Broadway Talks: What Professionals Think about Commercial Theater in America

By Arvid F. Sponberg | Go to book overview

8
Rocco Landesman, Theater Owner

"It helps [not-for-profit theaters] enormously to have a Broadway hit, not only in terms of the actual money they make in the show, but also in terms of the visibility of the institution nationwide."

Rocco Landesman is the president of Jujamcyn Theaters, which divides the Broadway theater with its competitors, the Shubert Organization and the Nederlander Organization. He was born in St. Louis in 1947 and graduated from high school in Clayton, a St. Louis suburb. He attended Colby College for two years, then transferred to the University of Wisconsin from which he graduated with a B.A. in English and a minor in philosophy. He earned a D.F.A. in dramatic literature and criticism from the Yale School of Drama. He taught at Yale for four years, editing, as well, the journal now called Theater. He is probably the first and only American theatrical producer ever to have a doctorate in drama.

His background, however, includes considerable experience in business and entertainment. In St. Louis, his father and uncle owned a cabaret theater called "Crystal Palace." Nichols and May, Lenny Bruce, the Smothers Brothers, Barbara Streisand, among many, played there while he was growing up, as did the second production in the United States of Waiting for Godot. So it was not entirely a leap into the unknown when he left academia in 1978 to start a mutual fund. That excursion proved successful enough to help him develop a string of race horses. He has found a striking similarity between horses and Broadway shows--the low success ratio. "About 15 percent of the horses earn their keep and the same is true for Broadway shows."

He, his wife, Heidi, and his friends Rick Steiner and Tony Fisher, entered the ranks of producers in 1985 with Big River. Into the Woods soon followed and then Jujamcyn asked him to take the helm.

Much of the interview confirmed that the circumstances of production in 1989 were virtually identical to those in 1984. However, three changes

-89-

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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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