Summer reading selections for theater lovers


With the imminent reopening of Broadway, theatergoers can get back in the mood and in the know with these summer reading suggestions. From recent plays to an independent take-off on a new musical and a personal account of working on a blockbuster, there’s a wide selection of publications to keep you informed and to suit all tastes.

Photo by Deb Miller.

Among the wealth of offers from Theater Communications Group (TCG) – North America’s largest independent commercial publisher of dramatic literature, with eighteen Pulitzer Prizes for Drama on the TCG Book List – are the books of two very different pre-pandemic hits. One is told from a woman’s personal perspective, the other in a laughably fictionalized account of a man’s midlife crisis.

Tony Award nominee for Best Play and Pulitzer Prize finalist, writer and performer Heidi Schreck What the Constitution means to me, which opened at the Helen Hayes Theater on Broadway on March 31, 2019, traces the socio-historical impact of the founding principles of the United States on four generations of women in its family. From the age of fifteen, Schreck traveled the country to earn money for his tuition by participating in constitutional debates, largely centered on the rights (or lack thereof) given to women. The play traces her journey from teenage speaker to adult professional, recounting her well-researched thoughts and re-enacting contests on both sides. The informative stage directions convey Schreck’s intention to keep the audience connected to the presentation through his tone of spontaneity, including reactions to current events during that day’s performance.

ISBN 9781559369640, Theater Communications Group, February 9, 2021, 96 pages, paperback $15.95, ebook $12.99.

Another TCG release is Tracy Letts’ menopause men’s comedy Linda Vista, who also starred at Helen Hayes in 2019. The semi-autobiographical script is a sardonic exposition of toxic masculinity, as Wheeler, 50, recently divorced, the epitome of obsessed adolescence and socio-romantic dysfunction, endlessly reveals its destructive misanthropy and infuriating misogyny with outrageous humor that will have you shaking your head and hoping for some much-needed wake-up call from the self-proclaimed “loser.” Along with the hilarious rapid-fire barrage of one-liners and all-too-familiar testosterone-driven demeanor come provocative thoughts about aging and relationships, and the hope that this seriously flawed character can finally grow up, or at least potential women in his life will have the common sense and self-respect to avoid it.

ISBN 9781559369718, Theater Communications Group, September 29, 2020, 120 pages, paperback $15.95, ebook $12.99.

In addition to its publications, TCG Books’ First Fridays series features authors from its list in conversation about their work on the first Friday of each month, broadcast live on the TCG Facebook page and Youtube channel.

If you’re looking forward to the pandemic-delayed opening of the new musical Six on Broadway, set to return to the Brooks Atkinson Theater on September 17, you can get the imaginary scoop of Henry VIII’s six unhappy wives and their contemporaries in freelance writer, editor and commentator Harriet’s sarcastic survival guide Marsden don’t lose your mind (which is independent and not affiliated with the musical). The Long Dead 16andQueens of the last century offer commentary and advice based on their experiences and times in today’s language, along with historical facts, anecdotes and anecdotes from a decidedly 21stperspective of the last century. Readers today can draw insights from their hard-learned lessons under the stifling Tudor traditions with the murderous king, to inform their own approaches to relationships and embracing feminism. The biting text is complemented by a family tree, timeline and portraits of the legendary women, to affirm its shocking basis in gruesome reality.

ISBN 978-1-64604-129-9, Ulysses Press, February 16, 2021, 192 pages, hardcover $16.95.

An uplifting message and positive attitude fill the pages of Mike Anthony’s intimate memoir on Life in Hamiltonrecounting his time and experiences working as a bartender at the Broadway production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s titular masterpiece, which will reopen at Richard Rodgers Theater September 14. Conveying the camaraderie he shared with his co-workers, the kindness of Miranda and the cast, the love and appreciation the audience felt for being in “the room where it’s happening”, and his own kindness and generosity With The Bosses provides just the right antidote for all the hardship and anxiety the theater community has faced over the past sixteen months of the COVID-19 shutdown. Although he moved to New York to become an actor, rather than being angry or disappointed to be behind the counter rather than on stage, Anthony’s tone is one of gratitude to his parents for giving him the propensity to see what is good and to recognize, in his friendly and familiar writing, that what makes life the life is not fame and fortune; the real wealth is in the relationships you build.

ISBN 978-1-947637-57-3, Waterside Productions, November 30, 2021, 280 pages, paperback $14.95.


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