The Scene’s Summer Break Reading List 2024

Zach Dulli Archive

By Zach Dulli, The Scene

As the summer sun beckons and the curtains briefly close on another school year, it’s the perfect time for theatre educators and enthusiasts to dive into some enriching and inspiring reads. Whether you’re lounging by the pool, hiding from the heat in the air-conditioned sanctuary of your home, or just avoiding…everyone, here’s a curated list of books that offer deep dives into the world of theatre. From Broadway history and personal memoirs to scholarly essays and practical guides, each title promises to add a touch of magic to your summer days. Are you interested in learning more about any of the books listed below? Click on that book’s title.

  • The Tony Awards: A Celebration of Excellence in Theatre by Eila Mell | Dive into the glitz and glamour of Broadway with this tribute to the Tony Awards. Mell, with support from the American Theatre Wing, interviews a host of Tony winners, sharing their behind-the-scenes stories. This book offers a heartfelt look at what it means to achieve the highest honor in theatre.
  • Broadway Melody by Jack Viertel | Viertel’s novel is a nostalgic journey through Times Square and the Theater District. It is a romance that spans continents and decades. Filled with theatre lore and vivid characters, it is a love letter to Broadway and its enduring charm.
  • The Long Revolution: Sixty Years on the Frontlines of a New American Theater by Zelda Fichandler | A collection of essays and speeches by the pioneering Zelda Fichandler, this volume captures the evolution of American theatre. Fichandler’s writings offer insights into the challenges and triumphs of creating non-profit theatre and shaping the cultural landscape.
  • To Repair the World by Mary B. Robinson | If you want more on Zelda Fichandler, look no further than this new oral history biography. This biography of Zelda Fichandler, founder of Arena Stage, captures her transformative impact on American theatre. Through the memories of those who worked with her, this book paints a vivid picture of a pioneering woman and her legacy.
  • Letters from an Actor by William Redfield | Experience the legendary 1964 Broadway run of Hamlet through the eyes of actor William Redfield. His letters provide an intimate look at the production, John Gielgud’s innovative direction, and Richard Burton’s magnetic performance.
  • Song of the Season: Outstanding Broadway Songs since 1891 by Thomas Hischak | For those who believe in the power of a musical score, Hischak’s historical survey highlights the songs that have defined Broadway from the early 20th century to the present day. This book underscores the enduring significance of music in theatre.
  • The American Musical: Evolution of an Art Form by Ben West | West traces the journey of the American musical from its 19th-century roots to its modern-day manifestations. This comprehensive account explores the contributions of often-overlooked female and African-American artists and the dynamic relationship between theatre and society.
  • The Intimacy Coordinator’s Guidebook by Brooke M. Haney | A crucial resource for modern theatre, this guidebook addresses the role of intimacy coordinators in ensuring safe and respectful creative environments. With contributions from industry professionals, it covers a wide range of topics, including cultural competency and working with diverse populations.
  • The Improv Dictionary by David Charles | Unlock the nuances of improv with this detailed resource. Charles goes beyond clichés to offer a comprehensive understanding of modern improvisational theatre, drawing from a variety of styles and practices to provide a rich, inclusive perspective.
  • Hamilton, History and Hip-Hop: Essays on an American Musical by Kevin J. Wetmore Jr. | Explore the cultural phenomenon of Hamilton through a collection of essays that contextualize the musical within various frameworks, including hip-hop, American history, and contemporary politics. This volume highlights the show’s profound impact on theatre and society.
  • Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent by Judi Dench and Brendan O’Hea | In this intimate conversation, Judi Dench reflects on her illustrious career and the many Shakespearean roles she has played. Dench’s insights into her rehearsal process and performances offer a masterclass in acting and a delightful journey through Shakespeare’s works.
  • Playhouse Square and the Cleveland Renaissance by John Vacha | Discover the history of Cleveland’s Playhouse Square, a cultural landmark that inspired urban renewal. Vacha’s account of the theaters’ near-demolition and subsequent revival is a testament to the enduring power of the arts.
  • On Bette Midler: An Opinionated Guide by Kevin Winkler | A comprehensive look at Bette Midler’s career, from her early days as the Divine Miss M to her mainstream success. Winkler’s guide celebrates Midler’s contributions to entertainment and her impact on the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Too Funny for Words: Backstage Tales from Broadway, Television, and the Movies by Jerry Adler | Jerry Adler’s memoir offers a behind-the-scenes look at his 70-year career in theatre, television, and film. Filled with humorous anecdotes and Hollywood tales, this book is a delightful read for anyone interested in the performing arts.
  • Cocktails with George and Martha: Movies, Marriage, and the Making of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Philip Gefter | Arthor Philip Gefter traces the journey of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? from its origins to its cinematic success. This book provides a fascinating look at the play’s creation and lasting impact.
  • Thrill Maker: The Story of My Musical “Thrill Me” by Stephen Dolginoff | Stephen Dolginoff reflects on the creation and success of his musical ‘Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story.’ His personal account offers insights into the challenges and triumphs of bringing a new musical to life.
  • Dance in Musical Theatre: A History of the Body in Movement by Phoebe Rumsey and Dustyn Martincich | This book explores the integral role of dance in musical theatre, from early 20th-century classics to contemporary productions. Rumsey and Martincich highlight the choreographers and dancers who have shaped the art form.
  • How Broadway Works: Building and Running a Show, from the People Who Make It Happen by Sharon Powers | Powers celebrates the unsung heroes of Broadway—the backstage professionals who bring productions to life. This book offers an in-depth look at the many careers that contribute to a successful show.
  • My Name Is Barbra by Barbra Streisand | In her memoir, Barbra Streisand shares her extraordinary life and career. From her early days in Brooklyn to her iconic performances on stage and screen, Streisand’s story is an inspiring journey of talent and determination.

Coming Soon

So, there you have it, a collection of books that promise to entertain, educate, and inspire you throughout the summer. Whether you’re looking for a deep dive into Broadway history, practical advice, or just a good laugh, this list has something for every theatre enthusiast. Happy reading!

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