A funny and inspiring behind-the-scenes perspective on the bright lights of Broadway.

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A Midwestern boy grows up to be the ultimate New York theater insider in this debut memoir.

From his early days in Indiana and Michigan, Poland was fascinated with show business. He started a Judy Garland fan club as a young man in the mid-1950s and even met the legendary star backstage. After a stint in college to appease his parents, the author moved to New York City with a friend, came out as gay, and transitioned from small roles in summer stock to a more lucrative career backstage. Poland began work as both a producer and general manager, booking college tours of the Off Broadway hit The Fantasticks and forming a relationship with New York’s avant-garde Café La MaMa troupe. This work, essential to any professional production, was occasionally glamorous—spending evenings at Studio 54 and rubbing shoulders with theatrical legends like Lucille Lortel and Sam Shepard—but always demanding, requiring late nights of crunching numbers, securing funding, and ensuring each show got the press coverage it deserved. As the edgy theater of the ’60s gave way to the more sanitized Broadway of the early aughts, Poland battled with the changing performance scene and his own alcoholism. He watched friends perish during the AIDS crisis of the ’80s and introduced the scrappy dynamic of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater Company to a nationwide audience and the Tony Awards by bringing its adaptation of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath to the Great White Way. Though the author retired in 2007, his memories are fresh and his voice as a writer is vivid, with amusing anecdotes about everyone from Vanessa Redgrave (who had her own unique set of demands while playing Mary in Eugene O’Neill’s classic Long Day’s Journey Into Night) to Hugh Jackman (whose star turn as song-and-dance man Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz took Broadway by storm). But more than a series of dropped names, Poland’s fast-paced memoir offers theater history, an in-depth chronicle of everything from counterculture-driven, low-budget spectacles to today’s star-studded New York stages.

A funny and inspiring behind-the-scenes perspective on the bright lights of Broadway.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73393-450-3

Page Count: 452

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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