Podcast Episode 156 – David Lindsay-Abaire

 

David Lindsay-Abaire wrote about a half-dozen plays before he ever considered himself a playwright.

Now, he’s got a big ol’ Pulitzer Prize to remind him of what he is and always will be, in case he ever forgets.

David told me the story of how he went from a guy in high school whose friends made him write a play, to a playwrighting student at Julliard, to the author of that Pulitzer Prize-winning play Rabbit Hole, Shrek, and more on this week’s podcast, and it’s a page-turner.

We also chatted about:

  • How his first play was a rip-off . . . and why.
  • What he looks for when he reads plays from prospective Julliard students, and how he usually knows in 3 minutes whether a writer has got “it” or not.
  • Why early readers of his work didn’t respond to Rabbit Hole and why.
  • How he uses “office hours” to meet his many deadlines.
  • His writing group that has existed for over a decade, and how it has helped him succeed.

It won’t take you very long into this podcast to realize why The Julliard School, which graduated him a few years ago, asked him to run the program.  David isn’t only a skilled writer . . . he is one of the few artists out there who can teach the craft, as well as the business of the craft . . . and he does a lot of that on this very podcast.

So tune in!

Listen above to my podcast with David!

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 155 – Nelle Nugent

 

Nelle Nugent is one of Broadway’s most prolific play Producers, and she started out as a Production Assistant.

She worked her way to the top at a time when women weren’t supposed to be anywhere near the top, and she’s got the stories to prove it.

But more than 50 shows later, she’s also got the successes to prove why she is one of our industry’s best.

I was lucky enough to get to sit down with Nelle to talk to her about some of her biggest hits (Dracula, The Gin Game, ‘Night Mother, The Dresser) and how Broadway has changed since her days as a PA, as well as . . .

  • What can make a great play fail.
  • How raising money for Broadway has changed over the last fifty years.
  • What she did to overcome the resistance she got for being a female Producer.
  • The chance encounter that led her to produce Dracula and WHY it became a hit (Hint: it didn’t have anything to do with what was on the page.).
  • When reviews matter and when they do NOT.

What we often forget is that Broadway is not that old of an industry, and people like Nelle helped lay the foundation for the work we’re all doing now.  We not only owe Producers like her a debt of gratitude, but if we listen closely to how they got where they are today, we might just learn how to get to where we want to be tomorrow.

Enjoy Nelle!

Click above to listen.

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 154 – Lisa Kron

 

When Tony Award Winner Lisa Kron was a theater major in college, she was told she wouldn’t succeed . . . because she wasn’t “thin, pretty, or straight enough.”

Thankfully, Lisa didn’t let that stop her, and she went on to write and star in (!) Well, and write the Tony Award-winning lyrics and book to Fun Home on Broadway, one of the most unexpected hits Broadway has seen . . . ever.

Her passion and determination helped prove to this business and the world, that being unique conquers the status quo, every effin’ time.

Lisa and I talked about her entrepreneurial and unexpected journey in the theater including . . .

  • Her #1 rule to success:  if a door opened, and she was scared, she forced herself to step through it. (Words to live by.)
  • Why her early writing horrified her.  And how she got better.
  • How performing stand-up helped hone her stage writing.
  • Being mistaken for a seat-filler at the Tony Awards . . . the year she was nominated!
  • Who young writers should be trying to connect to in order to have a successful career (hint: it’s NOT who you think).
  • Why trying to increase diversity in terms of gender and race is like looking for your keys. (This is such a brilliant analogy – only a Tony Award-winning writer could come up with it, so make sure you listen.)
Lisa’s success story is the stuff that musicals are made of . . . an underdog is kept down by society, so she finds her own path, and proves them all wrong.

Aren’t we all so lucky that she persevered, so she can make more musicals!

Click above to listen to my podcast with Lisa!

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 153 – Warren Leight

 

My wife and I spend a lot of time with Warren Leight.

You probably do too . . .

Because we, like you (admit it), watch a lot of Law & Order SVU and Warren was a writer and showrunner for years.

Before that, though he was a finalist for the big P for his fantastic play, Side Man.  

Warren is one of the few playwrights that can go so easily from stage to screen . . . and that’s all about how he started writing in the first place.  See he started because he wanted to be a sports writer, and then . . . wait . . . I’m giving it away.  Just listen to the podcast and hear Warren talk about:

  • How a lie about loving horror movies led to him writing one . . . and why you might want to fib a little too.
  • Why he binge writes.
  • The importance of joining a Writer’s Group and how it helped him.
  • Why the deadlines of TV help make him a better writer . . . and how you can use deadlines to accomplish your goals, whether you have a TV network demanding a script or not.
  • How he wrote Side Man without realizing he was writing it . . . and what it was like after he won The Tony (and it’s not what you think).

Warren’s path to success is such a lesson in the grind, creativity and flexibility it takes to be successful in this business and in any business, and this podcast could give you a map for your own.

Click above to listen to my podcast with Warren!

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 151 – Michael Korie

 

Last week I wrote about how so many fantastic musical theatre writers come from the advertising world, and one of the primary reasons why I postulated that they do was because they learned how to write for an audience, instead of just writing for themselves.

Well, advertising ain’t the only training ground for writing for an audience.  You know what another one is?

Journalism.

And guess what this week’s podcast guest did before he started writing lyrics for operas and getting nominated for Tony Awards for his Broadway show?

Michael Korie, the lyricist of Grey Gardens, War Paint, and more, talked about the similarities between writing for the theatre and for the papers, as well as . . .

  • Why he does so much research for his shows and why you should too.
  • The biggest mistake beginning songwriters make . . . and it’s an easy one to fix.
  • Why he never speaks his lyrics out loud when working with a composer on a song.
  • Rhyme . . . and the purpose of it, and how to use it for the greatest impact.
  • A secret method to making sure a song that you love stays in your show.

Michael is an artisan of words, and the only thing this podcast left me wanting . . . was more musicals with his name on them.

Click above to listen to my podcast with Michael!

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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