top of page

Musical Theatre – Let’s Learn!

As I continue to cope with staying at home and social distancing, I find myself searching for activities to fill my extra free time – lately, I’ve been doing some research into musical theater – anything from history, biographies, how to guides, anything goes! If you’re a fan of music theater, there’s bound to be something to interest you in my reading wish list below!


Something Wonderful: Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution by Todd S. Purdum – this book explores the creative partnership that created musical theater as we know it.

W.S. Gilbert: A Classic Victorian and His Theatre by Jane W. Stedman is the authoritative biography on the lyricist whose work defined music theater in the late Victorian age.

Arthur Sullivan: A Victorian Musician by Arthur Jacobs is the biography on the composer who makes up the second half of the Gilbert and Sullivan duo.

Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked, 2nd ed. By Carol de Giere. The authorized biography full of behind the scenes stories from the composer-lyricists of some of the 21st century’s most popular shows.

Gene Kelly: The Making of a Creative Legend by Earl Hess. The biographical account of Gene Kelly: dancer, choreographer, actor, clown, singer, director, teacher, and mentor.

Irving Berlin: New York Genius (Jewish Lives) by James Kaplan. A biography exploring Iriving Berlin’s life in New York city as a self-made man.

Music Theater Business:

The Costume Supervisor’s Toolkit: Supervising Theater Costume Production from First Meeting to Final Performance by Rebecca Pride. A detailed handbook for the theatrical costume supervisor.

The Business of American Theatre by William Grange: a research guide to the history of producing theater in the US – covers everything money-related that goes into producing a show.

The Secret Life of the American Musical: How Broadway Shows are Built by Jack Viertel provides an exploration of the development of a production – from overture to the final curtain.

Music Theater History:

Creating Musical Theatre: Conversations with Broadway Choreographers by Lyn Cramer is a collection of interviews with the directors and choreographers that create today’s broadway productions, films, television shows, operas, and ballets.

Stars of the American Musical Theater in Historic Photographs edited by Stanely Appelbaum and James Camner. This book contains a collection of 361 portraits of great stage performers from 1860-1950.

The American Negro Theatre and the Long Civil Rights Era by Jonathan Shandell is an in-depth study of the historic American Negro Theater (ANT) and its lasting influence on American popular culture.

Les Miserables: The Story of the World’s Longest Running Musical in Words, Pictures, and Rare Memorabilia by Benedict Nightingale is a retrospective of this theater-fan favorite!

And Then We Danced: A Voyage into the Groove by Henry Alford – a comic history of the world of dance in America.

Theater of the World: Selfhood in the English Morality Play (ReFormations: Medieval and Early Modern) by Julie Paulson is an exploration of the morality play format and its impact on early history.


Alyssa Cowell Voice and Piano Instructor The Catoctin School of Music


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page