Whether you page through it for fun or put it on your theater reference shelf, “The Playbill Broadway Yearbook” is the best annual account of what happens on those fabled few blocks in midtown Manhattan where masses of people see great — and not so hot — shows 8 times a week, 52 weeks a year.
The new Volume Six of this indispensable series covers Broadway from June 2009 to May of this year and contains almost 500 pages of hard data and wonderful color pictures of every show on Broadway last season — from “Million Dollar Quartet” (above) to “Memphis.”
What makes the series really special is that it covers both new shows and old, so that we get updates on the cast changes in such long-running blockbusters as “Phantom of the Opera” and “Mamma Mia!” as well as the cast and crew rundowns on shows that opened and closed last season, such as the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Broadway revival of “The Royal Family.”
The book is done in the spirit of a high school yearbook with each show assigned a “correspondent” who reports on backstage activities like celebrity sightings, notable cell phone interruptions and other down-to-earth things that don’t often make it into traditional reference books.
Editor Robert Viagas also includes coverage of every major annual benefit and awards event from the great “Broadway Bares” burlesque show (below) at Roseland in June — which raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS — to the Tony Awards.
“The Playbill Broadway Yearbook” also includes group pictures of the crews and box office staffs and ushers at every one of the Broadway houses, dramatically illustrating how many people it takes to produce those eight shows every week.
For more information on this terrific book, go to www.playbill.com