Reviewed by Magdalena Ball
Theatre and Theatre Companies of New York
by Anthony Rubino, Jr. and M. Stefan Strozier
World Audience, Inc
ISBN: 978-1-934209-83-7, paperback, 2008, $16.99
I don’t know how long the average life span of a theater in NY is, but I suspect that it is reasonably long. Judging from the names of Broadway theatres and plays that were in operation some 30 years ago when I lived in NYC, things don’t change fast. So a good guide like Theatre and Theatre Companies of New York is likely to have a reasonably long life and remain useful. The book contains quite an extensive amount of information, not only about the many on, off, and off-off broadway theatres in NY. Both Strozier and Rubino are knowledgeable insiders in the theatre business, and they’ve combined their considerable wisdom into a single, thin, and handy guide that is a go-to resource for actors, playwrights, producers, tourists, and anyone who is looking for a great play, particularly if you want to know more than simply the hype.
The book is enjoyable to read, humorous, and informative, and contains a great deal of black and white images that comprise virtually a walking tour of theatres in NY and Brooklyn. Each entry contains the address, phone number, website and email address for each of the theatres, along with some background and information, sometimes anecdotal and personal, and nearly always funny. I particularly liked the entry for St. Ann’s Warehouse, which urges readers to “Make every effort to stay away.”
Scattered between the info are little “Did You Know” facts, including theatre financial facts, the story of the first actor, the longest runs on broadway, and more. Though this isn’t a long book, after reading it, I felt significantly more knowledgable about New York theatre including the often illusive differences between Broadway, Off-Boadway, and Off-Off Broadway. Though I no longer live in NYC, nor frequent the theatre as much as I did when I was young, footloose and fancy-free, I enjoyed reading this guide and as a visiting tourist to my ‘home-town’, will make good use of this guide to help me guide and target my theatre experience. Writers and actors will find this guide particularly useful in finding homes for plays, and new venues for rehearsal and performance.
About the reviewer: Magdalena Ball is the author of Sleep Before Evening, Repulsion Thrust, Quark Soup, and a number of collaborations and anthologies. Find out more about Magdalena and grab a free copy of her book The Literary Lunch at www.magdalenaball.com.