11 Must-Read Theatre Books to Bring to the Beach This Summer

Book News   11 Must-Read Theatre Books to Bring to the Beach This Summer
 
From Hedwig to the Chicago theatre scene, check out our list of books theatre lovers will enjoy.
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Break the typical beach read mold with these 13 theatre-related reads. Below are musical retrospectives, biographies, and more that will strike any fan’s fancy.

Mitchell and Trask's Hedwig and the Angry Inch, by Caridad Svich
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is examined through the lens of rock ’n’ roll performance, American musical history, and LGBTQ+ culture. The show, written by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, broke boundaries by having one of the first genderqueer protagonists on stage. (Out now from The Fourth Wall)

Zippy and Me: My Life Inside Britain's Most Infamous Puppet, by Ronnie Le Drew with Duncan Barrett & Nuala Calvi
Ronnie Le Drew has been a puppeteer for over 30 years, working on films like A Muppet Christmas Carol and Labyrinth. The role for which Le Drew is best known, however, is that of Zippy on ITV’s Rainbow (the British equivalent of Sesame Street). Now, the puppet master tells his own story intertwined with the inside scoop on Rainbow, from performer in-fighting to ridiculous TV execs, and even a love triangle. (Out July 25 from Unbound)

Barnum: An American Life, by Robert Wilson
Lovers of The Greatest Showman won't want to miss this new biography of the co-creator of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, which takes a deep dive into the life of P.T. Barnum from his upbringing in Connecticut through his career as a ringleader (and mayor for a year!) until his death. (Out August 6 from Simon & Schuster)

The Short Plays of Harold Pinter, by Harold Pinter with foreword by Antonia Fraser.
British playwright and Nobel prize winner Harold Pinter is widely regarded as one of the world's finest playwrights. Ahead of the Broadway revival of Betrayal comes this collection of short plays, from The Room to 2000's Celebration. (Out August 6 from Faber Drama)

Ensemble: An Oral History of Chicago Theater, by Mark Larson
New York tends to get all the credit when it comes to theatre, but Chicago is just as bustling and vibrant, with over 250 theatres. Compiled from over 300 interviews, this book takes a look at how theatre evolved in the Windy City thanks to stories from Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ed Asner, George Wendt, Michael Shannon, Tracy Letts, and more. (Out August 13 from Agate Midway)

Sam Wanamaker: A Global Performer, by Diana Devlin
This biography of the actor, playwright, and director focuses on his 25-year project reconstructing William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre near its original site. Author Diana Devlin spent 20 years as Wanamaker’s partner, giving readers an insider’s point of view to this theatre visionary. (Out August 13 from Oberon Books)

Dearest Lenny - Letters from Japan and the Making of the World Maestro, by Mari Yoshihara
Two unique relationships in Leonard Bernstein’s life are revealed through the letters of two fans in Japan, one of whom would go on to become his business representative and the other a close family friend. Dearest Lenny highlights how Bernstein's work had a global impact through personal connections. (Out September 3 from Oxford University Press)

The Show Won't Go On: The Most Shocking, Bizarre, and Historic Deaths of Performers Onstage, by Jeff Abraham and Burt Kearns
Certainly the most morbid book on our list this season, this is for fans of the weird and obscure. With stories like the magician who unexpectedly expired on live TV and the actor who died on stage in a play called The Art of Murder, The Show Won’t Go On is a collection of some of the weirdest occasions in which a performer went beyond the veil. (Out September 3 from Chicago Review Press)

The Prom: A Novel Based on the Hit Broadway Musical, by Saundra Mitchell with Bob Martin, Chad Beguelin, and Matthew Sklar
One of last season’s most LGBTQ+-friendly shows gets a novelization. The Prom follows Emma, a teenager who just wants to bring her girlfriend to a dance. When the PTA steps in, her hopes are dashed. Could a narcissistic group of Broadway actors swoop in to save the day while trying to reach their own dreams of super-stardom? (Out September 10 from Viking Books for Young Readers)

It's Always Loud in the Balcony: A Life in Black Theater, from Harlem to Hollywood and Back, by Richard Wesley
Stage and screen writer Richard Wesley started in Newark before making a splash in the black theatre scene in Harlem and eventually working with Sidney Poitier on films. This is both Wesley’s memoir and a look at the historic works the black community has contributed to theatre from Amiri Baraka to Hamilton. (Out September 15 from Applause)

Come From Away: Welcome to the Rock: An Inside Look at the Hit Musical, by Irene Sankoff, David Hein, and Laurence Maslon
This Broadway musical companion book to Come From Away is sure to be as fun as a night in Gander. With an introduction by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the book includes illustrated complete music and lyrics, backstage anecdotes, photos from productions all over the world, and even some songs that didn’t make it to the stage. (Out September 24 from Hachette Books)

And while it won’t be summer anymore, here’s one more book to make you excited for fall!

Jerome Robbins, by Himself: Selections from His Letters, Journals, Drawings, Photographs, and an Unfinished Memoir, by Jerome Robbins and edited by Amanda Vaill
Writings from Robbins’ personal archives give readers a deep dive into the life of this theatrical titan. A dancer, choreographer, director and producer, Robbins is known for his work on West Side Story, Gypsy, and The King & I among countless others. In addition to journal entries, drawings, and mementos are letters with other well-known artists like Leonard Bernstein, Laurence Olivier, and Stephen Sondheim. (Out October 1 from Knopf)

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