We can all use a bit of expert advice from time to time. But, unless you’re as fortunate as a young Stephen Sondheim and live next door to the Hammersteins, you’re going to have to hit the books. Thanks to the internet, finding even out-of-print publications has become fairly easy. The following is our loosely-organized, roughly-alphabetical, highly-arbitrary and ever-expanding guide to prose by the Pros.

Getting Started: Choosing the Right Project

Where does an idea for a musical come from?
How do you know if it’s a good idea?

“It’s hard enough to write a musical that you love. If you don’t love it, it’s impossible.”
– Oscar Hammerstein

The Art Of The American Musical: Conversations With The Creators

  • Lynn Ahrens spends a lot of time in bookstores and at the movies (pg. 11).
  • Lynn Ahrens credits her husband with suggesting Bedazzled (pg. 5).
  • Jason Robert Brown explains how songs written for the cabaret acts of his friends became Songs for a New World (pg. 28).
  • Fred Ebb chooses something that interests him, even if no one but John Kander agrees (pg. 103).
  • Sheldon Harnick finds Fiddler on the Roof by reading a novel that he didn’t want to adapt (pg. 85).
  • Arthur Laurents is inspired to write Hallelujah, Baby! for Lena Horne “but, she isn’t interested”  (pg. 133).
  • Harold Prince plays hardball with Warner Brothers for the rights to The Petrified Prince (?!) (pg. 184).
  • Tommy Tune credits his insomnia for keeping him up late enough to see the film Grand Hotel on television (pg. 250).
  • John Weidman turns to his major at Harvard for Pacific Overtures (pg. 261).

Notes on Broadway: Intimate Conversations With Broadway's Greatest Songwriters

  • Leonard Bernstein touches on the controversy behind adapting Shakespeare into West Side Story (pg. 14).
  • Jerry Bock talks about deciding to adapt three short stories for The Apple Tree (pg. 32).
  • Adolph Green complains that it’s “agony” to find a new project(pg. 67).
  • Gretchen Cryer shows how real life led her to write I’m Getting My Act Together (pg. 80).
  • Sammy Cahn advises keeping it simple (pg. 44).
  • William Finn credits desperation as the inspiration for Falsettos (pg. 114).
  • Micki Grant hopes for involving subject matter (pg. 127).
  • Marvin Hamlisch found A Chorus Line at the rehearsal hall (pg. 143).
  • Charles Strouse goes looking for one book and ends up finding another (pg. 278).
  • Sheldon Harnick admits to not knowing what a “surefire subject” is anymore (pg. 168).
  • Henry Krieger turns an ‘After-School Special’ into The Tap Dance Kid (pg. 212).
  • Allen Jay Lerner discovers Camelot in a book review (pg. 224).
  • Tim Rice hears about Eva Peron on the radio (pg. 233).
  • Mary Rodgers doesn’t care for “abstract stuff” (pg. 248).
  • Carol Bayer Sager seeks “something that people can identify with” (pg. 254).

I Got the Show Right Here : The Amazing True Story of How an Obscure Brooklyn Horn Player Became the Last Great Broadway Showman

  • Cy Feuer figure out how to turn an unpromising play into the musical hit Where’s Charley (pg. 80).
  • Cy Feuer reveals how a “weak but tempting” early adaptation of How to Succeed became a commercial success (pg. 220).
  • Cy Feuer says that a casting concept (Sid Caesar playing multiple roles) sold him on Little Me (pg. 223).

Making Musicals: An Informal Introduction to the World of Musical Theater

  • Tom Jones gives advice on finding “a property”  (pg. 92).
  • Tom Jones suggests identifying “the problem” that needs to be solved before a promising property can become a musical (pg. 96).

Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical Follies

  • Ted Chapin shows how a photograph in Life Magazine turned “The Girls Upstairs” into Follies (pg. 7).

The off-Broadway experience

  • Jerry Herman trusts his instincts (pg. 142).
  • Jerry Herman gets experimental with Madame Aphrodite (pg. 148).

Ever After: The Last Years of Musical Theater and Beyond

  • Barry Singer reveals how Jonathan Larson responded to being denied the rights to adapt ‘1984’ (pg. 101).