Playbill Broadway Yearbook 2011-2012 Published
By Andrew Gans
Many of the people who work on Broadway keep scrapbooks of their experiences: photos, signed posters, ticket stubs, and, of course, the Playbill. These are treasured keepsakes, something to be savored over a lifetime, and then passed on to friends and descendants. Playbill Books, a division of the iconic 128-year-old company that designs the programs for every show on Broadway, expanded this idea into an annual project that has become a Broadway institution: The Playbill Broadway Yearbook.
Taking the form of a high school or college yearbook, the eighth edition is packed with photos (more than 4,000 of them, many in color) and memorabilia from the entire 2011-12 Broadway season.
The new edition, published Oct. 16, includes chapters on 72 Broadway shows, which is every show that ran during the season—not just the new shows like Once, Newsies, Nice Work If You Can Get It and One Man, Two Guvnors, but the long-running ones from seasons past, like Phantom of the Opera, The Book of Mormon and Wicked. In addition to a wealth of production photos and all the headshots of all the actors who appeared in Playbill, the book features photos of producers, writers, designers, stage managers, stage hands, musicians, ushers – even a live chicken wrangled backstage at Jerusalem. This year's roster is expected to top 10,000 names, excluding poultry.
A co-publication of Applause Books and Playbill Books, The Playbill Broadway Yearbook 2011-2012 includes a wealth of photos from Broadway insider events, including "Gypsy of the Year," "Broadway Bares," Broadway floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the champs of the annual Broadway League softball championship.
To top it all off, The Playbill Broadway Yearbook 2011-2012 has asked each production to supply a member of the cast or crew to serve as correspondent, to report on things that only those who worked backstage would know: opening-night presents, who got the Gypsy Robe, daily rituals, celebrity visits, favorite health tips and regimens, memorable ad-libs, etc. Correspondents range from dressers and stage doormen to stage managers, dancers, featured players, and, in some cases, the star of the show.
A few examples: Tony nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger from Peter and the Starcatcher, describes the special four-person version of the show developed by the understudies. Tug Coker, who played Larry Bird in Magic/Bird, shares a photo of the night the real Larry Bird and Magic Johnson came backstage. Jonathan Warren, dance captain of Wicked, reveals photos of the murals painted on the backstage walls of the Gershwin Theatre, featuring scenes from the Oz-set story, which only the cast usually gets to see. Patti Murin, who played the title role in Lysistrata Jones, tells what basketball tradition her cast borrowed for their final performance. Tony Sheldon, Tony-nominated star of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, recounts the show's most embarrassing moment, which involved a leopard skin leotard, Shirley MacLaine and "blood everywhere."
And, for the eighth year in a row, Kris Koop Ouellette (Mme. Firmin) faithfully chronicles the backstage romps at Phantom of the Opera, including a report on the night it played its 10,000th performance.
Yearbook editor is Robert Viagas, executive editor of PlaybillEDU, editor and co-author of Louis Botto's "At This Theatre," and author or co-author of books including "I'm the Greatest Star!," "The Alchemy of Theatre," "The Back Stage Guide To Broadway" and "On the Line: The Creation of A Chorus Line," "Scales to Scalpels" and "The Amazing Story of The Fantasticks." Assistant editor is Amy Asch, archivist for the Oscar Hammerstein II and Jonathan Larson estates.
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