Podcast Episode 169 – The Tony Nominated Director of Natasha Pierre & Hadestown, Rachel Chavkin

“What about Rachel Chavkin?”

If you’ve asked someone for ideas on who should direct a project recently, I’d bet money that you’ve heard those four words.

Rachel is one of the hottest directors on the market today, thanks to the success of Natasha, Pierre, the upcoming Hadestown (which wasn’t even announced for Broadway when we recorded this podcast), and more.  Audiences, Critics and Producers alike all see something very special in her unique style and know good things are in store.

That’s why the other five words you hear in conversations about new projects and new directors are . . .

“Rachel Chavkin would be perfect.”

Rachel and I talked about being an in-demand director as well as . . .

  • How performing 10-minute pieces helped her find her directorial voice.
  • The difference between teching a show on Broadway and teching a show anywhere else.
  • Why she’s ok with a messy rehearsal process and how it helps.
  • Why she doesn’t like to give advice.
  • Her reaction to the immersive movement and her part in it.

After listening, I’d bet money that if someone asks you for a recommendation for a Director next week, guess what you say?

Enjoy!

Click here for my podcast with Rachel!

Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Podcast Episode #168 – Tony Nominated Director & Choreographer Bobby Longbottom.

You might think you know Bobby Longbottom from his Tony-nominated Side Show or his work as the Director and Choreographer of one of the largest shows on the planet, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular . . .  that’s how I knew him mostly.

But when you listen to this podcast and realize how he got to where he is today, you’ll realize there’s so much more to this art-trepreneur than his resume.

Bobby went from singer to dancer to choreographer to director, literally without missing a beat, because of an “I’ll figure it out” attitude and by making his own opportunities, including the off-broadway smash Pageant and the aforementioned Side Show.

He didn’t wait to get hired. He found a way to hire himself.

We talked about the importance of entrepreneurship in this business as well as . . .

  • How to make a transition from one career to another inside the Broadway biz (which isn’t always the most supportive of that kind of change).
  • The origins of Side Show.
  • How he convinced people to give him a shot . . . when they really shouldn’t have (according to him).
  • The process of choreographing a great big, fat, opening number – what do you do first?
  • Why things take so long to develop in 2018 and what we can do about it?

Enjoy the podcast, I hope it inspires you to start something as much as it inspired me.

Click here for my podcast with Bobby!

Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Episode 164 – Four Time Tony Nominated Director, Michael Greif

Directing Rent would have been enough to make anyone’s career.

But Michael Greif added Next To Normal (another Pulitzer Prize winner) and Dear Evan Hansen to his resume, along with a host of others, putting him in a league all his own.

And what’s incredibly fascinating to me, and one of the reasons I wanted him on my podcast, is that each of these musicals aren’t exactly your typical Broadway musical . . . they had “alternative” subject matter, and not one of ’em had helicopters or were based on Marvel comics.

But Michael found a way to buck the Broadway trend and deliver smash after smash.  Listen to how he does it, as well as . . .

  • How he started his career by self-producing his own show.
  • What made him decide he wasn’t ready for New York, and why he went to graduate school instead.
  • What changed about Dear Evan Hansen since the first reading, and why (spoiler alert: there was an ensemble)
  • Why a “small” musical can be more powerful than a “big” one.
  • They can’t all be Rent.  What he does when a show doesn’t live up to what he initially hoped.

I first asked Michael to be on the podcast over a year ago.  You’ll soon hear that it was well worth the wait.

Click here for my podcast with Michael!

Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)

Download it here.

 

How many women do THIS on Broadway?

There has been a lot of conversation in the past few years about the disproportionate number of women writers on Broadway, women directors on Broadway, and even strong central female characters on Broadway.

(And a lot of this discussion has happened on my own podcast:  Just listen to Jeanine Tesori, Lynne Meadow and Lynn Ahrens talk about the subject.)

Since like-attracts-like, one of the greatest lessons I got about this subject was from Lynn Ahrens, who said “Ken, you’re a guy . . . whether you know it or not, you may feel naturally inclined to go to another guy, especially if the biggest pool of applicants are men.  So before you make a decision about staffing any position, just take another beat to set aside any habitual instinct and consider anyone and everyone for the job.”

Pretty amazing advice, don’t you think?

This got me to thinking about the like-attracts-like concept.  I’ve written about a similar phenomenon before, in this blog about how to get more stories about people of color on our stages (which involves getting more writers of color opportunities to write those stories).

So back to how to get more women directors, more women writers, etc. represented on Broadway.

I’m not sure I have the answer, but I can tell you for sure what one of the problems is.

I had my research team (led by my Associate Producer Valerie (yes, a female) Novakoff) dig into the trenches of IBDB.com and they came back with this statistic.

In the last 5 years, only 28.46% of all Broadway commercial plays or musicals had female Lead Producers.

Although this is better than the 6.4% of CEOs that are women on the Fortune 500, it’s still tremendously disappointing.

Not only because we need more equality in the folks leading shows, but because if there were more women Lead Producing shows, there would, I’d bet, be more women directors, more women writers and more female stories on Broadway.

Now, that’s the easy part.

The hard part is, as always, what to do with the data once we have it.

Do we offer young Associate Producer scholarships . . . giving qualified applicants the title credit without requiring a money-raise to get them started?

Do we ask high schools around the country to assign a Producer to their high school musicals, and encourage them to chose a young woman?

How do we leverage the accomplishment of that 28.46%?

What are your ideas on how we level the producing field?

 

P.S. Want to learn how to produce a play? Click here for all the tips, tools and training you need.

 

Podcast Episode 146 – Tony Nominated Director, Sheryl Kaller.

In 2010, the beautiful little play entitled Next Fall came out of nowhere, earned a rave from Ben Brantley, signed Elton John as a Producer and opened on Broadway where it was nominated for Best Play.

It was one of those great surprises that happen every few years in the theater.

And one of the best results from Next Fall‘s rise to the top was that people started to take notice of one of the top female Directors we have in our ranks, Ms. Sheryl Kaller.

Sheryl has become known for directing intimate dramas like Next Fall (she helmed Mothers and Sons on Broadway with Tyne Daly, which I co-produced), but can handle anything you throw at her (a stage version of Frozen has been on cruise ships for the last year or so . . . guess who put that sucker up?).

That’s why I was eager to talk to her, and as usual, Sher didn’t disappoint, and told me her story and gave me her perspective on all things including:

  • What Bob Fosse “fought for” in his direction, and how that inspired her.
  • How she never felt like a female Director while she was in school . . . but only when she got into the business, and how that has changed (or not) since then.
  • The day she got scolded by an Actor for being too prepared.  And how that has affected her style since.
  • How she got back into the business after deciding to take time off to raise her family (and how that made her a better and more successful Director).
  • The process of pitching herself for a job . . . what she says to playwrights and Producers in order to earn their trust.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the 146 podcasts we’ve done here is that there is no one way to do anything in the theater.  There is only your way.

Listen to how Sheryl reached her goals and how she’s working her butt off to reach her new ones by clicking below.

Click here for the link to my podcast with Sheryl!

Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

 

 

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