By Lauren Yarger
So, you want to be a Broadway musical book writer. If you read "Beating Broadway: How to Create Stories for Musicals That Get Standing Ovations" (Cudwerks Productions, 2013) By Steve Cuden, you just might be on your way.
Cuden, who co-wrote the book and lyrics for Broadway's Jekyll & Hyde (music by Frank Wildhorn), cleverly puts together an informative, organized and practical "how to" in his hefty book divided into two "acts."
Act One is is the elements of constructing a story for a musical. what are the rules? How is the story structured? How to do it.
Act Two is a breakdown of the "narrative beats" of more than 30 Broadway musicals, both classics and more modern shows, giving the breakdown of their scenes and highlighting where the common parts of their story structure happen, like inciting incidents, point of no return, climax, etc. Book of Mormon, A Chorus Line, The Fantasticks, Camelot, Jersey Boys, The Producers, West Side Story, Wicked -- they're all in there.
By offering the story breakdowns from shows with which we are familiar, Cuden effectively translates the abstract world of plots, format and formula to tangible application. This section not only is helpful in building story structure, but is a terrific breakdown of these musicals which can be used for reference.
A bonus section also includes the breakdowns of five movie musicals with some insights into why stage musicals don't always transition well on the big screen and vice versa.
This book is a must read for anyone seriously interested in writing books for musicals. It also has a lot of information helpful to anyone in the process of storytelling in general. Cuden's credits also include film and TV and has written scripts for "Lucky," "X-Men," "Loonatics Unleashed," Extreme Ghostbusters," "The Pink Panther," "Robo Cop" and others.
For more information and to purchase the book, visit http://www.beatingbroadway.com/about-steve-cuden.html or stevecuden.com.