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Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers

Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers

by Mary Rodgers, Jesse Green
Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers

Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers

by Mary Rodgers, Jesse Green


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The memoirs of Mary Rodgers—writer, composer, Broadway royalty, and “a woman who tried everything.”

“What am I, bologna?” Mary Rodgers (1931–2014) often said. She was referring to being stuck in the middle of a talent sandwich: the daughter of one composer and the mother of another. And not just any composers. Her father was Richard Rodgers, perhaps the greatest American melodist; her son, Adam Guettel, a worthy successor. What that leaves out is Mary herself, also a composer, whose musical Once Upon a Mattress remains one of the rare revivable Broadway hits written by a woman.

Shy is the story of how it all happened: how Mary grew from an angry child, constrained by privilege and a parent’s overwhelming gift, to become not just a theater figure in her own right but also a renowned author of books for young readers (including the classic Freaky Friday) and, in a final grand turn, a doyenne of philanthropy and the chairman of the Juilliard School.

But in telling these stories—with copious annotations, contradictions, and interruptions from Jesse Green, the chief theater critic of The New York TimesShy also tells another, about a woman liberating herself from disapproving parents and pervasive sexism to find art and romance on her own terms. Whether writing for Judy Holliday or Rin Tin Tin, dating Hal Prince or falling for Stephen Sondheim over a game of chess at thirteen, Rodgers grabbed every chance possible—and then some.

Both an eyewitness report from the golden age of American musical theater and a tale of a woman striving for a meaningful life, Shy is, above all, a chance to sit at the feet of the kind of woman they don’t make anymore—and never did. They make themselves.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374298623
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 08/09/2022
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 6,200
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Mary Rodgers (1931–2014) was an accomplished composer, author, and screenwriter. She was the author of the novel Freaky Friday and its 1976 screenplay adaptation, and of several other novels. Rodgers also wrote the music for Once Upon a Mattress, which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical. She lived in New York City until her death.

Jesse Green is the chief theater critic for The New York Times. From 2013 to 2017 he was the theater critic for New York magazine. Before that, he covered theater and other cultural topics, as well as writing long-form news features, for many national publications. He is the author of the novel O Beautiful and the memoir The Velveteen Father: An Unexpected Journey to Parenthood.

Table of Contents

Part I

1 Hostilities 3

2 Love Me Tonight 12

3 A Genuine Princess 25

4 Too Good to Be True 28

5 The Blue Room 36

6 Leaving the Building 41

7 Six Days a Week 48

8 I Don't Perform 54

9 Away We Go! 62

10 Is There Any Money in It? 71

11 What's the Use of Wond'rin? 77

12 Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup 83

13 Myopics 89

14 More than Once Upon a Mattress 96

15 Et Quatenus Masculinum ct Femininam 106

16 Holiday for Heartstrings 114

Part II

17 Someone's Getting Worse 125

18 Some of My Best Friends 133

19 Dubonnet 142

20 A Craw Full 150

21 And Then I Wrote 159

22 My Own Individual Star 168

23 Lenny: A Rhapsody 178

24 For There Is Much to Dare 187

25 I Had Confidence 195

26 Fair Game 209

27 Chip Off the Old Blockbuster 218

28 What's My Motivation? 226

29 Way Down Deep I'm Demure 237

30 The Breakage 247

31 East Side Story 255

32 Will Not Endure 264

Part III

33 Aren't We All? 275

34 Mars Landing 287

35 No Don't! 298

36 What, Me Worry? 312

37 The Boy From 327

38 Some Bombs 338

39 The Rake's Progress 345

40 Two Minds 354

41 Dingue Dingue Dingue 367

42 Enemas for Elephants 378

43 Give and Get 393

44 I Dismember Mama 406

45 A Major Canon 419

46 N.A.C. 433

47 Are We Anywhere? 445

48 The Yellow Room 449

Acknowledgments 461

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