Share There’s No Business Like Show Business: 11 Books that Celebrate the Great White Way

There’s No Business Like Show Business: 11 Books that Celebrate the Great White Way

Julianna Haubner joined the editorial team at Simon & Schuster in September 2014. A lifelong reader, she is most drawn to literary fiction, biography, cultural history, and narrative non-fiction; it’s her firm belief that every human should own a copy of Cheryl Strayed’s TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS, and EMPIRE FALLS is the book that changed her life. When Julianna’s not reading and reviewing, she’s downloading podcast episodes as if there are more than 24 hours in a day, watching Bravo, baking, and running the Off the Shelf Instagram. You can follow her on Twitter @jhaubner2.

In magnificent New York tradition, the 69th annual Tony Awards will take place this week at Radio City Music Hall, celebrating the finest Broadway has to offer. Musical theater is one of the most popular attractions in the Big Apple, and it has a long, rich history of talented people, beautiful songs, and—you guessed it—drama. You can find our list of books inspired by favorite musicals here, but if you’d rather spend some time backstage instead of basking in the spotlight, add these theater classics to your list.


Fosse
by Sam Wasson

When people think of Broadway or dance, one name comes to mind: Fosse. Armed with a jaunty black hat, slinky movements, and spread fingers, Bob Fosse created some of the most iconic numbers in Broadway history, including Cabaret, Pippin, and Chicago. He is the only person ever to win an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony Award in the same year, and remains a legend onstage and off.

Fosse
Sam Wasson

When people think of Broadway or dance, one name comes to mind: Fosse. Armed with a jaunty black hat, slinky movements, and spread fingers, Bob Fosse created some of the most iconic numbers in Broadway history, including Cabaret, Pippin, and Chicago. He is the only person ever to win an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony Award in the same year, and remains a legend onstage and off.

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Act One: An Autobiography
by Moss Hart

Described as “The Greatest Showbiz Book Ever Written” by New York Magazine this is the ultimate Broadway memoir, penned by a show-business legend who wrote two of the most successful shows in theater history, You Can't Take It With You and The Man Who Came to Dinner; directed the original production of My Fair Lady; and wrote the Judy Garland classic, A Star is Born.

Act One: An Autobiography
Moss Hart

Described as “The Greatest Showbiz Book Ever Written” by New York Magazine this is the ultimate Broadway memoir, penned by a show-business legend who wrote two of the most successful shows in theater history, You Can't Take It With You and The Man Who Came to Dinner; directed the original production of My Fair Lady; and wrote the Judy Garland classic, A Star is Born.

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Anything Goes: A History of American Musical Theatre
by Ethan Mordden

Starting in the 1700s and extending through the present day, Anything Goes is a complete history of American musical theater. Hopping from an Oklahoma! rehearsal room to opening night of The Red Mill, Mordden examines not only the importance of song, dance, and music, but also the cultural impacts of shows beloved and forgotten.

Anything Goes: A History of American Musical Theatre
Ethan Mordden

Starting in the 1700s and extending through the present day, Anything Goes is a complete history of American musical theater. Hopping from an Oklahoma! rehearsal room to opening night of The Red Mill, Mordden examines not only the importance of song, dance, and music, but also the cultural impacts of shows beloved and forgotten.

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Song of Spider-Man
by Glen Berger

Known more for dramatic headlines than the soundtrack it produced, the 2011 Broadway adaptation of Spider-Man will go down in history as of the craziest theater stories of the twenty-first century. The show was one of the most mind-blowingly expensive New York had ever seen, but when people started getting hurt, money started disappearing, and rumors started flying, it became an international story.

Song of Spider-Man
Glen Berger

Known more for dramatic headlines than the soundtrack it produced, the 2011 Broadway adaptation of Spider-Man will go down in history as of the craziest theater stories of the twenty-first century. The show was one of the most mind-blowingly expensive New York had ever seen, but when people started getting hurt, money started disappearing, and rumors started flying, it became an international story.

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There’s No Business Like Show Business: 11 Books that Celebrate the Great White Way

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Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins
by Amanda Vaill

In this amazing biography, the choreographer behind the masterful West Side Story is revealed from childhood to critical success. Born Jerome Rabinowitz in New York in 1918, Robbins burst onto the dance scene with Fancy Free at the age of twenty-five. His own work and collaborations with Leonard Bernstein, George Balanchine, Robert Wilson, and Robert Graves cemented his legacy as one of the greatest showmen in theater.

Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins
Amanda Vaill

In this amazing biography, the choreographer behind the masterful West Side Story is revealed from childhood to critical success. Born Jerome Rabinowitz in New York in 1918, Robbins burst onto the dance scene with Fancy Free at the age of twenty-five. His own work and collaborations with Leonard Bernstein, George Balanchine, Robert Wilson, and Robert Graves cemented his legacy as one of the greatest showmen in theater.

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Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical
by Stacy Wolf

Whether they’re gun-toting cowgirls, sparkling ingénues, or green-skinned witches, Broadway was given us some memorable leading ladies. Moving from decade to decade and looking at these classic shows through a gendered lens, Wolf explores how women are portrayed in theater and how they shaped it.

Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical
Stacy Wolf

Whether they’re gun-toting cowgirls, sparkling ingénues, or green-skinned witches, Broadway was given us some memorable leading ladies. Moving from decade to decade and looking at these classic shows through a gendered lens, Wolf explores how women are portrayed in theater and how they shaped it.

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Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes
by Stephen Sondheim

With a career spanning over half a century, Stephen Sondheim has created some of the best shows in modern theater. In this collection, he not only provides detailed annotations of the lyrics he wrote for shows like West Side Story, Company, A Little Night Music, and Sweeney Todd, but also gives a rare and personal look into his life.

Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes
Stephen Sondheim

With a career spanning over half a century, Stephen Sondheim has created some of the best shows in modern theater. In this collection, he not only provides detailed annotations of the lyrics he wrote for shows like West Side Story, Company, A Little Night Music, and Sweeney Todd, but also gives a rare and personal look into his life.

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Musical Stages: An Autobiography
by Richard Rodgers

When people are asked to sing from their favorite musical, chances are they’ll begin to hum a Richard Rodgers tune. His partnership with Oscar Hammerstein II produced some of the most well-known musicals of all time, including The Sound of Music, The King and I, and South Pacific. In this autobiography, Rodgers shares his favorite memories and backstage tales of the golden years of Broadway.

Musical Stages: An Autobiography
Richard Rodgers

When people are asked to sing from their favorite musical, chances are they’ll begin to hum a Richard Rodgers tune. His partnership with Oscar Hammerstein II produced some of the most well-known musicals of all time, including The Sound of Music, The King and I, and South Pacific. In this autobiography, Rodgers shares his favorite memories and backstage tales of the golden years of Broadway.

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Getting To Know Him: A Biography Of Oscar Hammerstein II
by Hugh Fordin

Oscar Hammerstein had a long, celebrated career as a librettist, lyricist, director, playwright, and producer: his words shaped the American songbook. Away from the piano, he was a loving husband, father, and mentor to a number of aspiring writers—including a young lyricist named Stephen Sondheim. Fordin was granted total access to Hammerstein’s archives, making this the definitive biography of this giant of American theater.

Getting To Know Him: A Biography Of Oscar Hammerstein II
Hugh Fordin

Oscar Hammerstein had a long, celebrated career as a librettist, lyricist, director, playwright, and producer: his words shaped the American songbook. Away from the piano, he was a loving husband, father, and mentor to a number of aspiring writers—including a young lyricist named Stephen Sondheim. Fordin was granted total access to Hammerstein’s archives, making this the definitive biography of this giant of American theater.

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The Street Where I Live
by Alan Jay Lerner

The autobiography of the theater legend Alan Jay Lerner, told through the stories of the three shows that defined his career: My Fair Lady, Camelot, and Gigi. Filled with humor, wit, and affection for the stage, this isn’t so much Lerner’s memoir as it is a tribute to the people who shaped it, from Julie Andrews and Richard Burton to Vincente Minnelli and Cecil Beaton.

The Street Where I Live
Alan Jay Lerner

The autobiography of the theater legend Alan Jay Lerner, told through the stories of the three shows that defined his career: My Fair Lady, Camelot, and Gigi. Filled with humor, wit, and affection for the stage, this isn’t so much Lerner’s memoir as it is a tribute to the people who shaped it, from Julie Andrews and Richard Burton to Vincente Minnelli and Cecil Beaton.

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Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent
by Anthony Rapp

With its powerful and controversial subject matter, memorable songs, and tragic backstory, RENT became a worldwide phenomenon before it even hit Broadway. In this memoir, Anthony Rapp, the actor who played Mark Cohen, remembers the early years of his career and how RENT helped him overcome personal hardships.

Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent
Anthony Rapp

With its powerful and controversial subject matter, memorable songs, and tragic backstory, RENT became a worldwide phenomenon before it even hit Broadway. In this memoir, Anthony Rapp, the actor who played Mark Cohen, remembers the early years of his career and how RENT helped him overcome personal hardships.

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