Archive | Producer RSS feed for this section

I’ll Drink To That! With Jillian Robbins

7 Feb

Welcome to “I’ll Drink To That” Ruby’s conversations with the future leaders of Broadway and beyond! Showbiz is in good hands with these brilliant and inspiring professionals.

Ruby sits down for a drink with the fabulous Jillian Robbins!

Jillian RobbinsRuby: Where are we and what are we drinking?
Jillian: We’re at Lillie’s on 49th Street. Pre-theater, I’m drinking seltzer with lime. Post-theater, drinking Lillie’s Pennies and swapping stories.

What is your current job title?
Finance and Business Development Assistant, Disney Theatrical Group. I am also a freelance producer.

Whose career do you aspire to have?
Jordan Roth.

What’s one of your most embarrassing theater memories?
Falling asleep during a performance where I was in full-view of the actors and other audience members. It was not a reflection of the show – I actually returned to see the show again and really enjoyed it – but I had had a busy week and was exhausted.

What’s one of your best theater memories?
August 17th, 2007, I had a walk-on appearance in Rent on Broadway. It was my first time going backstage at a Broadway theater, it was my first time performing (ever), and it was the first time I witnessed the inner workings of a Broadway production. Preparing with the management team for my debut, it was then that I first understood that an entire business exists to make Broadway a reality each evening. Before then, I had only interacted with Broadway as an audience member. This experience gave me a glimpse into the Broadway industry. And I knew then that I wanted to be a (small) part of it.

What book are you reading right now?
I’m currently reading two; I am in the middle of The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (while I know I am late to the Jonathan Franzen party, I am enjoying the novel). I’m also reading Jerry Schoenfeld’s memoir, Mr. Broadway. It is enormously inspiring.

What book would you like to see made into a musical?
Showbiz by Ruby Preston!

What is your current theatrical project?
Upcoming projects include the next installment of Cutting-Edge Composers, to be held February 4th at Joe’s Pub, and the development of a new musical with an up-and-coming writing team.

What show are you currently recommending?
It depends on who is asking and their taste. Two productions I am currently recommending are Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Annie, two shows that I know and love but have never seen staged. Hard to believe with these two titles, but somehow, it happened.

What is your prized theater possession?
This would have to be a tie between two items: a personalized thank you note from Alan Menken for my work on Newsies and a Rent door panel from The Nederlander Theatre that hangs on my closet door.

Where do you keep your playbills?
In playbill binders, filed chronologically. I have ten full binders that I keep in my bedroom at my parents’ apartment; the rest are in my apartment. Almost all playbills have the accompanying ticket stub inside.

Showbiz Ad

I’ll drink to that! With Kenny Howard

2 Jan

Welcome to “I’ll Drink To That” Ruby’s conversations with the future leaders of Broadway and beyond! Showbiz is in good hands with these brilliant and inspiring professionals.

Ruby sits down for a drink with the fabulous Kenny Howard!

Ruby: Where are we and what are we drinking?
Kenny: Bar Centrale.  It’s nice and private not to mention the Boxcar there is one of my favorite drinks in the city.

What is your current job title?
I am Producer/Managing Member of The Broadway Consortium, LLC and Broadway Records.  I am also the resident director of Mondays Dark Theatre Company.

Whose career do you aspire to have?
I don’t mean to change the scope of the question, but I feel that there are many things to glean from so many professionals that I have worked with, but being a director/commercial producer  is a such a strange combination that I find it hard to narrow it down to one.  When it comes to producers I believe the wisdom of Richards/Frankel is invaluable, but I also think Davenport is leading a group of new young producers outside of the box to examine how we go about producing and that we can indeed learn from the past and improve on it for Broadway’s future.  As for director’s, I have worked with Leigh Silverman now on three separate occasions and her energy, insight, and career choices are truly inspiring for me.

What’s one of your most embarrassing theater memories?
In my senior year of high school I was the lead in a play, a truly horrible play, called Dear Ruth.  I was the male love interest, a soldier coming home from war or some such un-befitting thing for me to be doing, (if you know me this is when the laughter should begin). I was still not “out” to myself, let alone anyone else, and I had this kissing scene with the female lead. I kept bugging her to rehearse it and she told everyone that I had fallen for her and told everyone that not only wasn’t she interested but that I was a bad kisser.  So rude and SO high school.  But truthfully, to her I probably seemed like a bad kisser. I didn’t want to kiss her, but the show must go on, so I just wanted to practice it a lot because it was the most uncomfortable moment in the play for me.  It was like kissing a female frog who would never turn into a prince…however that insight didn’t come for me till a few months later. 🙂

What’s one of your best theater memories?
In college I was set to direct You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown but our budget was slashed and they were going to cancel the production.  Being a bit pushy, I called the publishing house (we didn’t have internet then) and asked for an address for the composer, Clark Gesner, so I could send him a letter, to which they complied.  I wrote him a heartfelt letter about my longtime love affair with his musical and told him about our budget being cut and them wanting to cancel the production and replace it with Belle of Amherst!  CAN YOU IMAGINE?!.  I received a call a bit later and it was the publishing house say Gesner waived all his royalties. Shortly after that I received a handwritten letter from him thanking me for the various compliments (ok, I downright gushed, but it was all true.  I still have that letter.  I went on to direct it, and then we even toured it to different mental health and senior centers (which is another story entirely).

What book are you reading right now?  
A Translation of The Travels of Marco Polo as I am going to the Philippines in January to direct a workshop of new musical loosely based on the book.

What book would you like to see made into a musical?  
This is tough as I am quite the bookworm.  A huge interest for me that many people do not know is Native American Literature, and there are some amazing stories that I believe could be excellent source material for a musical such as Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony or almost any Louise Erdrich.  There is also a book of poetry entitle From Sand Creek  by Simon J. Ortiz,  based on a horrific event and it is one of the most powerful books of poetry I have ever read.  Musical or play, I’d be happy with either.  The oral history of native Americans has given birth to some of the most underrated poetic American writers in the country and for so many it is just completely ignored.  Being part Cherokee has made me a little sensitive on the subject, and the older I get the more it seems to be something I am revisiting.

What is your current theatrical project?
As a producer with The Broadway Consortium, we still have Evita running, and for this season we are co-producing Cinderella, Matilda, and Pump Boys and Dinettes. As a director, in late January I go to Manilla to direct a workshop of a musical based on the travels of Marco Polo, then direct a reading of a new rock opera in NYC when I return

What is your prized theater possession?
I have years of theater “possessions” and I have many favorites, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say my Tony Award for Porgy & Bess.

Where do you keep your playbills?
Everywhere.  I try to keep them in ziplock bags, but when its the height of the season there isn’t 5 steps in any direction or shelf or crevice where you won’t find one, or three.  But eventually they go in the zip lock bags or the trash.

 

Showbiz Ad

I’ll drink to that! With Nathaniel Hill

26 Nov

Welcome to “I’ll Drink To That” Ruby’s conversations with the future leaders of Broadway and beyond! Showbiz is in good hands with these brilliant and inspiring professionals.

Ruby sits down for a drink with the fabulous Nathaniel Hill!

Ruby: Where are we and what are we drinking?
Nathaniel: Gin and Tonic, Press Lounge on the roof of Ink48

What is your current job title?
Assistant Account Executive, Serino/Coyne LLC

Whose career do you aspire to have?
David Stone. I admire his balance of good theater and good business.

What’s one of your most embarrassing theater memories?
I’m not a great singer, and the last musical I was actually in was Chess.  It was rough. That’s all I’m saying.

What’s one of your best theater memories?
Winning the Vermont All-State Theater Festival, my senior year of high school, with Lucy Alibar’s brilliant Gorgeous Raptors.  I played Justin, the womanizing villain.

What book are you reading right now?
Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman

What book would you like to see made into a musical?
The biography of the Spice Girls (if such a book exists).

What is your current theatrical project?
I’m raising money for a play opening on Broadway this winter, and at Serino/Coyne I’m doing account management for Bring It On and the three current Lincoln Center Theater Plays: Golden Boy, Disgraced, and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

What show are you currently recommending?
 Peter and the Starcatcher

What is one of your most prized theater possessions?
My original Ragtime playbill, which was a gift from a professor I’m close with. Ragtime has been a really important musical in my life… I played the little boy at a summer stock theater in 2004, my first Broadway internship was on the revival in 2009, and I did my thesis on theatrical producing at Duke on the show this spring.

Where do you keep your playbills?
I have a spiral staircase in my apartment, and I have a stack of them on the left as you’re going down, so I can drop them off on my way to bed.

Showbiz Ad

I’ll drink to that! With Jennifer Ashley Tepper

16 Nov

Welcome to “I’ll Drink To That” Ruby’s conversations with the future leaders of Broadway and beyond! Showbiz is in good hands with these brilliant and inspiring professionals.

Ruby sits down for a drink with the fabulous Jennifer Ashley Tepper!
Ruby: Where are we and what are we drinking?
Jennifer: Ruby, you and I are totally meeting at Joe Allen and drinking martinis at the bar while throwing our heads back with laughter.

What is your current job title?
I work as Director of Promotions for Broadway Producer Ken Davenport. We just finished marketing for Broadway’s The Performers and are currently working on the new musical version of Somewhere In Time as well as various other projects. I also create and produce my own projects, including the award-winning concert series “If It Only Even Runs A Minute” and several works by the musical theatre writer Joe Iconis. In addition, I am the Managing Editor of The Best Plays Theater Yearbook.

Whose career do you aspire to have?
I aspire to work as a Producer and Musical Theatre Historian. “Whose career?” Why Ruby, what a question!

What’s one of your most embarrassing theater memories?
On my second trip to New York ever, I was 17 years old and with all of my best friends from summer camp and my mom and sister. We went to see Urinetown at the Henry Miller. I was more excited than I’d ever been in my life. I LOVED the show from afar (read: Florida) and was finally getting to see it. To me, Urinetown was everything musical theatre should be. I cried through the entire show. When it was over, I had to pee very badly. My mother miraculously got us backstage to meet Hunter Foster (my favorite actor of all time). I cried through this entire experience as well (life was just so perfect.) By the time we were done taking several photos with the cast (all of which I have red crying eyes in), I REALLY had to pee. The theatre was closed. We tried the nearest hotel. Nope. The nearest coffee shop. Nope. Finally, we found a bathroom at Ollie’s (the old location on 44th Street). It was there that we discovered— the zipper on my pants was stuck. Now, because the day was such a special one, I was wearing my FAVORITE pants— the black bellbottom ones with slits up the sides (I know, I know). All 5 of my friends and my mother and my sister were in this tiny bathroom with me, trying to pull my pants off. Finally, rather than pee IN them, my mom went to Ollie’s kitchen, borrowed some DUCK SHEARS from a cook, marched into the bathroom, and proceeded to cut my pants off of me. It was then that I realized that the door to the bathroom was being propped open by someone’s foot and we were giving the entire restaurant quite a show. Afterward, pants-less, I borrowed two people’s sweatshirts, tied one around my front and one around my back, and ran to the Marriott Marquis. (We had no conception of New York, and thus no idea I could’ve just walked 3 blocks and peed at our hotel.) That was Urinetown.

I also once accidentally poured a glass of champagne on Ira Weitzman’s head at a fancy party.

What’s one of your best theater memories?
The final performance of [title of show] the Lyceum Theatre in 2008. I assisted the director, Michael Berresse, on that show, and worked on it for over 2 years. Our closing was a night like one rarely has in the theatre: everyone who was there had been changed by the messages in the musical, and was throwing that love back on stage. The cast was very aware that they were doing the show for the last time ever on Broadway. The whole thing was immensely special and tearful and joyful. I also got a special thank you in the post-show curtain speech and people cheered for me- which, at the age of 22, I thought was the peak of my career. I could die happy. At the same time, it also felt like the end of Chapter One of my life in New York. The night (and the whole experience) gave me hope for a future of working on great musicals that I truly care about.

What book are you reading right now?
Showbiz! By Ruby Preston. It’s absolutely fantastic. 🙂

What book would you like to see made into a musical?
One of my favorite books is called Underfoot in Show Business. It’s by Helene Hanff. I feel it could possibly make a great musical… but perhaps it’s better suited to be a movie. In any case, it’s one of the best books about theatre, or anything, ever written. Read it.

The first page says: “Each year, hundreds of stagestruck kids arrive in New York determined to crash the theatre, firmly convinced they’re destined to be famous Broadway stars or playwrights. One in a thousand turns out to be Noel Coward. This book is about life among the other 999. By one of them.”


What is your current theatrical project?
Well, I just finished putting together a concert called “Once Upon A Time In New York City”, that played at Joe’s Pub. Some of today’s greatest Musical Theatre Writers came together and each wrote a new song about New York City or someone they feel has changed it. The songs were given world premiere performances, and it was a pretty special evening.  I’m also producing “The 5th Annual Joe Iconis Christmas Spectacular”, which will be at 54 Below in December.

What show are you currently recommending?
I recently saw The Other Josh Cohen at the Soho Playhouse. What an amazing, completely original new musical! Loved it. Highly recommended.

What is one of your most prized theater possessions?
My entire apartment is like one giant prized theater possession. My friends often say, “it looks like Triton Gallery threw up in here!” when they walk in. Indeed, the walls in every room are covered in posters. If I had to choose some favorites, I would say: my Good Vibrations beach ball signed by the full cast, Alix Korey’s Triumph of Love bathrobe, a brass belt buckle made during the original A Chorus Line run that has the whole line on it, a bunch of never-released (Swope and Katvan) photos from the original production of Merrily We Roll Along, a framed gem stone from one of the “chairs made of diamonds” in the final tableau in [title of show], a flower handed to me by my good friend Jay [Armstrong Johnson] during the performance of Hair when he made his Broadway debut as Claude, earplugs from the recent production of the new musical The Black Suits, and a Nick Blaemire costume from Godspell. I’m forgetting so many.

Where do you keep your playbills?
In my heart.

Showbiz Ad

I’ll drink to that! With Jacob Porter

5 Nov

Welcome to “I’ll Drink To That” Ruby’s conversations with the future leaders of Broadway and beyond! Showbiz is in good hands with these brilliant and inspiring professionals.

Ruby sits down for a drink with the fabulous Jacob Porter!

Ruby: Where are we and what are we drinking?

Jacob: Gin and Tonics at Sardi’s

What is your current job title?
Online intern, SpotCo NYC and Producer at Retrop Productions

Whose career do you aspire to have?
Hal Prince

What’s one of your most embarrassing theater memories?
Usually involves a bathroom at an inopportune time.

What’s one of your best theater memories?
Eating salami with Patti LuPone… Though I doubt its one of her best memories.

What book are you reading right now?
Reading two right now! The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden by Mark Bowden and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

What book would you like to see made into a musical?
I’m obsessed with Lemony Snicket and while I think A Series of Unfortunate Events on stage would be brilliant…his new book (or rather Daniel Handler’s) Why We Broke Up could be really interesting too.

What is your current theatrical project?
A pop musical version of Disco Bloodbath (novel) and Party Monster (film) both by James St. James called Clubland. It will be premiering this January in Boston at ART’s Oberon!

What show are you currently recommending?
Drood. Drood. Drood. Drood. Go see The Mystery of Edwin Drood at Studio 54

What is one of your most prized theater possessions?
The prosthetic nose and chin of Vanessa Williams from the revival of Into the Woods.

Where do you keep your playbills?
Some are in binders and about 60 from the past year and a half are underneath the TV display.

Showbiz Ad

I’ll drink to that! With Rachel Sussman

29 Oct

Welcome to “I’ll Drink To That” Ruby’s conversations with the future leaders of Broadway and beyond! Showbiz is in good hands with these brilliant and inspiring professionals.

Ruby sits down for a drink with the fabulous Rachel Sussman!

Rachel Sussman

Ruby: Where are we and what are we drinking?

Rachel: Oh we’re sharing a half carafe of pinot grigio at Chelsea Grille post-show.

What is your current job title?

I am a personal assistant to a philanthropist by day and a freelance producer at night. I also co-run the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) Student Leader Program and work with Dress Circle Publishing.

Whose career do you aspire to have?

Goodness, this is so difficult. Right now I really admire Maria Goyanes’ career–not only is she the Associate Producer at the Public, but she was also the Executive Director of 13P (before it imploded, that is). She has a keen eye and is committed to nurturing new work by emerging artists (she is a co-founder of the Public LAB) which I think is profoundly important. She’s a smart lady. One day I’d like to create a developmental lab in much the same vein.

What’s one of your most embarrassing theater memories?

One time I offered to hold Kelli O’Hara’s gum for her backstage right before she performed. She looked at me like I was crazy (which I probably was).

What’s one of your best theater memories?
Gosh, there are so many! Definitely the closing night of Joe Iconis’s Bloodsong of Love at Ars Nova where I had somehow finagled my way into being a production intern. After the final show, there was champagne and a cake decorated with the poster design. Everyone was chit-chatting and toasting until Joe sat down at the piano and began to play his song, “The Goodbye Song.” We all fell silent and just listened to him sing. Slowly, the entire theatre joined in and soon we were all rocking out. It was pure and organic magic. I live for moments like this in the theatre.
What book are you reading right now?

Right now I’m reading this book called The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall about this woman named Stephen who falls in love with another woman (god forbid!). When it came out in 1928, it was immediately banned and, fun fact, brought about the most famous legal trial for obscenity in the history of British law. Seriously. The funny thing is, today we would hardly consider the story obscene for the plot is so subtle; everything is implied, but never declared. Still, it’s seen as one of the most influential contributions to gay and lesbian literature. Kudos, Radclyffe.

What book would you like to see made into a musical?

I think Mrs. Dalloway would be an intriguing project.

What is your current theatrical project?

I’m working on developing a benefit reading for early next year and an album release concert for my friend Rob Rokicki next month.

What show are you currently recommending?
PigPen Theatre Co’s The Old Man and the Old Moon because it is so innovative–they incorporate shadow puppets, found objects, and folk music to tell this beautiful tall tale about an old man on a journey to find his love.
What is one of your most prized theater possessions?
I have an original Follies LP on display in my bedroom.
Where do you keep your playbills?

In binders filed alphabetically, of course!

Thanks for the chat, Rachel. Cheers!

Showbiz Ad