Ira Weitzman is a musical midwife.
He has helped some of our industry’s most celebrated authors give birth to musicals like Falsettos, Sunday in the Park with You Know Who, Once on This Island, Parade and many, many more over his 30-year career.
If you’re an author, and you had a chance to choose between winning the lottery and having Ira guide the development of your show . . . I’d tell you to go with Ira. You could always win the lottery some other time.
Take it away, Ira!
1. What is your title?
Musical Theater Associate Producer at Lincoln Center Theater.
2. What show/shows are you currently working on?
I just finished a long cycle of development and production that began in 2005 with The Light in the Piazza in the Vivian Beaumont Theater and just ended with A Minister’s Wife in the Mitzi Newhouse Theater. In between those shows were six other musicals including our Tony Award winning production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific in the Beaumont and Clay which opened our new theater, LCT3. Now it all begins again with a new cycle. I am too superstitious to talk about shows at such an early stage.
3. In one sentence, describe your job.
As an artistic producer of (mostly) new musicals, I am involved in almost every aspect of bringing them to fruition in collaboration with Artistic Director, Andre Bishop.
4. What skills are necessary for a person in your position?
Taste and an eye for talent, working knowledge of musical theater both historical and current, good communication skills, good judgment and a desire to collaborate. Though it isn’t really a skill, I would also add that having a real passion for this work helps, particularly when the going gets tough.
5. What kind of training did you go through to get you your position?
I didn’t go to college so everything I learned was from experience. I created my job, so in a sense my whole life is training for my work.
6. What was your first job in the theater?
I was Bob Moss’ assistant at Playwrights Horizons in 1977 during his last season as Artistic Director there.
7. Why do you think theater is important?
I believe in the communal power of live performance. Musicals are especially powerful.
When everything comes together, a musical can be entertaining, provocative, enlightening and enriching for both the audience and the performers.
8. What is your profession’s greatest challenge today?
The challenge of finding a musical that we can be excited about working on. It has not changed or gotten easier through the years. On the more practical side there are always financial challenges since musicals are not cheap to produce.
9. If you could change just one thing about the industry with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be?
I would make theater affordable for those who want to produce it and those who want to see it.
10. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do what you do?
To love what you are doing and to not be afraid of taking risks.
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– 65 Days to Godspell! Read the day-by-day account of producing Godspell on Broadway here.
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