Hey Nerds. Theatre nerds, I mean. Remember when you were a kid and you had big Broadway dreams and nobody really understood? I of course have no idea what this is about because I've always had complete faith that all my Broadway dreams would be completely fulfilled and I never experienced any pre-teen angst during my perfect childhood, but perhaps you understand this particularly dramatic form of strife. If so, you (or your tween-ager) will definitely enjoy reading "Better Nate Than Ever", the story of a small-town eighth grader who concocts a plan to run away to New York and audition for the role of Elliott in the musical version of "E.T."
Nate and his best friend have an interesting quirk: instead of cursing, they spout out the titles of legendary Broadway faults when things go wrong. On page 11, they shout "Holy Dance of the Vampires!" For some reason I found this reference to be particularly amusing. Not sure why. Maybe because it's possible that the I may have been in the cast of that decade-old mega-flop featuring an entire number devoted to Garlic....which author Tim Federle is also quick to point out.
Better Nate is written for middle-schoolers, but my third-grader couldn't put it down. I think it's perfect for kids ages eight through thirteen, depending on their reading level. It's a light, fun, Broadway comedy that parents can enjoy reading along side their kids. And sharing a book with my child is one of the things I love best, mostly because it's so hard to find anything she likes that I can tolerate! In the book's forward, Federle writes: "Better Nate than Ever was written for anyone who knows that the fastest way to star in your own life story is to dream big."
Federle has performed in tons of Broadway shows, but it wasn't until he started working as associate choreographer on Billy Elliot that the idea for Better Nate Than Ever came to mind. Working with a company of child actors reminded Tim what it was like to be an aspiring Broadway star in a world that didn't quite "get" him:
"Growing up in Pittsburgh, I was the only kid who'd cut class to read Stephen Sondheim's unauthorized biography in the library stacks....and I found myself when I found theater. "It gets better" wasn't party of the lexicon when I was in school, but I somehow knew that it would get better-if only I could get to New York City."
Familiar sentiments for anyone who grew up dreaming of being in the spotlight....or pretending that a camera was following her around all day...not that I'd know anything about that...but if you or your child found true love and self acceptance at Stagedoor Manor, or if one of you is never truly happy without the soundtrack from Dreamgirls playing in the background, Better Nate Than Ever should be your next read.
GET TO THE POINT, MOM!
- A tween coming of age story for those of us who want or wanted to be on Broadway or those who want to understand them.
- A funny, light read that can be shared between parents and kids ages 8 and up.
- Better Nate Than Ever will be released February 5th and can be pre-oredered on Amazon.com.
- I really was in Dance of the Vampires ten years ago, picking mushrooms and getting attacked by Vampires in the opening number.