Laura’s Book Review & Puppet Show: “A is for Audra: Broadway’s Leading Ladies from A to Z” by John Robert AllmanSometimes, you just obsess over a topic. While sheltering in place over these long weeks, my obsession with Broadway musicals went full tilt. While looking up something online (or maybe watching a webinar or watching one of the library’s programs on YouTube or pretty much doing anything during this time because everything is now virtual), there would be a link… which led me to another… which led me to another… in a long trail of vintage and recent Broadway shows, musical numbers, documentaries, obituaries, credit lists, etc. This led to hauling out all of my old Playbills that I’ve kept from the nearly 200 plays I’ve seen over the years (I was a volunteer usher downtown in the 80s and 90s and saw lots of great theater for free), and revisiting the cast lists (many of whom appeared in this book).

YouTube became my friend during this time as theaters across the country and the world are offering free viewings of past performances and even Zoom performances from the actors’ homes. I’ll never forget the amazing and unique Jane Eyre staged in 2015 and aired by the National Theater in London several weeks ago! There are even radio broadcasts of full cast plays being broadcasted weekly on LA Theater Works’ website meant for educators using distance and online learning but actually fulfilling that old-time “sitting around the radio waiting for the radio show to begin” feeling. Just spectacular entertainment!

While I was immersed in all of this Broadway musical nostalgia, I remembered a new picture book that had come into the Children’s Services department around the beginning of the year—A is for Audra: Broadway’s Leading Ladies from A to Z by John Robert Allman; a perfect match for my obsession. And this video is the result. Just remember that my “day job” is reading picture books to preschoolers as part of the Outreach Services department, but I see this book being shared with all of those who love musical theater, so enjoy!

After watching my video, please join me in my obsession by checking out these amazing performances and resources:

Not to end on a sad note, but Broadway theaters just announced they will remain closed through Labor Day, as they extend the shutdown caused by COVID-19. The good news is, they will probably have more virtual programs to offer to all of us theater geeks throughout the summer. This will likely come with increased efforts to raise money to save the industry or many of the theaters will not return at all. Please support musical theatre if you can!