"Something's Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination" by Misha Berson 360 pages $19.99 Applause Theatre & Cinema Books
This book chronicles the Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents and Jerome Robbins classic musical, West Side Story. It examines everything from the inception of the musical by the aforementioned brilliant quartet, to the smashing success on film, and ultimately the musical that changed the face of American Musical Theatre. Author Berson approaches every angle on this one, including the musical, the film, the book, the choreography, music, Shakespeare's influence, juvenile delinquency, bigotry and pop-culture.
"Rock the Audition: How to Prepare for and Get Cast in Rock Musicals by Sheri Sanders 264 pages $29.99 Hal Leonard Books
For those aspiring young actors among you who need help with their auditions for rock musicals like Rent, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Rock of Ages, American Idiot, etc., Sheri Sanders has extended her "Rock the Audition" master class which she started in 2004 into this new book. Sanders covers picking the right song, helping capture the essense of the musical you're trying out for, understanding the vocal styles of different genres and how the styles changed over time, and perhaps most importantly, how to act a rock song. The book comes with a DVD that includes techniques on rock vocal styling and rock phsyicalization.
"The Sound of Musicals" by Ruth Leon 128 pages $39.95 Oberon Masters/Theatre Communications Group
Ruth Leon has created a pocket-sized guide to Broadway musicals. Leon discusses the composers, lyricists, directors and pioneers of the stage musical on both sides of the Atlantic while trying to reveal the truth behind the eternal question -- what are musicals and why do we love them.
Leon is a visiting professor of drama at University of Kingston Upon Thames and is a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning television producer and director of music, theatre and arts programs.
The Applause Libretto Library Series
Our friends at Applause Books have recently begun publishing the Applause Libretto Library Series. This series takes the librettos from popular musicals, removes much of the miscellaneous notes and technical guideline put in for the director, and packages them into a compact book meant to be read like a novel.
In addition to Avenue Q, the series also contains A Chorus Line, City of Angels, The Fantasticks, The Full Monty, Fiddler on the Roof, Grey Gardens, Hairspray , Passing Strange, Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music, Rent, and Tick Tick ... Boom. Additionally, Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sunday in the Park with George, and Sweeney Todd can be purchased separately or in one complete volume, Four by Sondheim (A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum).
"Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Shows of All Time" by Ken Bloom 344 pages $40 Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers
This is the one exception to the portability theme of this summer's reading list. This beautiful coffee table book has been re-released and updated to include an expanded off-Broadway section and several new shows. With its shiny, faux mylar cover, this book is stunning and will look great on your coffee table, but I wouldn't try and take it to the beach.