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New theater books cover Fosse, Shakespeare

'Fosse' by Sam Wasson

"Fosse" by Sam Wasson

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Updated: November 30, 2013 7:54PM



We’re moving from the stage to the theater bookshelf this week with a brief look at four recent releases:

† “Fosse,” by Sam Wasson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $32): This massive tome (723 pages, including many wonderful archival photographs), begins in 1987 at Bob Fosse’s “wake” in New York. Ben Vereen, joined by Fosse’s long-time wife Gwen Verdon, mistress Ann Reinking and daughter Nicole, began dancing together in the inimitable airtight, pelvis-popping style that was the trademark of the Chicago-bred dancer, actor, choreographer and director (for Broadway’s “Sweet Charity,” “Pippin” and “Chicago” and Hollywood’s “Cabaret” and “All That Jazz” in Hollywood). A terrific way to kick off this hefty biography.

† “How to Teach Shakespeare to Children,” by Ken Ludwig (Crown Publishers, $25): Ludwig, a playwright (“Lend Me a Tenor,” “Crazy for You”), has written an invaluable guide for every teacher who ever hopes to seduce a class with Shakespeare’s plays, and for every autodidact. The next best thing to SEEING a play, it will beguile even veteran Bard lovers.

† “Chicago Shakespeare Theater: Suiting the Action to the Word,” edited by Regina Buccola and Peter Kanelos, (NIU Press, $30): A collection of essays about 25 years of shows at Chicago Shakes, penned by British critic Michael Billington, actor Simon Callow, University of Chicago professor Wendy Doniger and many others.

† “Bigger Brighter Louder: 150 Years of Chicago Theater,” by Chris Jones (University of Chicago Press, $27.50): Jones, my colleague “across the aisle,” has gathered reviews for 100 landmark Chicago productions written by a slew of Tribune critics from 1868 to 2012. Quite a history.

heweiss@suntimes.com

@hedyweisscritic



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