Stage Part II: Authors L to Z
Compiled by John Kenrick
There are many worthwhile books and articles on musical theatre. Listed here are sources that were referred during the creation of this website, with some hopelessly biased critiques. Get in touch with a good librarian and you might be surprised at how many are hiding on a shelf near you.
- Stage I - Authors A to K
- Stage II - Authors L to Z
- General History
- Reference Works
Lahr, John. Notes On A Cowardly Lion. New York: Limelight Editions, 1984. Bert Lahr's son takes a frank, moving look into the life and heart of his father. This great clown comes to life in one of the best show biz bios ever.
Larkin, Colin. The Virgin Encyclopedia of Stage and Film Musicals. London, UK: Virgin Books, 1999. This hefty volume gives ample coverage to both American and British musicals. A sensational reference.
Lerner, Alan (edited by Benny Green). A Hymn To Him: The Lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner. New York: Limelight Editions, 1987. Along with all the songs you know (and several you probably don't), there are some delightful lyrics from an unfinished musical version of My Man Godfrey which Lerner was working on at the time of his passing.
Lerner, Alan Jay. The Musical Theatre: A Celebration. New York: McGraw Hill, 1986. Written at the end of Lerner's life, a clear and perceptive overview of musical theatre history. His great love for musical theatre shines through every page.
Lerner, Alan Jay. The Street Where I Live. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978. Delicious entertainment! This magical autobiography by a master lyricist/librettist is worth reading again and again -- of course, some of it should be taken with a grain of salt.
Lesley, Cole. The Life Of Noel Coward. London: Penguin, 1976. Coward's friend and assistant writes a glorious, affectionate bio of "The Master." This is a super trip into a lost time and mindset.
Lott, Eric. Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. An examination of cultural/political role played by minstrel show in the 1800s. Too many good ideas -- and a few ill-founded ones too -- are mired in academic persiflage. (" . . . disarticulations of hegemony accompany periods of extreme capitalist crisis, generating fresh repertoires of domination.")
Mandelbaum, Ken. Not Since Carrie. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991. A witty and joyous valentine to flop musicals. This well-researched gem is required reading for all serious musical theatre buffs.
Marx, Samuel & Clayton, Jan. Rodgers & Hart: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1976. Several books have examined Rodgers and Hammerstein. This look at Rodgers and Hart (co-authored by Carousel's original Julie) was long overdue and very well researched.
Maslon, Laurence. Broadway: The American Musical. New York: Bullfinch Press, 2004. This companion volume to a landmark PBS documentary series is the most sumptuously illustrated history of Broadway musicals, with well considered text and fascinating special essays -- a must have for serious students of this subject.
Mast, Gerald. Can't Help Singing: The American Musical on Stage and Screen. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987. Some wonderful insights can be found in this wide-ranging overview of the musical in most every form. Since the author has a tendency to read too much meaning into trivial points, some of the text can be a challenge to plod through.
Mates, Julian. The American Musical Stage Before 1800. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1962. A unique and well-researched look at an otherwise neglected subject.
McBrien, William. Cole Porter: A Biography. New York: Knopf, 1998. Informative, frank and well-written, this is the definitive Porter bio. His public and private life are honestly discussed.
McCabe, John. George M. Cohan: The Man Who Owned Broadway. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1973. A solid biography that brings Cohan's time to life. McCabe later wrote a fine biography of Jimmy Cagney.
McGovern, Dennis, and Deborah Grace Winer. Sing Out, Louise!: 150 Stars of the Musical Theatre Remember 50 Years on Broadway. New York: Schirmer Books, 1993. Memories and anecdotes abound in this all too brief volume.
McNally, Terrence. Love! Valor! Compassion! New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1995. The film version was good, but the original stage script is pure magic. The character "Buzz" is a fictional patron saint for gay musical theatre lovers.
Merman, Ethel (with George Eells). Merman - An Autobiography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978. Broadway's beloved musical superstar turned out an enjoyable book. The dish is not always diplomatic (she almost outs J. Edgar Hoover), and the "chapter" on her nightmare marriage to Ernest Borgnine is a hoot.
Mizejewski, Linda. Ziegfeld Girl: Image and Icon in Culture and Cinema. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999. A serious academic approach meets with readable text in this insightful examination of how the Ziegfeld legacy spread through the pop culture of the 20th Century.
Moody, Richard. Ned Harrigan: From Corlear's Hook to Herald Square. Chicago: Nelson Hall, 1980. Detailed and informative, this biography of the inventor of Broadway musical comedy will please any serious student of the period.
Mordden, Ethan. Make Believe: The Broadway Musical in the 1920s. Oxford University Press, New York, 1998. In this detailed decade-by-decade series, Mordden takes a passionate and opinionated look at musical theatre. Classics and forgotten works are covered, with some surprising conclusions. You may not always agree with Mordden, but you can count on being informed, occasionally outraged, and thoroughly entertained.
Mordden, Ethan. Sing for Your Supper: The Broadway Musical in the 1930s. New York: Palgrave, 2005.
Mordden, Ethan. Beautiful Morning: The Broadway Musical in the 1940s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Mordden, Ethan. Coming Up Roses: The Broadway Musical in the 1950s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Mordden, Ethan. Open a New Window: The Broadway Musical in the 1960s. New York: Palgrave for St. Martin's Press, 2001.
Mordden, Ethan. One More Kiss: The Broadway Musical in the 1970s. New York: Palgrave, 2003.
Mordden, Ethan. The Happiest Corpse I've Ever Seen: The Last 25 Years of the Broadway Musical. New York: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2004.
Mordden, Ethan; Editor. Waves. New York: Vintage Books, 1994. Mordden's vibrant fiction can teach more about lost times and lives than many formal histories.
Morely, Sheridan. Spread A Little Happiness: The First Hundred Years of The British Musical. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1987. The British musical after Gilbert & Sullivan gets its due here in a loving illustrated volume.
Morrison, William. Broadway Theatres: History and Architecture. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1999. Wonderful photos and well-researched text covering 74 Broadway theatres, both existing and lost.
Nolan, Frederick. Lorenz Hart: A Poet On Broadway. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. A highly readable bio.
Nolan, Frederick. The Sound of Their Music: The Story of Rodgers and Hammerstein. New York: Walker and Company, 1978. A superb book, with great photos and a wonderful appendix outlining the R&H years.
Payne, Graham and Day, Barry. My Life With Noel Coward. New York: Applause Books, 1994. Coward's longtime companion takes a loving and intimate look back. Many valuable lost articles and essays can be rediscovered here.
Poggi, Jack. Theater in America: The Impact of Economic Forces 1870-1967. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1968. How the "business" of show business developed, with facts and figures placed in a well-considered perspective.
Porter, Cole. The Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter. New York: Vintage Books, 1984. A magnificent resource, thank the gods (and editor Robert Kimball)!
Porter, Susan L. With An Air Debonair: Musical Theatre in America 1785-1815. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991. The most comprehensive review of musical theatre in early America, scholarly yet readable. A superb, long overdue resource.
Rosenberg, Deena. Fascinating Rhythm: The Collaboration of George and Ira Gershwin. London: Lime Tree, 1991. One of the few books to examine the collaboration between lyricist and composer. Based on extensive interviews with Ira, it includes a remarkable selection of photos.
Rudnick, Paul. Jeffrey. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1995. The best gay stage comedy of the 1990s, with the hilarious character of Father Dan, who has an interesting theory about who Satan is.
Samuels, Charles and Louise. Once Upon a Stage: The Merry World of Vaudeville. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1974. A casual, nostalgic look at vaudeville by two veteran journalists.
Sante, Luc. Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York. New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 1991. An entertaining and engrossing look at lower class life in New York from the 1840s through World War I. One of the best books I know on the history of my hometown, it includes information on theatre and other forms of popular entertainment.
Secrest, Meryle. Somewhere for Me: A Biography of Richard Rodgers. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001. A detailed look back at one of the greatest figures in this genre. Some interesting stories, but a bit too much dirt gets dished up for my taste.
Secrest, Meryle. Stephen Sondheim: A Life. London: Bloomsbury, 1998. Sondheim co-operated with this author, which makes her occasional inaccuracies all the more annoying. A disappointment, but the most thorough Sondheim bio to date.
Senelick, Laurence. The Age and Stage of George L. Fox 1825-1877. University Press of New England, 1988. (Expanded Paperback - Iowa City: Univ. of Iowa Press, 1999.) Well-researched and readable, this is a fascinating, long overdue look at American pantomime and the popular stage of the 1800s.
Senelick, Laurence. Cabaret Performance, Volume I: Europe 1890-1920. New York: PAJ Publications, 1989. A unique collection of sketches, lyrics, monologues and memoirs from the golden age of European cabaret.
Senelick, Laurence. Cabaret Performance, Volume II: Europe 1920-1940. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993. A fascinating continuation of the rare material found in the first volume, listed above.
Silver, Nathan. Lost New York. New York: Weathervane Books, 1967. (Updated Edition - New York: Mariner Books, 2000.) This riveting look at New York's lost architectural treasures (including theatres) played a vital role in initiating public interest in landmark preservation. The updated edition includes more great photos.
Singer, Barry. Ever After: The Last Years of Musical Theatre and Beyond. New York: Applause, 2004. Although I disagree with some of Singer's opinions, he offers a well-informed firsthand look at musical theatre from 1975 to the early 2000s.
Slide, Anthony. The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994. The best resource on vaudeville period. A lifetime of love and research went into this book, which includes detailed and entertaining biographies of hundreds of performers, as well as listings for vaudeville terms, genres, major theaters, and much more.
Slide, Anthony. The Vaudevillians. Westport, CT: Arlington House, 1981. Predecessor to the encyclopedia mentioned above, it features hundreds of profiles and photos.
Sommerstein, Alan H. Greek Drama and Dramatists. London, Routledge, 2000. One of the best and most readable discussions of a subject that others often bury in academic jargon. In less than 200 pages, Sommerstein says far more than other books twice this length.
Smith, Cecil and Litton, Glenn. Musical Comedy in America. New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1950/1981. One of the first and best books on musicals. Cecil Smith's look at early musicals remains fresh and perceptive after half a century. Litton added to the existing text in the 1981 edition.
Snyder, Robert W. The Voice of the City. New York: Ivan R. Dee, 2000 (Hardcover: Oxford Univ. Press, NY, 1989). A delightful and well-researched look at the history of vaudeville and popular culture in New York City. Superb.
Sobel, Bernard. A Pictorial History of Burlesque. New York: Bonanza Books, 1956. Not just strippers, but a look at all of burlesque. Great photos!
Sobel, Bernard. A Pictorial History of Vaudeville. New York: Citadel Press, 1961. Now hard to find, this is a priceless collection for fans of the genre. Many rare photos.
Stagg, Jerry. The Shubert Brothers. New York: Random House, 1968. An entertaining and informative look at the men who built America's largest and most hated theatrical empire. Not as frank about the Shubert's private lives as Foster Hirsch's later effort, but a must-read for those interested in theatrical history.
Stedman, Jane W. W.S. Gilbert: A Classic Victorian & His Theatre. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. An excellent academic review of Gilbert's life and times.
Stein, Charles; Editor. American Vaudeville. New York: Da Capo Press, 1984. A fascinating collection of vintage articles, essays and other resources written during vaudeville's heyday. Those with a serious interest in vaudeville will love this one.
Steyn, Mark. Broadway Babies Say Goodnight. New York: Routledge Books, 1997. Sometimes entertaining but more often a tiresome collection of misinformed, bigoted opinions. The bitchy homophobia speaks for itself.
Stratyner, Barbara. Ned Wayburn and the Dance Routine: From Vaudeville to the Ziegfeld Follies. Studies in Dance History, No. 13. Madison, WI: Society of Dance History Scholars, 1996. An insightful look at the career of the first important dance director in American show business. An academic approach expressed in readable prose -- first rate resource for theatre and dance aficionados.
Suskin, Stephen. Opening Night On Broadway. New York: Schirmer Books, 1990. I adore this book! The original newspaper reviews for most of the musicals that opened between 1943 and 1964. Suskin slips in perceptive and sometimes dishy commentary, and a fascinating selection of rare pre-Broadway posters. (There is a sequel see below.)
Suskin, Stephen. More Opening Nights On Broadway. New York: Schirmer Books, 1997. Also superb! The original newspaper reviews for most of the musicals that opened between 1965 and 1981, with a special section for important road shows that never made it to New York,
Suskin, Steven. Show Tunes 1905-1991: The Songs, Shows and Careers of Broadway's Major Composers. New York: Limelight Editions, 1992. Suskin strikes again with an exhaustive catalog of who wrote what and when. A spectacular resource!
Tanner, Jo A. Dusky Maidens: The Odyssey of the Early Black Dramatic Actress. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992. A detailed account of the way most of America's earliest black actresses got their first professional engagements in the musical theater. Great treatment of a neglected topic.
Toll, Robert. Blacking Up. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974. This detailed academic chronicle of minstrel shows remains the definitive study of minstrelsy -- crucial reading to anyone interested in the topic.
Traub, James. The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square. New York: Random House, 2004. A readable and insightful look at Times Square's reign as New York's cultural hub, this is one of the most enjoyable history books in recent years.
Traubner, Richard. Operetta: A Theatrical History. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1983 The ultimate love letter to operetta, with superb scholarship throughout. A new paperback edition appeared in 2003.
Weightman, Gavin. Bright Lights, Big City: London Entertained 1830-1950. London: Collins & Brown, 1992. Lavish illustrations and broadly focused text cover many facets of popular entertainment in London from Victoria's reign to the aftermath of World War II.
Wilk, Max. OK! The Story of Oklahoma! New York: Grove Press, 1993. A detailed and fascinating look back at the gestation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's landmark hit. Packed with anecdotes and great photos.
Willis, John and Daniel Blum, editors. Theatre World (All editions) Published in New York by Chilton, Crown, and then Applause Books, 1943-present. Since the 1940s this annual yearbook has chronicled the American theatre scene in unprecedented detail, providing cast lists, photos and performance statistics. Still the definitive print source on who played in what and when.
Wilmeth, Don B. and Tice L. Miller, editors. Cambridge Guide to American Theatre. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993. The best single volume reference on the American Theatre. There have been several editions over the years -- the 1993 was referred to in the original preparation of this website.
Wodehouse, PG and Guy Bolton. Bring On The Girls!: The Improbable Story of Our Life In Musical Comedy, With Pictures To Prove It. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1953. A delicious joint memoir by the co-librettists of the Princess Theatre shows, among many other hits. Filled with hilarious (and insightful) anecdotes that recapture a lost theatrical era with extraordinary warmth and wit. From Aarons to Ziegfeld, no one is spared. This book is a rare treat.
Wolf, Stacy. A Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002. As a rule, I have little use for scholars out to "queer the canon" of popular culture, but there are some intriguing ideas in this, the first book to discuss musicals from a lesbian-feminist perspective.
Woll, Allen. Black Musical Theater: From Coontown to Dreamgirls. Baton Rouge: Lousiana State Univ. Press, 1989. A long overlooked part of theater history got its first (and still most thorough) treatment here. It is infuriating that many general histories of the musical theater either ignored or downplayed so much of this material.
Zadan, Craig. Sondheim & Co. New York: Harper & Row, 1974 (Second updated edition, 1986). A fascinating behind the scenes look at how Sondheim's shows were created, with great photos and some reflective insights from Mr. Sondheim. Zadan went on to become a stage and television musical producer.
Ziegfeld, Richard and Paulette. The Ziegfeld Touch: The Life and Times of Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1993. Cousins of the great Ziegfeld created this lavish compendium of photos and data. Aside from a brief and straightforward retelling of his private life, they concentrate on his 83 productions. With cast lists, plots and hundreds of photos, this is an archival goldmine for fledgling researchers.