Broadway Talks: What Professionals Think about Commercial Theater in America

By Arvid F. Sponberg | Go to book overview

1
Richard Horner, Producer

". . . there's always more than one way you can do something. It may be an honest artistic difference. [The playwright] may say, 'I'd like my play done on a bare stage with nothing but lights.' And the producer may say, 'But I see it with a house up there designed literally so that we can hear the doors slam.' That's an honest difference of opinion that affects the budget. It may not be just a money decision."

In this interview, Richard Horner shows how the domains of the producer and playwright have been defined by custom and careful negotiations. Yet, as the quotation implies, it is not always easy to determine where art ends and business begins. Horner discusses frankly the conditions which have reduced the control of the producer over the quality of theatrical presentations. Finally, he reveals why, after a lifetime in the theater, he has turned to producing programs for video and cable.

Richard Horner is a native of Oregon and the son of a professor of botany. He earned his B.A. in drama at the University of Washington during the time of Glenn Hughes, an innovator in theater education. More influential than Hughes, however, was another professor, John Coleman, with whom Horner spent many Saturdays talking about theater and opera while building scenery and listening to the Texaco broadcasts of the Met. His academic training deepened his knowledge of theater history but somewhat misled him about theatrical reality. He came to New York in 1946, aspiring to be "something that didn't exist any more," an actor-manager like Edwin Booth or Walter Hampden. Instead, he became a stage manager for Katharine Cornell and the Lunts. Subsequently he became a company manager and then a general manager. While a manager, he broke into producing by purchasing the touring rights to Mame and Damn Yankees.

Q: Who was particularly good at the nuts and bolts of management, which academic preparation couldn't give you?

-3-

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Broadway Talks: What Professionals Think about Commercial Theater in America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xv
  • Notes xxx
  • PRODUCING 1
  • 1 - Richard Horner, Producer 3
  • 2 - Bernard Jacobs, Theater Owner 17
  • 3 - Gerald Schoenfeld, Theater Owner 27
  • 4 - Emanuel Azenberg, Producer 35
  • 5 - Paul Libin, Producer 51
  • 6 - Nelle Nugent, Producer 63
  • 7 - Gary Gunas, Associate General Manager 73
  • 8 - Rocco Landesman, Theater Owner 89
  • DESIGNING 95
  • 9 - Charles Strouse, Composer 97
  • 10 - Patricia Zipprodt, Costume Designer 105
  • 11 - David Jenkins, Scene Designer 115
  • 12 - Stephen Schwartz, Director/Lyricist 125
  • LABOR AND MANAGEMENT 133
  • 13 - Willard Swire, Representing Actors 135
  • 14 - Harvey Sabinson, Representing Theater Owners and Producers 139
  • 15 - John Glasel, Representing Musicians 147
  • 16 - Harriet Slaughter, Representing Theater Owners and Producers 157
  • 17 - Robert Mcdonald, Representing Stagehands 163
  • WRITING 173
  • 18 - Joseph Stein, Playwright 175
  • 19 - A.R. Gurney, Jr., Playwright 185
  • 20 - David Henry Hwang, Playwright 199
  • Bibliography 209
  • Index 215
  • About the Author 225
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