A Grammy Award–winning actor and singer recalls his unique childhood and ascent to notoriety.
In a spirited debut saturated with personality and frank humor, Rannells tells the stories of his youth growing up as the fourth of five siblings in Omaha, Nebraska. The son of an advertising salesman and a former teen model, the author fostered his love of live theater by watching musicals from the 1940s and ’50s and by viewing the Tony Awards broadcast, which “was so much better than the movies; it was live!” Moving swiftly through the trajectory of his budding career, Rannells shares amusing anecdotes on his Midwestern upbringing, being taught “how to throw shade” by his grandma Josephine, becoming a busy “shameless entertainer” on the Omaha theater scene, and his timely decision to come out to his conservative parents mere days before moving to New York City in 1997 to study the arts. These chapters form a descriptive rainbow of personal mishaps as the author describes his sexual awakenings; having to endure priestly inappropriateness while he was a student at an all-boys Jesuit Catholic high school; meeting his best friend, Zuzanna, at an audition; nightclub adventures; and formative work at upstate New York summer stock. Despite a series of rude awakenings and rejections in the business—including an exhaustive tour with Pokemon Live!—Rannells, a model of persistence and dedication, ultimately found his footing and branched out toward a momentous Broadway debut in Hairspray in 2006. Later, he earned a Tony Award nomination for the originating role of Elder Price in The Book of Mormon. The author is a natural raconteur who engages readers with self-effacing honesty about his life’s great expectations and fumbles. His life story will be encouraging and inspirational particularly for theater buffs and readers pursuing a stage career, and musical fans will savor his enticingly told journey from awkward childhood to fame in the spotlight.
An inspiring and consistently witty entertainment memoir.