Podcast Episode #53: Tony Award Winning Director Des McAnuff

As you probably could imagine, it’s hard to establish yourself as an A-list Broadway Director.

It’s also hard to establish yourself as an A-list Artistic Director at a Top Regional Theater.

Des McAnuff has done both.

Des has directed some of my favorite shows on Broadway, from the electric Tommy to the good ol’ revival of How to Succeed . . . to Jersey Boys to Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays.  

(Do me a favor, go back and read those titles again . . . and just let the diversity of that material soak in . . . so you understand just how good this guy is.)

On top of his directorial credits, Des has been the Director-In-Charge at both the La Jolla Playhouse and the Stratford Festival, taking both organizations to new heights during his reign.

As you can imagine, he and I had a lot to talk about, including . . .

  • How starting a theater company with other like-minded up-and-comers helped launch his career (that theater company is the now powerhouse producing org, The Dodgers, by the way).
  • How he develops a show . . . which is never the same way twice.
  • How the Broadway/Regional Theater enhancement model was born  . . and why he thinks what’s happening in that market today is “dangerous.”
  • The challenges of creating a musical with pre-existing music (Tommy, Jersey Boys) and his tips on how to do it.
  • What show (or should I say “shows”?) he’s dying to direct . . . and why.

I mean, this guy could have his own blog, TheDirectorsPerspective.com . . . and I’d be a daily reader.

Until then, enjoy his podcast!

Click here to listen.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Click here to read the transcript.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –


– Listen to Podcast Episode #52 with Tony Award-winning Lyricist Lynn Ahrens! Click here.

– Win two tickets to Kinky Boots on Broadway with Wayne Brady!  Click here.

– Only 24 performances left of Spring Awakening. Get your tickets today! Click here.

  • Lucy says:

    Hi Ken,

    First, thanks so much for the podcasts. You are a great teacher.

    Next, congratulation on the NBC Nightly News broadcasting Spring Awakenings tonight. Would love to bring my deaf motheri-in-law from NH to see it if it is still there in March…here’s hoping for an extended run.

    Finally, on a personal note, I was very thankful to have been part of the Midtown international Theatre Festival last summer and truly enjoyed performing at the Davenport Theatre…your grandfather would be proud of you. It was a hoot to bring my one woman show, Biblically Speaking, to New York and a bonus to see Kinky Boots just down the street. Also, your coverage program’s brought many helpfulnew ideas into my full length play through its insightful questions.

    Keep shining! Lucy Blood

  • Rick says:

    Ken, I have so loved all of the podcasts…This one especially brings home the memories of La Jolla, California 20 years ago when I met Des McAnuff and saw the productions of Tommy, Big River, and the revival of..How to Succeed. I had a small theatre company then.

    Thanks for all you insight as I start my Journey with my Musical Production. You have a knack for bringing out the best in what the public is looking for!!!

    Since our meeting last week, I have scheduled the reading and met with my attorney to secure the rights of the material I am using…Thanks Ken…You are the best.!!!

  • Norlan says:

    Ken, dittos on what Rick shared. I have thoroughly enjoyed both your blog and the Podcasts. I love the positive and hopeful atmosphere you present in your tutorial presentations. Keep up with the wonderful and inspiring effort. I am working with Rick on that musical project he mentioned as the writer, and I basque in your insights. Thanks, and what a great interview with Mr Des McAnuff.

  • Robert McDowall says:

    I can only say that I had the privilege to work for Des for three months on a project, and seldom have I met an individual so knowledgeable, talented, kind and pleasant to work for to the point that I seldom even bothered to keep track of time or what day it was! And I have had the pleasure to work with some remarkable people, thought I will not drop names as their privacy is paramount to me. Every day was a joy, every day I learned something from him, just from listenting and watching. A wonderful sense of humor, and a gift for storytelling to make the Irish jealous, and I’m half Irish. It was many years ago, I don’t even know if Des is still in Toronto, or back in N.Y. or where. I will say it was a great experience,a wonderful memory, I hope I have the opportunity sometime in the future to cross his path and say thank you, maybe take him and his family to dinner, and let him know he was appreciated and valued, by myself at least, and I’m certain by many more. With happy memories,

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