Giveaway Contest: The Great Comet

Comet 3D Cover Image

Win a free copy of the book “The Great Comet: The Journey of a New Musical to Broadway“(Sterling Publishing, 2016), which traces the improbable evolution of the musical, “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,” that began with an unknown cast in tiny, experimental Ars Nova, an 87-seat Off-Off Broadway house, and wound up at Broadway’s 1,200-seat Imperial Theater, starring Josh Groban.

I describe the book in some detail here. It includes a CD with five of the songs

To enter the contest, please answer the following question:

What is the best book about the theater, and why?

1. Please put your answer in the comments at the bottom of this blog post, because the winner will be chosen through based on the order of your reply, not its content.
But you must answer the question, complete with description and explanation, or your entry will excluded from consideration.

Update: To clarify:  I’m asking for a non-fiction book about the theater — a memoir, a history, a textbook…anything but a script, libretto, fiction.

2. This contest ends Monday, March 20, 2017  at midnight Eastern Time, and I will make the drawing no later than noon the next day. I will  e-mail the winner at the e-mail  address that’s automatically included in the responses.  If I don’t get an e-mail back from you within 24 hours, I will choose another winner. The book will be mailed to you at an address in the United States or Canada.
(3. All submissions have to be approved, so you won’t necessarily see your entry right away: Please be patient, and don’t submit more than once.)

Great Comet book Spread 1

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

13 thoughts on “Giveaway Contest: The Great Comet

  1. Wicked: The Grimmerie is one of my favorite books on a Broadway show. Being born on Halloween, and growing up with The Wizard of Oz, I instantly fell in love with Wicked and I love the extra insight the Grimmerie gives on the show.

  2. Oooh, this is a tough one, as there are soo many great theatre books that I adore! But one of the first ones that comes to mind is ‘Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops’ by Ken Mandelbaum, because it’s just full of fascinating stories – sometimes the shows that DON’T work are more interesting than those that do, because there are just so many things that can go so terribly wrong…I love seeing the thought processes behind these “failures,” and of course for every so-called flop out there, there’s someone who actually cherishes that show for various reasons! It’s important to remember even Broadway’s mistakes, especially because they can hopefully help us all learn from them for next time. 🙂

  3. The Great Comet. I am 2/3 of the way throuh War and Peace. Have seen the show multiple times. The genius of Dave Malloy to read War and Peace and turn 70 pages into such an innovative, beautiful,fun musical with music I wake up and go to sleep with playing in my head is astounding! Would love another copy to gift to someone who saw the show with me. This book is also just beautiful- filled with so many great stories about how the show came to be and has evolved. Also, gorgeous pictures!

  4. One of the most provocative I’ve read recently is Theatre of the Unimpressed by Jordan Tannahill. The book mostly functions as a diagnostic of the state of contemporary theatre in Canada and attempts to establish a standard for revitalization. Not everything is agreeable, and the book is more about problems than solutions, but it really gets the wheels in my head turning.

  5. Stephen Sondheim’s Finishing the Hat & Look I Made a Hat. Stephen Sondheim has always been my favorire musical theatre composer/lyricist. His collection of annotated lyrics is an invaluable resource to any Sondheim fan/theatre lover. These books provide an insight of the process of song writing and creating a musical in general and provides a brief history of how each of his shows came to be. The West Side Story & Sweeney Todd chapters were especially useful while I was working on productions of those shows for a better understand of the original work.

  6. My favourite book about the theatre is definitely Unnaturally Green by Felicia Ricci. It’s a story of the actress who got to play Elphaba in Wicked, and it’s really wonderful because it goes through all the audition calls, the rehearsal process and the show itself. For the student actress as me, it’s one of the best resources to get more familiar with theatre work. I always wondered how it goes on Broadway, what happens after you get the role, is it any different from what I know… Felicia reveals just so many little details! I learned a lot of new things about American theatre while sitting in Russia and drinking my tea. That’s the magic. And that’s the theater.

  7. William Goldman’s The Season is certainly dated in more than a couple of ways, but I can’t think of many more books that have impacted the way I think about the business and ecosystem of New York Theatre the way that that one has. From the flops to the hits, not only do you get to be jealous of the standard ticket prices of the shows in the late 60s, you learn about why certain shows connect with critics or audiences and other shows don’t. And the idea of “The Muscle” who is the chief driving creative force behind a production, is something I think about all the time in regards to both Broadway and Hollywood.

  8. The Secret Life of the American Musical by Jack Viertel wowed me earlier this year. I got the book over the holidays and devoured it – I was so impressed by how clearly and intelligently he dissected the American musical. Not only does it work as an analysis of the American musical, but it can serve as a guidebook for creating musicals – what the essential elements are (and how they exist in musicals) and why they work in the creation of a show. It’s a wonderful read, and while it may not be the BEST book (that would probably go to Sondheim’s Finishing the Hat and Look I Made a Hate) but it certainly is one of the most interesting and entertaining I’ve read.

  9. Broadway: The American Musical is the one of the best books written about the history of Broadway and it’s roots. It’s huge, has tons of cool photos and it is accompanied by great videos of each chapter.
    Bonus: it has an intro by Julie Andrews.

  10. The best theatre book I’ve ever read is Hamilton the Revolution. Reading that book not only gave me insight to Lin Manuel Miranda’s world, but all of his collaborators as well. Reading Hamilton is much like reading other books, even though it is nonfiction there are still literary elements that spark imagination. When I read about Hamilton, I can’t help but feel an appreciation for art. Creating art is one of the most ambitious challenges anyone can face. To create art you have to become vulnerable, explore different styles, and above all show humanity. With automation in the 21st century it is difficult to find true human work in anything. Hamilton, the whole world of Hamilton, is unadulterated humanity, and that is why I love the book.

  11. The best book not mentioned so far is Song of Spider-Man, which goes into detail about the decline and fall of Turn Off the Dark. Understanding what makes a show with ‘everything going for it’ fail helps us recognize what is needed for a show to succeed.

  12. The best book about theatre, in my opinion, is The Secret Life of the American Musical by Jack Viernel. It’s such an insightful and thorough look at the insides of the current American musical, and shows the start of such musicals from Rodgers & Hammerstein to Stephen Sondheim. It truly is a great read.

  13. How Does the Show Go On? An Introduction to the Theater by Tom Schumacher. I love it because it’s geared towards kids and is written to excite a new generation of audience members and theatre artists
    Twitter Handle: @AaronLDeitsch

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