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The Theatre Art of Boris Aronson
Frank Rich
0394529138


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From Publishers Weekly
Most theatergoers don't know that the scenic designer for the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof got his start in revolutionary Russia's avant-garde. Son of the Grand Rabbi of Kiev, Aronson rejected Russian director Vsevolod Meyerhold's communal theater when he fell under the spell of constructivist set designer Alexandra Exter. Arriving in New York in 1923, Aronson faced the predicament of a cosmopolitan artist confronted with a commercial theater that was in many ways backward. Undaunted, he designed sets for Yiddish theater, then worked for Harold Clurman's Group Theatre on Odets's Awake and Sing. His association with Jerome Robbins and Harold Prince at last gave him a chance to apply Exter's ideas of remaking reality in personal terms by making the set a total environment for the show. Prepared by New York...


Shakespeare: The Biography
Peter Ackroyd
0385511396
October 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
[Signature]Reviewed by Ron RosenbaumAt their best, Shakespearean biographers are like great jazz musicians, able to take a few notes of an old standard and spin them into dizzying riffs of conjecture. At their worst they reshuffle old wives' tales, piling supposition upon conjecture into a rickety house of cards. Peter Ackroyd can riff with the best, and he brings to the task of making the old facts fresh some themes and variations of his own that deserve a hearing. He is particularly good, in fact, on the question of sound: the way the language Shakespeare wrote, his players spoke and his audiences heard differed from the Shakespeare we hear and read today. Demonstrating the courage of his convictions, he does something daring for a book aimed at a general reader: he renders all of his citations from Shakespeare...


To Be Young, Gifted and Black
Lorraine Hansberry
0451159527
Sept 1970
Paperback
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From the Inside Flap
In her first play, the now-classic A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry introduced the lives of ordinary African Americans into our national theatrical repertory. Now, Hansberry tells her own life story in an autobiography that rings with the voice of its creator. "Brilliantly alive."--The New York Times. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Elia Kazan
Richard Schickel
0060195797
Nov 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to give Kazan (1909–2003) an honorary Oscar in 1999, it rekindled the lingering resentment over his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee nearly 50 years earlier. Schickel, who produced a short film for the Academy's presentation and covered the controversy in his role as Time's movie critic, has virtually no sympathy for Kazan's detractors, arguing that HUAC was "a harsh and permanent fact of American life" in the early Cold War era and, more importantly, that Kazan was testifying against Stalinists, not innocent liberals. He also observes that Kazan's early efforts at self-defense may ironically have worked against him, sealing his image in the public eye. The biography's main goal, however, is to restore Kazan's artistic...


A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599
James Shapiro
0060088737
October 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
The year 1599 was crucial in the Bard's artistic evolution as well as in the historical upheavals he lived through. That year's output—Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It and (debatably) Hamlet—not only spans a shift in artistic direction and theatrical taste, but also echoes the intrigues of Queen Elizabeth's court and the downfall of her favorite, the Earl of Essex. Like other Shakespeare biographers, Columbia professor Shapiro notes the importance of mundane events in Shakespeare's art, starting here with the construction of the Globe Theatre and the departure of Will Kemp, the company's popular comic actor. Having a stable venue and repertory gave Shakespeare the space to write and experiment during the turmoil created by Essex's unsuccessful military ventures in Ireland, a threatened invasion...


Cybill Disobedience : How I Survived Beauty Pageants, Elvis, Sex, Bruce Willis, Lies, Marriage, Motherhood, Hollywood, and the Irrepressible Urge to Say What I Think
Cybill Shepherd, Aimee Lee Ball (Contributor)
0060193506
April 4, 2000
Hardcover
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-- San Francisco Examiner
"Gutsy." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

-- New York Daily News
"Nobody kisses and tells like Cybill Shepherd." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

See all Editorial Reviews


Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent
Anthony Rapp
0743269764
February 2006
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
As Rent hits the big screen, Rapp, who appeared in the film and the original cast of the Broadway hit, has written a sensitive, heartfelt memoir chronicling his life on and off stage. The actor who played video artist Mark Cohen pulls back the curtains to show the musical's genesis, which involved endless rehearsals and false starts. He lauds the genius of Jonathan Larson, its creator, and the supportive New York Theatre Workshop, which lent its facilities to the exuberant troupe and director. Rapp writes most movingly of his friends who lost their battle with AIDS [...] as well as the long, painful demise of his mother from cancer. While the book sometimes plunges too deeply into its twin themes of love and loss, Rapp recognizes the healing power of drama and theater, writing that acting is "an escape of sorts."...


Life Interrupted
Spalding Gray
1400048613
Oct 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Perhaps best known for his first theatrical monologue, 1985's Swimming to Cambodia (which later became a surprisingly successful film, directed by Jonathan Demme), Gray followed Cambodia with many more autobiographical performances, including Monster in a Box and Slippery Slope (and many film appearances) until his suicide at age 62 in spring 2004. A traumatic automobile accident in 2001 had left him severely depressed;this, and the hospital stay that followed, is the subject of the unfinished monologue that makes up only a short part of this memorial volume. Introduced by novelist Francine Prose in a graceful essay citing Gray's "unlikely and hilarious pilgrim's progress," the book includes short eulogies by some of Gray's many friends in memorial services at Lincoln Center and in Sag Harbor, his home. Many are...


Jerome Robbins
Deborah Jowitt
0684869861
Aug 2005
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
Jerome Robbins's story is as distinctively American as his choreography. Born Jerome Wilson Rabinowitz in New York City to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, Robbins (1918–1998) became a Broadway chorus boy in 1938 before joining Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, ultimately dancing lead roles. Robbins also became one of the 20th century's most highly regarded choreographers, including for the 1957 Broadway hit West Side Story. Other Broadway successes include On the Town, The King and I and Peter Pan, and significant ballets such as Fancy Free, The Cage and Dances at a Gathering. With precision, lucidity and insight, Village Voice dance critic Jowitt (Time and the Dancing Image) chronicles Robbins's extensive career, as well as his struggles with bisexuality, ambivalence about his Jewish heritage, and...


Guru : My Days with Del Close
Jeff Griggs
1566636140
April 25, 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
The father of improvisational theater and an inspiration for such comedians as John Belushi, Bill Murray and Chris Farley, Close was once called "the Ted Kaczynski of modern comedy," and his alternately brilliant and self-destructive personality is compellingly recorded in this anecdotal biography. Griggs, a friend and former student of Close's who assisted the ailing artist with his errands during the latter years of his life, takes readers on a jarring and otherworldly journey through the byways of Chicago, recounting the conversations and wild experiences that he shared with the eccentric comedian. Tales of Close's explosive, sometimes harsh teaching style (he was fond of yelling and of cutting people up with criticism when they made mistakes) will make readers cringe in sympathy for his students, but Griggs's...


Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
Stephen Greenblatt
039332737X
September 2005
Paperback
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Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker
Startlingly good—the most complexly intelligent and sophisticated study of the life and work taken together that I have ever read.

Book Description
"So engrossing, clearheaded, and lucid that its arrival is not just welcome but cause for celebration."—Dan Cryer, NewsdayStephen Greenblatt, the charismatic Harvard professor who "knows more about Shakespeare than Ben Jonson or the Dark Lady did" (John Leonard, Harper's), has written a biography that enables us to see, hear, and feel how an acutely sensitive and talented boy, surrounded by the rich tapestry of Elizabethan life—full of drama and pageantry, and also cruelty and danger—could have become the world's greatest playwright.Bringing together little-known historical facts and little-noticed...


Olivier
Terry Coleman
0805075364
November 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Sir Laurence Olivier's estate selected Coleman, a British journalist and historian (The Nelson Touch), as the actor's authorized biographer, and he makes the most of his access to the archives. Olivier (1907–1989) had a tendency to "instinctively improve the truth"—a visit from a drunken Ralph Richardson, for example, was changed in the telling to a nearly fatal brawl—but Coleman delicately peels away the embellishments. He quotes extensively from Olivier's correspondence; a few passages, such as a lengthy extract from a letter describing how he'd like to spank Vivien Leigh, feel excessive. The turbulent relationship with Leigh, which began and ended with extramarital affairs, does generate some drama, but Olivier was never really the Hollywood type. The bitter feuds he endured through his early...


Shakespeare
Park Honan
0192825275
Jan 2000
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
So little evidence of Shakespeare's life exists that biographers have had to resort to sometimes far-fetched guesswork to flesh out a vivid chronicle of his days. Many of them would benefit from the healthy dose of common sense evident in Honan's latest critical study. As a leading biographer of Robert Browning and Jane Austen, Honan brings a sensible eye to the Sisyphean task of sifting through what is now called the "Shakespeare Industry." Synthesizing documentary material on Renaissance England with the latest scholarship?be it Helen Vendler on the sonnets or Leeds Barroll on politics and plague in Elizabethan London?Honan attempts to link, perhaps a little too closely, the Bard's life experiences with his literary representations. In an examination of Shakespeare's schooling, Honan refutes the oft-cited...


The Richard Rodgers Reader (Readers on American Musicians)
Geoffrey Block
0195139542
June 6, 2002
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) was not only the composer of 1940s and '50s Broadway musicals like Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music (all in collaboration with Oscar Hammerstein II), but also the melodist for the witty, tender lyrics of Lorenz Hart in beloved songs like "My Funny Valentine," "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "Blue Moon." Block, a music theory and history professor at the University of Puget Sound and a composer of musicals himself, divides this survey of writings on Rodgers into four sections: "Rodgers and Hart (1929-1943)," "Rodgers and Hammerstein (1943-1960)," "Rodgers After Hammerstein (1960-1979)" and "The Composer Speaks (1939-1971)." The collection includes excerpts from recent scholarly works by musicologist Allen Forte and lyrics expert Philip Furia, as well...


Just Lucky I Guess: A Memoir of Sorts
Carol Channing
0743216067
October 8, 2002
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Broadway's original Lorelei Lee and Dolly Levi recounts her charmed life, making her success sound like the perfectly normal outcome for a nearly six-foot-tall girl who used to deliver the Christian Science Monitor to San Francisco back stages. A veritable platter of patter, her memoir is laced with off-the-cuff openings like "Now, do you want to know..." and "Let me tell you..." Famous names are not dropped as much as unavoidably run into as Channing-now 81-charts the events of her life, such as the process of mounting Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with composer Jule Styne, lyricist Leo Robin, writer Anita Loos, actress Tallulah "Talloo" Bankhead, composer Richard Rodgers and, as consultants, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. As much as it is a memoir, Channing's book is also a valediction to her old friends, many of...


Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
Stephen Greenblatt
0393050572
September 2004
Hardcover
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Book Review
There's no shortage of good Shakespearean biographies. But Stephen Greenblatt, brilliant scholar and author of Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, reminds us that the "surviving traces" are "abundant but thin" as to known facts. He acknowledges the paradox of the many biographies spun out of conjecture but then produces a book so persuasive and breathtakingly enjoyable that one wonders what he could have done if the usual stuff of biographical inquiry--memoirs, interviews, manuscripts, and drafts--had been at his disposal. Greenblatt uses the "verbal traces" in Shakespeare's work to take us "back into the life he lived and into the world to which he was so open." Whenever possible, he also ushers us from the extraordinary life into the luminous work. The result is a marvelous blend of scholarship, insight,...


The Essential Samuel Beckett
Enoch Brater
0500284113
June 2003
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
For writers, the face of Samuel Beckett, in all its graven, leathery, wrinkled severity, remains an object of great aspiration-it seems to be what a writer's face should look like. So it's fitting that this updated biography of the self-conscious author and playwright offers so many photos. Moving from Beckett's youth in Ireland, through his Parisian years and into his world fame, the text presents a fairly straightforward, if episodic and lightly organized, narrative of the absurdist's ascension, without much in the way of probing speculation, but plenty of detail. "Beckett made his only known stage appearance in a short skit he wrote after his return to Trinity with George Pelorson, an exchange student from Paris," opens one paragraph, by the end of which Beckett has graduated from school. Filled with asides...


Clifford Odets, American playwright: The years from 1906 to 1940
Margaret Brenman-Gibson
0689111606


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Almost a Woman
Esmeralda Santiago
037570521X
September 1999
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
This sequel to the story of Santiago's childhood (When I Was Puerto Rican) covers her life as an adolescent and young woman when she lived in Brooklyn, New York, with her mother (Mami) and 10 siblings during the 1960s. Puerto Rican immigrants, the family suffered through periods of poverty exemplified by the author's trips to the welfare office with Mami, where she translated her mother's Spanish so that they could obtain benefits. Santiago's good humor, zest for life and fighting spirit permeate her chronicle and moderate the impact of the hard times she describes. She studied acting at the prestigious Performing Arts Public High School and, despite feeling out of place because of her heritage, Santiago was able to obtain work in a children's theater and had a small role in the film Up the Down Staircase. Mami...


The Days We Danced
Doris Eaton Travis
0806199504
Oct 2003
Hardcover
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Book Description
At age fourteen, Doris Eaton was the youngest performer in the Ziegfeld Follies, appearing with such legends as Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice, Will Rogers, and Marilyn Miller. With two sisters and two brothers also appearing in the Follies in the years between 1918 and 1923, the Eatons became a well-known Broadway family. Beginning their careers in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore area, the "Seven Little Eatons" became seasoned performers, working the stock-company circuit before arriving in New York City and being caught up in the golden age of Broadway. Doris and her two sisters, Pearl and Mary, became popular dancers, and throughout the twenties they were never out of work. Doris was the first Eaton to go to Hollywood, and there in 1929 she introduced the song "Singing in the Rain" in the Hollywood Music Box Review....


The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson
Robert Hofler
078671607X
September 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Those who think Hollywood's current predatory political scene and celebrity partner-swapping activities are new phenomena would be wise to dive into this tell-all tale of Henry Willson, an agent who became a major star maker to actors like Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter and Troy Donahue in the 1950s. Rapacious, ambitious and fond of a sex-for-roles strategy, Willson (1911–1978) is a compelling character worthy of this extensive biography. His story, too, illustrates the rise of the studio star system, in which actresses were pimped out to movie executives by their agents, and actors married to cover their homosexual liaisons. Hofler, a former Variety senior editor now the publication's theater reporter, delves into this shadowy, sometimes seamy world with particular relish, and his writing has all the sizzle of...


Diary of a Mad Playwright
James Kirkwood
1557835675
Mar 2002
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
In this wild, humorous tale of the theater world, novelist and playwright Kirkwood ( A Chorus Line ) self-indulgently describes his three-year-long roller-coaster attempt to present his play, Legends! Here are vivid accounts of how Kirkwood found, lost and found again financiers, producers, directors, managers, a cast and supporting crew. Although much of the book's zany action centers on the two feuding actresses--Carol Channing and Mary Martin--who played the major roles of two feuding actresses, other gossipy, dialogue-filled sections depict the oddities of opening night and the boffo 32-city tour in 1986-1987 of a play that never got to New York and didn't fully pay back its investors. The book, following Kirkwood's recent untimely death, is replete with the myriad controversies, jealousies and frustrations...


The New Amsterdam : The Biography of a Broadway Theater
Mary Henderson
078686270X
October 10, 1997
Hardcover
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Pollyanna
Eleanor H. Porter
0486432068
December 2003
Paperback
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From AudioFile
It would have been easy to gush through this five hanky classic, but Hannah Gordon presents a realistic, yet warm and human, interpretation of each of the various dour and happy characters. Her narrative style reminds me of the late Elizabeth Montgomery of BEWITCHED as she describes the effect a glad orphan girl has on her maiden aunt's vinegary universe. The book is full of tears and laughter, and Gordon evokes them with small catches in her voice, trembling hesitations and sudden babbles of enthusiasm. She doesn't hit a false note anywhere, a master at her craft. D.W. An AUDIOFILE Earphones Award winner. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

Midwest Book Review
The unabridged classic story of an orphaned girl who lives...


An Unfinished Woman : A Memoir (Back Bay Books)
Wendy Wasserstein, Lillian Hellman
0316352853
June 7, 1999
Paperback
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From Library Journal
Hellman didn't pull any punches in this 1969 autobiography in which she reminisces about her unhappy upbringing in New Orleans and her literary relationships, especially that most famous one with master whodunit writer Dashiell Hammett. Though many critics and biographers claim that Hellman invented half of her life stories, these tales do make for interesting reading, so who cares. (LJ 6/15/69) Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.


The Real Nick and Nora
David L. Goodrich
0809326027
Oct 2004
Paperback
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Book Description
Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett wrote the screenplays for some of America's most treasured movies, including It's a Wonderful Life, The Thin Man, Easter Parade, Father of the Bride, Naughty Marietta, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Legendary films, indeed, but writing both the play and screenplay for The Diary of Anne Frank was their crowning achievement. Controlled chaos best describes their writing method. They discussed a scene at length, sometimes acting it out. Afterwards, they each wrote a draft, which they exchanged. "Then," Frances said, "began 'free criticism'-which sometimes erupted into screaming matches." Noisy and contentious, the method worked splendidly. Enormously successful and remarkably prolific, Goodrich and Hackett began their thirty-four-year collaboration in 1928. Married after the...


Midnight at the Palace
Pam Tent
155583874X
Dec 2004
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
In 2002, David Weissman's and Bill Weber's documentary The Cockettes brought the eponymous 1970s San Francisco glitter-rock drag theatrical troupe back into the spotlight. In this colorful account, Tent, one of the ensemble's few "real women," relives the glory days. Fleeing Detroit for San Francisco in 1969, Tent found some kindred souls, most of them drug-addled drag queens and all of them young and ambitious. The Cockettes were born soon after and performed in midnight musical extravaganzas at the Palace, a seedy Chinatown movie theater. Tent locates the Cockettes' origins in show biz and the avant-garde; one pioneering Cockette, Hibiscus (né George Harris Jr.), came from a family with deep roots in New York theater; another, Link Martin, had been a protégé of poet Helen Adam and the lover...


Tony and Me: A Story of Friendship
Jack Klugman
0976830302
October 2005
Hardcover
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From Publishers Weekly
Klugman's brief memoir of his friendship with Tony Randall stays true to the promise the author made to himself if he ever wrote such a book: "I would never do two things: kiss and tell, and bore people with long histories of things." Boring this work isn't, as one would expect from a kid who grew up as the only Jew in a tough 1920s Italian South Philadelphia neighborhood, entered a college acting program to get away from his bookie and was cast by Garry Marshall in TV's The Odd Couple because Marshall had been impressed by seeing Klugman on Broadway in Gypsy getting spit on by Ethel Merman and not flinching. Although lacking in panache, the book does stay true to its stated intention of paying tribute to Randall, who founded the National Actors Theatre. The most endearing anecdote is that of how Randall cast...


American Popular Song : The Great Innovators, 1900-1950
Alec Wilder, et al
0195014456
April 27, 1972
Hardcover
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Book Description
When Alec Wilder's American Popular Song first appeared, it was almost universally hailed--from The New York Times to The New Yorker to Down Beat--as the definitive account of the classic era of American popular music. It has since become the standard work of the great songwriters who
dominated popular music in the United States for half a century. Now Wilder's classic is available again, with a new introduction by Gene Lees.
Uniquely analytical yet engagingly informal, American Popular Song focuses on the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic qualities that distinguish American popular music and have made it an authentic art form. Wilder traces the roots of the American style to the ragtime music of the 1890s, shows how
it was incorporated into mainstream popular music after 1900, and then surveys the...

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