Rofheart (The Alexandrian) applies her blandly professional historical-romance touch to three mini-sagas of theatrical ambition and backstage passion--connected only in that all the principal players are supposed to be members of a single, far-flung, long-lived thespian clan, the Savages. Book I takes one branch of the Savage strolling-player family from Henry VIII's England to Florence, where they are sponsored by Cosimo de Medici and learn ""the professional comedy of Italy, sometimes called the Commedia dell'Arte."" They also breed like crazy but eventually settle into what will become the Savage true-love pattern: ultimate marriage between cousins. Flash-forward to London, 1752, as David Garrick welcomes the now-famous Italian Savaggis to Drury Lane but loses his hot protegÃ‰e, Miranda Savage, to America--where she becomes the toast of Virginia and New York, returning to London only when she must prevent the marriage of her son to (oh, those raunchy Savages) his half-sister. Widow Miranda herself later marries her cousin, a daring British actor who, inspired by Nathan Hale's hanging, becomes Geo. Washington's top spy. Onward to Frisco just in time for the Earthquake--the Savages are now vaudevillians who get into the first movies: Sammy Savage (""next to Chaplin, the most beloved of the great funny men"") finds cousin Solange Sauvage in France during World War I, and they flourish alcoholically in Beverly Hills, where they raise film idol J. P. Savage--who'll be blacklisted by McCarthy and marry his cousin. Rofheart is not one for subtlety, whether it's character development, theater history, or time transitions (""'God, you had a long war!' said Monica. 'In right after Pearl Harbor. . . and now it's '47!'""). And her eye on show-biz is clichÃ‰-shallow all the way. But, except for the breezy appropriation of the McCarthy hearings, it's inoffensive, rarely idiotic, occasionally tart--and marginally informative for those stagestruck or docile enough to slog on from cousin to cousin to cousin.