Review: “The Untold Stories of Broadway Volume 3”: An Entertaining Look Into Broadway’s Historic Theaters
- New York Columnist
“The Untold Stories of Broadway Volume 3” is a collection of interviews and musings from Broadway house managers to legends like Harold Prince. This third installment by Jennifer Ashley Tepper, Director of Programming at Feinstein’s/54 Below, includes stories about the Belasco Theatre, the Broadhurst Theatre, the Edison Theatre, the Lyric Theatre, the Majestic Theatre, the Schoenfeld Theatre, the St. James Theatre, and the Walter Kerr Theatre, plus her observations on each Broadway house. This book flows forward chronologically with stories dating back to 1933. For the most part, “Untold Stories” stresses how Broadway has remained a constant throughout history and how each house has carved its own identity as a result.
Tepper effortlessly connects with her interviewees and elicits the most candid responses. Her impressive roster of Broadway professionals makes “Untold Stories” a compelling read that appeals to readers with varying degrees of knowledge and interests within the theatre. We learn about Patti LuPone’s numerous collaborations with playwright David Mamet and her memories of seeing “Camelot” as a child at the Majestic Theatre. Casting director Bernard Telsey shares how “Rent” made Telsey+Company the go-to casting agency for nontraditional productions like “The Capeman” at the Walter Kerr Theatre.
While the majority of interviewees reminisce, Tepper looks forward to the near future and provides insights into anticipated changes. It’s particularly refreshing to read about the upcoming production of “Anastasia” at the Broadhurst and the expansion at the St. James to make room for the 2018 stage adaptation of “Frozen” with much needed context on how each house is suited for these shows.
The content is very dense and its format didactic — it’s best enjoyed in small sections to fully grasp the intricacies behind each story. While this volume is packed with valuable insider information, Tepper’s voice gets lost between the interviews and footnotes. Her introduction alludes to her memories at the Lyceum Theatre and Circle in the Square Theatre, but her expertise, experiences, and delightful personality need to have a stronger presence.
“The Untold Stories of Broadway Volume 3” is smart and inspiring, and like the theatre, it should be approached with an open mind and heart. Based on the extraordinary talent that’s featured in this volume, the following ones will only be better.