Cover image for Me and Orson Welles
Me and Orson Welles
Kaplow, Robert.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
San Francisco : MacAdam/Cage Pub., [2003]

Physical Description:
269 pages ; 19 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.8 8.0 76591.
Format :


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Set in the 1930s, this is the story of 17-year-old Richard Samuels whose theatrical dreams are answered when Welles offers him a small role in his Broadway debut of Julius Caesar.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

In 1937 the world was preparing for war, but Richard Samuels, a 17-year-old in suburban Newersey, was preparing himself for the role of a lifetime. All his life he had wanted to be on the stage, and one day he wandered onto a set in the theater district, where a chance encounter changed his life forever. There Richard met the 22-year-old Orson Welles, who offered him a bit part in a bold new interpretation of Shakespeare'sulius Caesar. When Welles was not directing the play, he was busy being famous, womanizing, and boozing. The awestruck Richard saw this as his own chance to leap to fame, with Welles as his mentor. The theater, however, quickly jades even the youngest of participants, and when the megolomaniacal Welles casts his eye on the woman with whom Richard himself had fallen in love, all hell breaks loose. A delightful escape into a pre-war coming-of-age, and coming-of-stage, story--perfect for a quick and totally entertaining read. --Michael Spinella Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

"This is the story of one week in my life. I was seventeen. It was the week I slept in Orson Welles's pajamas. It was the week I fell in love. It was the week I fell out of love." Thus does the precocious protagonist of Kaplow's first adult novel summarize his adventures as a bit-part player in the landmark 1937 Mercury Theater production of Julius Caesar that helped catapult the 22-year-old Welles to the top of the entertainment world. Kaplow wastes no time setting up his unlikely scenario; after an impromptu sidewalk audition, Richard Samuels, a New Jersey high school student, lands the part of Lucius, a minor character. The conceit forms a nice counterpoint to the coming-of-age material, as Kaplow alternates scenes about Samuels's high school and home life with a series of rehearsal passages that bring the brilliant but mercurial Welles to life. Samuels falls in love more than once: first with fellow high school actress Caroline, then with a lovely, flighty production assistant named Sonja who is also involved with Welles, and finally with Gretta, an aspiring writer. The climax features a colorful showdown between Samuels and Welles after the boy confronts the married Welles about his affair with Sonja. Kaplow doesn't quite capture the dark side of the enigmatic Welles, but his bright, enthusiastic writing about Samuels's introduction to the world of high-stakes theater makes this an entertaining offering. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A theater-mad New Jersey teen, Richard has his world turned upside down when he meets the young Orson Welles, currently preparing his Broadway production of Julius Caesar at the Mercury Theatre. Richard is given the small role of lute-playing Lucius and plunges into the life of an actor. Working with Welles, Joseph Cotten, John Housman, and other luminaries of the period, Richard learns all about outsize egos and talent, sex and romance, and careerism and cruelty. What results is a strong coming-of-age story, with an atmospheric grasp of 1930s New York and a brilliant portrait of the brilliant Welles. A fun read, this is recommended for most fiction collections and is mandatory for theater collections that include fiction. It is also suitable for YA collections (the author has written successful YA books), although some of the language and situations may be a bit saucy for more conservative readers.-Judith Kicinski, Sarah Lawrence Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-In November, 1937, Richard Samuels, 17, a high school senior drifting relatively painlessly through school and relationships, feels there might be more to life. The New Jerseyite spends weekends wandering in Manhattan looking for a connection, preferably theatrical, that would excite him. He happens upon the yet to open Mercury Theatre and is noticed by its mercurial muse, Orson Welles. He is given a small part in Julius Caesar, which is ultimately a grand success, and spends a week in a fantastic whirl as part of the troupe. The following few days are exciting, frustrating, and, finally, both triumphant and devastating to the would-be thespian. Kaplow brings the New York of the late 1930s vividly to life, especially the theatrical world. The novel is fast paced and very funny, and the brilliant but unpredictable Welles is a perfect foil for the sardonic but inexperienced young man. Welles at 22 is close to Richard's age, but far from the center of his moral compass. Incidents of anti-Semitism and misogyny distress the teen, yet the actor/producer's brilliance and daring are like a magnet. Richard's dreams of a Broadway career soon fade, but he emerges from the experience with a desire to write, possibly a new romance, and certainly an important new friendship. This unusual coming-of-age story will intrigue teens; while the circumstances and time are very different from today, the feelings and ideas are universal.-Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.