On Saturday, I went up to the Newton Gresham Library at Sam Houston State University. I love to go dig through their music library for interesting things, and this time I found a whole new section. Over in the corner near the oversized scores, there was a trove of reference books related to producing musicals.
I also went to up to the American Literature section of the library and checked out a few volumes of classic plays by American playwrights: Edward Albee, Arthur Miller, and Tennessee Williams. I'm already very excited about what I'm discovering.
The Man Who Had All the Luck by Arthur Miller
This was a quick read from the collected plays of Arthur Miller. Written in 1940, it was first produced on Broadway in 1944. It follows the life of David Beeves, a young man who somehow manages to get everything he wants through what seems to be sheer luck. When his girlfriend's father refuses to grant his blessing, he is killed in a freak accident, leaving the path free. David seems to be blessed in business and relationships, while his family and friends encounter the normal consequences of bad luck and bad choices.
The play has a lot of dramatic momentum, and as David realizes his seemingly impossible luck, he flirts with madness. I was really compelled by this storyline, and I could definitely see it continuing to play well onstage (As I was looking up the publication date, I found it had a few semi-successful productions, including a 2002 Broadway revival.
Little Musicals for Little Theatres by Denny Martin Flinn
This was a surprising book. I was really excited to see it, because I've recently had an interest in smaller, more adventurous musicals. This book contains pages and pages of musicals that don't have massive production values. As the subtitle says, it's "A Reference Guide to the Musicals that Don't Need Chandeliers or Helicopters to Succeed".
The book is split into three sections: book musicals, themed revues, and composer revues. I'm about halfway through the section on book musicals and I've already discovered more than half a dozen musicals I want to explore or maybe even direct.
I don't always agree with his opinions on the shows I do know (such as his low opinion of Falsettos), but it provides plenty of food for thought.
What else is there?
I don't know how far I'll get this week, but here are the rest of the things I checked out.
- The Collected Plays of Arthur Miller Volume 1 (1944-1961) containing All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, An Enemy of the People, The Crucible, A Memory of Two Mondays, two versions of A View from the Bridge, and The Misfits
- The Theatre of Tennessee Williams Volume 1 containing Battle of Angels, The Glass Menagerie, and A Streetcar Named Desire.
- The Collected Plays of Edward Albee Volume 1 containing The Zoo Story, The Death of Bessie Smith, The Sandbox, The American Dream, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, Tiny Alice, and Malcolm
- So You're the New Musical Director by James H. Laster
- From Assassins to West Side Story: The Director's Guide to Musical Theatre by Scott Miller
- Making a Broadway Musical: Making it Run by John D. Mitchell
Can you sense the theme? I don't know if I'll get through it all, but plays are a quick read.