Larry Stempel. For a lighter read, I’m a total sucker for Bill Berloni’s Broadway Tails. For a show-specific book, The Complete Book of Les Miserables by Edward Behr is amazing. (That was three books. Oh, well…)

  • JAH says:

    Looks like a great set of books!!

  • Beth D says:

    Either of Carol De Giere’s brilliantly written books on Stephen Schwartz:

    Defying Gravity: the Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked
    The Godspell Experience: Inside a Transformative Musical

  • Michael L says:

    My all-time favorite is the hilarious DOWNWIND OF UPSTAGE. I go back to it whenever I start taking myself too seriously. I’m not sure if it’s still in print, but if you’re in need of a chuckle and some unexpected insight, try to find. It’s a hoot!

  • Drew Taylor says:

    Contradictions: Notes on 26 Years in the The Theatre by Harold Prince
    Finishing the Hat: Sondheim
    Act One by Moss Hart
    The Abominable Showman
    The Street Where I Live
    The Season

  • Kerry Zukus says:

    “The Making of No, No, Nanette” by Don Dunn. One of the first great behind-the-scenes Broadway tell-alls.

  • Lisa W. says:

    The World of Flo Ziegfeld, or any other book about the beginning of the theater. But really, what could be wrong about any book about any Broadway show, star, composer, director or even producer?

  • Martha Neider says:

    Act One by Moss Hart
    Lady Parts by Andrea Martin
    Second Act Trouble by Suskin

    I loved reading everyone’s suggestions, and have made a reading list for myself and my fellow theater/Broadway geeks.

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