In Performance

In Performance:

Contemporary Monologues for Men and Women

Late Twenties to Thirties

By JV Mercanti


Monologues and scenes are vital instruments in every actor’s toolbox. During an audition, performing a monologue gives casting directors a sense of the actor’s skill level and personality. But not every monologue fits every actor, and there is an ongoing need for a variety of material that actors in the modern world can relate and connect to. 

Whether auditioning for graduate programs or professional productions, In Performance: Contemporary Monologues for Men and Women, Late 20s-30s (November 2014, Applause Books, $16.99) is an indispensable collection of monologues for today’s aspiring young actors. Featured are dynamic monologues from contemporary stage plays of the past 15 years, as selected by professional acting teacher, director, and casting director JV Mercanti.

Along with covering the basics of how best to match the monologue to the actor and how to approach the rehearsal and performance of the piece, this handy guide provides a synopsis of each play, character descriptions, and a list of questions specific to each monologue that will help actors develop complex, honest, and thoughtful performances with a strong emotional connection, a clear arc, and playable actions.

November 18, 2014
Paperback Original
5 ¼” x 7 ¾”

256 pages


JV Mercanti was the resident director of the most recent national tour of the immersive theatrical hit Peter Pan 360, as well as the national tour of Cabaret. Originally from Philadelphia, he holds a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and an MFA in directing from Rutgers University. Mercanti was an assistant professor of acting and directing in the Theatre Arts Department at the University of Miami and has worked as a casting director for over 15 years on numerous Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, including the Kevin Kline revival of Cyrano de Bergerac and the upcoming Romeo & Juliet. He lives in New York.


108 Rock Star Guitars

108 Rock Star Guitars

by Lisa S. Johnson

Foreward by Les Paul


USA Today called it a “monster of a coffee table book…a trip through rock ‘n’ roll history.” Brian Setzer said it was “the classiest guitar book I have ever seen.” And Slash said, “Lisa’s phots are top-notch. Truly honored to be in the company of such iconic artists.”

In the fall of 2013, the publishing and music worlds were shaken to their cores by the arrival of 108 Rock Star Guitars, photographer and author Lisa S. Johnson’s collection of stunningly personal and intimate portraits of the cherished guitars owned by the gods of rock. The 396-page art book, bound in embossed red leatherette and the deluxe signed, limited edition packaged in a die-cut collector’s box, were the most-talked-about coffee table books of the year.

Now, Hal Leonard Books has published a more affordable softcover edition, allowing even more rock-and-roll and guitar fans to get an up-close look at these six-stringed works of art. The book, sells for $54, half the price of the hardcover original.

“I am thrilled that Hal Leonard, with its global distribution channels, has published the softcover edition of 108 Rock Star Guitars,” Johnson commented. “Even at a lower price, it was essential that this version maintained the style and beautiful quality of the hardcover edition, and I think guitar lovers will appreciate the care and detail that went into this new presentation.”

In 108 Rock Star Guitars, Johnson’s extreme close-up images capture, in a fresh and distinctive way, the intimate details—the wear and tear, sweat stains, burn marks and personal adornments—of some of the world’s most iconic guitars, revealing the beauty and art in these magnificent instruments, and giving insight into the personality of the musicians who play them.

Alongside these images, Johnson provides personal anecdotes describing her 17-year quest to photograph these guitars and documents her travels from the backstage hallways of some of the world’s most famous venues to the artists’ private homes. Les Paul, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Nancy Wilson, Bonnie Raitt, Slash, Carlos Santana, and Jack White are just a few of the rock stars whose instruments are featured, with a foreword by Les Paul.

November 11, 2014
Softcover w/ French Flaps
9″ x 10.5”

396 pages

Lisa S. Johnson grew up in an artistic family, where she fell in love with melody and imagery and pursued a Lisa Johnson by Ewasko TIFF format (135 of 229)career in photography. After a successful 10-year stint working at Eastman Kodak, she met the owner of a vintage guitar shop in Memphis, Tenn., and began exclusively photographing guitars. She lives in Malibu, Calif., and Las Vegas.

Les Paul was a guitar player, inventor, and recording artist, and an innovator throughout his career. In 1941, he built his first solid-body electric, helping shepherd into existence rock music as we know it. A pioneer whose name graces some of the most beloved six-strings ever manufactured, Paul died in Mahwah, N.J., where he had spent much of his life, in 2009 at the age of 94.


In Character

In Character

Opera Portraiture

by John F. Martin

Foreword by Amy Tan | Preface by David Gockley


In Character: Opera Portraiture by John F. Martin (November 4, $34.99, Amadeus Press) memorably captures operatic performers away from the audience but fully inhabiting their roles.

For six years, Martin set up a portable studio in the basement of the San Francisco Opera and photographed the players – in costume and full makeup – right before or after they took the stage. The subjects range from nonsinging supernumeraries through chorus members and comprimarii to opera’s greatest stars, including Anna Netrebko, Natalie Dessay, Deborah Voigt, Juan Diego Flórez, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Their roles run the gamut of opera personalities: heroes and heroines, villains and outcasts, royalty and common folk, Biblical figures and creatures of myth. Facing Martin’s camera, each artist projects the essence of his or her character, however great or small the part.

In Character begins with a foreword by renowned writer Amy Tan, whose oeuvre includes the libretto for the opera The Bonesetter’s Daughter and a preface by David Gockley, general director of the San Francisco Opera, followed by insightful essays on opera experts on the vital role of costumes and the transformation of singers into characters, and an interview with world-renowned soprano Danielle de Niese. The book is organized by the roles portrayed: Heroes and Heroines; Ingénues and Worldly Women; Nobility, Aristocracy, and High Society; Townspeople and Villagers; Artists, Clergy, and Other Professionals; Soldiers, Servants, and Slaves; and Gypsies and Outcasts. Other chapters include Biblical and Exotic Lands, Fantasia, and even a hilarious section of “outtakes.”

The portraits, often done in the style of the Old Masters, art works of art in themselves, even apart from any association with opera. A collection unlike any other, In Character will appeal to opera and theater buffs, costume and fashion aficionados, and anyone who appreciates fine art photography.

November 4, 2014
9” x 12”

284 pages


John F. Martin is a photographer with 25 years of experience and a passion for opera. His publications include a commemorative book on Amy Tan’s opera The Bonesetter’s Daughter, and his work has appeared in periodicals such as Visual Artbeat and blogs such as Elizabeth Avedon, F-Stop Magazine, and Lenscratch. His work is in the SFMOMA Artists Gallery and the Fowler Museum at UCLA. He lives in Graton, Calif.

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Brian May’s Red Special

Brian May’s Red Special

The Story of the Home-Made Guitar That Rocked Queen and the World

by Brian May with Simon Bradley


Brian May and his father Harold started to hand-build an electric guitar in 1963. Brian dreamed of a guitar that would outperform any of the existing commercially made electric guitars; his father had the technical knowledge and skills to help make the dream come true. Brian played his guitar on every Queen album and in all of Queen’s live shows around the world.

In Brian May’s Red Special (October 2014, Hal Leonard Books, $30) fans will discover everything they ever wished to know about Brian’s unique instrument. Brian talks about every aspect of the Red Special, from its birth to playing on the roof of Buckingham Palace, from Live Aid to the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics – and beyond. All of this is accompanied with original diagrams, sketches and notes dating from the building of the guitar, as well as a great selection of photographs including Brian on stage with his guitar, close-ups and x-rays.

“My dad and I decided to make an electric guitar. I designed an instrument from scratch, with the intention that it would have a capability beyond anything that was out there, more tunable, with a greater range of pitches and sounds, with a better tremolo, and with a capability of feeding back through the air in a ‘good’ way’.”

Featuring rare and previously unreleased photographs of Brian and his father, Queen, and the Red Special, including photographs of the guitar fully dismantled, Brian May’s Red Special is the story of a truly unique instrument, told by the man who has been playing it for more than half a century.

October 14, 2014
8.5″ x 11”

144 pages


Brian May is best known as the lead guitarist of the supergroup Queen. In addition, he has a PhD in Astrophysics and is an expert in 3D photography. He co-wrote Bang! The Complete History of the Universe with Chris Lintott and Patrick Moore, A Village Lost and Found with Elena Vidal, and Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures In Hell with Denis Pellerin and Paula Fleming. He lives in London.

Simon Bradley has been a professional guitar journalist since 1966 and is currently a multimedia editor at Guitarist magazine. He has also written for Total Guitar, What Guitar?, Guitar Techniques, SFX, T3, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Future Music, Computer Music, Rhythm, and many websites. He lives in London.


The Art of Gothic

The Art of Gothic

Music + Fashion + Alt Culture

by Natasha Sharf


The gothic look – head-to-toe black attire and extreme makeup – has been a popular one since the 1980s, with each generation reinterpreting this dark aesthetic as its own. From the staccato postpunk of Siouxsie and the Banshees and the dark rock of the Sisters of Mercy through to the industrial metal of Marilyn Manson and the funereal emotional pop of My Chemical Romance, gothic culture has strong roots in music and continues to adapt and survive.

But gothic art is about more than just album covers and ephemera; it’s about fashion, book jackets, cinematography, and fine art. Its influence frequently seeps into mainstream culture too. Nowadays, “goth” comes in many shapes, sizes, and even colors, as it encompasses a myriad of subgenres, including cyber, death rock, gothic metal, gothic Lolita, and emo goths. Although each is different, followers are identified by their striking, often theatrical look, music with a hint of melancholy, and the ability to find beauty in morbidity, sometimes even in the macabre.

The Art of Gothic (November 2014, Backbeat Books, $35) by Natasha Scharf is the first heavily illustrated tome to explore the aesthetics of this fascinating style in great detail. Previous books on goth have given a bold overview of the music and culture associated with the genre, but this book goes deeper and hones in on the album art, intricate fashions, fantasy illustrations, and more.

November 4, 2014
224 pages

9¾” x 11″
color illustrations and photographs throughout


Natasha Scharf is a music and alt-culture journalist. She founded and edited Meltdown in 1999, which became the UK’s best-selling magazine for goths. She now writes for the UK magazines Metal Hammer and Prog. She is also the author of the book Worldwide Gothic. In addition, Scharf styles gothic photo shoots from jewelry and clothing brands and is recognized worldwide as an expert in the goth aesthetic. Scharf lives in London.


Robert Plant: The Voice that Sailed the Zeppelin

Robert Plant

The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin

by Dave Thompson


A fresh look at the man whose primal howl made Led Zeppelin soar and who forged his own path after the flight was over.

With the title of his latest album, lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar, Robert Plant illustrates the dichotomy of a life lived both within the glare of the fiercest spotlight and as far from it as he could get. This dichotomy also lies at the heart of Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin (October 2014, Backbeat Books, $26.99), Dave Thompson’s engrossing study of a truly remarkable career

Thompson follows the iconic singer on two parallel track: one through his heights of fame with rock colossus Led Zeppelin, and another through his second life as a multimillion-selling solo artist., and his more idiosyncratic pursuits. Thompson details Plant’s early years as an unknown in Birmingham, England, with fresh depth and insight. He likewise tells the Zeppelin story from new and unexpected angles, focusing on Plant’s contributions to the band’s success and on the toll of that success on him as a performer and an individual.

Two years after drummer John Bonham died in 1980 and Zeppelin broke up, Plant went solo, in time becoming the only former band member to maintain an unbroken career to this day. His single-mindedness in meeting this challenge might well be his greatest personal attribute, enabling him to push forward without regard for his past or any related expectations. Thompson shows how it is Plant’s determination alone that ensured Zeppelin reunions would not become a routine part of the classic rock furniture, as he created a body of work that in so many ways artistically rivals what he recorded with the band.

Woven throughout Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin are excerpts from Thompson’s conversations with Plant’s friends and associates, including Jeff Beck, Deborah Bonham, and Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant. The book also draws upon Plant’s own music and that which surrounded him since childhood, and it delves into the mythological fascinations that have helped shape Plant’s work.

Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin is the story of the consummate rock star who is as far from that archetype as it is possible to be.

October 21, 2014
6″ x 9″
280 pages

Two 8-page photo inserts

Backbeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group


DAVETHOMPSONDave Thompson is the author of more than 100 books on television, music, and pop culture, including Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, and Hearts of Darkness, both published by Backbeat Books and Sherlock Holmes FAQ and Doctor Who FAQ, published by Applause Books. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin, Goldmine, MOJO, Melody Maker, and other outlets. He lives in Newark, Del.



The Room: The Definitive Guide

The Room

The Definitive Guide

by Ryan Finnigan


Entertainment Weekly called it “the Citizen Kane of bad movies.” National Public Radio said it is “a cult hit so bad, it’s good.” And The Independent of London observed, “It may be sublimely rubbish, but The Room makes audiences happy.”

The Room is the biggest pop culture phenomenon of the 21st century, having become one of the most popular theatrical releases of all time, since its arrival in 2003, and The Room: The Definitive Guide by Ryan Finnigan (November 2014, Applause Books, $24.99) is the key that unlocks Tommy Wiseau’s beguiling masterpiece of so-bad-it’s-good filmmaking.

Written with both the newcomer and the repeat (and repeat and repeat) viewer in mind, The Room: The Definitive Guide explains to all how, as Finnigan puts it in his introduction, “a film that should never have been remembered became something of longevity and influence.”

Part One looks at the act of viewing The Room, interacting with and sharing the film with others, and certain viewing customs. Part Two parses the details of the film itself, focusing on key scenes and their motivations. Along the way, interviews with cast recall the making of the film and cult following that has grown around it since. Finally, Part Three attempts to understand Tommy Wiseau, with an analysis of his further work, and also looks at the international bestseller The Room inspired, The Disaster Artist by cast member Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell.

Designed and illustrated by cult film artist Mute, The Room: The Definitive Guide is as eye-catching and distinctive as the film that inspired it.

So get your tuxedo on, grab your football, have your spoons at the ready, and prepare to shout, “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” for the first or 1,000th time, as we enter The Room.

November 4, 2014
Paperback Original
200 pages
 x 10
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books is an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

RRyan_Finniganyan Finnigan is a writer on film specializing in cult films. He is the editor of [SIC] Blog (, a website covering independent, alternative, and cult titles. In addition, he is one half of the cult film night duo, “The Five and Dime Picture Show,” and is the joint programmer and host of their event screenings. He lives in Sheffield, England.