Author: Ruby Preston
Published By: Dress Circle Publishing
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Last year, I reviewed Showbiz, A Novel, a book by award-wining Broadway producer Ruby Preston, and found it to be quite intriguing. The book centered around Scarlett Savoy, a hardworking assistant apprenticing under one of the most powerful producers on Broadway. Against all odds, Scarlett eventually comes out on top, producing an off-Broadway musical that earns great praise. Recently, Ruby Preston announced the eminent release of Staged, a sequel to Showbiz. I couldn't wait to see what else was in store for Scarlett.
In Staged, we discover that Scarlett's production of the musical Swan Song, a new and interesting take on the Swan Lake story, was an off-Broadway hit. Unfortunately, getting one of the Broadway theater moguls to allow the musical to run in one of their theaters has not been easy. In fact, despite the support of the Jeremys, the amazing writing duo behind the musical; Lawrence, her partner at Scarlett Productions, Inc.; Colin, Scarlett's brother who is looking to expand his drag queen act's success to New York City and Cassie, best friend and Broadway hopeful, it has been absolutely impossible.
Impossible, that is, until Scarlett meets a mysterious stranger at the wedding of Bobby Stewart, one of the very Broadway theater moguls who turned her musical down. A short time after the wedding, she is approached by this stranger who turns out to be Bobby's brother, Graham, and the man running the show behind the scenes of the Stewart business. Receiving an offer she has little hope of refusing, Scarlett finds herself on the arm of a man she knows very little about. But has she sold her soul for a little time on Broadway, or will Bobby Stewart destroy her Broadway hopes forever with a scheme of his own?
When I sat down to read Staged, I was wholly unprepared for how absorbed in the story I would become. I didn't want to put the book down until I had reached the last page. Showbiz was good, but I think Staged is that much better, showing that Ruby Preston's writing is getting even better with experience. As in Showbiz, Staged has quite a few surprising twists and turns. Just when you think you know what is going to happen, you get socked with a twist you never saw coming. Without giving away the store, I expected one thing from the Scarlett/Graham deal and got something completely different. What I expected would have been the predictable outcome, so I'm glad that Preston decided to take this story in a completely different direction.
Something else that I liked about this novel - the addition of new and likeable characters and new villains. There are times when new characters in a sequel can either take over the story, leaving older characters and their issues unresolved in the dust, or cause the reader to become overwhelmed trying to keep track of all the various storylines. Preston's additions fit perfectly within the story frame and added more flavor to the tale rather than taking it over. The new villain was a bit more complex than the last and a surprising revelation at the end puts new light on his motives.
If Showbiz was a backstage look at the creation of a musical, then Staged is a behind the scenes look at Broadway's real estate and the difficulties involved in getting the powers that be in the Broadway real estate business to deem your musical worthy enough for one of their venues. Staged was an intriguing and enjoyable read. I can't wait to see what direction Scarlett's life will take once her musical is actually on Broadway. I hear that I won't have to wait too long as Showbiz and Staged are actually a part of a planned trilogy. I'll definitely be on line to get a copy of the final novel in the series as soon as it's available!