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Book clubs  •  28 September 2021


Showtime! book club notes

Let Judy Nunn take you on a scintillating journey through the golden age of Australian show business.

With a long, illustrious and multifaceted show business career spanning theatre, radio plays and television to draw from, Showtime! sees Judy Nunn's two great loves (showbiz and storytelling) combine. It also marks an important milestone for the bestselling author – 30 years as a novelist. Her first book, The Glitter Game, was published in November 1991.

'Funnily enough there was a particularly enjoyable aspect to the writing of this novel given my theatrical background. It wasn’t the fact that research was any easier though, because the period runs from around 1880s to the end of WW1, when surprisingly enough I was not alive. Rather it was the very recognisable fact that the essence of show business, of actors and performers in general, and the attitude that prevails in the theatre really hasn’t changed all that much,' said Judy. 

Use the questions below to get the conversation flowing at your next book club gathering. 

Discussion points and questions:

  • Like the tragi-comedy masks, the characters in Showtime! often operate as opposing pairs. What draws these characters together? What about their natures or circumstances threatens to pull them apart?
  • ‘Showbusiness people judge, and were judged, according to talent, not colour, not race.’ In what ways does the theatre act as a leveller in the story? What unique journeys have characters like Irving Sayles taken to get to centre stage? What obstacles have they overcome?
  • There are many different kinds and compositions of families in Showtime! How is the concept of ‘family’ explored? Which ones do you think will endure after the curtain falls?
  • Gilda comes up with a number of reasons why Rosie wants to destroy Carlo. Which do you think come closest to the truth? And what do you think of Gilda’s decision to ‘save Rosie from herself’?
  • Discuss the tension between Will’s and Carlo’s vision for their joint theatre venture.
  • Shakespeare’s tragedies of doomed love, thwarted ambition, jealousy and revenge feature throughout the story, particularly Romeo and Juliet. In what ways does life imitate art in the novel?
  • At the end of the book, both Will and Carlo think Alfie is ‘the greatest performer of them all’. Why do they feel this way?
  • Judy’s successful acting career gives us an all-access pass into the world of the theatre. How does the theatre evolve through the course of the novel? What behind-the-scenes details and innovations did you enjoy the most?
  • How is celebrity explored in the novel? What elements of celebrity were unique to the setting of Showtime! and how is modern celebrity different? In what ways is it the same?
  • The theatre is a place where the outside world recedes and people lose themselves in the storytelling. How is this unique relationship between the audience and actors explored in the novel? What was the most memorable time you’ve had in the theatre?

Showtime! Judy Nunn

Judy Nunn’s latest bestselling novel will take you from the cotton mills of England to the magnificent theatres of Melbourne, on a scintillating journey through the golden age of Australian showbusiness.

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