Archive for the ‘Books & Theatre’ Category


Friday, January 13th, 2017

Rick Riordan’s fantasy/adventure mixed with Greek mythology kids title, The Lightning Thief  is heading to New York, in an off-Broadway musical adaptation titled The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical.

Playbill reports that it is a new version of  “the show, which has been touring the country, [and] now features an updated score, expanded script, a larger cast, and a live band.”

Chris McCarrell will star. He debuted in Les Miserables and has acted in Pippin, Sweeney Todd, Next to Normal, and Summer of ’42 says the site. He is also in Netflix’s The OA.

The adaptation is written by Joe Tracz (Netflix’s Series of Unfortunate Events) and Rob Rokicki (Strange Tails).

McCarrell told The Washington Post that the production is:

“… really going to push the envelope of (the) magic of theater. The world is so epic and it is so grand and it doesn’t seem like you could portray that onstage, but that’s really where the magic of theater comes in … This story has so much gunpowder in it. If we hit it right, I think it could make some explosions happen.”

Below McCarrell sings one of the songs from the show:

Riordan’s series has already been adapted into two successful films, although the author has publicly stated he is not a fan of either of them. He seems fully behind the musical, however, posting about it on his website.


Friday, October 21st, 2016

hamiltonIf you could not get, or afford, tickets to Broadway’s hottest show, PBS is offering a bit of the experience tonight as it begins its Arts Fall Festival at 9 pm EST with the documentary Hamilton’s America.

But fair warning, it is not a full airing of the Lin-Manuel Miranda production by any means, although it includes footage beyond what is on YouTube.

Instead, as The Atlantic writes, “it’s a crash course on why Hamilton matters at all [and] concerns itself more with American history and present-day politics than it does with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway smash.”

USA Today adds that it “tells the chronological story of the founding father’s life, relying on historians and political heavyweights …The musical (and its creation) is the lens through which the audience sees Hamilton’s story.”

PBS says the documentary includes “footage of the New York production with its original cast, trips to historic locations, such as Mt. Vernon and Valley Forge with Miranda and other cast members, and a surprising range of interviews with prominent personalities, experts, politicians, and musicians.”

Several previews have been released:

As we have reported, the various books related to the musical continue to see strong sales and circulation:

Hamilton: The Revolution, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio and Blackstone Audio),

Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton (PRH/Penguin, 2004), the book that inspired Miranda

Gore Vidal’s novel Burr (PRH/Vintage)

Our earlier post offers more clips of the show’s making and reception.

FENCES Gets A Trailer

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

The first teaser has just been released for Denzel Washington’s film adaptation of August Wilson’s 1983 Pulitzer Prize and Tony winning play, Fences.

Washington directs and co-stars with Viola Davis, reprising their roles from a Broadway revival of the play six years ago, for which both won Tony Awards.

The story revolves around a former baseball player in the 1950s struggling to reconcile his life and provide for his family.

The film is already a hot Oscar contender with Vanity Fair offering an alternative title of “Please Hurry Up and Give Viola Davis an Oscar.”

The movie is set to open on Christmas day. The trailer is getting wide coverage, including in Entertainment Weekly.

Fences (Movie tie-in) by August Wilson
On Sale Date: November 1, 2016
9780735216686, 0735216681
$14.00 USD, $19.00 CAD
Trade Paperback

BURR is a Best Seller

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

9780375708732_c1231This week was the 212th anniversary of the duel in which Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton.

Could that be the reason that Gore Vidal’s novel Burr (PRH/Vingate) hits the new USA Today best seller list 43 years after it was originally published?

Probably not. More likely, the sudden was sparked by a certain play, the same one that brought Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton (PRH/Penguin) back to best seller lists.

Hamilton’s ghost can take comfort in the fact that his bio is currently at #18 at USA Today‘s list, while the novel Burr is much further down, at #124.

Several publications have given attention to Vidal’s book recently, including,

The Smithsonian, “Before There Was Hamilton There Was Burr”, 6/6/16

The Washington Post,Hamilton is a smash. Why so few other stories about the American Revolution?“, 7/6/16

In addition, there’s been stories about Brandon Victor Dixon who recently replaced Leslie Odom Jr. in the role of Burr.

Summer Reading Can Be Inspiring

Friday, June 24th, 2016

(via USA Today)

As a result of Miranda’s summer reading pick, Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton (Penguin Books) went back on the NYT Paperback Non-fiction list at #2 ten years after it was published in trade paperback (in 2005, its highest position was #12). Currently, it is #1 on that list.

Tony Awards: Page to Stage

Monday, June 13th, 2016

hamiltonHamilton emerged from last night’s Tony Awards show with 11 wins, including Best Musical, from a total of 16 nominations. While the number of nominations set a record, Hamilton came in just short of the record for wins, behind The Producers which won 12 Tonys in 2001.

It earned multiple nominations in two categories. As a result, it  twice “lost” to itself. The only nominated categories it did not win were Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical which went to Cynthia Erivo for The Color Purple and Best Scenic Design of a Musical which went to She Loves Me.

Below, a clip of  the cast performing during the show, with a special introduction by two major fans:

The show opened with a statement about the mass shootings in Orlando and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the Hamilton cast decided not to use prop muskets in their performances.

Below, a clip of Miranda’s emotional acceptance speech:

A transcript of Miranda’s sonnet (from New York magazine’s site, Vulture):

My wife’s the reason anything gets done.
She nudges me towards promise by degrees.
She is a perfect symphony of one.
Our son is her most beautiful reprise.
We chase the melodies that seem to find us
Until they’re finished songs and start to play.
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day
This show is proof that history remembers.
We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger.
We rise and fall, and light from dying embers
Remembrances that hope and love last longer.
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love;
Cannot be killed or swept aside.
I sing Vanessa’s symphony; Eliza tells her story.
Now fill the world with music, love, and pride.

Thank you so much for this.

Miranda speaks to the press after the award show:

colorpurpleAnother book related production, The Color Purple,  received 4 nominations and won two awards, for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, Cynthia Erivo (Celie).

The play has been well received, with the NYT writing about its opening, “Give thanks this morning, children of Broadway, and throw in a hearty hallelujah. The Color Purple has been born again, and its conversion is a glory to behold.” The rousing performance was introduced by Oprah (begins at 2:06):







Four other book-related plays were nominated, but none of them won,  American Psycho (which has already closed), Misery, Tuck Everlasting, and Thérèse Paquin (based on the novel by Émile Zola).

A full list of nominees and winners is available from Entertainment Weekly.

HAMILTON: As Hot In Print as
On Broadway

Friday, April 15th, 2016

9781455539741_0d3dcTickets to the Broadway show Hamilton are notoriously hard to get. Turns out the same is true for Hamilton in print form: Hamilton: The Revolution, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter (Hachette/Grand Central Publishing; Hachette Audio and Blackstone Audio).

Early demand for the tie-in was huge. It tops Amazon’s best-seller list as well as Barnes & Noble’s and now, as the Associated Press and USA TODAY report, it is sold out on Amazon with a third printing expected in 9 to 12 days.

It is so popular the book has its own hashtag, #hamiltome.

Grand Central Publishing spokesman Jimmy Franco says “Hamilton: The Revolution already is going into its third printing, for a planned total of 210,000 copies.”

As we noted, Hamilton is likely to be the first Broadway script to hit bestseller lists.  Published on Tuesday, it should hit the weekly lists next week (it’s already on Amazon’s list which is updated hourly).

Libraries we checked that own copies are seeing strong circ. and high holds with ratios of 5:1 and larger. Libraries with copies still on order are building very long holds lists as they wait.

9781594200090_4ee8fRon Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton (PRH/Penguin, 2004), the inspiration for the musical, remains popular but is still in stock. It is currently #18 on the Amazon charts. In libraries it is showing strong circ. and respectable holds lists as well.

Another alternative is Hamilton: Vocal Selections (Hal Leonard;  978-1495057540), with words and music.



Monday, April 4th, 2016

9780679735779The “unusual afterlife,” as Rolling Stone puts it, of Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho (PRH/Vintage; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample) is not simply that 25-years later it is still the most notorious book of 1990s, but that the story of a well-heeled serial killer has transcended the outrage that met its publication to become an Internet meme and a talked-about Broadway musical. Somehow its central character, Patrick Bateman, is even an action figure doll.

Flash back 25 years ago and the indignation over the book was fevered. As Rolling Stone reports, “The original publisher [S&S] dropped it and told author Bret Easton Ellis to keep the money — but to please go away.” It was then picked up and published by Knopf. Boycotts were organized and the L.A. Times ran a story defending it on the basis of  free speech.

Entertainment Weekly gave it an F, saying “The only terrifying insights American Psycho gives are into the mind of its creator and the moral incoherence of those who have published it in the name of literature.”

The NYT‘s called it “moronic and sadistic” and said that Ellis had a “lame and unhealthy imagination.”

LJ was one of the few places that printed a positive review, one that the publisher still uses to promote the book on Amazon.

Flash forward to today and the star of the musical, Ben Walker appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, trading favorite Southernisms with the host.

He also performs one of the show’s song.

Even more affirming to the book’s place in the cultural conversation, the very outlets that trashed it upon publication are running pieces recording its history.

Entertainment Weekly offers a time machine take on their coverage, listing key dates in the novel’s reception.

The NYT does the same in an essay that connects Bateman to today’s political race and comments:

“With time, the book itself has picked up a good deal of grudging respect … seen as a transgressive bag of broken glass that can be talked about alongside plasma-soaked trips like Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (1962) and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian (1985), even if relatively few suggest Mr. Ellis is in those novelists’ league … The culture has shifted to make room for Bateman.”