Skip to main content

The Playbill Broadway Yearbook 2012-2013



The Playbill Broadway Yearbook 2012-2013






Robert Viagas, Editor (Playbill Books 2013, Hardcover) 470 pages, illustrated (colour and b/w) and indexed, $39.99 cover price

From the section on the musical Rock of Ages:

Memorable Directorial Note: Less tongue in the opening please.”

It is for the discovery of exactly that kind of perfect, naughty moment that I love theatre, review books, or for that matter choose to keep on breathing each day.

Then again, there are the wonderfully bitchy moments where someone says what you would have said when trying to drive a point home if you had the natural eloquence of say Noel Coward, or in this case George C. Wolfe, the Director of the late Nora Ephron's play Lucky Guy:

“There are two pauses in this show, and neither of them are yours.”

I'm quite sure whomever the actor was at the receiving end of that one never dared even blink between lines again.

What I did not realize when I asked to review the Playbill Broadway Yearbook is that its name perfectly describes it – it is a Yearbook as in just like your high school yearbook. There is probably some sort of awkward yet appropriate joke I could make combining the TV show Glee, yearbooks and Broadway, but I can't think of it, so do some comedy cooking for yourself for a change.

Playbill, that wonderful small magazine programme that fits just so in a gentleman's interior suit pocket, has been putting out these Yearbooks for nine seasons now. Damn I wish I had known about them sooner. For as it is, each of the (in this case) 81 shows that ran on New York's Great White Way between May 31st 2012 and June 1st 2013 are quite brilliantly summarized.

Well...not entirely summarized. The plots are condensed into a paragraph – no mean feat of writing, I might add – however there are no excerpts from the reviews and no Box Office numbers save for the length of the actual run. I say fair enough to that. You wouldn't want all your marks printed in your high school yearbook, nor would you wish to see your teachers' comments about what a lazy little shit you were either.

Instead, what one gets is the full cast list, reproduction of the Playbill Cover, all the head shots of cast and crew, other backstage and on-stage photos, the Playbill listing of absolutely everyone involved with the show and then best of all ... the Correspondent's Notes. Now that is where the delight comes into this book. Pictures are great, history is to be respected, hard work deserves its bow – but prickly gossip makes the world go round.

Each production that appears on Broadway is asked to provide a Correspondent for exactly this Yearbook. Virtually all the shows comply. Why would they? In effect Playbill is giving them a free service. These Correspondent's do seem to at their work with an impish gusto and wit that takes me back to all the great wrap parties I have been to over my own years in theatre. Playbill clearly supplies the majority of the categories to be filled, but oh what delicious filling. I have to quote a few of them. From the play Grace:

Memorable Press Encounter:
Ed Asner getting handsy with Barbara Walters on “The View.”

One can only dare to imagine.

This is a wonderful book for the theatre enthusiast and frankly, at $39.99 it is a bargain. Allow me to leave you with one last quote. From a summer remount of that wonderful comedy about an invisible rabbit named Harvey, there is this:

Embarrassing Moments:
... One night, a man bum-rushed the stage at curtain call with a bouquet of roses. Jim (Parsons, starring as Elwood P. Dowd) accepted them, but the man said, “no! They're for Harvey!” Jim turned bright pink and said, “I'll make sure he gets them.”

Be seeing you.

5 stars out of 5

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Blocks by Karl Parkinson

The Blocks

Karl Parkinson (New Binary Press 2016, Trade Paperback) 274 pages, cover price N/A

There's a tremendous irony in our lives you know, and it is one as large and predominant as the oxygen we breathe yet equally as invisible, equally ignored; an irony as imperceptible as the blood within our veins that itself only comes to our notice when the skin breaks and the blood trickles free before we hide the wound with a bandage and secure the blood back where it belongs. That irony is this: Our most basic desire, expressed in equal parts of hope and fear, is that we want to continue to live. And why? Because we want our individual lives to be different than what they are.
Karl Parkinson's first novel, The Blocks is a mad, tragic, stylish and daring exploration into that self-same need to survive and yet to change. The Blocks of the title themselves are neither those of the prison nor a child's alphabet; at least not literally although the reader may rightly infer those meta…

Nutshell by Ian McEwan

Nutshell
Ian McEwan (Knopf Canada edition 2016, Hard Cover) 197 pages, $29.95 cover price
We have to talk about the concept first. Oh I had a long and lively internal debate about it, you can be sure of that. After all, all books have concepts that we accept without too much fuss – talking animals, sentient corpses, thought-filled trees, the whole Harrod's bought stuffed menagerie of Winnie the Pooh carrying on like a picnic gathering of the British Women's Institute with special invited guests from the Royal Society of St George – we accept all of those without too much fuss. I've even admitted to sniffing up a tear or two over The Brave Little Toaster, so if one can be moved by a bloody kitchen appliance then why not a sentient foetus as the central character of Ian McEwan's Nutshell?It probably won't surprise you that I have a theory to go with that, slightly more substantial than an amuse-bouche if not quite a meal in itself. My thinking is that we go with the ta…

White and Red Cherries by Tanja Tuma

White and Red Cherries: A Slovenian Civil War Novel

Tanja Tuma (Self-published 2016, Trade paperback) 301 pages with glossary and bibliography, cover price n/a
It dawned on me like a thunder strikes a tree: this petite young girl embodies a mission, her reason to exist. Every one of us embodies his mission by what he does. We are what we do. Not chemical elements, but our deeds define our being. We are neither the faith we trust in God, nor the love we give and take. The least of what we are is the genetic code we get from our parents, which in turn lives on in our descendants. No. We are what we do at this moment in this bloody world. Our deeds can defy eternity. They can mirror our will and freedom forever. Those words are thoughts by the elderly Martin, born during the Second World War and raised by the partisan heroine Valeria Batič as her son, when his natural mother Ada quite literally tossed her baby from a train window to Valeria as the train pulled out for Vienna. Ada you see w…