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Stop the Show! A History of Insane Incidents and Absurd Accidents in the Theater Paperback – September 5, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

...[Schreiber], a theatre professional and columnist for the LA [weekly] Entertainment Today, has a fun idea that doesn't quite hit its mark. A collection of theater anecdotes meant to be both bizarre and funny, the execution suffers from an overload of voices and inside jokes. At over 250 pages, the short tales-most less than a page each-tend to blend together. And while the better anecdotes feature stars such as Katherine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier, [Schreiber] has relied on far too many stories from and about virtual unknowns [...] whose gossipy stories may play well at parties but fall flat on the page. [Schreiber]'s biggest misstep, however, is his own faltering humor; too often, he uses glib irony to pad out or wrap up tales: after an actor forgets all her lines, another goes to the hospital at intermission, and another falls down a flight of steps on-stage, [Schreiber] quips, "But other than that, opening night was an utter success." Though it frustrates, theater lovers will get a few chuckles from this book, and perhaps some stories to pass along over cocktails.
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About the Author

Brad Schreiber attended San Francisco State University, majoring in English/Creative Writing. He studied with Kay Boyle and Leonard Wolf and co-founded two theatre-comedy troupes, performing TV, stage, radio and clubs throughout the Bay Area. He co-founded the San Francisco Playwrights Center in 1980, won a residency grant from the Edward Albee Foundation and has had his work produced in Los Angeles, Dallas, New York and San Francisco. At the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, as a playwright, he workshopped with Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin. His radio work includes winning an award from the National Audio Theatre Festivals in Missouri for his adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The One Who Waits. He also adapted Philip K. Dick’s Sales Pitch and Lewis Padgett’s The Proud Robot, the latter for the Nebula Award winning series 2000X. All aired on NPR. Upon moving to Los Angeles, Schreiber co-founded the New One Act Theatre Ensemble, worked as an executive, writer and producer at PBS affiliate KCET and began his careers as journalist and author. Schreiber is in his 11th year as columnist for L.A.’s oldest weekly newspaper, Entertainment Today and writes theatre criticism for Back Stage West. Schreiber is also author of the best-selling parody of the Guinness Book of World Records, Weird Wonders and Bizarre Blunders (Simon and Schuster) and the humor writing how-to, What Are You Laughing At? (Michael Wiese) He is currently Vice President of Storytech Literary Consulting, founded by Chris Vogler (The Writer’s Journey) and is Supervising Producer on the Court TV series North Mission Road, inspired by his book on the L.A. Coroner’s office, Death in Paradise (Four Walls Eight Windows). His most recent theatre credit was Multimedia Consultant on the world premiere production of What I Heard About Iraq at the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (September 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560258209
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560258209
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The first collection of theater's greatest blunders, from the West End and Broadway to the lowliest amateur theater, Stop the Show! revels in ruined lines, dangerous scenery, rude theatergoers, performers sabotaging each other and more.

Among the outrageous and mind-boggling events during live performances:

Richard Burton, after an afternoon of drinking with his brothers, accidentally urinates through his tights while swordfighting Michael Redgrave at Stratford-upon-Avon.

The Second City Toronto member who took LSD for the first time feels its effects hours later...in the middle of a comedy sketch, posing as a taxi cab driver.

A homeless woman climbs onstage during a production of Cats on Broadway, rubs up against stunned, costumed performers and begins singing off-key.

In London's intimate Bush Theatre, an actor finds himself onstage with a petrified burglar who sneaked inside the building to rob it, not knowing it was a theatre.

An April Fool's Day announcement in a Broadway theatre, claiming that Glenn Close, Richard Dreyfus and Gene Hackman all have understudies going on for them creates a mass exodus from the theatre before the audience can learn it's a joke.

"Mr. Schreiber's book of anecdotes should be deposited in every dressing room both on and off Broadway." -Eric Bogosian
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Bought for our families drama nerd and she LOVED it. Always interesting to read about what happens behind the scenes. She stated it is a guide of tragedies to not do herself and two other family members have requested to read it next. It was a HIT!
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Bought as gift for college student studying theater education, as a diversion. Short "stories", easy to read, pick up, put down. Haven't given it to her yet but I expect she will find it amusing. I did when I read a few random pages.
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witty, yet succinct -- gets the facts, but makes them funny without embellishing them -- paints the wonderful picture of a stage show and then a hilarious picture not only of the disruptions, but the reactions to same -- all true stuff too!
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Format: Paperback
Wow!!! What a great read for anyone who loves the theater.
Brad Schreiber's STOP THE SHOW is a fun filled tome... A surprise on every page... Wonderful insights about the insanity and confusion that takes place backstage on stages around the world... failed entrances, forgotten exits, fights, improvised lines, accidents, costume failures, practical Jokes and hundreds of backstage blunders.
This is a well researched assortment of theater scuttlebutt. Chuckles and guffaws abound as Schreiber opens the backstage doors to let us see all the fascinating, funny and hilarious collection of theatrical disasters and calamities.

Ever friend who loves theatre should receive a copy. I'm looking forward to the sequel!
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Hilarious stories that you'll want to share with others.

I absolutely loved this book and am buying some copies for friends. If you're an actor, playwright, director or a dyed-in-the-wool theater fan, you'll really enjoy this book. Brad Schreiber's collected some of the best backstage (and audience) stories ever heard. I can't recommend this more highly and can't wait for the next installation. I want more!
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A funny and fascinating look at just how wrong things can go onstage. A must-read for anybody with an interest in theater or acting -- or just having some yuks at the expense of master and not-so-masterful thespians. Should be handed out as required reading for those who dare to tread the boards wearing less than full body armor.
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"Stop the Show" is a great read not only for theatre buffs, but for anyone looking for a good laugh and a glimpse behind the curtain. It overflows with Schreiber's wry anecdotes, and the theatrical mishaps he skilfully chronicles leave an indelible impression.
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