Reading list curated by Rachel
Nominees for the 2016 Tony Awards were announced May 3rd and – no surprise here – Hamilton snagged a record-breaking sixteen, but there’s more to Broadway than just a genre-spanning musical about dead white guys. (Even though it’s awesome!) While there were twenty-six musicals and plays nominated, this list is by no means comprehensive. Peruse the full list at TonyAwards.com at your own pace, come back to the library for any recommendations we haven’t yet covered, and don’t forget to watch the live broadcast on Sunday, June 12th on CBS!
American Psycho, two nominations
Living the high life in 1980s Manhattan, Patrick Bateman has it all: looks, money, style and status. But privately, Patrick indulges in another kind of transgression. And people – including those closest to him – keep disappearing.
Revisit the source with Bret Easton Ellis’s 1991 Wall Street satire and then ogle over a very young (and not yet Batman) Christian Bale in the 2000 film adaptation. Looking for more transgressive fiction? Try either Fight Club or Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk, Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, White Noise by Don DeLillo, or In the Miso Soup by Ryū Murakami. Into mergers and acquisitions instead of murders and executions? Look at The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis and William D. Cohan’s House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street. Seen the play? Watch more of Benjamin Walker in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and In the Heart of the Sea or listen to the original Broadway cast recording of composer Duncan Sheik’s other hit musical, Spring Awakening.
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, four nominations
A dramatized and partially fictionalized story of the Salem witch trials that took place in the Province of Massachusetts Bay during 1692 and 1693.
Revisit Miller’s four-act play and then watch Daniel Day Lewis and Winona Ryder in the 1996 film adaptation. Interested in some witchy nonfiction? Check out Stacy Schiff’s newest, The Witches: Salem, 1692; Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trial by Marilynne K. Roach; Judge Sewell’s Apology: The Salem Witch Trials and the Forming of the American Conscience by Richard Francis; and Marion L. Starkey’s The Devil in Massachusetts: A Modern Enquiry into the Salem Witch Trials. Want to get lost in fiction? Try The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, or Elizabeth George Speare’s Newbery Award-winning The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Visual more your style? Pick up the first season of Salem, Three Sovereigns for Sarah or even Hocus Pocus.
The Color Purple, four nominations
This stirring family chronicle follows the inspirational Celie, as she journeys from childhood through joy and despair, anguish and hope to discover the power of love and life.
Revisit Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning novel and then watch Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Danny Glover in the Steven Spielberg-directed film. Looking for more women-centered, character-driven novels by black authors? Try Sula by Toni Morrison, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Ruby by Cynthia Bond, or Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. Interested in American history during the 1930s? Pick up The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression by Amity Shlaes, The Hungry Years: A Narrative History of the Great Depression in America by T. H. Watkins, Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression by Studs Terkel, or even Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural Hisory of the Great Depression by Morris Dickstein. Did you enjoy Walker’s epistolary format? Look into Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, Mary Ann Shaffer’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, or those oft-referenced curiosities, Dracula and Frankenstein. Just here for the music? There’s a CD for that, too.
Eclipsed, six nominations
Drawing on reserves of wit and compassion, Eclipsed reveals distinct women who must discover their own means of survival in this deeply felt portrait of women finding and testing their own strength in a hostile world of horrors not of their own making.
The source material for Eclipsed is the all too real (and brutal) Second Liberian Civil War, which spanned from 1999 to 2003. Curious about the play’s setting? Check out Leymah Gbowee’s Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War, Johnny Dwyer’s American Warlord, Colin M. Waugh’s Charles Taylor and Liberia: Ambition and Atrocity in Africa’s Lone Star State, Helene Cooper’s The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood, or the film Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Looking for broader history? Crack open The Fortunes of Africa: A 5000-Year History of Wealth, Greed, and Endeavour or The Fate of Africa: From the Hopes of Freedom to the Heart of Despair: A History of Fifty Years of Independence by Martin Meredith, The Rift: A New Africa Breaks Free by Alex Perry, or Another America: The Story of Liberia and the Former Slaves Who Ruled It by James Ciment. Feeling particularly self-loathing? Uzodinma Iweala’s Beasts of No Nation tackles civil war in an unnamed West African country, Majok Tulba’s Beneath the Darkening Sky handles child soldiers and rebel armies, Philip Gourevitch’s We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda explores another brutal African civil war, and, well, Eclipsed star Lupita Nyong’o deservedly won an Oscar for her performance in 12 Years a Slave.
Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, ten nominations
The challenges of mounting the original production of Shuffle Along – deeply in debt and set to open at a remote Broadway house on West 63rd Street – and its effect on Broadway and race relations.
This Shuffle Along is actually a meta-revival of the original 1921 Broadway play, which finished its run of 484 performance fourteen months after it opened. Interested in the cultural history of black actors on Broadway? Start with Black Broadway: African Americans on the Great White Way by Stewart F. Lane, The First Black Actors on the Great White Way by Susan Curtis, The Great White Way: Race and the Broadway Musical by Warren Hoffman, or A Beautiful Pageant: African American Theatre, Drama, and Performance in the Harlem Renaissance, 1910-1927 by David Krasner for a chapter specifically on Shuffle Along. Want more biography about the original play’s little-known stars? For Josephine Baker, look at Peggy Caravantes’s The Many Faces of Josephine Baker: Dancer, Singer, Activist, Spy, Patricia Hruby Powell’s Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, or Jean-Claude Baker and Chris Chase’s Josephine: The Hungry Heart. For Florence Mills, look at Florence Mills: Harlem Jazz Queen by Bill Egan and Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renée Watson. For Paul Robeson, look at Lindsey R. Swindall’s Paul Robeson: A Life of Activism and Art and Arnold H. Lubasch’s Robeson: An American Ballad. For Fredi Washington, look at African American Actresses: The Struggle for Visibility, 1900-1960 by Charlene Regester.
Hamilton, sixteen nominations
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Eliza Hamilton, and lifelong Hamilton friend and foe Aaron Burr all attend this revolutionary tale of America’s fiery past, told through the sounds of the ever-changing nation we’ve become. This new musical is about taking your shot, speaking your mind, and turning the world upside down.
Check out our own reading list on all things Hamilton then look into Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: The Revolution: Being the Complete Libretto of the Broadway Musical, with a True Account of its Creation, and Concise Remarks on Hip-Hop, the Power of Stories, and the New America. Still can’t get enough LMM? Borrow the original Broadway cast recording of Miranda’s Tony and Grammy Award-winning and Pulitzer Prize-nominated musical, In the Heights.