Category Archives: Theatre
John Breglio, author of I Wanna Be a Producer: How to Make a Killing on Broadway…or Get Killed, spoke with Kathleen Hays and Pimm Fox hosts of Taking Stock on Bloomberg Radio. Listen to the podcast below as they speak about John Breglio’s life, Patti LuPone, and opening nights!
What does a “producer” actually do? How does one travel from that great idea for a show to a smash hit opening night on Broadway? John Breglio cannot guarantee you a hit, but he does take the reader on a fascinating journey behind-the-scenes to where he himself once stood as a child, dreaming about the theatre.
Part memoir, part handbook, I Wanna Be a Producer is a road map to the hows and wherefores, the dos and don’ts of producing a Broadway play, written by a Broadway veteran with more than 40 years of experience. This comprehensive and highly informative book features practical analysis and concepts for the producer – and is filled with entertaining anecdotes from Breglio’s illustrious career as a leading theatrical lawyer and producer. Breglio recounts not only his first-hand knowledge of the crucial legal and business issues faced by a producer, but also his experiences behind the scenes with literally hundreds of producers, playwrights, composers, and directors, including such theatre luminaries as Michael Bennett, Joe Papp, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Patti Lupone, August Wilson, and Mel Brooks. Whether you are a working or aspiring producer, an investor, or are just curious about the backstage reality of the theater, Breglio shares his knowledge and experience of the industry, conveying practical information set against the real-life stories of those who have devoted their lives to the craft.
The newly released book, I Wanna Be a Producer, written by John Breglio has received a rave review from Center On The Aisle or COTA for short. COTA is all about providing current and future fans of the theater with accessible information about shows, be it on-Broadway, off-Broadway or out of town. Here is what COTA writer Adam Cohen had to say about the book.
So, it’s the mid-1980s and you’re in the balcony of the Shubert Theatre taking in A Chorus Line with your mother, after waiting on the TKTS line in Duffy Square, wondering “how did they do that?” The lights, costumes, and performers in perfect synchronicity entertaining over a thousand people per performance eight times a week. Then the thought strikes, how do you become a producer and make tons of money (a rarity, sadly in theater), go to fabulous parties, and have opening night seats? John Breglio answers much of this in his new book, I Wanna Be A Producer – How to Make a Killing On Broadway… Or Get Killed.
The book is a quasi-memoir of his years serving as an entertainment lawyer with clients like Michael Bennett (director, A Chorus Line and Dreamgirls) and Allan Carr (La Cage Aux Folles). Breglio sprinkles in real-life anecdotes, which detail the creation of these seminal Broadway productions, along with some not so distinctive ones, while also covering the details of how to become a producer. It is literally the book to get if you want to invest or create a first class production. Having served several decades as the lead partner at Paul | Weiss, Breglio clearly knows his stuff. He details every aspect of creating a theatrical production from securing rights, royalties, agreements, sourcing investments, production staff, and even the opening night party.
This is a detailed, specific book that should be the handbook for anyone considering a production career in the theater. He nicely and satisfyingly opens the book with his own experience as a boy seeing Damn Yankees and transitions to the creation of La Cage Aux Folles. The balance between anecdotes serves as a means of providing real practical history to emphasize the importance of each step in becoming a producer.
It leavens the hard truths and multitude of steps necessary to protect each party involved in the creative process – especially the one funding it.
Read the full review HERE.
Next Tuesday, John Breglio shares the dos and don’ts and the hows and wherefores of being a Broadway producer in his news release from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, I Wanna Be a Producer. Breglio’s production credits include the 2006 revival of A Chorus Line and the 2008 prodcution of Dreamgirls at the Apollo Theater and in this interview with Backstage magazine, he shares some of his lessons learned.
John Breglio went from entertainment lawyer to successful Broadway producer. Now he’s sharing advice gleaned from a decades-long career in theater in his new book, “I Wanna Be a Producer: How to Make a Killing on Broadway… or Get Killed.”
Why did you want to write this book?
I decided it might be helpful to put instructions on how to produce a play from the idea to opening night in one place. I also give real, live stories of what I went through with my clients, everything from getting the rights to marketing and advertising to getting the show up and running.
Why make the switch to producer from entertainment lawyer?
I was a shadow producer. I woke up one day and thought, I could do this myself. I’m closely associated with “A Chorus Line.” Michael Bennett was a very good friend of mine. When I was producing the revival, I noticed there was a line where Cassie says, “I’m tired of teaching others what I should be doing myself.” I heard that line and said, “You know what? That’s how I feel.”
Read the rest of the interview at backstage.com!
Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator and star of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton”, was asked by by The New York Times about his favorite books, and we at Applause Books are honored that he included Everything Was Possible, by Ted Chapin. Read the article below to learn more!
The star and creator of the musical “Hamilton” says “Things Fall Apart” was his favorite book to teach at Hunter College High School: “The kids walk out of the classroom as different people.”
What books are currently on your night stand?
“The Wayfinders,” by Wade Davis; “Between Riverside and Crazy,” by Stephen Adly Guirgis; and “Unabrow,” by Una LaMarche.
What’s the last great book you read?
The last great book I read was catching up on “Saga,” the graphic novel series. An incredible world in which to get lost.
Which writers — novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets — working today do you admire most?
Too many to list, really, not that I won’t try: Junot Díaz, Liz Gilbert, Patrick Rothfuss, Wesley Morris, Michael Chabon, Martín Espada, Sarah Kay. . . . I mean, I better quit while I’m ahead.
What genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?
I’m a biography buff. My favorite book growing up was “Chuck Amuck,” by Chuck Jones. I think I bought it as a kid because of the included flip-book: flip the pages, and Wile E. Coyote chases the Road Runner down the margins of the page. But it’s also one of the most beautiful books about the creative process I’ve ever read. Grabbing Chernow’s Hamilton bio rather famously changed my life, but I’ve also gotten lost in the works of Doris Kearns Goodwin, Robert Caro. Agassi’s astounding autobiography and David Foster Wallace’s Federer essay turned me into an avid tennis fan. Once I’ve spent some time in someone else’s life, it’s hard to shake.
What moves you most in a work of literature?
I’m most in awe of novelists, who move sets, lights, scenery, and act out all the parts in your mind for you. My kind of writing requires collaboration with others to truly ignite. But I think of Dickens, or Cervantes, or Márquez, or Morrison, and I can describe to you the worlds they paint and inhabit. To engender empathy and create a world using only words is the closest thing we have to magic.
What are the best books ever written about the theater? Do you have a personal favorite?
“Act One,” by Moss Hart. “Everything Was Possible,” by Ted Chapin. The “Rent” book. Patti LuPone’s autobiography — bring popcorn for that last one. Also, the Maya Angelou autobio that chronicles her touring with “Porgy & Bess” — I haven’t read it since high school, but her evocation of that experience has stayed with me.
Read the rest of the article HERE.
Richard Wesley recently held a book signing and discussion over at The Drama Book Shop in New York, NY. He spoke about his anthology, The Richard Wesley Play Anthology, and what brought him to put it all together. Learn more by watching the video below and let us know your thoughts in the comment section!
The Richard Wesley Play Anthology includes five full-length plays that collectively outline a cultural history of black America in the post-Civil Rights era, from the late 20th century through the first decades of the 21st.
Black Terror looks at the radical politics of the Black Power era; The Sirens, the destabilization of black familial and social life in the early 1970s; The Mighty Gents, the destructiveness of “black macho” in the late 1970s; The Talented Tenth, the midlife crisis and the end of idealism in the black middle class in the early 1980s; and Autumn, the new generational paradigm in black urban politics in the early 21st century.
Each of the plays included in The Richard Wesley Play Anthology was born out of the idea of the public thinker, and what Arthur Miller would refer to as the importance of an individual conscience – as well as the belief that each generation must give back, must inform and inspire the generation that follows. It also features an introduction by the playwright that addresses the emergence, growth and evolution of black consciousness and the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and early 1970s, and serves as a chronicle of Wesley’s artistic evolution as a writer who was both a witness and a foot soldier during those turbulent times.
As Wesley writes in his introduction, “The Stage should be seen as a laboratory where the belief systems, the mores, the myths, the histories and strivings of a people may be presented in full dimension, so that audiences might judge for themselves what is right, what is wrong, what needs to be changed, and what needs to be left alone.
John Breglio, author of the book, I Wanna Be a Producer, was on The Producer’s Perspective podcast! He spoke with Ken Davenport about his career, expertise, and his upcoming book. Click on the link below to hear what they had to say!
What does a producer actually do? How does one travel from that great idea for a show to a smash hit opening night on Broadway? In I Wanna Be a Producer: How to Make a Killing on Broadway…or Get Killed (April 2016, Applause Books, $29.99), John Breglio – a Broadway veteran with more than 40 years experience – shares an exceptional road map for the hows and wherefores, the dos and don’ts of producing a Broadway play. In this highly informative book, Breglio offers practical concepts for the aspiring producer and entertains with great personal anecdotes from his illustrious career as a leading theatrical lawyer and producer.
Breglio recounts not only his first-hand knowledge of the crucial legal and business issues faced by a producer, but also his experiences behind-the-scenes with literally hundreds of producers, playwrights, composers, and directors, including such theatre luminaries as Michael Bennett, Joe Papp, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Patti Lupone, August Wilson, and Mel Brooks.
Says Breglio, “Ultimately, my goal is to give the business of producing the respect it deserves. It is a profession that requires numerous skills, both business and creative. It demands relentless fortitude and optimism, and it should never be assumed casually without recognizing the enormity of the task.”
Working or aspiring producers, investors, directors, actors, designers, teachers — as well as those who are simply curious about the backstage reality of the theater — will relish John Breglio’s sage advice and irresistible storytelling. They’ll also treasure the included DVD of Every Little Step, a documentary of the auditions for the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line.
I Wanna Be a Producer is indispensable reading for theater professionals and fans of all levels – from high school drama clubs to college theater programs, from community theater groups and summer stock to The Great White Way.
Laura Wayth, author of The Shakespeare Audition, spoke with Neva Grant about her book and why Shakespeare isn’t as daunting as it may seem. Click on the link below to hear more and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Classical auditions, and especially Shakespeare auditions, are a fact of any actor’s life. Theater seasons often call for them, and graduate auditions require them, but that doesn’t make them any less terrifying.
The Shakespeare Audition: How to Get Over Your Fear, Find the Right Piece, and Have a Great Audition by Laura Wayth is here to help! Whether for group auditions or graduate school, every actor needs a good classical piece in his or her arsenal. There have been many books written about acting Shakespeare, but until now there hasn’t been a concise, easy-to-access guide to assist the terrified and time-pressed actor in navigating all the aspects of a classical audition.
In 15 concise chapters, Wayth addresses subjects such as distinguishing poetry and prose in Shakespeare; finding the correct play and character; determining your character’s given circumstances; meter, inflection and images; and much more.
From overcoming the fear of acting Shakespeare to selecting the right material to tips on performing a classical piece – The Shakespeare Audition is the actor’s go-to guide to a successful and compelling audition.
We over at Applause Books have partnered with Erie Gay News to give away a copy two of our books. From November 17 to December 8 you have a chance to enter to win Mark Clark’s book, Star Wars FAQ. And starting today you can enter for a chance to win A Chorus Line FAQ by Tom Rowan! The contest for A Chorus Line FAQ ends on Friday, December 11, 2015 so make sure to enter before it’s too late!
The ultimate treasure trove of information, A Chorus Line FAQ presents history and fun facts, including: the unique workshop process through which the show was developed and written, the stories of its creators, the record-breaking Broadway run and numerous touring productions, and the captivating movie version. The book also features all-new chapters on the Broadway revival, the two London productions, and notable regional productions around the country. In addition to a chapter on A Chorus Line cultural history – with a guide to all the pop cultural references in the show – the book includes extensive photos as well as biographical information on the casts of the major productions. There are also chapters on recordings, previous books on the topic, and the landmark show’s influence on subsequent Broadway musicals and films.
In his foreword to Star Wars FAQ Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, Alan Dean Foster, critically acclaimed author of more than a hundred science fiction and fantasy novels, sums up what the Star Wars FAQ is all about: “Reading a book like Star Wars FAQ is a bit like strolling the streets of London without a guidebook. You know where Big Ben is, but stumbling across the first public drinking fountain in Britain is apt, in its own more modest way, to be even more enchanting.”
Star Wars FAQ offers an original analysis of the series’ enduring appeal and cultural impact. In the process, author Mark Clark tells a story as thrilling and action-packed as the movies themselves, with bold characters facing apparently insurmountable odds.
Masterworks Broadway recently reviewed Tom Rowan’s book A Chorus Line FAQ. While this is an FAQ book, Peter Filichia points out that Rowan doesn’t set it up as a simple question and answer book. Instead Rowan “gives a straightforward account of how one of the most beloved of Broadway musicals got started and succeeded.” To celebrate the musical’s 40th anniversary, Filichia soured A Chorus Line FAQ, for 40 fun facts…
In honor of the show’s fortieth anniversary, here are the forty facts from A Chorus Line FAQ that most interested me:
- Baayork Lee, the original Connie, calls A Chorus Line “the first reality show.” (All right, not quite, but I see her point.)
- The real Coco Chanel liked director-choreographer Michael Bennett so much that she “tried to persuade him to give up the theater in favor of the fashion industry.”
- Co-librettist Nicholas Dante’s real last name was Morales – a name that was certainly put to use in the finished product.
- Dante was one of two finalists for the ensemble of Applause; the other was Sammy Williams, who five years later would tell Dante’s story as Paul in A Chorus Line.
- Co-librettist James Kirkwood’s life story is one, as Jack Kruschen sings in I Can Get It for You Wholesale, “that only Turgenev maybe could write.” (How harrowing! I won’t spoil it for you here.)
- Bobby Thomas, a drummer, turned out to be far more important to the show than the average drummer is on a musical. (Once again, I won’t give away the story.)
- “Hamlisch was irritated by Kleban’s smoking.” So should we all have been; it cost the lyricist his life at the much-too-earlyage of forty-eight.
- Many who were involved early on doubted that the show was ever going to amount to anything, but the day that Hamlisch and Kleban performed “At the Ballet” gave them newfound hope.
- For the finale, the original plan was to have Zach, , the martinet director-choreographer, choose a person from the audience who would then be the centerpiece and star of “One.” (This isn’t in the book, but Number Eight started me thinking: How about a benefit performance of A Chorus Line in which our favorite female stars – Chenoweth, Foster, LuPone, McDonald, Menzel, Peters, et al. – take turns in being the star celebrated in “One”? As H.C. Curry says in 110 in the Shade, “I’d like to see that.”)
- There was much discussion on whether to keep to the time-honored two-couple structure of the average musical; you know, Billy and Julie aren’t alone in Carousel, for Carrie and Enoch are there, too. For a while, the Chorus Line creators thought that Zach and Cassie shouldn’t be the only ones with a romantic history, but that Sheila and Don should have previously been lovers, too.
Read the rest of the facts over at Masterworks Broadway!
The author of the book, The Shakespeare Audition, Laura Wayth has explained why some of us find Shakespeare so overwhelming. Is it the old English? The accent? Believe it or not it’s something else entirely. Read below for to find out why Laura Wayth thinks Shakespeare shouldn’t make you scared but excited.
I kind of hate calling him “The Bard,” don’t you? But that’s what people often call Shakespeare. In medieval Gaelic and British culture, a bard was a professional poet employed by a patron (be it a monarch or nobleman) to write. Shakespeare is called The Bard because many people consider him the greatest poet that ever lived. And the idea that Shakespeare is first and foremost a poet is important for us to think about.
You see, the thing that probably makes you afraid of Shakespeare is the very thing that makes Shakespeare easy and fun. Shakespeare is poetry.
Although Shakespeare wrote prose, the majority of his work is in verse, aka poetry. Poetry has a specific shape and structure. Poetry has some rules governing the way it’s created. Once you learn those rules and that structure, Shakespeare begins to make perfect, exquisite sense! The rules that shape the creation of poetry give the actor a kind of roadmap to follow. Learn how to read the map, and the road to Shakespeare-land rolls out before you and your performance springs to life. Once you understand the form, you unlock the key to actor fun and freedom. I’m going to give you an idea of how to do this in a little while.
But first, let’s talk a little more about this dreaded P word—poetry. It sounds so formal, doesn’t it? It seems like something reserved for Valentine’s Day, or something archaic, ancient, and separate from our own experience. It seems fancy and formal and not how we express our truth. The biggest complaint I get from students who are new to Shakespeare when
they speak his words goes something like this: “But I just don’t feel like I’m being honest.” This is the single biggest problem actors have in approaching Shakespeare—they just don’t feel truthful speaking his words. And being truthful, after all, is the thing we actors value the most. To not feel truthful on stage is to feel fake, fraudulent, disconnected, self-conscious, and downright get-me-off-the-stage wrong.
But let’s think of it another way. Poetry isn’t our normal, everyday kind of truth. Poetry is greater than that. It offers an uplifted, larger-scale truth connected to all of humanity and to the divine. It isn’t the way we speak—it’s bigger and more powerful. So let’s think of poetry like an even greater revelation of our thoughts and of ourselves. Let’s think of it like music.
A song or a piece of instrumental music can take us to a place that is emotionally poignant and full of energy, encapsulating human experience even better than ordinary speech could. Music contains images. It is dense with a kind of information that we can understand not only on an intellectual level, but viscerally. Music can communicate what speech alone cannot. A violin can sing what someone’s heart is feeling. A driving rhythm can capture all that is raw and primitive in our individual or collective experience. A soaring line can lift us up. A minor key can bring us to a down and dark place. Poetry does this. And poetry does this because poetry is a kind of music.