Jack & Louisa: Act 1 by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead

Synopsis from GoodreadsA show-stopping series about life in the spotlight from Broadway actors and internet sensations Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead. Twelve-year-old Jack Goodrich was a Broadway star—until a sudden voice change cost him his dream role. Now he lives with his parents in Shaker Heights, Ohio trying hard to leave his acting past behind. But his new neighbor, Louisa—a self-proclaimed “musical theater nerd”—won’t stop until Jack auditions for a local production of Into the Woods.

Feelings: I bought this book for my classroom because I have a student who loves musicals, but doesn’t love reading. He was about halfway through it when I realized he was reading faster than I’d ever seen, so I immediately ordered the next 2 books in the series for him. He loved this book so much. He was able to finally find characters in a book that mirrored him. He encouraged me to read it as well, so I did and found it to be a really fun read. If you love musicals, this book is right up your alley.

Issues: At the end of the book, Jack is presented with an option. (No spoilers) But…why wasn’t this option made available to him sooner? This just didn’t make sense to me. If it really was a possible alternative, it would have been made known sooner…realistically.

Characters: I loved how different Jack and Louisa are. Sure, they’re both Musical Theater Nerds, but they both represent different types of theater fans. They love a lot of the same shows, but have different experiences that shape them. This makes sure the book doesn’t get boring or repetitive, even with all the theatre references, which I appreciate. If you aren’t a musical fan, the characters still have some depth to them. You don’t have to know musical theatre to understand these people, they’re very real. Their parents are good characters, too. We don’t always get strong parent and family relationships, so that was refreshing in this story. The parents are very supportive of their children’s interests and encourage them along the way.

Final thoughts: If you’re an MTN like me, you’ll really enjoy this book. There are so many references to various shows and places on Broadway that it makes for a fun ride. This is also a great read for parents of musical theatre nerds. You’ll get a little insight into their minds!

Pick this up if you liked:

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

Goodreads rating: 4.17/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.8/5

My rating: 4/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn


5 Musicals for Book Lovers

One of the many reasons that I love reading is simply because I love words. The right words strung together in just the right order can create a story that’ll last a lifetime. This happens to be one of the reasons that I love musicals! First of all, music is a huge part of my life and always has been. When you mix music together with great storytelling…I’m sold! Here are 5 musicals that I think you’ll enjoy if you love literature!


Something Rotten – Starring: Brian D’Arcy James, Christian Borle, and John Cariani

From the show’s website: From the director of ALADDIN and the co-director of THE BOOK OF MORMON comes the “ingenious and irresistible” (Variety) story of Nick and Nigel Bottom, two brothers who are desperate to write a hit play but are stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rockstar known as “The Bard” (played by 2015 Tony Award® winner Christian Borle). When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first MUSICAL!

I saw this show in New York City at the St. James Theatre this summer and it was hysterical. The writing is genius and it has so many references to both Shakespearean plays and well-known musicals. As soon as it was over, my friend and I both wanted them to just start from the top all over again. I bought the cast recording as soon as I got home from my NYC trip. I recommend you listen to: “Welcome to the Renaissance”, “God I Hate Shakespeare”, “A Musical”, and “Will Power.”


Hamilton – Starring: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Groff, Leslie Odom Jr.

From Broadway.com: Lin-Manuel Miranda takes the stage as the unlikely founding father determined to make his mark on the new nation as hungry and ambitious as he is. From bastard orphan to Washington’s right hand man, rebel to war hero, a loving husband caught in the country’s first sex scandal, to the Treasury head who made an untrusting world believe in the American economy. George Washington, Eliza Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and Hamilton’s lifelong friend/foil Aaron Burr all make their mark in this astonishing new musical exploration of a political mastermind.

Hamilton is currently at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City and it’s the biggest hit on Broadway. I saw on the show’s website that they’re holding auditions for an upcoming national tour, so it’ll be coming to a theatre near you! I can’t wait! If you love American history, this is the show for you. If you’re like me and you’ve studied American history your whole life, this is a great, new way to get the narrative. I love the cast recording and I listen to it on Spotify all the time! If you’ve never listened to it, I recommend: “Alexander Hamilton”, “Aaron Burr, Sir”, “You’ll Be Back”, and “Helpless”. Then listen to every other song. You won’t be sorry. 


Wicked – Currently starring: Rachel Tucker, Kara Lindsay

From the show’s website: WICKED is the untold story of the witches of Oz. Long before Dorothy drops in, two other girls meet in the land of Oz. One, born with emerald-green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular. WICKED tells the story of their remarkable odyssey, how these two unlikely friends grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good.

I had to include Wicked! How could I leave it out? I saw the national tour of this show a couple of years ago in Dallas and was floored. I have the original cast recording (with Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth) and I know all of the lyrics. If you love the original Wizard of Oz story, this is a great prequel! If you aren’t a huge fan of the original story (like me), then you may like this story more! If you’re unfamiliar with this show, I recommend you listen to: “Defying Gravity”, “For Good”, “Popular”, and “As Long As You’re Mine.”


Les Miserables – Currently starring: Alfie Boe, Adam Monley

From the telecharge.com site: Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Broadway’s Les Misérablestells the story of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who breaks parole and is then hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever. Spanning years of Valjean’s life, the story goes from the streets of Paris, across the bridges of the Seine, and straight into the heart of a revolution. Les Misérables is a timeless tale of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption–an enduring testament to the survival of the human spirit.

This was another show I saw on my trip to NYC this summer. Les Miserables is currently playing at the Imperial Theatre and has a fantastic cast. I have yet to tackle the original book because it’s rather intimidating, but the movie is brilliant, the cast recordings are all wonderful, and the 25th anniversary concert is incredible. This is probably my favorite show of all time. It’s not exactly a feel good show, but it’s so powerful and moving. I always cry. Always. I recommend you listen to: “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Bring Him Home”, “One Day More”, and “On My Own.”


Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella – Original cast: Laura Osnes, Santino Fontana

From the show’s siteRodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA is the Tony Award®-winning musical from the creators of South Pacific and The Sound of Music that’s delighting audiences with its surprisingly contemporary take on the classic tale. This lush production features an incredible orchestra, jaw-dropping transformations and all the moments you love—the pumpkin, the glass slipper, the masked ball and more—plus some surprising new twists! Be transported back to your childhood as you rediscover some of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s most beloved songs

Unfortunately, this show is no longer on Broadway, BUT – there is a national tour going around. In fact, I saw it in Dallas this summer. I like the original starring Julie Andrews, I enjoy the movie adaptation starring Whitney Houston and Brandy, and I LOVE the stage show. The musical is beautiful and the storyline is captivating, twisting the original fairy tale juuusssttt enough to make it feel like you’re seeing something new. Please, please, please listen to: “Ten Minutes Ago”, “In My Own Little Corner”, “Impossible”, and “A Lovely Night.”

Have you seen any of these shows? Do you have any other recommendations for book lovers? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading, watching, and listening! – Caitlyn