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Award-winning multi-hypenate Robert Schneider talks about his career as a producer and educator, his love for bringing obscure musicals back on stage, as well as a serendipitous occasion at 54 Below which launched a big project. Director of Marketing Nella Vera hosts... Read More

39 mins
Feb 28



Award-winning multi-hypenate Robert Schneider talks about his career as a producer and educator, his love for bringing obscure musicals back on stage, as well as a serendipitous occasion at 54 Below which launched a big project. Director of Marketing Nella Vera hosts.

For more info about Robert's upcoming show, visit 54Below.org/artists/robert-schneider/

The 54 Below Podcast is hosted by Nella Vera and Macon Prickett, and produced by Michael Allan Galvez with support from the 54 Below marketing staff.

Original artwork design by Philip Romano.

Follow Nella on Twitter and Instagram at @spinstripes


[00:00:00] Nella: Welcome to the 54 Below podcast. I'm Nella Vera, the club's director of marketing. Our very special guest today is Robert Schneider, an award winning director, producer, author, educator, and podcast host residing in New York City, where he is the artistic director of the J2 Spotlight Musical Theater Company.

[00:00:20] Nella: As a stage director, Rob has directed over 200 plays. Musicals, readings, and workshops, and has collaborated with such theatrical institutions as Second Stage Theater, Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic, Walnut Street Theater, Center Theater Group, MTC, and the York Theater. He is also an original programming producer right here at 54 Below.

[00:00:43] Nella: Where he's directed or produced over a hundred concerts and was nominated by Broadway world as best cabaret director of the decade on March 5th, he brings us part six of Broadway bound the musicals that never came to Broadway. Rob, welcome to the [00:01:00] podcast.

[00:01:01] Rob: It is so nice to be talking to you and not sending you 20 emails being like, please help me.

[00:01:05] Rob: So this is. This is so nice to see you. How are you doing?

[00:01:09] Nella: I'm doing great,


[00:01:10] Nella: So Rob, you are a long time producer here at 54 below. We are so happy to say can you tell us how your association with 54 below began?

[00:01:21] Rob: Yeah, I'm first of all, it's like the greatest thing that I've ever done in my life is being a part of 54 Below and the family.

[00:01:27] Rob: So I'm very honored. I got started with Jen Tepper who was like, we're looking for a programming producer. Does this interest you? And I was like, I don't, I've never really produced anything before. She said, well, let's do a trial run. We have a Valentine's day show coming up. Do you have an idea for Valentine's day?

[00:01:43] Rob: And I said, yeah, I said, I would love to do the musical. I do, I do, which is about, yeah. You know, it's usually two people talking about a relationship and I said, but what if we cast like a whole bunch of different people, people that have been couples on stage, people that are real life couples and we'll have them do the whole evening for us.

[00:01:59] Rob: [00:02:00] And we did it and knock wood, it was very successful. And that was now almost 150 shows ago. And in fact we're recording on the 16th of February. And so February 14th was my anniversary. Of working with y'all since 2016. Yeah. Oh my gosh. That's it. I was like, this is so much fun. I get to work with my heroes.

[00:02:19] Rob: Do you know what I mean? And get paid for it. Not many people can say that

[00:02:23] Nella: incredible. How has a 54 below changed over these past few years?

[00:02:28] Rob: Oh my gosh. It's gone from this really wonderful idea to like a landmark. 15 years? I'm a teacher as well. And so like the fact that I have so many kids or students, and I'll be like, how did you get into this?

[00:02:42] Rob: And they were like, Oh, I watched 54 below videos. And that inspired me. Like it went from this thing that New Yorkers got to appreciate to this global phenomenon, that's now a doorway to so many people that are going to be the next Steven Sondheim and the next Audra McDonald. And I think that's really cool.

[00:02:58] Rob: So watching that has just been an incredible [00:03:00] experience.

[00:03:00] Rob: Well,

[00:03:01] Nella: as part of the marketing department, it's so gratifying to hear that people are watching our content. And I do, I hear from a lot of people that they've been watching our YouTube channel for so long and they finally made it to the club and it's so amazing.

[00:03:16] Nella: It's so rewarding because, you know, as a marketing person, you watch ticket sales and that's usually how you know that your marketing is working. But when people actually engage with your content that our amazing team works so hard on.

[00:03:28] Rob: Oh yeah. I think you would be hard pressed now Nella to find a student that's like studying musical theater at a college or conservatory that will not say that 54 Below was a part of the foundation of them wanting to enter this business.

[00:03:41] Rob: and to me that's like the coolest thing.

[00:03:42] Nella: Oh, that's so great. Is that when you started producing was with? Yeah. Had you been doing other type of producing before

[00:03:50] Rob: then? Not at all. I, yeah, Jen, God bless her was like, let's give this a try. And I was like, I don't know what the heck to do.

[00:03:57] Rob: Like, I don't, I don't know how all this starts. And I knew nothing [00:04:00] about the cabaret world in New York. I knew nothing. So I was literally flying by the seat of my pants.

[00:04:05] Nella: Yeah. My goodness. Well, what an amazing job you've done. Oh, You know, everything from casting. I mean, I think people out there listening don't understand that our producers for our concerts do everything.

[00:04:16] Nella: They cast, they file union paperwork, they Get music, you know, they put people together. Then they deal with the marketing department who reaches out every single week going, are you marketing?

[00:04:28] Rob: Oh, it's amazing. It's amazing. It's amazing. and the marketing team at 54 is just absolutely phenomenal and so helpful.

[00:04:37] Rob: To this stuff, especially for some of the stuff that I do, because some of the stuff that I do is so like obscure that, you really need a great marketing team to help get that out there. And your department does that so beautifully. Really? Well,

[00:04:49] Nella: speaking of obscure you and Jennifer Tepper are very kindred spirits in that way that you both love these obscure [00:05:00] cult musicals.

[00:05:02] Nella: This passion of yours come about.

[00:05:05] Rob: I grew up in Los Angeles. So like, I didn't have access to Broadway. And so what I would do is just like any book I could find that was like about musical theater, I'd read any recording I could find, I would listen to it. And so I found myself getting intrigued by the fact that there were some shows that I was hearing about, but I couldn't find like the Baker's wife, like Stephen Schwartz is the Baker's wife.

[00:05:26] Rob: And I kept reading about it. And I'm like, but what is this thing? So I kind of liked that detective work of being like, how do I find. this. And that I think sort of just fueled the passion for me of like, I love obviously shows that everybody else loves, but I kind of find myself gravitating towards like the detective work of what is this show and how do I get my hands on it?

[00:05:46] Rob: And so that's sort of where like that passion came from. And also like, just because a show wasn't on Broadway doesn't mean that it's not a good show. You know, nobody sets out to write a bad show. So a lot of these musicals have so many amazing songs in them. That I just would love to [00:06:00] introduce people to them and just say, these are really great things and they should be up there with like the songs from Hamilton and they should be up there with the songs from guys and vowels because they're just as good.

[00:06:09] Rob: And I think that's

[00:06:10] Nella: important. Some of them are, you know, you have to hear about them and then, or people sing them like yes. A metal lark that just

[00:06:17] Rob: metal lark. Yes. Yes. And

[00:06:21] Nella: everybody sings it. You've never seen a full production.

[00:06:25] Rob: No, exactly. And so then like, and at my theater company, J2, like we did do Baker's Wife and people were like, Oh, that's what that song is.

[00:06:33] Rob: Like, that's what that song is about. And I think that's important. And it's like, for the stuff that we do at 54, like we can't do the whole show, but like, you've heard about a show like the Mambo Kings, now you get to actually hear a song from it. So I don't know. I think that's pretty special and I don't know anybody else that's really doing it, but I think it's important to preserve that history.

[00:06:51] Rob: I really do.

[00:06:52] Nella: Yeah, you said you were living in L. A. Like did. You grew up in a musical family. L. A. Is not a place for theater people.

[00:06:59] Rob: No, [00:07:00] no, it's actually kind of interesting. We grew up in, I was born in Brooklyn and we moved to L. A. When I was pretty young. But when I was living in Brooklyn, my mom and dad every weekend took me to go see a broadway musical.

[00:07:11] Rob: That was just sort of their thing. So for me, it's like always been a part of me. Then we moved to LA, but that bug never went away. Like I did some film and TV, but I didn't find it as interesting as musical theater. And so it's always been a part of me. It's always been a part of me and I love it. I love it.

[00:07:26] Rob: And I think Mel Brooks was like, he says, a good musical blows the dust off your soul. And I really feel that I really do feel. Yeah, love that.

[00:07:37] Nella: Yeah, I, was more of a play girl because I'm musical talent. So working at 54 is what got me. Into musicals because I had never really, you know, I didn't listen to cast albums.

[00:07:49] Nella: I read Shakespeare. And so I wasn't until so late in my career coming to work here where I'm watching show after show going, Oh my God, that song [00:08:00] song, your soul just responds, you know, the emotion, everything about it. And so now I'm, a lot more. into musicals and, love discovering new ones.

[00:08:12] Nella: But when I started, I wasn't that person. I love that. But it's been great, you know, seeing a lot of these different shows with, the cast reunions or the shows that you do. You know, Jennifer's projects also, just sort of discovering what everybody else knew. What's

[00:08:32] Rob: your favorite Shakespeare play?

[00:08:34] Nella: Oh, gosh, it's Hamlet.

[00:08:36] Rob: Oh, yes. Oh, my gosh. Yeah. I have flown

[00:08:39] Nella: places and driven to see it so many times. I drove to New Haven to see Paul Giamatti play Hamlet. A very bizarre production, but still, you know.

[00:08:52] Rob: You got to see Hamlet. How great is that? Yeah, exactly. Oh,

[00:08:55] Nella: I'm jealous. Hilarious. Hilarious. So you founded [00:09:00] the J2 Spotlight Musical Theater Company in 2020 with a mission to, , allow audiences to revisit unappreciated musicals or experiencing them for the first time.

[00:09:10] Nella: What made you decide there was a place for this theater company in New York City where there are literally 400 theater companies?

[00:09:17] Rob: Do you want to know something, Nella? It's because of 54 Below. if I did not work at 54 Below, I would not have this theater company right now. We did 50th anniversary concert of a Kander and Em musical called The Happy Time.

[00:09:30] Rob: And we did it and it was really successful. And I got an email from this guy named Jim Jamiro, like, out of the clear blue. And Jim was like, I saw your happy time musical. I thought it was really good. Can we get lunch together? And I was like, sure. And so he and I sat down for lunch and he loves older musicals and I love older musicals.

[00:09:47] Rob: And he goes, he said at 54, he's like, how come you don't do the whole show? Like, why didn't you do, like, the script and stuff? And I said, well, you know, there's a time constraint, and we really can't do that, and he goes, is there any place in New York that does that? And I said, not shows like The [00:10:00] Happy Time.

[00:10:00] Rob: Like, there's encores, but I'm like, there's that. And he's like, how much would that cost to do? And I gave him a number, and he's like, okay, great, let's make this happen. And I said, are you, you know, are you sure? And he's like, yeah. And so I was like, yes, I know, I'm being dead serious.

[00:10:16] Rob: I looked him up because I didn't know him and I was like, I wonder like if this guy's legit. And then I found out and I'm not being like hyperbolic. He created, like literally created the Disney channel. Oh my God. And Walt Disney home video. And he had this dream for a while of like taking these older shows and putting them on in full versions.

[00:10:36] Rob: But honestly, Nella had 54 not done the happy time. And had I not produced it. We would not be having this conversation. That's the

[00:10:45] Nella: most incredible story. I love

[00:10:48] Rob: it.

[00:10:49] Nella: Yeah. There's hope for my Shakespeare company.

[00:10:55] Nella: That's so incredible. I mean, what, so you went [00:11:00] for it.

[00:11:00] Rob: Yeah, like we had the opportunity. He has the passion and the financial resources and also like, to me it's important not only getting like these new works out there, but a lot of the shows that we do, actually until last year, were not really filled with names.

[00:11:13] Rob: it was filled with emerging talent that we wanted to like introduce to the city. Now it's sort of changing 'cause last year we did the Goodbye girl. And it was Sierra Boggess, Santino Fontana, and Chris Sieber. So suddenly it meant Which I

[00:11:27] Nella: saw and loved, by the way. Oh, good. I had never seen it. Oh, I'm sorry.

[00:11:30] Nella: And I thought, this is like, I'm your customer. Oh. I had never seen the show, and I said, it's playing. I'm not gonna probably ever get to see it in New York. We better clear our calendar and find a way to make this weekend work. Thank

[00:11:45] Rob: you, Nella. Thank you. That means honestly, that means the world to me. And that's like what we're just trying to do.

[00:11:50] Rob: And now I think it might be changing a little bit cause now we're getting some more like Names involved in some of the stuff that we're doing. So it's kind of exciting. It's exciting. [00:12:00] Congratulations.

[00:12:00] Nella: Thanks.

[00:12:01] Rob: Of course. But honestly, not. You want to do a

[00:12:03] Nella: dream role in New York if they're not going to get to do it anywhere else, right?

[00:12:08] Nella: Exactly.

[00:12:09] Rob: Exactly. And we're very fun to work with, I think, and we're very, like, cool and chill. And you come in, you do your thing, and then you leave. It's nice and easy. Yeah,

[00:12:18] Nella: yeah, totally. So out of the many, many nights that you've brought to life here at 54. Are there specific shows or artists or memories that stand out to you from the last few

[00:12:29] Rob: years?

[00:12:30] Rob: Oh, my God. Anytime I get to do something with Marilyn May. Oh, I think it's like that. To me, that's a master class. Like just watching this genius, this genius work And at the age that she is, I, I was that age. I'd be like, I want to sit home and watch TV. She's like travels like three times a week and she's always performing, but there's something about her and you're watching her and you're like, this is probably the last person who does what she does as brilliantly as she does it.[00:13:00]

[00:13:00] Rob: So anytime she's involved, I get very excited. On a personal note, it's going to sound kind of name dropping and I don't want it to be, but like we had Stephen Schwartz come. and do something for us. And at that point, he and I had done Baker's Wife together off Broadway. And when he went up there, he's like, Yeah, he's like, I came tonight because my friend Rob Schneider's asked me to.

[00:13:19] Rob: And I was like, if 12 year old me, listening to Pippin over and over and over again in my bedroom, would we be told, like, at some point Stephen's gonna call you a friend? Would not have believed it, but that's also because of 54 like I would not have had that if it wasn't for 54 Yeah, so those are those are pretty memorable to me pretty memorable.

[00:13:38] Rob: Yeah, let's

[00:13:39] Nella: do I mean Marilyn is So

[00:13:42] Rob: she's the best and then I also did a concert for Don Pippin who was this music director? He'd done I think Hello Dolly and La Cage all these things and he was like Can you produce my event for me? and I said sure and he's like I'll get the singers and the singers were Donna McKay.

[00:13:58] Rob: Oh, he was the MD on a chorus line. [00:14:00] So the singers were Donna McKechnie and Priscilla Lopez and he got Debbie Gravitt in there and I'm sitting there and I'm like, I'm the only person I've never heard of. Like, how, how am I, like, how am I in this room? You know what I mean? Like, and to, and to only be like a foot away from Priscilla Lopez while she's singing Nothing, or a foot away from Donna McKechnie while she's going over Music in the Mirror.

[00:14:20] Rob: I'm like, come on. Like, where else do you get this? Yeah. It's so crazy. Yeah. So those are pretty memorable. Those of

[00:14:27] Nella: us who work at 54, we have that experience every night where we're like, can you believe our life? Like we get to go down and say hi to these people at sound check. And even in a non musical theater world, I had that experience because we had Sean Cassidy.

[00:14:44] Nella: Yes. And I just remember the big poster over my bed. And then just to have a chance to be in the same room with him, just would have never thought in a million years.

[00:14:55] Rob: Oh, it's, it's the coolest at that. Also still like, that's also a thrill for [00:15:00] me. Like we did woman of the year. And we got Joyce DeWitt from Three's Company who played Janet on Three's Company.

[00:15:06] Rob: And I was like, I am the happiest I've ever been right now. Like, I am chilling with Janet from Three's Company. Amazing.

[00:15:13] Nella: Amazing. I know she's, saw her head shot on our website. And I was like, really? Joyce DeWitt was here? Yes! Yes! I could not believe it. So yeah, how

[00:15:23] Rob: fun. Oh yeah, we're lucky.

[00:15:26] Rob: We're lucky.

[00:15:26] Nella: Yeah. I mean, you've definitely worked with some incredible artists, everybody from Aaron's and Flaherty's. We've mentioned Steven Schwartz, Donna McKechnie, Charles Strauss. I mean, is there anyone still on your dream list that you'd love to work

[00:15:41] Rob: with? Oh my God. What a great question. I have been so, and people ask me this every once in a while, and I feel so blessed cause like every major writer in musical theater right now, I've had interaction with.

[00:15:54] Rob: actually, you know who I would really love to work with that I haven't had the chance to work with them yet? Tom Kitt and Brian [00:16:00] Yorkey. Oh yeah. From like Next to Normal and stuff. Like I would love we've corresponded a lot about different things and it just never seems to work out on their schedule.

[00:16:07] Rob: They're the two that I would be like, Oh, I'd love to work with. And Shayna Towell. who's doing stuffs. Like those are, those are the two that I think I haven't worked with that I'm like, Oh, I'd love to work with you. Yeah. Of course. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:16:18] Nella: How fun. So we are now coming up on March 5th.

[00:16:23] Nella: It's the sixth Yes. Version of Broadway bound, the musicals that never came to Broadway. Six. We've gone through quite a few musicals that almost made it. Are there any that you really think could still make

[00:16:37] Rob: it to Broadway? Oh my god, yes. I still think Baker's wife could make it to Broadway. I really do.

[00:16:42] Rob: Oh, we're doing a song on the concert on the fifth, which is really wonderful. And I want everyone to like, I mean, I'd love everybody to get exposed to this. It's a musical called the Mambo Kings. I don't know if you're familiar with it. Okay. So for those out there that don't, it was a musical that was [00:17:00] before in the heights and it was a musical celebrating the Latin X experience.

[00:17:05] Rob: And it wasn't West Side Story where the Latinx characters were, supposed to be in a gang. And it wasn't Capeman where the Latinx character was a killer. This was a musical celebrating the Latinx experience and it didn't come in. And the guy who composed it is a brilliant composer named Carlos Franzetti.

[00:17:22] Rob: And he's going to be joining us And he's going to talk a little bit about the history of it. But to me, I get excited by those musicals. Like musicals that were trying to have diversity and inclusion before it became something that was part of the national conversation. we did a show a couple of years ago from a musical called Daddy Goodness, which was all about the Black experience.

[00:17:41] Rob: And that I felt was really wonderful and could also have A new life. So yeah, there's a bunch that honestly, I do that. I'm like, yeah, I think there might be a, chance here, but Baker's wife and Mambo Kings are at the top of my list. Yeah. Oh, great.

[00:17:53] Nella: Yeah, no, they definitely sound like they could, could

[00:17:57] Rob: make it up.

[00:17:57] Rob: And what's been great about [00:18:00] 54 is that because 54 live streams these events now, so many of these clips are now available on YouTube for people to see. So if you missed it, we now have an archive and that's because of 54. And I think that's pretty special.

[00:18:13] Nella: Yeah. I mean, some of these musicals that you feature in your series came about in an era when the economic model for Broadway was vastly different.

[00:18:21] Nella: Yes. What do you think the future holds for musicals in general on Broadway? And especially, , for these older, more culty musicals, you know, are you optimistic or what do you think about this?

[00:18:35] Rob: Right now, I mean, and you know more about this than I do, but right now I feel like so many of the musicals that are financially successful, I'm not going to say artistically successful, but financially successful, are like the jukebox musicals, you know, and the musicals where, you know, it was based on a movie and now it's come to fruition.

[00:18:48] Rob: but everything is cyclical. And I think we're kind of like an escapist era now, and I feel like in a few years we'll sort of go out of that model again, and then we'll get a big influx of musicals, musicals that [00:19:00] might be cult musicals, musicals from the past that might need a re examination because of whatever the cultural conversation is.

[00:19:05] Rob: But I don't think we're there just yet. But I am optimistic. I am optimistic. Because it comes in waves. Everything goes in waves. Yeah. Yeah. I'm hoping that might

[00:19:14] Nella: be right. I mean, you know, all of us who are all gloom and doom about Broadway saying, you know, we can't have a show without a star anymore because of how the huge financial implications, but then, you know, only a few years ago.

[00:19:28] Nella: Maybe it was a little more than a few years ago, but, you know, we had the band's visit completely and it won the Tony and we had a fun home and those were solid musical theater stars, but they weren't mega global superstars and

[00:19:43] Rob: they weren't and I'll add to that. Let's come from away. and dear Evan Hansen, because Ben, God bless him before this, he was known, but now he's an international star.

[00:19:52] Rob: what's, I wish producers would remember is that those shows, the ones that we're talking about were financially successful [00:20:00] and won all the awards. And it didn't use the formula that every other producer I think is trying to capture. So I'm like, invest in original voices and original stories.

[00:20:10] Rob: So I'm even Hamilton,

[00:20:12] Nella: not a mega star. He is now known, but he was not at the level that he

[00:20:19] Rob: is now. No, he was the guy that did in the heights. And most people outside of New York didn't even know what that was. and God bless him. Yeah. And that's exciting. I'm excited to, I think we're hopefully soon coming up into this era of, we'll see more things like those things, like a soft substance, like Lempicka I'm very excited about.

[00:20:38] Rob: Have you heard any of the music yet for Lempicka? Of course,

[00:20:41] Nella: I'm watching Eden on

[00:20:43] Rob: YouTube. I saw the writing of it like seven years ago, and it still stays with me to this day because it was one of the most fabulous theatrical experiences I've ever had. So I'm excited and also I think there is a place for both.

[00:20:58] Rob: I think you can have Limpicka [00:21:00] next door to like a Mamma Mia. I think there's nothing wrong with that. Broadway should be as diverse as possible.

[00:21:07] Nella: Yeah, and I do love seeing some of the older musicals that I never saw come back. Like, When She Loves Me had that. Yes. Yes. Wow. You know, how come this wasn't done

[00:21:17] recently?

[00:21:18] Rob: I know. And that was such a fun.

[00:21:20] Nella: And even, there's rumors about the London Guys and Dolls, which I was able to see. And that's so delightful that, you know, every generation should revisit some of these older shows and even the ones that were not hugely successful, like a baker's wife.

[00:21:35] Rob: Yeah. Cause there's good stuff there. There's good stuff there. And what's harder on those shows, like a baker's wife or a Mambo Kings is they come with a reputation. like, Guys and Dolls doesn't have a reputation except that, oh, it's a brilliant show. This one is like, Baker, wasn't that a bad show, or that didn't come in?

[00:21:50] Rob: No, no, there was outside of their control, which is what we explore in our podcast. Hey, they said

[00:21:56] Nella: that about Merrily. Yes!

[00:21:59] Rob: Can you [00:22:00] imagine?

[00:22:00] Nella: No.

[00:22:01] Rob: Wow.

[00:22:02] Nella: I mean, now you're like, this is the most brilliant show he wrote. but you know, it had its troubles along the way. Yeah. And

[00:22:09] Rob: you know, and then, I'm hoping that for something like a Baker's Wife or a Mambo Kings or Paper Moon, which is also a really beautiful show.

[00:22:17] Rob: Like I'm hoping that like these shows will have what Merrilee had did, which is somebody was like, you know what, I'm going to try it again. And, and eventually able to take away the original. You know, bad taste that the original left in people's mouths because you're right. This numerically is just like brilliant.

[00:22:35] Rob: Brilliant.

[00:22:36] Nella: Yeah, totally. Totally. You mentioned that you are teaching, so you're on the faculty of several academic institutions. Yeah. Are you teaching musical theater?

[00:22:46] Rob: Yeah, I teach musical theater history and I teach directing. Oh,

[00:22:50] Nella: fantastic. And do you find students, are they still excited by the older or the classic musicals even?

[00:22:57] Rob: Well, here's the thing. It [00:23:00] depends on what you consider older is. Cause for them, I asked them, I asked them, do you like older musicals? And a kid says, Oh my God, I love old musicals. I love Wicked. and I was like, I was like, huh, huh? so the golden age ones depends, depends. I'll be honest with you, if the musical has been revived, they're more likely to like lean into it.

[00:23:21] Rob: Like they weren't really fans of My Fair Lady till Lincoln Center revived it. Then they had some familiarity with it. But for them, honestly, an old musical is wicked. That is, yeah, that is old to them. Or I had them, we went down to Lincoln center and we watched next to normal. And they were like, Oh, it's so two thousands.

[00:23:40] Rob: And I was like, what do you mean? They're like, Oh, her hair and the way she's dressed. And I'm like. Oh, like I don't think of it that way. So it means I'm the, yeah, so I'm older. That's the thing I don't want to admit, but yeah. Well,

[00:23:54] Nella: you know, period musicals exist, right? Company.

[00:23:57] Rob: Company. Yeah. Company. [00:24:00] So I asked them, I was like, I said, what was like the musical that like got you into this, you know?

[00:24:03] Rob: And these are kids that are like, what, 20, 21. And for them, a lot of it is like. Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen's a big one for them, but that's sort of like for them where musical theater begins. Yeah. Which is fun. It's so

[00:24:18] Nella: interesting. Yeah. Yeah. I teach arts marketing and one of my students wanted to do her term paper, her semester long project on Hamilton because it's an old musical, you know, and it's not relevant to Gen Z.

[00:24:31] Nella: So she said. Yeah. Yeah. But it was when it opened. And so she wanted to examine that. And I'm like, really? It's not that old.

[00:24:38] Rob: Oh, you know what? For you and me, it's not. And for them. It was decades ago. I guess they

[00:24:43] Nella: were 10. Yeah,

[00:24:46] Rob: it opened. Okay, that's wonderful. I feel great. feel really wonderful.

[00:24:52] Rob: But yeah, no, it's true. And like, you know, every generation is different. You know, I thought when I was in college, I'm like musical theater started with rent. And my teacher probably [00:25:00] thought musical theater started with a chorus line and it just, it goes, it's nice. And I know that everyone goes, Oh, Broadway, what's Broadway, you know, but what's fun is like when doing like the research for these shows and stuff, you'll read articles from the fifties and sixties and people will be like, this show won't go anywhere.

[00:25:14] Rob: This just means Broadway's dead. And I'm like, they've been saying it since like. The 50s and 60s. Oh my gosh,

[00:25:19] Nella: I know. So it's like the season should be required reading for everybody.

[00:25:24] Rob: Yes,

[00:25:25] Nella: because everything for the most part has not

[00:25:28] Rob: changed. The names have changed, but the ideas and concepts have not.

[00:25:32] Rob: You're absolutely right. God, what a good book. So tell us

[00:25:35] Nella: about the Broadway Bound show on March 5th. Like what can audiences expect? You have an incredible cast.

[00:25:41] Rob: Oh, thank you. Thank you. We have some, we have like Christy Ann Knoll, who was in the Mambo Kings originally. She's going to come and talk about that experience.

[00:25:49] Rob: Stuart Zagnit, who was just in Harmony, is going to be with us. Cesar Samoya, who was just wonderful in How to Dance in Ohio. I am obsessed

[00:25:56] Nella: with him since I saw him in Shakespeare in the park [00:26:00] in the Alex Timbers. It's, was it Oswald that ends well? I'm trying to remember. It's the one with the princess there through the forest.

[00:26:09] Nella: it'll come to me in a second,

[00:26:10] Nella: anyway, he was with, he sang the song, he was incredible. And I've been obsessed with him ever since

[00:26:17] Rob: he is so. Freaking good. And so, yeah, so he's gonna be joining us and stuff like that.

[00:26:22] Rob: So, once again, like the, what we're doing with this is it's, we're looking at shows that should have come in, and we're taking the best numbers from those shows and presenting them to people. So it should be exciting. It should be really exciting. But the Mambo Kings is what I'm really excited to share with people.

[00:26:36] Rob: And in prev, you know, we're still doing a couple little bit of casting things, putting things here and there, but overall I'm really excited by it. And like I said, you won't, you won't get to hear these songs anywhere else. and this really is. I hate to say, Oh, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity.

[00:26:50] Rob: It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You will not see these people talking about these shows again.

[00:26:55] Nella: Yeah, no, it's an amazing cast. I just remembered it was Love's Labor's Lost.

[00:26:59] Rob: Ah, Love's [00:27:00] Labor's Lost, yes!

[00:27:01] Nella: With Patti Murin, Paul McDonald, Caesar. I mean, it was a great, great performance and

[00:27:08] Rob: great group of people.

[00:27:10] Rob: Great group of people.

[00:27:11] Nella: Yeah. And music by Michael Friedman, you know,

[00:27:15] Rob: Oh, Michael. Oh yeah. Yeah. He was, God, he was a special one. Yeah. that's what people are going to see. And like we said, you know, we, when we do these events, they're very casual. We want people to feel like you're sitting in our living room and you tell stories.

[00:27:27] Nella: You

[00:27:28] Rob: don't just sing. Oh no. We tell stories. We give you photographs. We tell you like the big gossip. Cause a lot of these shows are like filled with such good gossip and we'll share that, but we want it to feel. I don't want to ever feel like academic. I don't want to ever feel like you're coming to a classroom.

[00:27:43] Rob: It's literally us sitting back. And as the young kids say, cause I learned this from my kids having a kiki and then the songs are a bop. So if my students are listening, I'm learning from you is just as much. So thank you so much.

[00:27:55] Nella: So speaking of Broadway bound. Congratulations on the [00:28:00] podcast.

[00:28:00] Nella: Thank you. So what inspired you to bring the idea of the show into another medium?

[00:28:06] Rob: you know what? It was actually that when we were doing these shows, people were like, Oh, I wish you had told the story about a, B and C, but I'm like, you know, we don't have time. To and I was like, is there a place to tell these stories?

[00:28:19] Rob: And so at first I was like, I'll write a book. And so I outlined the book and then I'm like, but the music is what I want people to hear. So I was like, can we spend more time on these things? And what's the format? And I have a bunch of other podcasts as well. In addition to this one. I had a relationship with Broadway podcast network already.

[00:28:36] Rob: And I was like, I'll just roll right into this and it's been really fantastic because we actually get to interview like the authors that are still living or get to interview the actors that were involved with the show. So each episode is like a little mini documentary on one of these shows with interviews with historical research, plus demo recordings of songs that nobody's ever heard

[00:28:56] Nella: before.

[00:28:57] Nella: Oh, my God. It's such a treasure trove of information. [00:29:00] Oh, thanks. Thank you. I think everyone who loves musical theater should listen to this podcast. It's so well researched. Oh, thank you. With amazing, wonderful stories. And I have to say, I can appreciate it. I was producing another podcast and we only did six episodes of it in this style.

[00:29:16] Nella: Like we wanted it to be well researched, not just You know, and it was so much work that after six episodes, we were like, you know what we can't, we both have other jobs and we're very busy and we might do another episode every year or so. Like if something really catches our attention, but I have to say that this type of a podcast that you are doing requires incredible amount of work.

[00:29:37] Nella: It's research, the interviews are, and it's written, you have to write the thing and edit it. I find so many podcasts that I love to, I mean, we have, there's a place for everything in this world. Right. But there's a, so many podcasts about theater are just two people yakking and, sometimes I'm like, that's not actually correct what you just said, but okay.

[00:29:58] Nella: and that's fine. You know, it's [00:30:00] opinion, it's a gab fest. It's sometimes, you know, two young guys drinking and talking about musical theater and it's super fun, but. I can appreciate your podcast so much because I know the incredible care that goes into putting something like that together.

[00:30:18] Nella: And, like, again, it's your passion, I know, but mean, it's hours of work to put out an episode.

[00:30:24] Rob: yeah, it is. and a lot of this stuff isn't easily accessible online. You know, so you have to go to a library or you have to, and I got to tell you, the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts has been fantastic.

[00:30:36] Rob: Doug and everybody over there has been really wonderful. But you have to go and you have to research and you have to like, look at letter correspondence people had with each other and, you know, I have to look at the handwriting and what are they saying? So it does, a lot of work does go in, but it's worth it.

[00:30:50] Rob: And also, I'm like, I don't know any other podcasts that are doing this, so I have to imagine this is going to be the only one on this subject, so it better be right. Yeah. You know, it better be good [00:31:00] or interesting. for me, that's fun. Like, what was yours about? The one where you said you had like six episodes.

[00:31:04] Rob: So

[00:31:04] Nella: we did one production, but we dove in and it had a point of view. So for example, When the pandemic shut us down, but we were working on the come from away episode where we had interviewed Caesar, we had interviewed a couple of cast members, and we were going to interview, I think the physical stager music, you know, musical Not choreographer, but the stager.

[00:31:30] Nella: And then we also had it already in the can had interviewed the real pilot and then we were going to put it together. So that was like the one that was in the can, but we never published it because of the pandemic. But you know, we did an episode on off Broadway theater company Waterwell.

[00:31:46] Nella: And it was courtroom, which was there. Drama about a deportation proceeding and it was taken from transcripts, but you know, it's our Kathleen Chalfant and Ruthie and miles. And so we interviewed the writer [00:32:00] and the director Lisa Evans, but we also interviewed. An actual immigration attorney who was Wow.

[00:32:07] Nella: Going through this with clients. And so it was kind of putting like the current event, spin on it and talking to the real people if real people existed. we interviewed, I think Samuel Hunter we interviewed when he had a play. So they were, you know, it was trying to be more, well-rounded than just the host chatting with a guest and

[00:32:27] Nella: And having a gap fest, like it was really trying to give the background and some sort of a point of view into the work as opposed to just like, and you know, like I said, I love the podcast where you're just celebrating and delighting and Patti LuPone for 30 minutes. Who doesn't love to do that?

[00:32:44] Nella: You know, I can appreciate because yours is. I mean, it should be a book, first of all, but

[00:32:49] Rob: the

[00:32:50] Nella: level of detail, and I have to say it, the one that got me was the Busker Alley episode. Oh, yeah. Because I was interning for the Weisslers when that whole [00:33:00] thing happened. Were you really? And I didn't know half of it.

[00:33:03] Nella: I knew A lot of it, you know, but, and working for the white source, what's its own experience. I feel like I should do a podcast about that one, but you know, it was going down and we as interns didn't know the full story. I mean, we knew a lot, but there were things in there that I couldn't believe, a point in the episode where.

[00:33:25] Nella: It's like a friendship has been fractured to this day and I couldn't, I couldn't believe that. I was so shocked. And you know, it's showbiz and I, and it happens. Artists are very sensitive creatures. So totally. And it's a personal, but it's not personal. You know, I live with a writer. So I know, believe me.

[00:33:42] Nella: Yeah. But it's. I mean, that episode blew me away as somebody who was in kind of the periphery, but also the inner circle.

[00:33:51] Rob: Oh, I, that is like the greatest compliment that you can say to me, that you were involved with it and you learned something from it. Like to me, that's the greatest compliment.

[00:33:59] Rob: Thank you for that. [00:34:00] And going back to what you were saying, like the point of view, that's something that I feel like a lot of like podcasts where people are just gabbing that, that the point of view goes away. So like when you get something like, Busker alley. If you're putting it together, you go, okay, what's happened?

[00:34:13] Rob: It was a show and it was supposed to come in and Tommy Toon broke his leg and it didn't. And so you're kind of like, well, what's the point? Like, what is the story here? And to me, the story was exactly what you just said, which is this young man who became Tommy Toon's mentor was now directing him. And then the mentor had to tell the student, and I hate to put it in those terms, but had told his, you know, sit down and I'm going to take over from now.

[00:34:35] Rob: And what does that do to a friendship? And what does that do to a business relationship? Yeah, very tricky. Very tough. that to me is the fun, which is like, what is this? Oh, the coming up soon. We're doing an episode on the musical Breakfast at Tiffany's, which was directed by Abe Burrows, who was the greatest show doctor in all of musical theater.

[00:34:56] Rob: He would come in and fix any one show and be brilliant. [00:35:00] And so what happens when he needs a doctor, what happens when he can't fix his own show. And so then you go, well, , to me, that's the point of view. That's the story going into it.

[00:35:09] Nella: when does that episode

[00:35:11] Rob: drop? That will be actually in three or four weeks from now.

[00:35:16] Rob: And do you

[00:35:17] Nella: have you know, March

[00:35:18] Rob: 14th, March 14th.

[00:35:20] Nella: Oh, do you have a set schedule for dropping or you just do them when

[00:35:23] Rob: you're done? No, everything right now is in the can. We're done. So what we did was for the first season, we picked a theme and our theme for this one is movies that were turned into musicals that didn't come in.

[00:35:33] Rob: We do 10 episodes. Once those are done, they're all scheduled to drop. We'll start season two in September, October, which will be a totally different theme. Totally different theme. I can't believe

[00:35:46] Nella: it's only been one season. I feel like what you have put in is like 10 seasons worth of work for everybody else.

[00:35:50] Rob: Oh, thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that. Thanks. And it's, you know, it's fun. And like our first episode covered Arthur the Musical, which is based on the Dudley [00:36:00] Moore movie, but it was written by Marta Kaufman and David Crane who created Friends. And so I was like, do you guys want to come talk about this show?

[00:36:08] Rob: And I was like, they're Marta Kaufman and David Crane. They're multi billionaires. Like they're not going to come. and talk and they were like, absolutely. And what they said that I thought was so fascinating was like, had this musical gone to Broadway, there would never be a Friends TV series because they would have been so successful and stayed working on Broadway.

[00:36:23] Rob: I don't know, stories like that I enjoy. Love

[00:36:26] Nella: it. Everything is meant to happen. Yes. Yes. For a reason. Yes.

[00:36:32] Rob: So thank God that show actually didn't work out because then we wouldn't have had, you know, Friends, which is kind of special. No,

[00:36:39] Nella: totally. Totally. So where can people listen to Broadway bound?

[00:36:43] Rob: anywhere that you get your podcasts.

[00:36:46] Rob: Plus we're hosted by the Broadway podcast network, which is hosted also. So, yeah, so we're all a part of it. We're all part of the family. So you can listen there and find other great, amazing theater podcasts or anywhere you do get your podcast. So Apple [00:37:00] podcasts, Spotify, all that fun stuff.

[00:37:01] Nella: Well, how exciting and how fun. Rob, thanks so much for your time today. This was delightful. everybody listened to the podcast and then come to see the live show at seven o'clock. So you'll get home so early. You'll be home before nine o'clock cause it's 75 minutes. Yeah. We'll get your tickets soon though, because we are selling out with that incredible cast.

[00:37:24] Nella: Thank you. Thanks for everybody listening at home. Rob, good luck with everything.

[00:37:30] Rob: Thank you, Nellie. And thank you. Students, listen

[00:37:32] Nella: to your professor.

[00:37:36] Rob: And Nella, seriously, from all of us who produce a 54, thank you and your team for always making sure things go so smoothly and making sure there are people there to see the work that we're creating.

[00:37:45] Rob: So we owe you big time. Thank you.

[00:37:48] Nella: Delightful to work there and to be surrounded by incredible artists. Thanks to everybody listening and we'll see you all soon in Broadway's living room.

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