Broadway’s Betsellers

Five novels to read if you’re currently missing the thrill of Broadway musicals.


Sarah Kincaid, Bear Hub Editor

Due to the pandemic, Broadway in New York City will soon be approaching one year since being shut down. For theater fanatics, this was a huge devastation and thoughts are still going out to the hundreds of actors who have not been able to do what they love. Although it has been greatly missed and will be until the time it is allowed to reopen, it is beneficial that we remain safe and think positively about the future of Broadway. It has definitely been difficult for fans to not enjoy that same rush of stepping foot into a theater and opening up a playbill while the lights slowly dim around you. As this chaotic time continues to go on, theatre fans are able to experience some of their favorite stories/productions in the form of novels written because of, or prior to, musicals. It may not be the same as getting to watch these riveting performances on stage, but to fill in that Broadway shaped hole in your heart a little bit, these five novels will do the job just fine.

1. “Dear Evan Hansen”
The novel was published in 2018 by the creators of the show; Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benjamin Pasek, and Justin Paul. The musical had won six Tony awards in 2017 after its extremely popular run in the Music Box Theatre one Broadway. The novel written after the debut of the Dear Evan Hansen performance is the musical written in words, and without the music.
“Dear Evan Hansen tells the story of a young man with social anxiety disorder who so yearns to make a connection with his peers that he fabricates a relationship with a deceased student to become closer to the boy’s family.”

Dear Evan Hansen the Novel (2017) by Val Emmich, Benj Pasek, Steven Levenson, an dJustin Paul.

2. “Fun Home”
Alison Bechdel is a darkly funny family tale, graphic novel 2006
In 2006, Alison Bechdel Had published a graphic novel surrounding her life of childhood struggles. It’s full of dark humor and a twisted fairytale sort of style. Fun Home had won fifteen Tony awards in 2015, and was a musical very unexpected to do well at Broadway considering it had a more mature yet childhood based storyline not very welcoming for family viewers.
“Coming-of-age of lesbian author Alison Bechdel, from her youth, to her years at Oberlin College, and finally to the present, where Alison, now grown, is struggling to write her own graphic autobiography. As Alison reflects on her past, she struggles to make sense of it, particularly her relationship with her father, Bruce, a closeted gay man and the owner of the family business — the Bechdel Funeral Home.”

Fun Home (2006) by Alison Bechdel

3. “Be More Chill”
By the same author as it’s kind of a funny story, Ned Zaynie published Be More Chill in 2004. It is a young adult genre focused on a type of science fiction but also a story about coming to terms with high school, and living life in the background. Be More Chill had spent about four years being performed off Broadway, until it made its Broadway debut in March 2019 but will be closed out in June of the same year.
“Jeremy Heere is just an average teenager. That is, until he finds out about “The Squip” – a tiny supercomputer that promises to bring him everything he desires most: a date with Christine, an invite to the raddest party of the year and a chance to survive life in his suburban New Jersey high school.”

Be More Chill (2004) by Ned Vizzini

4. “The Color Purple”
The American author Alice Walker wrote the novel the color purple in 1982. It is an extremely popular read for anyone interested in more of a historical time period. her book had won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for fiction as well as the national book award for fiction. It made its first Broadway performance in 2004 and ran for four years until it was revised and performed again in 2015 where it won two Tony awards.
“Spans 35 years in the life of Celie, a teenage African-American girl living in Georgia who is given by her abusive stepfather to an even more abusive husband…Though her string of unfortunate events, though, Celie learns that the most important thing is that she is a survivor, and that no matter what happens to her, she is still here.”

The Color Purple (1982) by Alice Walker

5. “Alexander Hamilton”
The extremely popular and fast selling Broadway production of Alexander Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda, was written based on the 2004 novel by Ron Chernow. It is a biography of the American statesman Alexander Hamilton and has been created into a hip-hop, rap musical by Miranda. It made his Broadway debut in 2015 and earned eleven Tony awards including best musical. A live performance of Hamilton the musical can now be watched on the Disney+ streaming service.
“the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton, whose ambition drove him from the position of Caribbean outsider and bastard child to American war hero and George Washington’s right-hand man. In the process, Alexander Hamilton powerfully shaped America as we have come to know it.”

Alexander Hamilton (2004) by Ron Chernow

We can only hope that in due time Broadway will be back open and running safely. But for now, we must allow ourselves two find other ways to still enjoy our favorite theater productions. There is no better way to do this then opening up to the written art on the pages of these novels which express the same scene as a musical would. BearHub’s heart goes out to all of its Broadway theater fanatics, don’t let this time hold you down, keep supporting and loving Broadway until its safe return to New York City.