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.

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  1. » I’ll Drink to That! with Zack Zadek Ruby Preston - February 7, 2013

    […] one of your best theater memories? My good friend Jen Tepper produced this concert called “Once Upon A Time In NYC”, where a bunch of musical […]

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