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Little Musicals for Little Theatres
By Elyse Sommer
As Denny Martin Flinn's subtitle explains the musicals included in his reference guide, Little Musicals for Little Theaters " don't need chandeliers or helicopters to succeed." This information packed paperback should be a boon to artistic directors of regional theater companies, but with its under $20 price tag it's also a handy guide for anyone with an interest in all things musical theater.
Mr. Flinn who has been involved with musicals as dancer, choreographer and director has gathered vital statistics on more than 150 small shows, arranged them into three sections: Book Musicals, Themed Revues and Composer/Lyricist Revues. The shows are arranged in alphabetical order within each section. The very comprehensive production notes will help theater goers decide whether to see a new production in their area, and theater professionals to assess how the show would work for them. The format for each entry includes the show's time and place setting, a brief synopsis followed by information about the first production followed by an original cast and song list. Directors will find the final entries about who to contact for licensing (the licensing organizations' address, phone numbers and emails have been helpfully included at the back of the book) and a paragraph citing the difficulties and advantages for mounting the show especially helpful.
Browsing through the book brought back memories of shows seen -- some Off and Off-Off-Broadway (like A New Brain, The Fantasticks, The Last Session and The Last Five Years), some caught a first or second time during a summer season in the Berkshires (Cowgirls, I Do!,I Do!, Brownstone, Avenue Q). The listing for A. . . My Name is Alice and A. . .My Name is Still Alive reminded me how long and enthusiastically I've followed Julianne Boyd's career-- first as co-creator and director of this show, later as artistic director of the Berkshire Theatre Festival and since then as head of her own Barrington Stage which launched the Broadway hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Not all these shows are wonderful and a few come to mind that might have been included (Like Always, Patsy Cline and Lady Day at the Emerson Cafe). The black and white production photos scattered throughout the book leave a lot to be desired but then is a book about small shows with modest budgets-- so you can't expect the same illustrations of big coffee table books like Playbill's Broadway Year Book or Broadway Musicals (both pictured in the gray column to the right of this review). Unlike many a more costly theater book, Flinn has not overlooked the importance of a good index to put everything at your fingertips.
The Internet Theatre Bookshop "Virtually Every Play in the World" --even out of print plays
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by our editor.
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