I have to give credit where credit is due- back in December, Jen Robinson reviewed Maryrose Wood’s My Life: The Musical. As a huge Broadway fan, I immediately added the book to my wishlist. I recently had the chance to read it and WOW! This is a love letter to Broadway and I loved every minute of it.
Emily and Philip are sixteen-year old best friends, fatefully brought together by the first preview of a brand new Broadway musical, Aurora. Both teens immediately fall in love with the show and begin sneaking into the city every weekend to stand on the rush line, their friendship growing with each new performance. As Philip says, the number of times they have seen the show is in “the triple digits”. In order to sneak away from their Long Island homes every Saturday, they borrow money from Emily’s grandmother (Emily’s bat mitzvah money) and concoct elaborate stories and schemes to escape suspicion. (I loved this because I have a lot of friends who did the exact same thing when we were in high school -one of the benefits of living in the NY metropolitan area). Each performance of Aurora is a zen-like experience for the pair, allowing them to escape their lives and the realities that are haunting them daily. Emily uses the show to escape her droll and “boring” life, but her parents and teachers tell her it is taking over her life. In fact, her English teacher forbids her write about Aurora anymore. Philip’s divorced mother spends all her time at work and his law-breaking older brother revels in torturing Philip about his uncertain sexuality.
When rumors begin to spread that Aurora will close, both teens are frantic. They devise a scheme to buy tickets to each of the remaining 16 performances and when it doesn’t work, they are heartbroken. Of course, the story doesn’t end there. The hijinks continue, along with subplots involving Grandma and her boyfriend, Philip’s older brother’s burgeoning fake ID business, and a school production of Fiddler on the Roof.
Throughout this book, I just kept laughing, because I saw myself and many of my friends in the characters. Anyone who knows me knows that I am definitely one of the “drama geeks from the suburbs” that Maryrose Woods dedicates the book to. I see 6-10 Broadway shows each year, stand on rush lines almost every time, and even attended the Tony Awards last year. I have been obsessed with shows just like Philip and Emily are and have shed a tear or two over a closing announcement. The references to current Broadway plays are timely and amusing, while the chapter titles are songs from various Broadway musicals over time. And one of the subplots, dealing with “The One Sure Thing” in theater, is spot-on!
This book is perfect for anyone who loves Broadway, musicals, theater, or drama club. As soon as I finished the book I called a friend of mine and told her I am giving it to her on Monday. A fellow Broadway-lover, I know she will love the book. Even though the main characters are sixteen, I think the book will appeal to a broad audience. I can see many of my students enjoying the book as much as I did. (Philip does struggle with his sexuality in the book, but he ponders it like any young boy would.) I also see most of my own friends loving this book!
Maryrose Wood ends the book with a little background on herself. At the age of eighteen she was cast in Sondheim’s flop, Merrily We Roll Along. This inside look at Broadway will satisfy the urge in any fan (and draw great pangs of jealousy from those who want to be on Broadway!). All in all, this was a great book and I can not wait to pass it on to some more readers!