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To read is not a virtue; but to read well is an art
---Edith Wharton, "North American Review" 1903
For a list of all book reviews, see our Feature Archive

Index of Topics

Cassettes and CD's

Theater Related Books


Plays/Play Sources


Why Shop through CurtainUp's/ Book Store?

Cassettes and CD's

Annie Get Your Gun Broadway revival. ( our review). 
Bat Boy Cast Recording
CD of an earlier Annie

Broadway's Greatest Love Songs Original Casts -- exactly what it says. Better than candy!

Broadway Musicals: the 101 greatest shows of all time. Tons of gorgeous pictures. . . . Show Review
Cats: The Video  (Our review as the show turns 18.

Elaine Stritch At Liberty . . .  Review of Show

Fosse: Original 1999 Cast Recording . . .  review of show 

42nd Street: The CD . . . Our Review of Show

Mamma Mia! Cast Recording

Metamorphoses ( Review of Show)

Hedwig And The Angry Inch with the original cast (review of show

Into the Woods( Review of Show)

Jersey Boys . . .  Our Review of the Show

Kiss Me Kate  The CD of the award-winning revival (our review

Last 5 Years (Review of Show

Light In the Piazza. . . Show Review

Lion King: The Grammy Winning CD ( review of show

Oklahoma( Review of Show)

Pacific Overtures (1976 Broadway Cast) and English National Opera Cast

Ragtime -- original cast. This gets better with each listening. The mix of styles becomes increasingly impressive -- i.e., the klezmer tone, the ragtime themes, the wonderful love duets. recitatives. . (our review

The Producers: The CD

1776 1997 Cast Recording. . . Original Broadway recording ( our review of 1997 production

Seussical: The Musical's CD

Spamalot. . . Show Review

Sweeney Todd. . .  Our Review of the Show

tick, tick,...BOOM! , with the original Off-Broadway Cast

Titanic: The CD . . .  our review

; Urinetown: The CD. . . Our Review of Show

25th Annual Putnam County SpellingCast Album
. . . Show Review

Way Back to Paradise Audra McDonald's anthology of 14 numbers from such Stephen Sondheim musical heirs as Adam Guettel, Michael John La Chiusa and Ricky Ian Gordon. McDonald who has won 3 Tony Awards should do much to expand the audience for these young composers' work. 

Ultimate Broadway. For anyone looking for one patchwork quilt CD of top musicals, this Arista CD features forty songs from top musicals, mostly by original cast members. 

You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown ( review of the 1999 revival )
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Theater Related Books

Edward Albee: A Singular Journey  by Mel Gussow The New York Times theater critic has followed the Pulitzer prize winning playwright's personal and professional ups and downs closely. His biography includes interviews with colleagues and friends as well as personal experiences -- including the letter of apology following a rude, drunken encounter at a dinner party. 

Alexander, Jane: Command Performance: An Actress in the Theater of Politics. Jane Alexander's combined memoir and account of her stint as head of the NEA. our review

Coward, Noel: My Life With Noel Coward by Graham Payn with Barry Day. Payn was Coward's lifelong friend, lover and the executor of his estate. ( our review ). Also of interest: Noel Coward: A Biography by Philip Hoare--the latest of the many Coward biographies with much detail about Coward's conflicts as a gay man in a homophobic milieu. Also available as

Ferber, Edna:  Edna Ferber and Her Circle

Foote, Horton: Farewell: A Memoir of a Texas Childhood. Publitzer prize winning playwright Horton Foote's memoir 
the source of his screen and stage plays 

Goodridge, Frances & Hackett, Albert: The Real Nick and Nora - Frances Goodridge & Albert Hackett
Our Review

Green Alexis:Women Who Write Plays -Interviews With American Dramatists

Hart, Moss: Act One : An Autobiographyby Moss Hart (1988 paperback, St. Martin's). George S. Kaufman's most congenial collaborator, was a true man of the theater -- rising to the top in the days when everyone wore black tie on opening night. His glamorous era is long gone, but his autobiography brings it all to vivid life.

Dazzler: Life and Times of Moss Hart

Hirschfeld's New York

Hirschfeld's Hollywood

Laurents, Arthur: Original Story
by Arthur Laurents

Ludlam, Charles. Ridiculous! The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam"

O'Neill, Eugene

Simon, Neil: Rewrites by Neil Simon . . . cassette edition. . . review of the book

Sondheim, Stephen:  Stephen Sondheim: A Life by Meryle Secrest. This won the George Freedley Memorial Award for 1999, representing excellence in writing about live theatre. our review

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Plays/Play Sources
Auburn, David: Proof
David Auburn's winning play now on Broadway . . . Our Review of Show

Bennett, Alan The History Boys . . .  . . . Our Review of Show

Cabaret: The Illustrated Book and Lyrics . (See our review of the book

Chekhov, Anton: We've reviewed enough Chekhov plays for a periodically updated list about the playwright, his work and our reviews: Chekhov List of Facts. Of the many anthologies of his works, we think this volume featuring five major plays is your best bet: Five Plays : Ivanov, the Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, the Cherry Orchard. For biography lovers looking for a more substantial vacation read than the latest Grisham, there's a much praised biography of the playwright: Anton Chekhov : A Life by Donald Rayfield 

Doctorow: Ragtime (Plume paperback) the book that inspired the Broadway musical ( our review). This is the Modern Library Tie-In edition 

Guare, John: The War Against the Kitchen Sink -- a collection by Guare to whose work the Signature Theatre devoted its 1998-99 season with Marco Polo Sings a Solo . . . Bosoms and Neglect and Lake Hollywood The kitchen sink reference in the book title is to the staging in which the sense of place is created with a realistic set -- chairs, tables and, yes, stove and kitchen sink. 

Kaufman, George/Hart, Moss: Three Plays by Kaufman and Hart : Once in a Lifetime/You Can't Take It With You/the Man Who Came to Dinner a 1988 anthology published by Grove Press. 

Kelly, George: Three Plays For our review (go here)  

Kushner, Tony: Homebody/Kabul
Review of NYTheatre Workshop Production

Leight, Warren: Side Man: The Grove Paperback The funny-sad memory play narrated by the son of a '50s jazz musician moved from Off-Broadway to the Roundabout and then Broadway's Helen Hayes Theater (our review.

McGuinness, Frank: A paperback collection of plays by Frank McGuinness, including The Factory Girls which opened the summer '99 season at the Williamstown Summer Theatre Festival and traveled on to other regional theaters. (our review).

Miller, Arthur: Death of a Salesman: The 50th Anniversary Edition ( Review of the 1999 Broadway revival

Williams, Tennessee: The Glass Menagerie. Few plays make for better reading than Williams' classic which is probably why more theater lovers stock a copy on their shelves. Two excellent paperback editions are from New Directions -- and New Amer Library. You may also want to check out our Tennessee Williams backgrounder

Wharton, Edith: The author is a favorite play adaptation source for Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshires which for many years made its home at Wharton erstwhile estate in Lenox and in 2001 moved to a new home-- but still nearby. Adaptations include short stories, novellas and novels all of which are worth reading whether you get to see the plays or not. Some recommended collections: 

Summer, which seeded two world premieres during August 1999, (a straight play and an opera
Edith Wharton: Novellas and Other Writings/Madame De Treymes, Ethan Frome, Summer, Old New York, A Mother's Recompense, A Backward Glance -- This is one of two Library of America Wharton collections. Given this publisher's sturdy bindings, all this contains and Amazon's $12 discount off the list price, this is a most affordable addition to any Wharton fan's library. 

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Berlin, Irving. The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin
Brush Up Your Shakespeare -- hard cover With Shakespeare more popular than ever as a stage and screen vehicle, Michael Macrone's book you might want to brush up on your Bardian smarts with this little book. (there's also our own on-line Shakespeare's Little Instruction Book -- click here. For the paperback edition of Macrone's book go here.

Tales from Shakespeare--by Shakespeare & Company founder and artistic director Tina Packer

Cassell Companion to Theatre on line. A funny thing has happened to my copy of this book. While I wasn't all that enthusiastic about it when I reviewed it (review ) I've found myself using it much more frequently than I thought I would. I'd still like the American entries to be less shoehorned in but the schematic which follows the famous Brewer Dictionary format of grouping linguistically related but conceptually unconnected under a common headword is flawlessly efficient.  

Hot Seat by Frank Rich -- a representative sample of Rich's reviews as chief critic of The New York Times(our review.) 

How Good is David Mamet, Anyway?: Writings on Theater--and Why It Matters by John Heilpern -- theatrical reviews/essays 

The Lion King: Pride Rock on Broadway

The New Amsterdam : The Biography of a Broadway Theatre by Mary C. Henderson. The New Amsterdam Theater has come a long way from home of the Ziegfield girls, to down-on-its-luck movie house, to Pride Rock. Mary C. Henderson has put this history into a book that's a perfect gift for theater buffs generally, Big Apple buffs and, once again The Lion King fans 

Movie Guides: 

The New York Musicals of Comden & Green This illustrated compilation of the book and lyrics of On the Town, Wonderful Town and The Bells Are Ringing 285 page paperback. ( our review of the disappointing 1998 revival of On the Town).  

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Why Shop through Our Book Store?

We're stocking this book store in association with for a number of reasons; chief among them: 
Amazon now has a full-fledged music store for CDs, cassettes and videos -- many with sample audio clips  Our readers can now link directly to any book on any subject in their entire data base -- to browse, search or shop -- all without leaving our site. 

As readers who've been with us>for a while know, this magazine was created by someone who cares about books as deeply as the theater. However, as a mini-staffed operation, time doesn't permit us to point you to all the theater-related books out there This book store thus broadens our link, and yours, to the book world without eating too deeply (we hope) into our already busy schedule. In addition to theater-related books (i.e. theater histories, plays in print, biographies and autobiographies, you can now look up books about where to stay and eat when you visit New York, London or other places. 

Bear in mind too that by doing your shopping by way of this page you have an opportunity to support CurtainUp which is and will continue to be free to all.We hardly expect that this arrangement with the world wide web's online super book store will change our not-for-profit status. At best, the small commissions paid by will help us to pay an intern to help us keep up with the extensive cyber housekeeping involved with keeping a site like this going and growing. 

.. While the curtain may have gone down on some of these shows, our reviews remain in our file cabinets as the books remain accessible through Amazon's cyber book shelves. 


©Copyright 2006, Elyse Sommer.
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