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15 Must-Read Theater Books To Add To Your Reading List

March 30, 2020 by Diane Cardoso
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If you’re feeling a bit exhausted by all the binge-watching you’ve been doing, here’s a self-care tip: Turn off your laptop and pick up a book! It’s the perfect time to read your way through that never-ending list of books on your shelf and must-read bucket list. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite theater biographies, artist memoirs, play collections, and historical tomes that will give you an insight into the lives of those who have revolutionized our industry.

Dear Evan Hansen: Through the Window
If you’re a “fansen” (aka a huge “Dear Evan Hansen” fan), this book is for you. Read interviews with the cast and crew; get a sneak peak at original behind-the-scenes photography; examine a deeper look into Evan’s fictional world; and discover unreleased lyrics.

Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway
If you ever wanted to know how Broadway came to be, then there’s no better place to look than Michael Riedel’s historical account of the Great White Way. Learn about Broadway’s stars, its biggest shows, its producers, and all the drama, intrigue, and power plays that happened behind the scenes.

Patti LuPone: A Memoir
She’s the Broadway diva everyone wants to be friends with. In her tell-all memoir, Patti LuPone lays it all bare, sharing the intimate story of her life both onstage and off. You can expect her trademark humor and sass as she shares her darkest secrets (and juiciest drama).

Hamilton: The Revolution
From Tony Award-winning icon Lin-Manuel Miranda comes a backstage pass to his groundbreaking hit musical “Hamilton.” Read about how the story of a revolution became a smash-hit Broadway musical.

A Chorus Line FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Broadway’s Singular Sensation
The ultimate treasure trove of information, “A Chorus Line FAQ” presents history and fun facts, including the unique workshop process through which “A Chorus Line” was developed and written, the stories of its creators, the record-breaking Broadway run and numerous touring productions, and the captivating movie version.

Fifteen One-Act Plays by Sam Shepard
Filled with Sam Shepard’s trademark dark humor, unparalleled imagination, unforgettable characters, and exquisitely crafted storytelling, these 15 one-act plays by the late playwright portray human relationships, love, and lust with rare authenticity. 

The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America
This book is an oral history of Tony Kushner’s play “Angels in America,” as told by the artists who created it and the audiences forever changed by it as well as a moving account of the AIDS era and queer history.

The Oxford Handbook of Sondheim Studies
A must-read for any Sondheim fan, this incredible handbook offers a wealth of compelling topics and issues within the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim. If you’re looking to understand this musician’s work in more depth, then look no further! This book will have you enthralled for hours on end.

Home: A Memoir of My Early Years
Since her first appearance on screen in “Mary Poppins,” Julie Andrews has played a series of memorable roles that have made her an icon. In “Home: A Memoir of My Early Years,” she takes her readers on a moving and often humorous journey from a difficult upbringing in Britain to the brink of international stardom in the United States. 

The Detroit Project
Tony nominee Dominique Morisseau made her Broadway debut this past season with the hit musical “Ain’t Too Proud,” and her play cycle “The Detroit Project” includes three plays (“Paradise Blue,” “Detroit ’67,” and “Skeleton Crew”) that examine the sociopolitical history of her hometown Detroit.

Hat Box: The Collected Lyrics of Stephen Sondheim
“Hat Box” is the complete collected lyrics from the acclaimed “Finishing the Hat” and “Look, I Made a Hat,” and is essential reading for theater fans or devotees of the living legend’s work. Lyrics from Stephen Sondheim’s most popular shows like “West Side Story,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” and “Into the Woods” are richly annotated with anecdotes, observations, and invaluable advice.

Fleabag: The Scriptures
Go deeper into the groundbreaking Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning series with this must-have collection. “Fleabag: The Scriptures” includes full scripts from the show and creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s exclusive commentary.

If you loved the recent FX miniseries “Fosse/Verdon,” then now might be the perfect time to read the biography that the series was based on. Sam Wasson unveils the man behind the swaggering sex appeal, tracing Fosse’s untold reinventions of himself over a career that would spawn “The Pajama Game,” “Cabaret,” “Pippin,” and “Chicago,” one of the longest-running Broadway musicals ever.

Rewrites: A Memoir
“Rewrites” is a combination of touching personal memories and reflections, anecdotes about the writing life, and hilarious stories about some of the biggest names in the entertainment business by the iconic playwright Neil Simon.

Dramatic Exchanges: Letters of the National Theatre
Maggie Smith, Ian McKellen, and Judy Dench are only but a few of the many famous actors and playwrights whose endearing letters to the National Theatre are included in this rich collection of letters, scribbled notes, and more.