Podcast Episode 146 – 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.

Click above to listen 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.

Podcast Episode 145 – Jonathan Lomma

 

There was a time when I thought about being an agent.  I interviewed with the big three-lettered agencies and was even offered a couple of gigs.  But I didn’t take them.

Because I didn’t have the stamina to sit behind one of those desks for 5+ years before I could agent myself.

You know who did have that stamina and guts?  Today’s guest, Mr. Jonathan Lomma.

Jonathan heard about agenting early on, and whether he knew it or not, he put himself on a path, which he fulfilled, of representing legends like Terrence McNally, Arthur Laurents, and Edward Albee.

We talked about what it was like working with such major writers like the triple-play above, as well as:

  • What made him go to law school even though he was a child actor.
  • Jonathan’s theory of how musicals changed after 2001.
  • How an emerging writer gets on his radar.
  • His favorite quote about working closely with people on the “other side” of the table.
  • And more.

Within five seconds of meeting Jonathan, you just know that he found his calling.  Being an agent is exactly what he is supposed to do.

And after five seconds of listening to this podcast, you’ll realize that Jonathan isn’t just an agent for his clients.  He’s an agent for the theater.  And we’re lucky to have him as an advocate.

Enjoy!

Click above to listen to my podcast with Jonathan!

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 144 – Pam MacKinnon

 

Here’s a statistical truth bomb for you: women direct only about 17% of the shows on Broadway.

How do I know that?  Pam MacKinnon has been keeping track.

Pam is already one of the few female A-list directors that make up that unbalanced percentage, having directed as many shows on Broadway as any woman out there (only Stroman has her beat).  But that doesn’t mean she’s not determined to help others get to where she is today.

During our podcast, we talked about what we can all do to even the playing stage, as well as . . .

  • How she went from pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science to a career in directing.
  • Why a Director often has to act like a Producer (hear the story of how she had to negotiate Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf into existence).
  • Why Broadway shows not slated for Broadway that end up there have an advantage.
  • How she developed her own style, which is different than everyone else’s and why yours should be different too.
  • Her method for approaching classic material and making it her own.

Pam MacKinnon was one of the few Directors that the esteemed Edward Albee trusted to direct his work (he wouldn’t let Steppenwolf do any of his plays until Pam took the reins of one).  It’s pretty easy to hear why he handed her his treasures when you listen to this podcast.

Enjoy.

Click above to listen to my podcast with Pam!

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 143 – Catherine Zuber

 

If there was a ranking of what I know about each element of the theater, costume design would come in last.

I lasted about 4 hours in my costume shop rotation during my internship at Maine State Music Theatre (I spent those 4 hours trying to thread one needle and then they let me go work on a computer), and my wife will tell you how I spend minutes staring at the stuff in my closet trying to figure out what goes with what.

That’s why I was so excited to talk to one of the best Costume Designers on Broadway on the planet.  Catherine has six Tony Awards on her mantle for shows like Coast of Utopia, South Pacific, Light in the Piazza and more.  (By the way, when your list of shows you won Tonys for is longer than most people’s entire resume, you are doing pretty well.)

During our Saturday morning chat, Catherine and I did NOT talk about threading needles, but we did talk about:

  • How she was terrible at sewing when she started . . . and that did NOT impact her ability to design.
  • Why her favorite costumes aren’t the most beautiful.
  • Technology’s impact on costume design . . . for better, but also for worse!
  • Why costumes for the theater are so much different than costumes for film.
  • How 21st-century playwrights are changing how designers must create clothes.

Listen in to Ms. Zuber school me on costume design, and I promise, no matter where costume design ranks on your list of “Theater Things You Know,” it’ll go up after this thirty-five minute Tony winner’s master class.

Click here for the link to my podcast with Catherine!

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 142 – Jerry Zaks

 

When Jerry walked into my office to record his podcast at 9 AM last Tuesday, the smile on his face was so bright, you’d think he was a rookie director who had his first big hit.

In fact, Jerry has had fistfuls of hits over the years . . . including three on the boards right now:  Hello, Dolly!, Meteor Shower, and A Bronx Tale.  That’s right, three!  And two of them are in the million dollar club, and one in the multi-million dollar club!

But that smile he came dressed with wasn’t just about the $3mm grosses that Dolly was bringing in . . . (although that had to have something to do with it).  No, no . . . that was the smile from a man who just loves, loves, LOVES what he does for a living.

And so began one of my favorite podcasts to date.

My first Jerry Zaks experience was the 90s revival of Guys and Dolls, which shot Nathan Lane and Faith Prince into the stratosphere.  And let me tell you, I still remember some of the bits from that show, and they still make me laugh twenty-odd years later.

And he’s directed oodles since (and doctored some more – which we talk about).  He’s the go-to guy if you’ve got a musical that’s supposed to make people laugh. And we talked about what it takes to make people slap their knees, as well as . . .

  • How he agreed to direct a show even though he didn’t know what directing really was.
  • The best advice he ever got, which made him change his attitude overnight.
  • Why his rehearsal rooms are CLOSED to everyone but the actors.
  • How (and why) Guys and Dolls wasn’t working and what he and his choreographer did to fix it.
  • What a show has to do within its first ten minutes, or it’s sunk.

Here’s a little secret about Jerry that isn’t such a secret.  He loves a cigar.  And when he’s working on a show, you’ll see him outside the theater a lot, because that’s the only place he can smoke.

So the next time Jerry’s name is on a marquis, walk by the theater during the tech period . . . I bet you see him at some point.  And I bet he’ll be smokin’ a cigar . . . and smiling like a kid in a . . . well . . . a Broadway theater.

Click above to listen to my podcast with Jerry!

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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