Recent book releases for artists, students, and fans of the theater

Among the latest topical publications on Broadway theater are the book releases of a recent play, a compilation of essays on landmark musicals, and an analytical history of the development of choreography.

Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus. Cover art by Ralph Steadman.

Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus – Originally commissioned by HERE Arts Center, the Tony-nominated play by multi-award winner Taylor Mac made its world-premiere Broadway debut in the spring of 2019; this February, Theater Communications Group (TCG) released the book in paperback and digital formats. Filled with quirky characters, graphic content, and a synthesis of no-holds-barred low-brow comedy with high-brow erudition, the work is written in a combination of prose, rhyming verse, and blank verse in iambic pentameter, with very visual and imaginative stage directions, as a riotous follow-up to Shakespeare’s earliest tragedy, first published in 1589.

Set in the year 400 AD, during the fall of the Roman Empire, Mac’s provocative style, referencing Shakespeare, ancient history, and the theater, infuses the subject with raunchy sexual, toilet, and gallows humor to deliver a serious message about the violent abuse of power and who suffers from it, as Gary and Janice, two lowly servants, clean up the mess of bodies and blood left in the wake of a coup. Using shock value, absurdity, and bawdy fooling to impart an ever-timely message of taking personal responsibility, Gary offends, disturbs, and ultimately challenges us to think about engendering laughter and hope, rather than enabling and accepting death and destruction.

Taylor Mac, Gary: A Sequel to Titus AndronicusTCG Books, February 2022, 104 pages, paperback, $ 15.95, ISBN 978-1-55936-982-4, eBook, $ 12.99, 978-1-55936-940-4.

Gwen Verdon and Peter Gennaro. Photo courtesy of Photofest, Inc.

Making Broadway Dance – Published by Oxford University Press on December 3, 2021, the latest book by Liza Gennaro (professional dancer, Broadway choreographer, writer, Dean of Musical Theater at Manhattan School of Music, and daughter of Tony Award-winning choreographer Peter Gennaro), presents a meticulous in-depth analysis of musical theater choreography and choreographers, while demonstrating the multifaceted styles, aesthetics, and methodologies of Broadway dance through the lens of dance studies, script analysis, movement research, and dramaturgical inquiry.

Aimed at students, academics, and anyone with a scholarly appreciation of musical theater and dance, Gennaro’s exhaustive research and decades of meticulous observations trace the genre from the 1920s to the new millennium, through the works and processes of some of Broadway’s most influential artists, including Agnes de Mille, George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Katherine Dunham, Bob Fosse, Savion Glover, Sergio Trujillo, Steven Hoggett, and Camille A. Brown. In addition to giving readers keen insights into how it’s made and, unlike other forms of dance, its need to advance the story and to inform the time, place, plot, and characters of the show, she also considers the impact and inspiration of ballet , modern, postmodern, jazz, social, and global dance on musical-theater choreography, and examines issues of racial and gender discrimination and exclusion within the socio-cultural context of its historic evolution.

Liza Gennaro, Making Broadway DanceOxford University Press, 2021, 249 pages, hardcover, $ 39.95, ISBN-13: 9780190631093, eBook, $ 20.49, ISBN-10: 0190631090.

Fifty Key Stage Musicals – On March 31, as part of its Key Guides series, Routledge Press released a new exploration, designed for both fans and students, of fifty groundbreaking musicals whose creation impacted the trajectory of musical-theater history and moved the genre forward. Edited by producer, director, and educator Robert W. Schneider and freelance director and writer Shannon Agnew, each in-depth chapter, written by a different author, presents a full synopsis, a discussion of the creators’ process, the show’s critical reception, and its impact on the landscape of the genre.

Highlighted in the book are such traditionally noted landmark musicals as Show Boat, Oklahoma, Porgy and Bess, West Side Story, Purelyand Hamiltonas well as musicals not typically explored in discussions of musical-theater history, including Promises, Promisesthe 1994 revival of Greaseand Seussical. Among the volume’s contributors are theater artists, historians, and scholars, including Jerrell L. Henderson, Peter Filichia, Laura Frankos, Rupert Holmes, Laurence Maslon, Scott Miller, and Susan B. Russell.

As a supplement to the book, beginning on Monday, April 11, the Broadway Podcast Network is producing Fifty Key Stage Musicals: The Podcast, to offer a deeper understanding of each production. Hosted by Schneider and Andrew Child, each episode focuses on a different iconic musical, and features interviews with theater professionals and scholars. Guests on the podcast include Tony Award winners Lianah Sta. Ana, Susan Stroman, and Brian Yorkey, as well as Jerrell L. Henderson, Carla Mirabal Rodriguez, Elizabeth L. Wollman, and many others.

Robert W. Schneider and Shannon Agnew, editors, Fifty Key Stage MusicalsRoutledge Press, March 31, 2022, 324 pages, paperback, $ 39.95, ISBN 9780367444426.

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