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



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

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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