I found the book Broadway Nights at my local Half-Price Books (because you never know what gems you might find in used book stores) and bought it straightaway. It’s a novel written by hilarious Broadway aficionado Seth Rudetsky, and it focuses on a not so young but not quite middle-aged pianist named Stephen who dreams of one day being the music director/conductor of a Broadway show.
I’m a fan of Seth as a comedian/host/entertainment personality, but I didn’t know anything about his writing talent. I’m glad to report that he does a very good job of creating both a story and the characters to populate it. This particular story is told by the character Stephen in the form of a journal which he is writing at his psychiatrist’s request. As such, the writing has a very rapid, stream-of-consciousness feel to it. There’s no lengthy purple prose to wade through, which is nice, and Seth’s big personality comes through on the page as clearly as if he were telling the story directly to the reader.
The whole book is written like this. I can definitely see it being annoying to some readers, and even I sometimes wished he were more focused, but presenting the novel as a journal made it work since a journal is meant to be someone’s collection of thoughts rather than a clearly advancing plot.
There are some interesting comments about masculinity and homophobia in the book (like how he bemoans the fact that he has to call his log a “journal” because a “diary” is for a girl) but it doesn’t feel preachy. Even when he rants against Republicans it’s humorous more than it is offensive and I’m impressed with his ability to make commentary without bearing down on the reader from his soapbox.
The biggest draw, though, is the insider’s look on how Broadway works, from the creation of musicals to their continued upkeep. Seth offers a unique perspective and shares great anecdotes of backstage life, some fabricated, some based in truth, but many which are actual true stories of theatre history and it’s fascinating to read his accounts. (Side-note: Seth Rudetsky should have been writing Smash all along because he actually knows what the world of Broadway is about and makes it interesting.)
I definitely recommend this book. It’s funny, fun, and informative. As a writer, Seth’s personality comes through very clearly on the page and, though the narrative occasionally got off track, it was never boring.