To celebrate the release of Lulu the Broadway Mouse by Jenna Gavigan on October 9th, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Jenna, plus 7 chances to win a copy of Lulu the Broadway Mouse!
by Jenna Gavigan
The first Broadway show I ever saw was Guys & Dolls. The early nineties production, thank you; I was in the second grade. At the time I had just started attending an afterschool theatre program called “Dance, Drama & Song.” “DDS” dotted our kitchen calendar, and the moment each class wrapped up I couldn’t wait for the next.
Back to Guys & Dolls— whose full name is technically Guys & Dolls: A Musical Fable of Broadway. We, children, were learning and rehearsing bits of the show for DDS. I rocked an itchy halter dress that had lemon-colored Italy prints all over it, while my female DDS pal, Ashley, (whose sister Michelle and I had been in regular school together since kindergarten) swam in a (size adult) brown suit. We sang “Sue Me” a duet between Miss Adelaide (a nightclub singer) and her perpetual fiancé Nathan (a gangster and avid gambler) during which Miss Adelaide basically tells him “it’s now or never, dude.”
It was heaven. We were children, singing lyrics like, “you’re at it again, you’re running the game, I’m not gonna play second fiddle to that, and I’m sick and I’m tired of stalling around, and I’m telling you now that we’re through!” We probably didn’t fully grasp what the heck we were singing about, but we sung about it, nevertheless.
I don’t remember if it was my idea or my parents’ idea to go see the show but knowing tiny Jenna I imagine what happened is I came home from an afternoon of DDS Guys & Dolls rehearsal and asked politely yet assertively to see the show on Broadway. I do very vividly recall dressing up to see the show. A dressy dress, like something I’d wear for a Christmas card photo. Blue satiny skirt with a black velvet top, I think. It had puffy sleeves and definitely crinoline and maybe a low V at the neckline with some sort of faux jewel dangling at the base of the V. (It was 1994, people. I looked fabulous.) I dressed up because to my seven-year-old self, seeing a Broadway show was about as big of a deal as a deal could get. Alex, my pal from Miss Taffuri’s second grade class—Alex, who recently designed my wedding invitations—came with me and my parents to see the show. It was at the Martin Beck Theatre, which is now known as the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, currently the longtime home of Kinky Boots. I remember the leaded stained-glass panes that dotted the lobby, remember they reminded me of a church.
I can recall now, without looking up their names, that the stars of the show were: Kim Crosby as Sarah Brown (yes, she was the original Cinderella in Into the Woods which debuted at the Martin Beck a few years earlier — lucky, lucky, Kim Crosby); Martin Vidnovic as Sky Masterson (who happens to be Laura Benanti’s dad. I mention this because Laura played Cinderella in the revival of Into the Woods and how much do we love the synchronicity here?!!); Jamie Farr as Nathan Detroit (of M*A*S*H fame); and Jennifer Allen as Miss Adelaide. I remember their names because I studied my Playbill like it was an SAT prep book. (Let’s be honest, I studied it with far more vigor and love than I did my SAT prep book.) I listened to the original Broadway cast recording over and over and over—we’ve just met but I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled I was when my parents got a 6 disk CD changer in their Camry—knew every word of every song, and I pored over the little booklet that came with the CD.
When I saw the show, I saw what I later came to know as “replacements”—actors who had taken over once the original, Tony-nominated and Tony-winning cast had departed. Who were the members of that original cast, you ask? Don’t mind if I do—Nathan Lane as Nathan Detroit (the fact that he and his character shared a first name thrilled me); Faith Prince as Miss Adelaide; Josie De Guzman as Sarah Brown; and Peter Gallagher as Sky Masterson. Peter Gallagher, who, I later learned (with much pride and glee), graduated from my school district.
These snapshots and details and facts decorate my brain but, more than anything, when I think of seeing a Broadway show for the first time I remember feeling I had found where I belonged. I had found my home. That feeling has lingered inside of me ever since; it has fueled two decades of lessons, auditions, rejections, and work. That feeling is why I wrote Lulu the Broadway Mouse. The theatre—be it Broadway, off-Broadway, or across the country—has been a sacred place to me since the moment I stepped through the 45th street doors of the Martin Beck Theatre.
I recently visited the Al Hirschfeld. My friend’s son is in Kinky Boots. (I feel like she was pregnant with him about three days ago but that’s beside the point.) I’ll tell you what: going backstage at a Broadway show never gets old. I still have a momentary, thrilling panic of, “Am I allowed to be here?”
As I entered the stage door I remembered that the theatre was the home of the 1998 revival of The Sound of Music, the first Broadway show I ever auditioned for. A show I came so close to being in. A show I was heartbroken over for years. It happened to be the same theatre that housed the first Broadway show I ever saw and my first Broadway close-call—and there I was, on a Wednesday, just casually winding my way up its many flights of stairs to the kids’ floor of dressing rooms. I sat there and talked with my friend about my soon-to-be book debut, a book loosely based on my childhood in the theatre; a book very much fueled by my love of the theatre and the heartache that comes from being away from it.
If I could go back and tell tiny Jenna about all of this I’d like to say she’d be amazed. She would be. She’d be thrilled. But I’d also like to think she’d say, “Well of course things happened this way.” Because she knew, wayyyyyy back in 1994, that she belonged in the Martin Beck. She belonged in the theatre. It was her home. In person or on paper, it is home.
Ratatouille meets Broadway in this charming new middle grade novel about a little mouse with big dreams.Lulu is a little girl with a very big dream: she wants to be on Broadway. She wants it more than anything in the world. As it happens, she lives in Broadway’s Shubert Theatre; so achieving her dream shouldn’t be too tricky, right? Wrong. Because the thing about Lulu? She’s a little girl mouse.
When a human girl named Jayne joins the cast of the show at the Shubert as an understudy, Lulu becomes Jayne’s guide through the world of her theatre and its wonderfully kooky cast and crew. Together, Jayne and Lulu learn that sometimes dreams turn out differently than we imagined; sometimes they come with terms and conditions (aka the company mean girl, Amanda). But sometimes, just when we’ve given up all hope, bigger and better dreams than we’d ever thought could come true, do.
“A standing ovation for Lulu! This delightful debut serves up a sweet and sassy mouse’s-eye view of life in the footlights from a real Broadway insider. Encore, please?”
―Heather Vogel Frederick, author of the Spy Mice, the Mother-Daughter Book Club, and the Pumpkin Falls Mystery series
“Jenna manages to capture the drama and tension and excitement of the theatre without ever losing the magic and joy of what it feels like to be on Broadway. Lulu’s burning desire to be onstage was exactly how I felt when I was younger, and reading this book reawakened that feeling in me!”
―Tony-nominee Jonathan Groff
- One (1) winner will receive a copy of Lulu the Broadway Mouse by Jenna Gavigan
- US/Canada only
Giveaway Ends 10.18.18 and open to all who can legally enter.
Open to anyone with a US or Canadian mailing address, sorry no PO Boxes
**Must be over 13 or have your parents permission to enter.
An email will be sent and you have 24 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.
The Winner will be announced within 24 hours at the end of the giveaway.
Giveaway is organized by Bookhounds and sponsored by the publisher
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Not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes. **