Podcast Episode 138- Kwame Kwei-Armah

 

From singer to songwriter to actor to award-winning playwright to Artistic Director, Kwame Kwei-Armah has done just about everything an artist can do in the theater already.  And, given the accolades already bestowed on him (he’s been produced at the National, and in short order, he’ll assume the reins of the Young Vic in London), he’s done it all at a super high level.

But in my 30-minute podcast with him, I got the feeling that he was just getting started and that there was a helluva lot more he was going to do . . . and that the theater would be better off for it.

Kwame is wrapping up his post as the Artistic Director of Center Stage in Baltimore, where he has had a massive effect on the institution, the staff, and the community . . . but as you’ll hear, as most great leaders do, Kwame focuses on what he learned from his time as one of the few black Artistic Directors in the country, and how it’ll make him a better artist in the future.

Listen in to hear Kwame chat about his experience in Baltimore, his upcoming gig, as well as . . .

  • Why a lack of jobs for him and his actor friends made him pick up a pen and write, even though he had never written a play before.
  • How a mentor helped give him his start . . . and why we ALL need a mentor!
  • Why he doubled down on studying and mastering writing AFTER he had a hit . . . (Most people would sit back and surf on their early success, but not Kwame.)
  • How a political point influences all his writing . . . and then why he hides it.
  • What the @#$% can we ALL do about diversity.

The only thing that really upset me about this podcast . . . is that Kwame is leaving the US to go back to the UK.

We’re going to miss him.

So get him while you can and listen in!

Click above to listen to my podcast with Kwame!

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 137 – Trip Cullman

 

Any Director that gets one show on the NY boards a season is a success.

Last spring, Trip Cullman hit a triple . . . with two shows on Broadway (Six Degrees and Significant Other) and yet another Off Broadway (Yen). . . in one effin’ season!  (The time management of all that makes my head spin.)

You don’t get those kinds of opportunities without talent and trust from your Writers and Producers.

Trip and I talked about how he got to the major leagues as well as  . . .

  • Why the first thing he does when he takes a job is make a mixtape!
  • The super-secret, age-old blocking technique that you’ve got to try.
  • What shocked him about directing on Broadway.
  • Who he likes working with the most when he develops a new work (it’s not who you think).
  • Why he reads reviews but doesn’t read chat boards.

Trip’s got a few more shows coming down the pike this year, including the upcoming Broadway revival of Lobby Hero, among others.

And I have this feeling that last season’s triple play, will soon be followed by a home run.

Click above to listen to my podcast with Trip!

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 136 – Carl Pasbjerg

 

There’s no doubt that the right General Manager can mean the difference between recoupment or not.

Now, no General Manager can take a show that was destined for the wall at Joe Allen and turn the ship around.  But a show that is close to profitability, can be driven to the end zone with the right GM calling the plays.  AND, a show that makes money?  Well, it can make a heck of a lot more money with the right General Manager on the team (and that’s an essential part of producing on Broadway, by the way).  Since “wins” are so rare, it’s essential we get as much out of them as possible, to give back to our investors who probably lost some bucks on our way to finding those winners.

Carl Pasbjerg is one of the best General Manager Quarterbacks around.

You’ll get an inside peek at his Broadway playbook in this podcast when the GM (and Producer of Come From Away) talks about:

  • The difference between managing Broadway shows today versus twenty years ago (and it goes beyond just not having to use a “map”).
  • Accountability . . . why he prides himself on it, and why it’s necessary.
  • The first thing he does when he builds a budget (and you should too).
  • When there’s a big storm brewing, what he has to do.
  • The “new” out-of-town tryouts . . . how to get the most out of them.

None of us got into this business for the “business” of it, but thank goodness we have people like Carl to take care of that business for us.  Because without the right processes, our product would never get to market.

Click above to listen to my podcast with Carl!

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

Download it here.

Want to hear more about the development of Come From Away?  Click here to listen to the podcast with Producers Randy Adams and Sue Frost or click here to listen to the podcast of its Authors, David Hein and Irene Sankoff.

Podcast Episode 135 – Kyle Jarrow

 

Kyle Jarrow is the ultimate interdisciplinary writer.

He has written films that have been screened at Sundance.  He has a new TV show on the CW right now.  And this fall he’ll make his Broadway debut as a bookwriter with SpongeBob The Musical.

Pretty cool, right?

Oh, I forgot to mention . . . he also leads the rock band Sky-Pony with his equally as interdisciplinarily-talented wife, Lauren Worsham.

That’s right, folks, from big brand Broadway entertainment to super-hip indie-pop, Kyle writes it all.

That’s why I was so interested in chatting with him . . . because, well, honestly, it’s one thing to write for different mediums, it’s another to achieve success in each one of those mediums.

I wanted to find out what his secret sauce was.

Listen to hear him share the ingredients to that sauce as well as:

  • How he got the job for SpongeBob (a process different than most musicals).
  • What a bookwriter’s job really is, and how that changes with different collaborators.
  • Why he wrote A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant, and how that got him into some trouble.
  • How an idea informs what medium you should write it for.
  • Just how the heck he keeps all these projects straight . . . and makes them successful!

We’re going to be reading, hearing and listening to a lot of Kyle’s stuff in the future.  So you might as well start with this podcast.

You’ll be saying, “I heard him when . . . ”

Click above to listen to my podcast with Kyle!

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 134 – Pat Cook

 

Pat Cook is the equivalent of a musical theater research scientist.

For 28 years, Pat has been in the BMI laboratory, watching new writers perfect their craft, and helping them discover their potential.

Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, Jeff Marx and Bobby Lopez, and my Once On This Island writers Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens are just a few of the teams that might not be who they are today without the work of BMI.

I don’t think there’s anyone on the planet that has worked with so many musical theater writers, which is why I wanted Pat on my podcast, to share his wisdom on what it takes to make a great musical.

He shared that, and then some, including:

  • How and why he went from actor to writer.
  • What makes a great musical theater writer, versus just a great writer.
  • The most important thing that writers should do when they are writing a musical, and it doesn’t involve writing at all.
  • Can any idea be a musical?
  • The best way to collaborate with your co-writer.

If you’re a musical theater writer, and you’ve ever thought about applying to BMI, you should.  But if you can’t make that commitment or don’t live within commuting distance, then listen to this podcast.  Pat tells you exactly what you need to do to become a better writer on your own.

Listen in!

Click above to listen to my podcast with Pat!

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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Pat will be moderating our Writer’s Panel at our Super Conference!  Come listen to him interview some of the industry’s best and hear his wisdom up close and personal!  Click here.

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