Special Site Features
Jones, Ellis. Teach Yourself Acting. Teach Yourself Books: London, UK,
1998. A professional actor-director provides some basic acting techniques, plus
advice for those considering a career in acting. Written from a British perspective,
most of this information applies on both sides of the Atlantic.
Hagen, Uta. Respect for Acting. John Wiley & Sons: NY, 1973. This is one of
the most admired books on acting ever published. A must read for those with a serious
interest in acting or working with actors. She includes specific methods for approaching
a role, as well as many personal experiences from her legendary stage career. There are
many important books on acting this is one of the most accessible, of special value to
those new to the craft.
Shurtleff, Michael. Audition: Everything an Actor Needs to Know to Get the Part.
Walker & Co., 1978 (Latest paperback - Bantam: NY, 1980. The definitive book on how to
audition for any form of theatre - written by a casting director who worked on many legendary
Broadway musicals. Useful ideas for amateurs and professionals.
Beck, Kirsten. How to Run a Small Box Office. OOBA: New York, 1980. In
sixty-eight pages, you get advice, valuable forms, checklists everything you need
to run a box office with professional efficiency.
Boland, Robert and Paul Argenti. Musical!: Directing School and Community Theatre.
Scarecrow Press: Lanham, MD, 1997. A well designed, practical guide -- not quite as
strong as the Novak guide listed below, but easier to find.
Clurman, Harold. On Directing. Macmillan: New York, 1974. (Latest paperback
edition - Fireside: NY, 1997) A veteran of the Group Theater, Broadway and
"the Method," Clurman offers a solid primer on the art of directing for three
decades, this has been one of the most popular texts on the subject. If you are
serious about directing, grab a copy.
Cohen, Gary P. The Community Theatre Handbook. Heinemann:
Portsmouth, NH, 2003. Practical advice any amateur theatre organization
could profit from.
Filichia, Peter. Let's Put on a Musical: How to Choose the Right Show For Your
Theater. Backstage Books: NY, 1993. Cast and production requirements for over 200
popular musicals, written by one of the most knowledgeable musical buffs on the planet.
Green, Joann. The Small Theater Guide. Harvard Common Press: Harvard, 1981.
If you are thinking of starting up a community theater or nonprofit theater group,
this book will give you a sane and sensible idea of what you are getting yourself into.
Grippo, Charles. The Stage Producer's Business and Legal Guide. Allworth Press,
2002. Amateur or pro will treasure this well-written guide through all sorts of potential
mine fields. Rights, financing, safety issues and more are explained by a
veteran attorney-producer-playwright. While nothing can replace access to live legal advice,
if you are starting up a new theatre company, this may be the most grief-saving $20 you'll
Hopkins, Bruse R. Starting and Managing a Nonprofit
Organization: A Legal Guide. John Wiley & Sons: New York, 2001.
If you are thinking about setting up a nonprofit theatre
group, this detailed but readable book is a must-have. Not addressed
exclusively to theatrical concerns, but bursting with valuable guidance
the informational equivalent of a week-long seminar
for a fraction of the price.
Miller, Scott. Deconstructing Harold Hill. Heinemann Publishing: Portsmouth, NH,
1999. An experienced stage director takes a fresh, insightful look at some of the most
popular musicals in his series of books aimed at directors. If you don't know how to approach
classic shows, these books may provide the fresh energy you need. This volume covers Camelot,
Chicago, King & I, March of the Falsettos, Music Man, Passion and Ragtime.
Miller, Scott. From Assassins to West Side Story. Heinemann Publishing:
Portsmouth, NH, 1996. Same as above great ideas! This volume covers Cabaret,
Carousel, Company, Godspell, Gypsy, How to Succeed, Into the Woods, JC Superstar, Man of
La Mancha, Merrily, Les Miz, My Fair Lady, Pippin, Sweeney Todd and West Side
Mulcahy, Lisa. Building a Successful Theater Company. Allworth Press, 2002.
Amateur theater people may enjoy this excellent insiders look at how professional companies
survive and thrive.
Novak, Elaine A. and Deborah Novak. Staging Musical Theatre: A Complete
Guide for Directors, Choreographers and Producers. Betterway Books:
Cincinnati, 1996. An exhaustive, detailed and informative guide -- my choice
for the best of its kind.
Peithman, Stephen and Neil Offen. The Stage Directions Guide to Musical
Theatre. Heinemann: Portsmouth, NH, 2002. A concise, helpful book for
budding directors or producers of amateur theatre, with guidance on picking
musicals, securing rights, working with a budget and more. Based on articles
from Stage Directions magazine.
Ratliff, Gerald Lee and Suzanne Trauth. On Stage: Producing Musical
Theatre. Rosen Publishing: New York, 1988. A collection of informative
articles that covers acting, producing and
Varley, Joy. Places Please!: An Essential Manual for High School
Theatre Directors. Smith & Kraus: Hanover, NH, 2001. A great
resource, custom fit to the needs of high school directors. Detailed and clear,
its a blessing to "newbies" and experienced hands alike.
White, Matthew. Staging A Musical. Theatre Arts Books: New York,
1999. An experienced British director gives some solid advice -- worthwhile
for directors and producers.
Young, David. How to Direct a Musical: Broadway Your Way. Routledge: New York
& London, 1995. A sensational guide for first-timers, with solid advice that even the
most jaded veterans might find worthwhile. The author staged more than a hundred amateur
and professional productions before writing this, and brings valuable experience to every
Flanagan, Joan. Successful Fundraising: A Complete Handbook for
Volunteers and Professionals. Contemporary Books: Chicago, IL, 1993.
If your group decides to go in for some heavy-duty nonprofit fundraising
(grants, corporate donations, sponsorships, etc.), this is a great
introduction to a the subject.
Hamon, Norman H. Fund Raising for the Rest of Us. Lughnasa Press: Norman OK,
1997. This overview of fund raising techniques for small and emerging nonprofits has
many ideas amateur theatre groups can make use of.
If your group decides to pursue grants, The Foundation Center is a
vital resource. They have offices and library affiliates in various cities, and
their superb website (http://fdncenter.org/)
offers a virtual library of valuable information.
Amateur Stage - A great resource for British amateur theatre groups,
with news, reviews and more. Pity we don't have an equivalent publication in the
US! For information, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Buchman, Herman. Stage Makeup. Backstage Books: New York, 1988.
One of the most popular books on the subject, and for good reasons – practical
and informative, by a veteran Broadway & TV make-up artist.
Stage Make-up: The Actor's Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Today's Techniques
and Materials. Back Stage Books: New York, 1999. Full color photos make
this an easy to follow guide.
Mackowski, Chris. The PR Bible for Community Theatres. Heinemann:
Portsmouth, NH, 2002. Although designed for community theatres, this compact
volume has great ideas for promoting any amateur production.
Smith, Jeanette. The New Publicity Kit. John Wiley and
Sons: New York, 1995. From preparing press releases to planning a PR
campaign, this is one of the best self-help books for those seeking
press attention on limited budgets.
Sets, Props & Costumes
Campbell, Drew. Technical Theater for Nontechnical People.
New York, 1999. The often bewildering technical aspects of scenery, lighting, sound,
and stage management are explained in terms we mere mortals can understand.
Grovier, Jacquie. Create Your Own Stage Props. Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliffs,
NJ, 1984. From gravestones to grandfather clocks to battle swords practical,
illustrated guide to making hundreds of common stage props.
Ionazzi, Daniel. The Stagecraft Handbook. Betterway Publications: Cincinnati,
1996. A member of UCLA's Theater Department put together this detailed, illustrated
guide to scenery construction. Practical how-to's make this useful for anyone with decent
James, Thurston. The Theater Props Handbook. Betterway: White Hall, VA, 1987.
Step-by-step illustrations for standard stage props, appropriate for pros and amateurs.
Ionazzi, Daniel. The Stage Management Handbook. Betterway Publications:
Whitehall, VA, 1992. Step-by-step instructions on how to be an effective SM, with
useful charts, checklists and more. A super resource!
ASCAP - The American Society
of Composers and Publishers handles the rights to most classic American
songs. Their site includes a great explanation of performance rights,
the ACE database to determine song ownership, and contact info to help
you obtain an ASCAP license.
BMI - Similar organization,
with many contemporary composers.
SESAC - Another
song rights organization, mostly for non-theatrical songs.
UK Theatre Web - A great place for
UK amateur groups to find useful resources.
US Copyright Law
- If you wonder why copyright issues can be so complicated, take a look
at the text of the current law as posted by the US Copyright Office.
A useful resource for performers and producers, with info on shows, role
requirements and rights availability.
Links to Low Cost Musicals
Frumi Cohen Musicals -
This composer specializes in family friendly musicals based on classic
stories, as well as several originals. A full production package (rights,
scripts, scores & rehearsal tapes) is just $300 – worth looking into.
Hope Publishing - This
well-known company carries over 30 religious & general interest musicals
for children, most with pre-recorded accompaniment. Type
"musicals" into their site search feature for a full list.
Musicals - New Zealand company offering musicals "written
by teachers for teachers."
Maverick Musicals - An
Australian company with dozens of musicals for every type of performer
from adults down to six year olds.
Back to: How to Put on a Musical