While another Thanksgiving has come and gone and most enjoyed their day filled with food, family, and a lot of football, I have always enjoyed another aspect of our American Thanksgiving tradition – the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the live performances from Broadway casts.
During this year’s televised special we saw performances from the casts of “Six,” “Moulin Rouge!,” and “Wicked,” plus the upcoming NBC airing of “Annie Live!,” which airs Thursday, Dec. 2. Other Broadway performers like Kristin Chenoweth and Darren Criss lifted their voices to promote new holiday album releases. And it wouldn’t be a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade without The Rockettes.
I’ve been on a big Broadway kick lately because Broadway is finally back in Columbus! The Broadway in Columbus series opened this month with “Hadestown” after 611 days since the last Broadway show played on a central Ohio stage.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story of “Hadestown” (as I was), it blends the Greek myths of Hades and Persephone with the tragic love story of Orpheus and Eurydice. If that still doesn’t ring a bell (it didn’t for me), you can use my favorite resource to learn more – the Delaware County District Library. I discovered the book “Working on a Song: The Lyrics to Hadestown” by Anaïs Mitchell, which takes readers inside the show writer’s decades-long process of building the musical from the ground up. It details the show, lyric by lyric, through many iterations, before it finally made its way to Broadway.
As the rest of the Broadway in Columbus season comes to town, I’ll be using my library to read, sing, play and dance along with some amazing shows. Below are some books that may help your toes tap or learn a bit more behind the making of the show. Don’t forget to also check Hoopla for the Broadway Cast Recordings that you can download on demand.
• “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T. S. Eliot. The 1939 book of poetry serves as the basis for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Cats.” Eliot originally wrote the light poetry for his godchildren in the 1930s. In many cases, the poems were used with little alteration to create many of the songs known today. This collection is a curious and artful homage to felines young and old, merry and fierce, small and unmistakably round.
• “The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland” by Jim DeFede. The true story and basis for the musical “Come from Away.” DeFede shares the experiences of the citizens of Gander, Newfoundland, who were hosts to the more than 6,000 passengers of 38 U.S.-bound jetliners forced to land there in the wake of the September 11th attacks.
• “A Natural Woman: A Memoir” by Carole King. The iconic singer-songwriter chronicles her story from beginnings in Brooklyn through her remarkable success as one of the world’s most acclaimed musical talents. From her marriage to Gerry Goffin, with whom she wrote dozens of songs that hit the charts, to her own achievements, notably with “Tapestry,” which remained on the charts for more than six years, to her experiences as a mother, this memoir chronicles one of music’s most successful and fascinating stars. Read it before you see “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”
• “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” by Gregory Maguire. This is the book that started it all. The basis for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical is Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked,” which views the land of Oz, its inhabitants, its Wizard, and the Emerald City, through a darker and greener (not rosier) lens. Wicked offers a radical new evaluation of one of the most feared and hated characters in all of literature: the much maligned Wicked Witch of the West who might not have been nearly as wicked as we imagined.
• “Come From Away: Welcome to the Rock: [An Inside Look at the Hit Musical]” by Irene Sankoff. This is the ultimate companion piece to the musical based on that extraordinary experience. Featuring the complete book and lyrics for the first time in print, a foreword by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and exclusive photos of the company and physical production, this essential companion also includes original interviews with passengers, Gander residents, and the actors who portray them.
• “Hamilton the Revolution” by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages traces its development from an improbable performance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. Included are more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for Miranda’s award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published.
If you have a question that you would like to see answered in this column, mail it to Nicole Fowles, Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015, or call us at 740-362-3861. You can also email your questions by visiting the library’s web site at www.delawarelibrary.org or directly to Nicole at [email protected] No matter how you contact us, we’re always glad you asked!