Friday, September 26, 2008

Review: Broadway Nights: A Romp of Life, Love and Musical Theatre

Seth Rudetsky
Broadway Nights

Published by Alyson Publications

Reviewed by Charlotte Evans

Like Bridget Jones, Carrie Bradshaw, and Jenny from The L Word, Stephen Sheerin is a character that you will either love or hate. He’s neurotic, camp, and wonderfully obsessive. I chose to love him.

This is a fun and highly addictive book. However, it is not without its flaws: Rudetsky’s constant use of capital letters and multiple exclamation marks can be rather annoying and his inconsistent use of asterisks is just puzzling (God is always doctored (G*d); fuck is often left uncensored).

The plot is quite conventional in form, if unconventional in content. Stephen is a sub (substitute pianist) for Broadway orchestras who dreams of one day becoming a conductor. His boyfriend is unavailable (mostly due to him having a boyfriend of his own) and Stephen is writing this book – his diary – as part of his therapy. (Because everyone in New York has therapy.) He’s constantly attracted to unavailable men, eats when he’s stressed and can’t cope with success.

But Stephen isn’t too unhappy – just a little messed up – he has his friends, colleagues and his passion for the theatre. And the director of his new play appears to be lovely – if not Stephen’s usual type.

This novel is not as always as funny as it tries to be; the one constant of the novel, however, is Stephen, the hero who worries about his weight, commitment issues and pleasing his parents. Even when he fails to amuse he’s the sort of (pathetic) protagonist that you can absolutely empathise with.

The play that Stephen becomes involved with is a perfect creation – creating something fictional within a novel, film or play is easy to get wrong. However, Rudetsky’s Flowerchild is perfectly believable – a “new show slated to come to Broadway featuring a conglomeration of sixties songs by various pop artists inserted into a plot about a hippie commune”.

The ending is as predictable as one of Stephen’s plays but no less brilliant for that. Like all great shows, this book delivers exactly what the audience wants. We leave the theatre happy. All is right with the world. If there is hope for Stephen, there is hope for us all.

If you’re not a fan of musical theatre this is not the book for you, however if you love musicals then this book will have you itching to go and see one. Next time you go to the theatre you’ll applaud the orchestra just a little bit more than normal.

Charlotte Evans writes “I’m a twenty-three year old writer, currently working for my local library service. Lovely to be surrounded by books all day, depressing that they're all written by 'celebrities'. I'm interested in reading, TV, theatre, stand up comedy, film and music.”



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