What Would Barbra Do?: How Musicals Can Change Your Life

Front Cover
Harper Collins, Oct 13, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 288 pages

Emma Brockes didn't always love musicals. In fact, she hated them. One of her earliest (and most painful) memories is of her mother singing "The Hills Are Alive" while young Emma crossed the street to go to her babysitting gig. According to her mother, the music would keep muggers at bay. According to Emma, it warded off friends, a social life, and any chance of being normal. As she grew older, however, these same songs continued to resonate in her head, first like a broken record and then as a fond reminder of her mother's love.

Some people would slice off their arm with a plastic knife before they'd sit through Fiddler on the Roof or The Sound of Music. But musicals are everywhere, and it's about time someone asked why. From An American in Paris to Oklahoma!, Brockes explores the history, art, and politics of musicals, and how they have become an indelible part of our popular culture. Smartly written and incredibly witty, this is a book for people who understand that there are few situations in which the question "What would Barbra do?" doesn't have relevance, in a world much better lived to a soundtrack of show tunes. At the heart of What Would Barbra Do? is a touching story about a daughter, a mother, and how musicals kept them together. Part memoir, part musical history tour, it will keep you laughing and singing all at once.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - anieva - LibraryThing

The writer has a bit of an obnoxious tone, esp for a person who supposedly loves musicals. You'd think she wouldn't be so snarky talking about them; perhaps she should write about edgier stuff. But it ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - phoebesmum - LibraryThing

An amiable saunter through the world of Hollywood musicals by an author who's still young and aspiringly cool enough to be slightly embarrassed about enjoying them. She wins Brownie points from me for ... Read full review


Magic Moments
Title Song
Young Biddies
The Aquamusical
The Sound of Music
Broadway Baby
Mary Poppins

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About the author (2009)

Emma Brockes is an award-winning writer at the UK Guardian. She studied English at Oxford University, where she edited Cherwell, the student newspaper, and won the Philip Geddes Prize for journalism. In 2001 she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards. In 2002 she was voted Feature Writer of the Year, one of the youngest-ever recipients of the award. What Would Barbra Do? is her first book. She lives in London.

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