Podcast Episode 170 – Max Grossman

 

Agents get a bad rap.  They’re like lawyers and IRS agents.

But they’re nothing like those folks.

I can’t imagine that an IRS agent gets into this business because he or she loves taxes.

But agents, especially those in the theater, are all here for the same reason you and I are here . . . they love the theater.

Max Grossman, an agent for writers and designers at the powerful but still boutique Abrams Artists Agency, is a perfect example.  He grew up going to the theater, flirted with sports, and came back to the good side of the force.

We haven’t had many agents on this podcast (just this one so far – who happens to represent me!), partly because some of the agents I asked couldn’t get permission from their higher-ups (which says a lot, don’t you think?).

But when I asked Max, he was happy to sit down and talk about what an agent does as well as . . .

  • How he finds new writers.
  • That awkward but important moment when he has to tell a client he doesn’t love something the client wrote.
  • The art of negotiating as an agent.
  • Why some theater writers succeed in transitioning to film & TV and others don’t… and a tip or two for you if this is something YOU want to do.
  • What he’d tell all Broadway Producers if he had them in a room at once.

Enjoy this convo with Max and let it remind you that even when we’re on “different sides” in this business, we’re still on the same team.

Click above for my podcast with Max!

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 169 – 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 above 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.

Episode 168 – Bobby Longbottom

 

 

You might think you know Bobby Longbottom from his Tony-nominated director of 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 without literally missing a beat, because of a “I’ll figure it out” attitude, and by making his own opportunities, including the off-broadway smash Pageant, and even 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, and I hope it inspires you to start something as much as it inspired me.

Click above 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 167 – 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 above 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 – 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 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.

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