Daddy Warbucks was wrong.

Annie was one of the first musicals I fell in love with.

Ok, maybe what I really fell in love with was the girl playing Annie.  She was totes adorbs.  I was about 9-years-old, and I think she was, gulp, 13!

My father was the Assistant Director of our local community theater production, so I got to hang around the show (and her) a lot.  (I’m not sure I ever spoke to her, although I did hand her, without speaking, mind you, a pair of Annie shoelaces as a closing night gift – and did get a hug!)

But I did more than semi-stalk a 13-year-old while I was around the show.  I memorized all the songs, and a lot of the lines too.

One of those lines, one of the most powerful in Annie, is one that I revisit often as a way not to live my life, and certainly not a way to achieve success in this business.

Early in the show, Daddy Warbucks says…

“You don’t have to be nice to the people you meet on the way up, if you’re not coming back down again.”

While I’ve never been that much of an a-hole, early on in my career in this teeny-tiny biz, I did make a bunch of relationship mistakes, not realizing that this business is like a big, albeit at times, dysfunctional, family.

And if you’re going to stick around, the people you are doing business with today are the people you’re going to be doing business with tomorrow.

More importantly, because this business, and this art form, is a collaborative one by nature, the people you don’t want something from today are the people you’re going to need something from tomorrow.

That’s why, no matter what level you are in your career, it never pays to be like Warbucks.  You may get a little gain in the short term when you step on or over someone, and you might feel like you got to one-up somehow, but who in the theater is here for a short term gain?  There is no such thing as day-traders in art.

If you want a long, stable and successful career in the theater, don’t be a Daddy.

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  • says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this Ken. I have missions… many, some theater based, some are corporate based and with “people” in general who cross my path. I have a common connection to all of these lanes and that is helping to engage and enlighten whether it is with musicians/actors, employees/employers or someone I meet even if it is for a brief moment. And these moments bounce back to me…like finding your website 4 years ago in a random google search, recently, the tele-mastermind group and even a chance meeting of a millionaire from a craigslist ad recently with a couple of e-mail exchanges and a phone call. You would think …. wow…money! But no that is not what I gained from this exchange. My takeaway was “to keep in touch (unbelievable the connection made and uncanny connections we had to the Pittsburgh area)” and his other message which was “Always look up…and smile”. So for me while money would help tremendously, it is not my path right now and I believe I will make my own way… My favorite quote from Richard Branson that keeps me believing is…
    “Entrepreneurship is a great leveller.” “The wonderful thing is that money is not the sole currency when it comes to starting a business; drive, determination, passion and hard work are all free and more valuable than a pot of cash”. So, with all of my relationships, even when they are at times difficult, I always strive to “enlighten” and “engage” everyone that I meet. Great blog Ken!!!

  • Tzahalla S says:

    This also goes to show that you never know who’s what wherever you go. Mistakes will happen, it’s a fact of life and we should all learn to deal and own our experience. That doesn’t mean go out of your way to step on people. Obviously, this goes both ways, and if someone is treating you inappropriately, do your best to gracefully deal with it and know to avoid those people.

    What I’m saying is work smart, and be kind. You never know.

  • Carrie Bodell says:

    Annie was my first broadway musical on Broadway, too! (When I was eight years old-1978). I absolutely loved it! Really, what’s not to love about that show? I’ve loved musicals ever since!

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