Podcast Episode 167 – Theatrical Jack-Of-All Trades, Jack Viertel

It was the worst of timing. And the best of timing.

Jack and I were supposed to sit down in person last Friday to record his podcast about his incredibly diverse career as a Producer, Theater Critic, Artistic Director of Encores, Creative Consultant, VP for a Theater Owner and more . . . and then a snowstorm hit.

But, the podcast must go one, so we did it over the phone instead (so if you notice a bit of a sound differential from our previous podcasts, now you’ll know why).

On the flip side, the snow day was the same day the reviews for The Prom came out, a show based on Jack’s original concept (no underlying source material here!) and bammo, they were terrific.

So, of course, we talked about that, and his thoughts on original musicals, as well as . . .

  • How working as a critic made him a better Producer.
  • What every single musical absolutely needs in order to work . . . and his example of a show that gets away without it.
  • The role of the theater owner – how it has changed over the years.
  • What former NEA Chair and Jujamcyn Theater President Rocco Landesman said to him after a flop that he still takes with him to this day.
  • What made him want to give it all up years ago . . . and how he got through that.

Jack is an encyclopedia of theatrical knowledge, but as his career has proven . . . he’s not just book smart. He puts his words into action and makes it happen.

After you listen in, make sure you pick up his book, The Secret Life of the American Musical (a great holiday gift) to read more.

Click here for my podcast with Jack!

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 166 – Broadway Musical Director, Conductor and Musical Muse, Kristen Blodgette

Listen to about 15 seconds of this podcast, and you’ll hear a joy in Kristen Blodgette’s voice that tells you she’s doing exactly what she was meant to do.

Her love of music and interpreting music for composers, musicians and actors is so obvious, you can see why she got her first MD job having never MD’ed before (true story). And to watch her conduct a show is like watching LeBron James play basketball or Tiger Woods play golf. It’s a show unto itself.

It’s easy to understand why the world’s (!) best, including Andrew Lloyd Webber and Josh Groban want Kristen in their musical corner.

Kristen is the first MD we’ve had on the podcast, so I took this opportunity to learn more about the gig and her rise to the top, including . . .

  • Her definition of what a Musical Director does.
  • How she cold-called the Conductor of A Chorus Line at the theater, during the show, to try to get a meeting (and how it’s a shame that courage comes so easily when we’re young).
  • The craft of turning non-singers into singers.
  • What she thinks about the shrinking Broadway orchestras, including how Phantom has changed since it began.
  • Why she doesn’t write . . . and how that lack-of-desire has made her an even better MD.

Kristen could have been a classical pianist, and while she downplays how good she was as a player in this podcast, something tells me she could be quite the name in that world right now.

We’re so lucky she came into ours instead.

Click here for my podcast with Kristen!

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 165 – Award Winning Writer, Kirsten Childs

If you get a chance, spend some time with Kirsten Childs.

She’s got the kind of energy and passion for the theater (and for life) that is just contagious, as you’ll hear in this podcast.

Kirsten burst onto the scene with the terrific musical, The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, and when you listen to this episode you’ll hear how she went from zero to sixty in about 3.8 seconds with her playwriting career, all because of her determination, lack of fear, and that positive attitude of hers.

We also talked about:

  • How she transitioned from a career as an actress to that of a writer.
  • Getting nervous while watching her own work in front of an audience.
  • How are we doing with diversity in the theater . . . and what can we do to improve it, on the stage and off?
  • The most common misstep she sees young writers make.
  • Where she gets her ideas, and why (a lesson for all of us).

Enjoy my conversation with Kirsten, and if you’ve been toying with the idea of writing a play . . . I’d bet she gets you starting to type right when you’ve finished listening.

Click here for my podcast with Kirsten!

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.

 

Episode 163 – Award Winning Playwright, Daniel Goldfarb

I met Daniel Goldfarb back in 1997 when I company managed a workshop of Parade. Daniel was Alfred Uhry’s (who wrote the book) assistant, and I remember people saying . . . “That kid that is booking Alfred’s travel and getting his lunch? He’s going to be a major playwright someday.”

That someday is now, as Daniel’s plays have been produced at every major regional theater in the country, from Williamstown to MTC (more than once) to Playwrights and beyond. I mean, most young playwrights would kill for a show at just ONE of those theaters! He attended both NYU and Julliard and now is on the faculty at NYU.

We had a great time together on this podcast, reminiscing about our days on Parade and also talking about . . .

  • NYU or Julliard . . . which program did he like better?  🙂
  • Why he writes at coffee shops.
  • How he was discovered and how he dealt with the first show not getting all the way to Broadway.
  • Critics . . . why they are important, and what he wishes for theatrical criticism in the future.
  • How he markets himself, and why it’s challenging.

Daniel has already made quite an impact on the NY theater scene and beyond. But just like someone whispered his potential to me years ago, let me be the one to tell you, his success so far is only the beginning.

Enjoy the podcast!

Click here for my podcast with Daniel!

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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