Into the Words

When young musical theatre artists ask me how to get where they're going, I always give the same advice, to consume as much musical theatre as humanly possible, to see every musical (live and on screen) that they can, read scripts and biographies and history books and analysis books, listen to cast albums -- and not just the new ones.

In other words, drink all of it in. And part of that is creating a good library for yourself.

I was browsing my own considerable musical theatre script library, and though there are lots of photocopied scripts and "lost" rental scripts (shhh, don't tell anybody), it's surprising how many musical theatre scripts get published. Of course, with some exceptions (like Sondheim), it's only the most famous, most commercial shows that get published. But it's happening more now than it has since the 60s and 70s.

I noticed I have several really nice published collections of musical theatre scripts in my library, so I thought it would be worth blogging about them. So many young musical theatre fans can start a decent script library without spending too much time or money (if you get these used on Amazon!).

Great Musicals of the American Theatre, in two volumes 
Volume One includes Of Thee I Sing, Porgy and Bess, One Touch of Venus, Brigadoon, Kiss Me Kate, West Side Story, Gypsy, Fiddler on the Roof, 1776, and Company.
Volume Two includes Leave It to Me, Lady in the Dark, Lost in the Stars, Wonderful Town, Fiorello!, Camelot, Man of La Mancha, Cabaret, Applause, and A Little Night Music.
Both volumes are out of print, but you can get used copies pretty cheap on Amazon.

American Musicals, in two volumes or boxed set 
1927-1949 includes Show Boat, As Thousands Cheer, Pal Joey, Oklahoma!, On the Town, Finian's Rainbow, Kiss Me Kate, and South Pacific.
1950-1969 includes Guys and Dolls, The Pajama Game, My Fair Lady, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, and 1776.

6 Plays by Rodgers and Hammerstein
Includes Oklahoma!, Carousel, Allegro, South Pacific, The King and I, and Me and Juliet.

The New York Musicals of Comden and Green
Includes On the Town, Wonderful Town, and Bells Are Ringing

The Collected Plays of Neil Simon, vol. 1
Includes Promises, Promises (as well as several plays)
The Collected Plays of Neil Simon, vol. 2
Includes Little Me (as well as several plays)
The Collected Plays of Neil Simon, vol. 3
Includes They're Playing Our Song and Sweet Charity (as well as several plays)

Four by Sondheim
Includes A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, and Sunday in the Park with George

Great Rock Musicals
Includes The Wiz, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Grease, Jesus Christ Superstar, Your Own Thing, Hair, Tommy, and Promenade.

The New American Musical
Includes Floyd Collins, Rent, Parade, and Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe's version of The Wild Party.

Collect all these collections, most or all of which you can get really cheap and in good condition, buying them used on Amazon. (I get most of my books that way.) And then you'll have a great variety of works through which to study and get to know our art form. Believe me, read all these scripts and you will understand the history and evolution of the American musical theatre.

And then you can buy all my analysis books and dig even deeper into these fascinating shows and our fascinating history.

Pretty cool that it's that easy, no? So get reading!

Long Live the Musical!