Little Did I Know
By Mitchell Maxwell
(Prospecta Press, Hardcover, 9781935212577, 336pp.)
Publication Date: September 2011
Categories: Coming of Age
Here is the story of an unforgettable summer. Set in Plymouth, MA in the late seventies, Little Did I Know is the tale of a young man with an outsized dream – to refurbish a dilapidated but historic theater and produce a season's worth of vibrant musicals. A recent college graduate, he fills his cast and crew with people he has come to love and trust in his university life, and with others whose talents and personalities prove undeniable. Yet, while the productions drive his ambitions, a local woman drives his passions, and their romance is fateful, star-crossed, and ultimately more than either of them expected. Told with with, compassion, and the kind of insider's access to the theater that only someone like Mitchell Maxwell can provide, Little Did I Know is a novel about coming of age in the spotlight and embracing one's entire future in a single season.
Mitchell Maxwell is an accomplished producer, director and 35-year veteran of the entertainment industry, known for his ability to spot the next theatrical innovation. He is the visionary producer behind the percussive theatricality of Stomp!, the rollicking Broadway revival of Damn Yankees featuring the legendary Jerry Lewis which was nominated for multiple Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical and the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Dinner with Friends.
Maxwell’s productions have been honored with nominations for ten Tony Awards, six Olivier Awards, 15 Outer Critics Circle Awards, nine Drama Desk Awards and three Obie Awards and have won in each category. In addition to Damn Yankees, Dinner with Friends, and Stomp! (currently celebrating its 16th smash year) he has produced the Broadway musicals Play On!, Bells are Ringing (also Tony-nominated for Best Revival of a Musical) and Brooklyn. He directed the critically acclaimed Angry Housewives on London’s West end and later off-Broadway, and produced the motion pictures and off-Broadway performances of Jeffrey and Key Exchange. Off-Broadway he produced Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy, and David Mamet’s Oleanna and Once Around the Sun in total seven Broadway shows, more than 30 off-Broadway and regional productions, four national tours, three West End productions and six major motion pictures. He has directed in New York, London and regionally, built five entertainment companies, and has owned and operated three off-Broadway theaters.
Maxwell attended Tufts University, where he later served as an adjunct professor, and has been a guest lecturer at Columbia and New York universities.
Little Did I Know Mitchell Maxwell Prospecta Press (Perseus, dist.), $25 (336p) ISBN 978-1-935212-57-7 In Broadway producer Maxwell's debut novel, set in 1976, a rental ad for America's oldest summer stock theater in Plymouth, Mass. tempts Samuel August to try to fulfill his dream of producing classic musicals. Enlisting the financial and moral support of friends proves simple compared to dealing with Dr. Anderson Barrows, the theater's wealthy elderly owner and his seductive young wife Lizzy (who hits on Sam). To produce five full-length musicals with only nine days of rehearsal, Sam immerses himself in the Herculean task of physically restoring the theater and landscape, auditioning cast members, coping with outsized egos, and igniting creative fires in his actors. Further challenges include sham building inspectors demanding excessive fees, Lizzy's chameleon acts, encounters with a pack of raccoons, weather crises, along with the hopeful distraction of a romance with a local beauty. Although the book's pedestrian pace may deter many readers, those who persevere will appreciate the reality of stage productions and applaud a far-wiser Sam by the end. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/19/2011
From Library Journal:
It’s the summer of America’s bicentennial (1976) and a time for living out dreams for a spunky group of friends. Sam August has spent his college career falling in love with theater and jumps at a chance to lease a summer playhouse in Plymouth, MA. Gathering up a motley crew of highly talented classmates is easy; dealing with the capricious theater owners is another matter. Between bizarre threats and attempted seductions, Sam and his friends leap over every obstacle, even while consuming prodigious amounts of alcohol. VERDICT Debut novelist Maxwell’s credits as a Broadway producer include Blues in the Night and Dinner with Friends and revivals of Damn Yankees and Bells Are Ringing. This time he has produced a high-rolling romp from start to finish, in which you expect the characters to burst into song and dance at any moment. More of a lighthearted Anything Goes than a darker Company, it should appeal to readers seeking a little escape into worlds where dreams come true.Jan Blodgett, Davidson, NC
Little Did I Know that Mitchell Maxwell’s first novel could be as titillating and epic as his award winning, tumultuous theater career. It’s an unforgettable summer, chockablock with passionate love, small town corruption and unbridled determination. This book is truly too good to be true, but it is! -- Jeff Calhoun Tony nominated choreographer and director of the world premiere of Disney’s High School Musical
With wit and wile reminiscent of Moss Hart’s seminal Act One, Maxwell spins a tale of theatre in the provinces that will entertain, amuse, beguile, and inevitably move you.”
Frederick Zollo, Tony-nominated producer for That Championship
Season and night Mother.