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Book Reviews

A Book To Look For: The Letters Of Oscar Hammerstein II

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(Oxford University Press – May 2022), edited by Mark Eden Horowitz, the award-winning author of Sondheim on Music, is a rich collection that features hundreds of previously unpublished letters that show off all facets of Hammerstein’s many engagements and his personality. Hammerstein’s correspondence with major Broadway figures like Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Kern, and Josh Logan tells the history of twentieth-century American show business while his exchanges with politicians and activists shed light on social issues of the period. What unites these letters across their vast range of themes is Hammerstein’s compelling voice that reveals a man who was sharp, opinionated, and funny but also cared deeply about addressing the social ills that his musicals explored beyond the stage. The first collection of its kind, these letters from and to American musical theater’s greatest innovator provide an entertaining look behind the scenes of Broadway.

Advance Praise For The Letters of Oscar Hammerstein II 

“What a generous man Oscar was. To write so many letters that actually went into detail about the art and the craft (and life itself) was a time-consuming job. Reading them makes me feel proud and privileged to have known him…”

–Stephen Sondheim, American composer and lyricist

“This treasure trove of writings and letters from Oscar Hammerstein is an incredible deep dive into the heart and conscience of one of musical theater’s most daring and original lyricists and librettists. Between this and Sondheim on Music, Mark Eden Horowitz’ contribution to our art form is incalculable. What a gift.”

–Lin-Manuel Miranda, award-winning songwriter, actor, director. Creator of IN THE HEIGHTS and HAMILTON

Mark Eden Horowitz is Senior Music Specialist in the music division of the Library of Congress where he has been an archivist or co-archivist for the papers of Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers, Vernon Duke, Cole Porter, Frederick Loewe, Alan Jay Lerner, Leonard Bernstein and others. He is the author of the award-winning Sondheim on Music and served as the contributing editor for The Sondheim Review for ten years. He has taught the history of musical theatre at Georgetown and Catholic University. 

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Book Reviews

Mark Bego: The Prince Of Pop Biographies Gets Political With Yorkshire Publishing’s Campaigning For President

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What is the best-selling rock & roll biographer in the show business realm doing, writing a book on politics with “Campaigning For President?” asks author Mark Bego, “One of the reasons why this is a viable transition into another literary genre for me, is that political campaigns are 90% show business, and the act of finding an audience and playing to it—just like the music business.”

Mark Bego

Bego, whose last two books— “Band of Gold” with Freda Payne, and “Joe Cocker:  With A LOT of Help from His Friends”—both from Yorkshire Publishing—electrified the charts and further solidified his position as “the Prince of Pop Biographies” (a title given to him by Publisher’s Weekly).  On the heels of the Cocker biography, Bego was approached about reviving and updating the popular 2008 book: “Campaigning For President.”  According to him, “I am always up for a new literary adventure—and this seemed like a fun and historically relevant one to be involved with!”

Jordan M. Wright was the owner of the world’s most extensive collection of U.S. Presidential campaign memorabilia when he published the original 2008 book, “Campaigning For President.”  Only months later Wright tragically died, and his collection eventually found a permanent home at Long Island University. Since that time there have been five new presidential campaigns to write about, including the current 2024 Trump vs. Biden battle.  Bego was approached by Wright’s widow, Pamala Wright, about writing five new chapters, a new beginning, and re-imagining the original coffee table book.  “It intrigued me, and I was up for the challenge,” proclaims Bego.

According to Mark, “The five political campaigns that I have written about for this book have undoubtedly been the most dramatic ones ever mounted. And, the best part of this assignment is the fact that the book does not take political sides.  It is all about the memorabilia that is created for a presidential campaign, not the politics of it.  You can be a Republican, an Independent, or a Democrat, and still find everything in this book to be fascinating and of historical significance.”

“In my mind, a political rally can unfold the same way as a rock concert,” says Bego. “People can walk away from such an event with a Donald Trump ‘MAGA’ hat, or an ‘I’m With Hillary’ bumper sticker, or any number of catchy marketing items.  While I have spent my time collecting PEZ dispensers, and memorabilia on The Supremes and The Beatles, the original author of this book—Jordan M. Wright—was busy collecting political campaign items from George Washington in the 1780’s, up to George W. Bush in the 2000’s.  It is basically the same act, just a different arena.”

This new and fully updated version of the lavishly illustrated book “Campaigning For President,” with all new Bego material, is due to be released on June 4 from Yorkshire Publishing.  It represents Mark’s 69th published book.

Bego explains, “There is flattering memorabilia in this book about every candidate, and there are also some unflattering memorabilia about many of them too.  My task here is to present both sides of the coins, and to view the items in this book for their cleverness, their bitchiness, their ideals, their humor, and—ultimately—their effectiveness in the political outcome.”

Mark Bego’s next literary effort will undoubtedly return him to his musical wheelhouse. “I have several titles in my head; and in fact, have already begun writing one of them,” confirms the author.

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Book Reviews

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Four Award-Winning Musical Theatre Writers Who Turned to Writing Books

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“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents”, is  filmed live every Wednesday from 5 – 6 in the lobby of the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience.

In this episode T2C’s publisher and owner Suzanna Bowling talks with Douglas J Cohen, Stephen Cole ,Alison Louise Hubbard and David Spencer, musical theatre writers, who all have books out.

We are so proud because the show and our guests are now featured on the TV screens in the lobby and the hotel rooms.

I am so grateful to my guests Douglas J Cohen How To Survive A Killer Musical: Agony and Ecstasy on the Road to Broadway, Stephen Cole Mary & Ethel… and Mikey Who?, Alison Louise Hubbard The Kelsey Outrage, The Crime of the Century A historical true crime novel and David Spencer The Novelizers: An Affectionate History of Media Adaptations and Originals, Their Astonishing Authors—and the Art of the Craft

Thank-you Magda Katz for videoing and creating the content to go live, the audience who showed up to support us, Rommel Gopez and The Hotel Edison for their kindness and hospitality.

You can catch us on the following platforms:

Pandora:

https://www.pandora.com/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/PC:1001084740

Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/show/1084740

Spotify:

Amazon:

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/e3ac5922-ada8-4868-b531-12d06e0576d3

Apple Podcasts:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/id1731059092

We hope to see you there on April 24th. We will be announcing our guests tomorrow.

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Book Reviews

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Four Award-Winning Musical Theatre Writers Who Turned to Writing Books

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I am so pleased to announce our guest for next Wednesday’s show on April 17th are four award-winning musical theatre writers who turned to writing books.

For a veteran musical theatre dramatist, getting a new musical on is rarely easy, even at the healthiest of times. But when a pandemic stops everything cold—and a restless creative spirit is driven to both keep writing and reach an audience—what can be done? Well, four musical dramatists independently decided to meet the challenge head on with the same answer: Write a book! But their creative paths to near- simultaneous publication would be as unique as the rave-reviewed books themselves. And when they realized that their musical theatre backgrounds cast them as an equally unique quartet…they decided to come full circle back to the theatre community …to tell that story…the story of how their incredible books came to be…which in its way is also a universal story; a story for our time. A story of taking stock, taking a deep breath, taking new steps…and turning the page. Here are our writers:

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David Spencer is an award-winning musical dramatist, author, critic and musical theatre teacher, whose work has been produced in the US, Canada and England. His most well-known credits as lyricist-librettist are two musicals in collaboration with composer Alan Menken: The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, based on the novel by Moredecai Richler (original cast album on Ghostlight Records) and Weird Romance (co-librettist: Alan Brennert; original cast album digital-on-demand from Columbia Masterworks). He made his professional debut writing the acclaimed colloquial English-language adaptation of La Bohème for the Public Theatre; and as composer-lyricist wrote scores and orchestrations for Theatreworks/USA’s young audience versions of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables (librettist-director for both: Rob Barron). His published books are The Musical Theatre Writer’s Survival Guide (Heinemann), the acting edition of Weird Romance (Samuel French)—and, pulpsmith proud, Passing Fancy, an original novel based on the TV series Alien Nation (PocketBooks). He recently completed a draft of his first straight play, Spirit Run (story by him and Jerry James).

David is an ex officio steering committee and faculty member of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, where he taught for over 25 years, and has also taught at HB Studio, Workshop Studio Theater in New York; and Goldsmith’s College and BML in London.

His book is The Novelizers: An Affectionate History of Media Adaptations and Originals, Their Astonishing Authors—and the Art of the Craft

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 Stephen Cole is an award-winning musical theatre writer whose shows have been produced from New York City to London to the Middle East and Australia. His off-Broadway musical with Matthew Ward, After The Fair, was nominated for the Outer Critic’s Circle Award for Best Musical and was subsequently produced in London to great acclaim. The Night Of The Hunter won the prestigious Edward Kleban Award and was produced in New York City, Dallas, and San Francisco, where it was nominated for several Bay Area Theatre Awards. The award-winning 1998 concept CD features Ron Raines, Sally Mayes, and Dorothy Loudon. Saturday Night At Grossinger’s has had successful runs in Texas (starring Gavin MacLeod), Los Angeles, and Florida. Broadway legend Chita Rivera toured in Casper, and Hal Linden and Dee Hoty starred in the world premiere of his musical adaptation of Dodsworth. In 2005, Stephen was commissioned to write Aspire, the first American musical to premiere in the Middle East. This experience resulted in another musical about the creation of that show entitled The Road To Qatar!, produced to rave reviews and awards Off-Broadway, in London, and at the Edinburgh Festival, garnering a Best Musical nomination. Among his other produced shows are Rock Odyssey, which played to hundreds of thousands of kids for ten seasons of productions at the Adrienne Arscht Center in Miami, and Merman’s Apprentice, presented in concert at Birdland in New York City, followed by an all-star cast album on Jay Records, and an acclaimed premiere production in Sonoma, CA in 2019. Stephen’s latest critically acclaimed musical is Goin’ Hollywood. Stephen’s published books include That Book About That Girl and I Could Have Sung All Night, the Marni Nixon story, currently in development as a feature film from Amazon. Stephen has also written several published stories and his real-life friendships with Ethel Merman and Mary Martin resulted in this, his first novel. Visit www.stephencolewriter.org.