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Diary of a Mad Playwright: Perilous Adventures on the Road with Mary Martin and Carol Channing

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  84 ratings  ·  11 reviews
(Applause Books). Kirkwood, the co-writer of the book of the great musical A Chorus Line, also wrote the stage play Legends, for which Carol Channing and Mary Martin embarked on a nationwide, bound-for-Broadway tour. This book chronicles the slow disintigration of the whole project, thanks to bickering divas, greedy producers, hostile reviewers, and general chaos. ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 1st 2002 by Applause Theatre & Cinema Book Publishers (first published 1989)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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Frank
Mar 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: show-biz-bio
The stories about the tour of James Kirkwood's LEGENDS with Mary Martin and Carol Channing have become show business legends, largely because of this book. It's a dishy read, but it seems awfully self-serving. In all his lamenting over the problems with the production, he never mentions the key flaw, the play itself. It's too late to get Mary Martin's version of what happened, though he's actually rather generous with her. I wish I could find something from Carol Channing on the experience, ...more
Ronald Stephens
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyable....

Thoroughly enjoyable if you like wallowing in the insanity, pain and joy of getting a show on the boards. Kirk wood makes you relive it with them.
Kellen Blair
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Hilarious and terrifying, and a very fun read!
Ray
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
I first heard about the play "Legends!" when it came to Philly a year or two ago with Joan Collins (or maybe Jackie). I was not all that interested in seeing it, but then Charles Busch did a version with Lypsinka I think in NYC which I was sad I missed. Reading about that, I somehow came across a reference to this book written by the playwright, about the original with Carol Channing and Mary Martin. It seemed too good to pass up.

Unfortunately it's way too bitchy. Kirkwood spends 90% of the book
...more
Ray
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Diary of a Mad Playwright" is a wonderful behind-the-scenes look at the making of a projected Broadway play, written by the co-author of "A Chorus Line". It deals with his play "Legends" and all that went into the creation, casting and production of the play that starred Mary Martin and Carol Channing, both legends in their own right. Hilarious, touching and downright 'bitchy' throughout, this is a terrific read.
Kent
Jan 28, 2008 rated it liked it
There are some books you want to read, and then there are some books you have to read. Diary comes closer to the have catagory if you have any interest in the theater biz. As stated in other reviews of mine, I'm not a fan of the memoir, this one included. There is some good stuff in here, but one gets a little tired of hearing Kirkwood blow smoke every which way he can.
Joe Hartman
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is...delicious. I could not stop reading it. I love a good backstage story, and there's no juicier story than that of a play in trouble, especially with two ladies like Mary Martin and Carol Channing. Even better, at the end of the story you will still respect and admire both of them, flaws and all.
Devan Sipher
Feb 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Anyone who likes backstage stories or has an interest in theater will enjoy this riotous memoir by an author of the musical A Chorus Line.
Robby Johnson
Feb 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. What a doozy. Fun and gossipy. Highly recommend.
Dave
Jan 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theatre
This book was kind of a guilty pleasure, but strangely depressing, especially where Mary Martin was concerned. Anyone even thinking about producing theatre should read this.
Christopher
Aug 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: theatre folk
Dishy, dishy read. If you haven't worked in the business, you'll find it hard to believe. If you have, well, it's very close to the bone.
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James Kirkwood, Jr. was an American playwright and author born in Los Angeles, California. His father, James Kirkwood, Sr. was an actor and director in silent films and his mother was actress Lila Lee. He died in 1989 of spinal cancer.

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