TD Book shelf: `Attack of the Theater People’

I have found the first Theater Dogs beach book of the summer.

I loved Marc Acito’s first novel, How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater because it was an old-fashioned teen theater geek farce in which Edward Zanni, the high school senior protagonist “engaged in embezzlement, blackmail, money laundering, identity theft, fraud, forgery and (just a little) prostitution.” That’s his description of it. The whole point of the crimes was to get enough money for Edward to pay for Juilliard.

Well imagine my delight when I found the sequel to the book on the shelves: Attack of the Theater People, which is every bit as engaging and delightful as its predecessor. Acito is whip smart and has a way with a quip, and they usually involve some aspect of theater. Here’s a taste:

It was the same feeling I had after I saw Annie when I was eleven andspent months bumping and grinding while belting out “Easy Street.” I’m sure my parents took one look at me and though, “My son’ll come out–tomorrow.”

Right from the start of the book, when Marian Seldes kicks Edward out of Juilliard (he’s just too “jazz hands” for such a serious acting school), the tone is light and silly and hilarious — everything you want in a summer book. And get this: it’s set in the ’80s, so it’s a period piece. Practically hysterically historical.

Every time I thought the plot was veering too far into the ridiculous — Starlight Express plays a major role — Acito’s wit and Edward’s gusto (not to mention his gang of theater nerd friends) brought me right back into the fold. Edward even grows up a little by the end, which will come in handy for dealing with a world of HIV-AIDS and the death of musical theater.

Astute readers will notice Acito’s shout-out to a prominent Bay Area actor (hello, Clark Sterling). And I’m big enough not to mind that the bad guy (an insidious inside trader) is named Chad.

As if the book wasn’t enjoyable enough, I bought my copy at Books, Inc. on Market Street, and I snagged an autographed version. Here’s how Acito signs the book: “Jazz Hands!” Perfect.

Acito will be back in the Bay Area for a couple appearances:
JUNE 19, 2008 – Books, Inc. in the Castro (San Francisco, CA)
JUNE 21, 2008 – West Coast Live! (San Francisco, CA)

Fur further reading:
Acito’s very entertaining blog is “The Gospel According to Marc.” Read it here. And his Web site, with snippets of his books, essays and more is

If you have theater-related book suggestions, let me know and I’ll share your recommendation with the Theater Dogs kennel:

2 thoughts on “TD Book shelf: `Attack of the Theater People’

  1. Pingback: TD Book shelf: `Attack of the Theater People’

  2. Pingback: juilliard

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *