What do Michael Bennett, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins and David Merrick have in common?


This blog was inspired by a Producer who sulked into my office yesterday, concerned that he had peed-off a few of the folks that were working for him.

So I asked him the same question as the title of this blog.

What does those four guys have in common?


All four of them made some of the most significant contributions to the American Theater.

And all four of them were known as difficult personalities who were hated by a gaggles of people, included many that worked for them.

A woman once smacked Fosse with a dance bag after she felt poorly treated at an audition.  His response?  He stopped the audition and announced that dance bags were no longer allowed in the room.

Bennett was called “amoral” by James Kirkwood, co-author of A Chorus Line, who said, “Michael would do anything–anything–to get a show on.  The cruelty was extensive.”

Robbins named names when he testified before the House Un-American Activites Committee in 1953.

And Merrick?  Well, what didn’t he do.

While these are the extremes in behavior, they are also the extremes in success.  While I’m certainly not advocating cruelty or betraying your friends (as I also believe that every Producer should read this textbook), the message is the same.

In any business, it’s important that people like your product, not your personality.

  • RLewis says:

    Oh come on. While I usually enjoy your blog here, this about the worst advice anyone could spread in our community. There are far more members of the theater community who have inspired and nutured. Why not Hallie Flanagan, Eva Le Gallienne, Margo Jones, Maxine Elliott, Tyrone Guthrie? And I haven’t even gotten started. For ever ass you can name, I can give you 4 who were impressive and positive without hurting others. This is the kind of talk which is usually self-justification. I’d hope you’d use this blog for good – trying to raise the level discourse in the community and not lower it to some masculine-induced level of torment.

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