Monday, October 17, 2011

Jenn's Review: Little Did I Know

Summary:  Samuel August dreams of producing bigger-than-life musicals in the grand tradition of summer stock. It is the summer of 1976, an endless party for America's two-hundredth birthday is in full swing with young men and women recklessly coming of age under star-studded skies lit by orange neon moons.


Sam has just one summer to learn how to grow into the theatrical producer he aspires to be.


Review:  When the publicist offered Little Did I Know from a Tony Award-winning producer and director Mitchell Maxwell I was immediately intrigued. My background is in musical theatre and I've been out of the loop for a while and I thought this would be a good way to revisit. What I found instead was a romanticized reminiscence of summer stock theatre complete with drugs and salacious behavior. It hit all the cliches, which was sort of disappointing. I wasn't expecting a tell-all, but was hoping, perhaps, for a little more realism. There were lots of twists and turns to the story but everything was resolved with ease and dramatic flare... like a plot straight out of a musical. 

Mr. Maxwell tends to wax poetic from time to time, but it is easy to overlook because he has a smooth style with good pacing.  It took me a little while to appreciate his main character of Sam August, though.  Sam appraises the physical appearance and sexual appeal of every female he meets and if it weren't for Sam's strength of character, he would not be a very likable protagonist.  However, when push comes to shove, Sam makes the right decisions.  I wanted to see him in the gruel of production and rehearsal, though.  For a story about a director, Little Did I Know has very few scenes where we actually see Sam directing instead of just managing and galavanting.  There is only scene in the book where it is visited and then it is only because the cast starting to ignore his direction, but it would have been more powerful if the reader had actually been through some of the rehearsals.  As for Sam's relationship, it is predictable but a little less than realistic.  

Don't get me wrong, it's characters were interesting and the story kept me engaged.  It was a quick, feel-good read, it just fell short of my expectations.

Final Take:  3.5/5

Next Stop on the Book Blog Tour: Being Alison

Story excerpt:

I gestured for the group to sit closer, and from my breast pocket took a small, folded piece of glossy paper that I had torn from Variety. As I opened it, my friends’ eyes widened as if I were revealing the map to a treasure. In bold print was a small but arresting advertisement. Saying nothing, I let them read what it said:
FOR RENT: AMERICA’S OLDEST SUMMER STOCK THEATER.IMMEDIATE OCCUPANCY AVAILABLE.LOCATED FORTY MILES FROM BOSTON AND LESSTHAN ONE HUNDRED YARDS FROM THE OCEAN.PROPERTY INCLUDES 480-SEAT BARN THEATER,EQUIPMENT, AND RESIDENCES FOR UPWARDOF FIFTY PERSONS. FOR TERMS AND PARTICULARSON THIS HISTORIC VENUE CONTACT DR. ANDERSON BARROWS: 617-242-1200.

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