Booklist Reviews

Journalist Sokolove pays tribute to drama teacher Lou Volpe, who in the last 40 years has revolutionized the theater program at Harry S. Truman High School. Located in Levittown, Pennsylvania, a blue-collar town that has been on a slow economic downswing since the 1960s, Truman has become known for its drama program, thanks to Volpe, whose productions draw not only critical acclaim but also the attention of famous theater producers. A dedicated teacher who inspires loyalty in students past and present, Volpe often stages productions that are controversial but that he firmly believes his kids will relate to. During the season Sokolove spends at Truman, Volpe and his kids put on the play Good Boys and True and the musical Spring Awakenings—both of which address teen sexuality, angst, and reckless behavior. Volpe pushes his student actors hard, but for most of them, being in one of his productions is transformative. Many alums go on to pursue careers in theater or the arts. A powerful look at the way a dynamic and dedicated teacher can change lives. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews

The auditorium of Harry S Truman High School in Levittown, PA, might seem an unlikely venue for a production that caught the eye of a Broadway producer like Sir Cameron Mackintosh, but that's exactly what happened when the school's theater teacher, Lou Volpe, directed its production of Les Misérables. The theater program at Truman has been so successful that when Music Theatre International, which licenses Broadway productions, looks for a school to pilot a high school version of a play, it often turns to the stage where the first high school versions of Rent and Spring Awakening were also performed. Sokolove (contributing writer, New York Times Magazine; The Ticket Out; Hustle; Warrior Girls) grew up in Levittown and is a former student of Volpe's, and that experience informs his narrative. He chronicles the on- and off-stage lives of Volpe (who just retired after 44 years at Truman) and his students and writes movingly of the challenges they faced. VERDICT You don't have to be a "Gleek" to enjoy this compelling account of the power of theater. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/13.]—Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago

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