Life Is Like a Musical: How Broadway Can Help You Live Your Best Life by Tim Federle

Life Is Like a Musical: How Broadway Can Help You Live Your Best Life

From the author of the hit cocktail books Tequila Mockingbird and Gone with the Gin comes a guide to getting ahead in life, love, and leadership-Broadway style! Before Tim Federle became a beloved author (his award-winning novels include Better Nate Than Ever, which Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda declared as "highly recommended" in the New York Times), Tim worked in the sho...

Title:Life Is Like a Musical: How Broadway Can Help You Live Your Best Life
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Edition Language:English

Life Is Like a Musical: How Broadway Can Help You Live Your Best Life Reviews

  • Lois R. Gross

    Let me start by saying that I love Tim Federle. Several years ago, he wrote a Young Adult book called "Better Nate Than Ever," roughly based on his own life as a theatre loving pre-teen who didn't fit in his Pittsburgh town. I loved it. NO, I adored it. I knew that kid. I had been that kid. Somehow, his middle school didn't share the love because they cancelled a personal appearance of this famous alum because the book promoted values with which they didn't agree, i.e., it addressed the issue of

    Let me start by saying that I love Tim Federle. Several years ago, he wrote a Young Adult book called "Better Nate Than Ever," roughly based on his own life as a theatre loving pre-teen who didn't fit in his Pittsburgh town. I loved it. NO, I adored it. I knew that kid. I had been that kid. Somehow, his middle school didn't share the love because they cancelled a personal appearance of this famous alum because the book promoted values with which they didn't agree, i.e., it addressed the issue of being gay. I wrote a letter to Mr. Federle and he wrote back. He also got me into a fairly exclusive preview for books which was amazing. So, yes I'm biased.

    However, I hope that Mr. Federle will accept some notes from me in the spirit in which they are meant. This book is a hybrid. It's a bit of a memoir or his time on Broadway and in the provinces; it's a bit of how to survive in the theatre. He also tries to extend it to how to apply theater lessons (i.e. show up ahead of time, be prepared for disappointment, applaud the competition even when you don't feel like it) to real world day jobs. That part doesn't work because it keeps circling back to, "When I was teaching kids how to dance in "Billy Elliot." Please understand. I loved every minute of the Broadway remembrances and I had seen or knew the backstory of almost every show. But, then, I'm a freak, a theatre kid turned stage mom yo devoted audience member. This book spoke directly to me and I loved that Bernadette Peters was as professional as I knew she would be and Laura Benanti was the sweetheart I knew she would be. Other people, civilians, may not love, love, love the book as much as I did.

    However, the one place that the book succeeds over-the-top well is in addressing the issue of being different, specifically being gay, as a young adult. The funny thing is, Mr. Federle never hits you over the head with his experiences. It's just there in the text. He alludes to being an adolescent who searched for his tribe and craving New York City where he perceived that the streets would be awash in LGBTQ folk. Mainly, though, he just talks about it as an absolutely normal part of his life and for that reason, I would hand this book to any kid who is questioning their identity, even if their questions are not about gender identity but just about being different. "Find your tribe" is the best advice I've ever heard.

    So, Mr. Federle, I did enjoy your book. Honestly. And if, for some reason you read this, I still think that Nate's neighbor, the girl director, needs a book of her own because there are lots of questioning girls around; girls who need to know that strength is a positive quality, not "bossiness" despite what other kids say.

    BTW, I'm not sure that I consider Pittsburgh the "Midwest," but I'm from the other end of PA so my perception is different.

    Mr. Federle, if you happen to see this, I'm still a fan. BIG FAN. And I'm waiting for the distaff spin-off of the Nate books, anxiously.

  • Alissa

    I'd like to thank Net Galley and the publisher for proving me with a digital ARC of this book!

    My review can be found on

  • Jen

    As a theater lover (performing and watching), I v

    loved this book. It bills itself as a theater geek's version of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, which is an apt comparison. The life advice at times might seem like common sense, but is dispensed with wit and humor and a huge helping of theater trivia and magic. Creative people will enjoy this book. It seems to be especially geared towards teens but adults who love theater will enjoy this too. Expect lots of Hamilton references and more.

    I received an

    As a theater lover (performing and watching), I v

    loved this book. It bills itself as a theater geek's version of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, which is an apt comparison. The life advice at times might seem like common sense, but is dispensed with wit and humor and a huge helping of theater trivia and magic. Creative people will enjoy this book. It seems to be especially geared towards teens but adults who love theater will enjoy this too. Expect lots of Hamilton references and more.

    I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Marie Andrews

    As a massive fan of musicals, I really enjoyed this book! Tim gives 50 pieces of advice that he has learnt and discovered when he was younger and during his career. Each piece of advice is fairly short, around 2-4 pages each, which makes it an easy and quick read, or something you can pick up if you have a spare 5 minutes (or read it in one sitting which I did!!!). Most of the advice is quite generic and/or something people are regularly told but it was a great read because it was backed up with

    As a massive fan of musicals, I really enjoyed this book! Tim gives 50 pieces of advice that he has learnt and discovered when he was younger and during his career. Each piece of advice is fairly short, around 2-4 pages each, which makes it an easy and quick read, or something you can pick up if you have a spare 5 minutes (or read it in one sitting which I did!!!). Most of the advice is quite generic and/or something people are regularly told but it was a great read because it was backed up with little anecdotes and was a fantastic light-hearted read. Throughout there are lots of references to various musicals (not just the old musicals either) which made me love it even more! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of musicals and theatre, and even if you aren't, there are still some valuable things that can be learnt (and you never know, you might find yourself discovering a new passion!!)

    *I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

  • Kat

    I got an ARC of LIFE IS LIKE A MUSICAL at BookCon last month and, I'm going to be honest, I didn't know a thing about this book except the title and the author when I got in line for a copy. It's the author that hooked me - I read Tim Federle's GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER last year and fell in love with his writing.

    This book is listed as self-help/personal growth, which normally would have turned me away, but Tim's voice is unique and never falls into the cheesiness that I tend to associate with th

    I got an ARC of LIFE IS LIKE A MUSICAL at BookCon last month and, I'm going to be honest, I didn't know a thing about this book except the title and the author when I got in line for a copy. It's the author that hooked me - I read Tim Federle's GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER last year and fell in love with his writing.

    This book is listed as self-help/personal growth, which normally would have turned me away, but Tim's voice is unique and never falls into the cheesiness that I tend to associate with the genre. He delves into his own past - from a kid dreaming of making it as a Broadway dancer to a successful writer - and uses his experiences to provide tips on how to change your perspective on life. While there are (obviously) a lot of musical theater references, someone with no interest in theater can still gain a lot from reading this book.

    One of the elements of Tim's writing that I admire and appreciate greatly is its emotional rawness. He isn't afraid to hold back, even if it means putting himself in a position to be judged. That honesty has often helped me feel less alone in my own thoughts and feelings. He also acknowledges his privilege and points out where his advice might not be applicable, which is refreshing; these aren't prescriptions, but suggestions.

    If you follow Tim on Twitter (if you don't, I strongly recommend that you do; I'll wait), you know he's hilarious. That humor is strongly present in this book, which was unfortunate when I was reading in public and couldn't help but laugh out loud at some of his one-liners. Then again, a good portion of this book is spent encouraging you to claim your space in the world and be unapologetic in expressing yourself, so maybe it isn't so unfortunate after all.

    What I love the most about LIFE IS LIKE A MUSICAL and what makes me want to gift it to every single person I care about is that every chapter pushes the reader to pursue their passion. Every single person has a yearning within them, something they won't feel fulfilled without having accomplished. Some people I know are strong enough and brave enough to work toward achieving that fulfillment, but some have given it up as a pipe dream. They see it as something that could never happen, so they give up trying. Well, Tim doesn't want anyone to settle for less than the life their eight-year-old self envisioned and his latest work contains exactly the kind of inspiration necessary to start finding ways to make your dreams a reality.

    The one problem I have with this book: Every time a song was mentioned, it immediately started playing in my head and I had to pause for a dramatic song and dance number. It's a small price to pay for the great advice Tim gives.

  • Brenda Ayala

    A self-help book for anyone who's ever wanted to be in a play! Surprisingly good at taking theater terms and ideas and presenting them in a way for anyone to get something out of it. And it's totally true too--theater kids find their niche and totally embrace themselves. I have a couple of theater friends and they seem to have everything figured out!

    I can't attest to whether this self-help book is on the same writing plane as his previous books since I haven't read them, but on its own it defin

    A self-help book for anyone who's ever wanted to be in a play! Surprisingly good at taking theater terms and ideas and presenting them in a way for anyone to get something out of it. And it's totally true too--theater kids find their niche and totally embrace themselves. I have a couple of theater friends and they seem to have everything figured out!

    I can't attest to whether this self-help book is on the same writing plane as his previous books since I haven't read them, but on its own it definitely has merit.

  • Becky Ginther

    I love all of Tim Federle's books, so I was excited to see a "self help" sort of book that sounded like I would be able to relate to it a lot. As a theater person this resonates with me. Each “chapter” is only about 3-4 pages and focuses on one single topic or idea that he learned from the theater life. There really are so many things I’ve learned from the theater life, and reading them written out just makes it feel even more real for me. There are lots of references to musicals and other examp

    I love all of Tim Federle's books, so I was excited to see a "self help" sort of book that sounded like I would be able to relate to it a lot. As a theater person this resonates with me. Each “chapter” is only about 3-4 pages and focuses on one single topic or idea that he learned from the theater life. There really are so many things I’ve learned from the theater life, and reading them written out just makes it feel even more real for me. There are lots of references to musicals and other examples, and I found it to be an enjoyable book that has great life advice but doesn’t take itself too seriously.

    Some of the passages/ideas I really enjoyed here:

    -The difference between confidence and courage. "Confidence is the by-product of doing something that you were afraid to do, but you did anyway. Courage is what you get after trying the thing you thought you'd royally suck at, and learning afterward that you only suck at it a little bit." (p.5)

    -Congratulate the person who got "your" part (and let go of bitterness) (p.9)

    -"I've learned that the minute you start paying people to do something they'd always previously adored is the moment they start checking their watch to see when the next union-required break is." (p. 14)

    -"What I've grown surest of is nothing is sure - and that building up resilience is a pretty good way to prepare for any tomorrow. It is, after all, only a day away." (p.37)

    -(he auditioned for a show, didn't get in, and a year later they called him to do it. The choreographer says she wished he had auditioned originally, and he tells her that he actually did). "But if I'd harbored any bitterness, or refused to go back to the drawing board and put myself on the lien for them again, I would have missed out on so much." (p.59)

    -"All the impressive credits in the world get thrown out when you bring a storm of negativity along with you... reputation beats resume nearly every time." (p. 63)

    -"A lot of us fall into a pattern of addiction. Not to drugs, or booze. In this case, it's the lightheaded buzz of winning over as many people as possible, as opposed to going where the love already is - where someone is already saying, I like you, I want you, I need you. We write that person off. HE must be crazy. We cast loyalty off as nepotism, and get all starry-eyed about making the next group of people love us." (p.81)

    -"what the theater teaches us again and again is that it's all just a moment. You can fight it, but it isn't going to change - at the time of this book's printing, nobody has figured out how to live forever." (p.85)

    -"If you're in a leadership position at work, the giving of feedback is a big part of the territory. At home, not so much. You should mostly be striving for equality in your partnerships, and avoid amassing a list of your partner's flaws. Put another way: Try not to be the boss of your love life so much as the co-producer of your relationship." (p.100)

    -"The types of people who create an foster the most ambitious work - not to mention healthy relationships, in general - are the ones who never quite lose the attitude of being fans themselves." (p.124)

    -"Maybe candidate B won't be quite as vivid as candidate A, but vivid wears off quickly when you're stuck with a jerk in a dressing room for eight shows a week. You hire the nice guy. Nice doesn't go out of style. Nice goes with everything. Nice is the little back dress of adulthood." (p.129)

    -"I do wish that everyone could discover their gang somewhere, the people who get them, who accept and validate and don't even blink at their oddities. Whatever your oddities may be - from dressing up like comic book characters to being obsessed with motorcycle repair - there's a place where your thing is everyone's thing. Get to that place, any way you can." (p.172)

    Overall I felt like this book had a really positive message, which was refreshing after the last "self help" book I read. It's genuine and all about trying to be a better person. With some sassy musical references thrown in. What's not to love?

  • Mandy

    It was fun diving into this self help book written by a Broadway performer and talented writer. I enjoyed the personal stories, name drops and casual mentions of musicals Tim had been in and around over the years. He kept me interested and made me think about how I truly can bring these aspects and ideals into my own life. A great read or gift for fellow fans of the Great White Way.

    Thanks to NetGallery for giving me an advanced copy for a fair review.

  • Emily Ross

    Thank you to the publishers for providing an ARC of this book through NetGalley.

    I loved this book! As a theatre lover, how could I not love a theatre-themed self help book? For once, I knew all the references, which is incredibly rare for me. It was written with wit and humour and it was just incredible. While most of it seems like common sense, it is the advice you need to hear for everyday life.

  • Samantha

    This was a fun little guide/self-help book that was also basically part memoir. I thought the advice was good, and I really enjoyed all the references to theater throughout the book. Federle's anecdotes from his life as a theater performer and writer were interesting. And the chapters are all nice and short, making this a perfect book to pick up in small bites. It is also a quick read.

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