Our Broadway book club gives audience members an opportunity to fully engage with Each Broadway show we present. explore how themes, characters and time periods connect to, and differ from, each book and each show.
Curator Note: Each book of the Broadway Book Club was researched for thematic connections, page length and reader reviews, to provide an engaging connection to the corresponding Broadway title. This season, two Broadway titles are direct adaptions from a book (CATS & Les Miserables), although due to page length, we won’t be reading Les Miserables (it’s a great book but a little lengthy to ask folks to read!). The remainder were chosen because they had some connection - time periods or similar themes and characters - to a show and allow us to consider how they relate or differ from the Broadway title.
How to join the Broadway Book Club:
Contact our Engagement Coordinator to register for the Broadway Book Club, and you can purchase up to four reduced-price tickets (10% off regular ticket price) to the accompanying show with our Group Sales Coordinator by calling 479.571.2719 or emailing email@example.com.
Read the book that relates directly to one of the eight shows on our 2018/19 Broadway Series, then join us for a moderated discussion exploring the surrounding themes, time periods and social contexts. Books may be purchased from the Walton Arts Center box office while supplies last or from your preferred book retailer.
ALL DISCUSSIONS TAKE PLACE AT AT WALTON ARTS CENTER (UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.)
Broadway Book Club books are available for purchase at the box office:
The Axeman - $14.00 Gangland New York - $18.00
Legends, Icons and Rebels - $18.00 The Cake Therapist - $15.00
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love - $15.00 Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats - $10.00
Christadora - $16.00 Crime and Punishment - $10.00
*Buy 4 or more books and you get 10% off your total
SHOW DATES: Friday-Sunday, October 5-7
BROADWAY BOOK CLUB: Monday, October 8, 6-7:30pm
BOOK: The Axeman by Ray Celestin - $14 from the WAC box office
"This thriller, which blends voodoo, gangsters and jazz into an intoxicating mix, is based on a true story."―Sunday Mirror
A serial killer stalks New Orleans, threatening to strike again unless the citizens follow his twisted demands... In a town jammed with voodoo and gangsters, a sense of intoxicating mystery often beckons from the back alleys. But when a real serial killer roams the sultry nights, even the corrupt cops can't see the clues. That is, until a letter from the Axeman himself is published in the newspaper, proclaiming that any home playing jazz music will be spared in his next attack.
Curator's Note: This book was the hardest to program, but was chosen because it explores the idea of The Rashomon Effect – “where different characters in a story giving conflicting accounts of what has gone on” – which the creators of The Jersey Boys mentioned was a big influence in how they told their story.
School of Rock
SHOW DATES: Tuesday-Sunday, October 23-28
BROADWAY BOOK CLUB: Monday, October 29, 7-8:30pm @ School of Rock Fayetteville
BOOK: Legends, Icons and Rebels by Robbie Robertson - $18 from the WAC Box Office
*in partnership with School of Rock Fayetteville
Part memoir, part tribute, and all great storytelling ...
Music industry veterans Robbie Robertson, Jim Guerinot, Jared Levine and Sebastian Robertson invite young readers to share with them in celebrating twenty-seven musical legends. Short profiles chronicle personal stories and achievements of extraordinarily talented artists whose innovations changed the landscape of music for generations to come. Carefully compiled like any great playlist, the line-up features originators, rebels, and risk-takers across diverse genres. From Ray Charles to Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry to Bob Dylan, Robertson shares anecdotes about these artists and the influence they had on his own musical journey.
Curator's Note: Chosen as a way to bring in young readers, since so much of the cast of School of Rock features young actors! The kids in School of Rock: The Musical play their own instruments, sing, dance and act on stage, and I hope that young readers will be encouraged to learn more about music history with this title.
On Your Feet
SHOW DATES: Tuesday-Sunday, December 4-9
BROADWAY BOOK CLUB: Monday, December 10, 6-7:30pm**
BOOK: The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos - $15 from the WAC Box Office
It's 1949 and two young Cuban musicians make their way from Havana to the grand stage of New York City. It is the era of mambo, and the Castillo brothers, workers by day, become stars of the dance halls by night, where their orchestra plays the lush, sensuous, pulsing music that earns them the title of the Mambo Kings. This is their moment of youth, exuberance, love, and freedom―a golden time that decades later is remembered with nostalgia and deep affection.
Curator's Note: On Your Feet! shares the story of Gloria Estefan, a Cuban-American singer songwriter, and this title follows two young Cuban musicians through themes of cultural fusion and identity.
SHOW DATES: Friday-Saturday, February 8-9
BROADWAY BOOK CLUB: Monday, February 11, 6-7:30pm
BOOK: Christadora by Tim Murphy - $16 from the WAC Box Office
In this vivid and compelling novel, Tim Murphy follows a diverse set of characters whose fates intertwine in an iconic building in Manhattan’s East Village, the Christodora. The Christodora is home to Milly and Jared, a privileged young couple with artistic ambitions. Their neighbor, Hector, a Puerto Rican gay man who was once a celebrated AIDS activist but is now a lonely addict, becomes connected to Milly and Jared’s lives in ways none of them can anticipate.
Meanwhile, Milly and Jared’s adopted son Mateo grows to see the opportunity for both self-realization and oblivion that New York offers. As the junkies and protestors of the 1980s give way to the hipsters of the 2000s and they, in turn, to the wealthy residents of the crowded, glass-towered city of the 2020s, enormous changes rock the personal lives of Milly and Jared and the constellation of people around them. Moving kaleidoscopically from the Tompkins Square Riots and attempts by activists to galvanize a true response to the AIDS epidemic, to the New York City of the future, Christodora recounts the heartbreak wrought by AIDS, illustrates the allure and destructive power of hard drugs, and brings to life the ever-changing city itself.
Curator's Note: Both titles explore the AIDS epidemic and family dynamics amidst the backdrop of New York City.
A Bronx Tale
SHOW DATES: Tuesday-Sunday, February 26-March 3
BROADWAY BOOK CLUB: Monday, March 4, 6-7:30pm
BOOK: Gangland New York: The Faces and Places of Mob History by Anthony DeStefano - $18 from the WAC box office
Get a taste of New York’s underworld by seeing where mobsters lived, worked, ate, played, and died. From the Bowery Boys and the Five Points Gang through the rise of the Jewish “Kosher Nostra” and the ascendance of the Italian Mafia, mobsters have played a major role in the city’s history, lurking just around the corner or inside that nondescript building. Bill “the Butcher” Poole, Paul Kelly, Monk Eastman, “Lucky” Luciano, Carlo Gambino, Meyer Lansky, Mickey Spillane, John Gotti—each held sway over New York neighborhoods that nurtured them and gave them power.
As families and factions fought for control, the city became a backdrop for crime scenes, the rackets spreading after World War II to docks, airports, food markets, and garment districts. The streets of Brooklyn, swamps of Staten Island, and vacant lots near LaGuardia Airport hosted assassinations and hasty burials for the unlucky. The bloodlettings, arrests, and trials became front-page fodder for tabloids that thrived on covering Mulberry Street. Chinese, Russian, and Greek mobsters rose to prominence and wrought bloody havoc as well.
Curator's Note: Gangland provides a non fiction look at New York’s underworld and the real life counterparts that may have inspired Chazz Palminteri’s seedy characters.
SHOW DATES: Friday-Sunday, April 9-14
BROADWAY BOOK CLUB: Monday, April 15, 6-7:30pm
BOOK: The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig - $15 from the WAC Box Office
Claire “Neely” O’Neil is a pastry chef of extraordinary talent. Every great chef can taste shimmering, elusive flavors that most of us miss, but Neely can “taste” feelings—cinnamon makes you remember; plum is pleased with itself; orange is a wake-up call. When flavor and feeling give Neely a glimpse of someone’s inner self, she can customize her creations to help that person celebrate love, overcome fear, even mourn a devastating loss.
Maybe that’s why she feels the need to go home to Millcreek Valley at a time when her life seems about to fall apart. The bakery she opens in her hometown is perfect, intimate, just what she’s always dreamed of—and yet, as she meets her new customers, Neely has a sense of secrets, some dark, some perhaps with tempting possibilities. A recurring flavor of alarming intensity signals to her perfect palate a long-ago story that must be told. Neely has always been able to help everyone else. Getting to the end of this story may be just what she needs to help herself.
Curator's Note: Both Waitress and The Cake Therapist feature resilient female bakers who find themselves through their passions (pie and cake, respectively).
SHOW DATES: Tuesday-Sunday, May 28-June 2
BROADWAY BOOK CLUB: Monday, June 3, 6-7:30pm
BOOK: Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot - $10 from the WAC Box Office
Cats! Some are sane, and some are mad.
Some are good, and some are bad . . .
The whimsical 1982 Old Possum's illustrations have been lovingly restored and are showcased in this beautiful new poetry edition, perfect for children and Eliot aficionados alike. These lovable cat poems were written by T. S. Eliot for his godchildren and continue to delight children and grown-ups. The collection inspired the musical Cats!, and features Macavity, Mr Mistofelees and Growltiger!
Curator's Note: How did Andrew Lloyd Webber create such an iconic musical based on a 64 page book of poems? We’ll find out.
SHOW DATES: Tuesday-Sunday, June 18-23
BROADWAY BOOK CLUB: Monday, June 24, 6-7:30pm
BOOK: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky - $10 from the WAC Box Office
*in partnership with Bentonville Public Library
An impoverished former student, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov lives in St. Petersburg. Raskolnikov is a nihilist, driven by a utilitarian prospective, he contemplates committing a terrible crime. Dostoevsky explores psychology of crime and punishment and focuses on what lies between the two end points. Raskolnikov’s inner world is full of doubts, deliria and despair – partly a result of his utter disregard of social norms. Alienated from society, he is forced to face his tormenting guilt almost completely on his own.
Curator's Note: Published four years apart, both titles feature themes of morality, guilt and redemption. We’ll look at how these two stories change based on setting (Russia vs France) and why these tales have endured.