Broadway Talks: What Professionals Think about Commercial Theater in America

By Arvid F. Sponberg | Go to book overview

5
Paul Libin, Producer

"You gather money from people . . . who love you enough to forgive you the madness you're undertaking."

Technically, Paul Libin is not a Broadway producer. He is the managing director of Circle in the Square, a not-for-profit theater located just off-Broadway on Fifty-second Street. Together with the Circle's artistic director, Ted Mann, he has been producing professional theater since the early fifties. He is a native of Chicago and received his earliest training in the school and park theaters of that city. While serving in the army, he founded the Fort Hood ( Texas) Players, an amateur theater which still thrives. Time and again, people in the commercial theater referred me to him as one of the most knowledgeable producers and managers in New York.

As Libin describes some early experiences, he not only provides a glimpse of the theater thirty-five and forty years ago, but he also shows how art, management, and commerce braid together along Broadway. Libin especially reveres the creativity of theater artists. Nevertheless, he demonstrates in detail the kind of control that can be exercised by a producer who earns a living in the theater.

Though we can see Libin as a pioneer of not-for-profit theater, the appeal of repertory theater has always eluded him. Nor is he optimistic about the ability of American playwrights to keep audiences interested. His reason, though, is somewhat surprising: Television has made audiences more sophisticated regarding images and words.

Q: When did a career in the theater become a serious idea for you?

Libin: In 1949. . . . It really was that fateful performance I saw of Death of a Salesman with Thomas Mitchell playing Willy Loman. It really triggered the whole consideration of the theater. I remember I went on a double date with a high school chum of mine and his girl friend. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the play. And as we're walking out of the

-51-

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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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