This year we are losing some of the best musicals we’ve seen this season—from shows that featured incredibly original concepts and music like Be More Chill and Prom: the Musical to groundbreaking film adaptations like Pretty Woman and Waitress, all the way over to incredible homages to iconic performers like The Cher Show and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. By the close of 2019 it will be particularly hard to say goodbye. If you’re like me (a super Broadway fanatic) and literally don’t know what to do with the fact that either you haven’t seen these shows yet or you didn’t have the chance to catch a second viewing (Be More Chill! I’m still in mourning), then check out these excellent reads to get you through until the next Broadway season!
For fans of Be More Chill
In this insanely relatable sci-fi musical by the truly wonderful Joe Iconis, Be More Chill follows Jeremy, a loser, a geek, or whatever, as he struggles to survive high school with his best friend, Michael. After he learns he could be popular with just one pill, he has to grapple with what is truly important when everything he thinks he wants is within his reach. Like Jeremy, another famous teen that uses technology to escape his current situation is Wade Watts from the classic READY PLAYER ONE. Using Virtual Reality technology to leave his trailer home for the more colorful OASIS, a glamorized world of 1980s pop culture, he finds that it has its darker side and he isn’t actually solving his real-world problems. As they both fight to “More than Survive,” they will both realize the only way to find happiness (and maybe even love) is to be yourself in the reality and skin you’re in. Be More Chill closed August 11, 2019.
For fans of Prom: the Musical
Prom: the Musical follows Emma, a lesbian high school student who just wants to take her girlfriend to prom, but her socially conservative high school cancels the event to keep her from doing so. Hearing her story, four washed-up Broadway actors come to her aid. Ultimately a story of acceptance, Prom: the Musical was one of the most heartfelt shows out there this season and shares many similar themes with Christina Lauren’s YA novel, AUTOBOYOGRAPHY. After moving from California to the much more conservative Utah, Tanner finds himself back in the closet as he tries to finish high school under the radar. But he didn’t count on meeting Sebastian and totally falling in love. Both Prom and AUTOBOYOGRAPHY deal with the struggle for acceptance of modern LGBTQ+ youths in less progressive areas of the United States, and the persevering nature of love. Prom: the Musical closed on August 11, 2019.
“This book is epic.” —Cosmopolitan
“A hopeful and moving love story.” —Publishers Weekly
Fangirl meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this “sensitive and complex” (BCCB) coming-of-age novel from New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren about two boys who fall in love in a writing class—one from a progressive family and the other from a conservative religious community.
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.
For fans of Pretty Woman
Ever wonder what would happen if Richard Gere’s character from Pretty Woman were actually a scumbag? That possibility is explored in Robyn Harding’s new thriller, THE ARRANGEMENT. Although not a prostitute with a heart of gold like Julia Roberts’s character, Vivian, Natalie is an art student with a lot of student debt, and faced with overwhelming financial stress and terrible roommates, she tries her hand at being a sugar baby. As she begins her tryst with the older, wealthy Gabe, she becomes accustomed to the lifestyle he provides for her. So when it all ends, Natalie has no intention of letting him get away. Like a darker alternative version of the classic Pretty Woman setup, THE ARRANGEMENT is the perfect summer thriller. The musical takes the more traditional approach of staying very close to the source material while adding incredibly catchy tunes and fantastic performances from leads, Samantha Barks and Andy Karl. Pretty Woman: The Musical closed on August 18, 2019.
For fans of What the Constitution Means to Me
In this deeply personal and utterly compelling play, Heidi Schreck examines how she grew up debating and making speeches on her personal connection to the Constitution, in the aptly named What the Constitution Means to Me. Now as an adult, she reflects on those speeches and how her experiences and the experiences of the women in her family have changed how she views the same historical text. In IT OCCURS TO ME THAT I AM AMERICA, Alice Walker, Mary Higgins Clark, Lee Child, and over twenty other award-winning authors examine similar questions of freedom and democracy through original short stories. Both works are subversive critiques on modern politics and are as equally relatable as they are groundbreaking. What the Constitution Means to Me closed on August 24, 2019.
For fans of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical has had a long run on Broadway, entering its fifth and final year and making it the 27th longest–running show to ever grace the Broadway stage. There’s a reason this show has stayed where it has for so long (besides the incredible cast) and that is clearly the legendary music of superstar singer-songwriter Carole King. Of course the musical follows her early life and career, but there is so much more to her incredible story, and who better to tell it than the legend herself. In her memoir, A NATURAL WOMAN, Carole King offers an in-depth look at her personal life, as well as her remarkable career. This book is truly an insightful and poignant look at one of our greatest musical voices from her own unique perspective. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical closes on October 27, 2019.
For fans of King Kong
“It was Beauty killed the Beast.” Hailed as a groundbreaking work of puppetry, King Kong absolutely deserved its special Tony for its insanely huge and dexterous Kong puppet that takes 15 different people to operate! Based on the 1933 classic film, the musical breathes fresh life into the timeless tale. Revisiting this classic, you’ll want to dive right back into your old favorites. And while you’re looking for a new take on an old favorite, why just revisit one, when you can do two? In PRIDE AND PROMETHEUS, John Kessel fuses the gothic darkness of Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN with the timeless romance of Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. It’s a classic genre sandwich you never knew you needed, but this story takes the very best of both tales and fuses it into an entirely new and utterly compelling modern masterwork. King Kong closes on November 8, 2019.
For fans of Waitress
Ending its almost four-year run on Broadway, Waitress is one of the most heartfelt musicals on Broadway this season. It follows Jenna, a small-town waitress who becomes pregnant by her abusive husband and is forced to confront difficult choices only made harder by her budding romance with her also-married doctor. A story about love, friendship, and the strength of community, it’s a musical just as sweet as Jenna's famous pies. Based on the 2007 film, all of the music and lyrics were composed by Sara Bareilles, lending the adaptation her signature sound. Of course this is only one step in Sara’s blooming career, and we expect great things in her future, but to see where it all started you have to check out her memoir SOUNDS LIKE ME. A funny and fresh take on a memoir, Sara uses her candid voice to delve into the inspiration that led to some of her greatest hits. Waitress closes on January 5, 2020 (yes, technically next year but still too soon!).
For fans of The Cher Show
If there is one thing Cher has been throughout her entire career, it’s relevant. A true icon of music, fashion, and hilarious Twitter usage, Cher’s six-decade career is explored through her musical transformation in The Cher Show by the utterly unstoppable Stephanie J. Blocks, who brings the icon to life so brilliantly it earned her the coveted Best Actress in a Musical Tony this year. The perfect read for fans of Cher in all her glory is THE CITY OF GIRLS by Elizabeth Gilbert. Set in the 1940s New York theater scene, it is narrated by an older version of our main character, Vivian, who explores her younger self’s journey navigating show business and her love life. Owning her sexuality and the events of her past, she reflects on how it made her the woman she ultimately became. If that doesn’t give you Cher vibes, then I simply don’t know what will. The Cher Show closed on August 18, 2019.