The holidays are here again, and if you’re shopping for the theater fan in your life, they boy do we have the gift guide for you. We’ve rounded up 10 theater-centric books that will satisfy Broadway’s biggest obsessives at showtime.
“Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway”
By Michael Riedel
Simon and Schuster, $27.00
“New York Post” theater gossip columnist Michael Riedel may be known for revealing some of Broadway’s biggest secrets, but in his first book “Razzle Dazzle,” Riedel pulls back the curtain on the Shubert Organization, Michael Bennett, “A Chorus Line” and the role they all played in saving New York City from bankruptcy in the 1970s. Beautifully written, this no-holds-barred narrative delves into the bitter rivalries and offstage drama of Broadway’s past. If you’ve ever wondered how Broadway became the multi-billion dollar business it is today, “Razzle Dazzle” will leave you standing on your feet in applause.
“Seth’s Broadway Diary, Volume 2”
By Seth Rudetsky
Dress Circle Publishing, $19.99
Broadway accompanist, musical director and SiriusXM star Seth Rudetsky returns for a second volume of his “Seth’s Broadway Diary” series, which compiles his popular “Onstage and Backstage” columns for Playbill.com into one laugh-out-loud book. You’ll get to see a side of legendary Broadway stars like Sutton Foster, Idina Menzel and Megan Hilty you’ve never seen before. When it comes to life backstage on Broadway, Seth’s your BFF. You won't want to put this one down.
“Do You Know Me?”
By Tony Roberts
New York native Tony Roberts has spent five decades in showbiz, entertaining audiences in iconic films like Sidney Lumet’s “Serpico” and on Broadway in the screwball comedy “Xanadu.” Now, the two-time Tony nominee explains all with honesty and humor in his delightful autobiography “Do You Know Me?” Throughout Roberts’ backstage adventures, his undying passion for the craft only grows stronger -- showing you just how technical of an actor Roberts is. You’ll learn a lot, while also laughing as Roberts dishes on working with Woody Allen in six major motion pictures (including “Annie Hall”) and the writer’s first Broadway venture, “Don’t Drink the Water.” Moreover, Roberts’ touching account of the serious head injury he suffered a few years back will bring tears to your eyes. This legendary performer is hard not to love.
COFFEE TABLE BOOKS
“Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story”
DK Publishing, $40.00
Brush up on your theatre history with “Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story.” This lushly visual book features a chronological account of more than 140 notable stage and movie musicals from 1939 to present, with rich photography and informative facts sprinkled throughout. You’ll also learn more about Broadway’s biggest composers, with spotlights on Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim, among others. “Musicals” is a book that scores.
“Black Broadway: African Americans on the Great White Way”
By Stewart F. Lane
Square One Publishers, $39.95
In addition to its sold-out box office, the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” is also making headlines for its diverse casting. But before Lin-Manuel Miranda’s historic hip-hopera, there were generations of performers and artists breaking through the racial barrier on the Great White Way. The beautiful “Black Broadway” chronicles the journey of black theatre in America -- from Minstrel Shows and Vaudeville through the Civil Rights Movement and the Golden Age of the American Musical. It’s hard not to be inspired by the stories behind writers like August Wilson and Lorraine Hansberry, shows like “Dreamgirls” and “The Wiz,” and performers like Audra McDonald and Ben Vereen -- all who are featured here. But with this piece of often-forgotten history at your fingertips, you’ll gain a new level of appreciation for Broadway’s rich roots.
“The Book of Broadway: The 150 Definitive Plays and Musicals”
By Eric Grode
Voyageur Press, $50.00
One hundred fifty of Broadway’s biggest and most influential plays and musicals are profiled in “The Book of Broadway,” Eric Grode’s wonderfully detailed and beautifully designed book. Packed with insider knowledge and delicious Broadway trivia, the illustrated book spans the rich history of the Great White Way, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century and going all the way to the twenty-first century. From “Annie” and “The Book of Mormon” to “The Sound of Music” and “West Side Story,” Grode offers a fresh, thoughtful perspective on Broadway’s best.
FOR THE KIDS
“Aaron and Alexander”
By Don Brown
Roaring Brook Press, $17.99
If the theater fans in your life are obsessed with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton,” chances are they’ve already gotten the cast recording, source book and any piece of merchandise they can get their hands on. But they probably don’t have “Aaron and Alexander,” the new picture book beautifully written and illustrated by Dan Brown. Like the musical, the book intertwines the stories of the two notable founding fathers, leading up to their infamous duel. While Brown doesn’t go too heavy into the politics, his smart and well-crafted text gives enough drama to engage and entertain. “Aaron and Alexander” is the perfect gift to introduce a whole new generation of “Hamilton” fans.
“Broadway Swings: Covering the Ensemble in Musical Theatre”
By J. Austin Eyer and Lyndy Franklin Smith
Bloomsbury Publishing, $25.95
Swings are members of Broadway show ensembles, who cover multiple roles in a production as needed. These musical supermen and women are vital to the success of any musical -- though they’re rarely given the credit center stage. “Broadway Swings” pulls these versatile vamps out into the spotlight, examining the ins and outs of their everyday lives -- and exactly what it takes to keep a long-running show going. Over 100 Broadway veterans swings, stage managers, casting directors, choreographers and directors offer their insights into the process, alongside authors Eyer and Smith, who are performers themselves. A must-read for anyone considering a career in the theater, “Broadway Swings” is an eye-opener that will teach any old theater fan new tricks.
“#GRATEFUL: Everything Happens for a Reason”
By Annoying Actor Friend
Kindle Edition, $9.99
Anonymous Twitter parody account Annoying Actor Friend (@Actor_Friend) returns with its second self-published Kindle single. A follow-up to “#SOBLESSED: The Annoying Actor Friend’s Guide to Werking in Show Business,” “#GRATEFUL: Everything Happens for a Reason” is a choose-your-own-adventure-style guidebook to creating your own success in the Broadway industry. From callbacks to cabarets, you’ll navigate through hundreds of potential trajectories towards a slew of successful outcomes -- each filled with inside jokes for the biggest Broadway fans. This hysterical, satirical romp will leave you laughing with each turn of the digital page.
“The Business of Broadway: An Insider's Guide to Working, Producing, and Investing in the World's Greatest Theatre Community”
By Mitch Weiss and Perri Gaffney
Allworth Press, $19.99
If you’ve ever dreamed of working behind the scenes on Broadway, then “The Business of Broadway” is for you. Manager and producer Mitch Weiss and actor and writer Perry Gaffney have crafted a marvelously comprehensive guide to how shows get made, describing the process from top to bottom and detailing the more than 200 jobs which become available for each show. Producers, managers performers and various other creatives offer insight into the process along the way, allowing us a peek into the lullaby of Broadway we rarely get to see.