After adding a handful of my papers and projects from graduate school, I went back and tracked down two papers from undergrad that I am still pretty proud of. Both are about Broadway and if you knew me during college, you’ll probably understand why. I spent a lot of time in Times Square during college. I love theatre and for a long time, I thought I was going to work in a field that somehow related to theatre. Well, until I took TV Newscast with Mike Ludlum, but that’s a different story.
My very first internship was at a Broadway press company, Boneau/Bryan-Brown, which represented what seemed like half the shows on the boards. Working there gave me the opportunity to see theatre from the other side of the curtain. Well, not quite the curtain. I didn’t get to do too much in the actual theaters (though I did go to one or two press preview events), but I got to see the nitty gritty stuff, like how the Playbills get made (an intern types in the bios) and how press photos are selected (the stars help decide). I even got to work the opening night party for Flower Drum Song. But mostly, I clipped mentions of the shows Boneau/Bryan-Brown represented, answered phones, filled ticket requests and compiled press kits. But in doing that, I also learned a ton about the relationships between press agents and the media. Knowing that side of things definitely helped years later when I was dealing with PR folks on a regular basis as a booker.
The best part about that internship though? Free tickets. I saw so many shows both on and off Broadway that season, mostly for free. I saw almost all the shows represented by Boneau/Bryan-Brown (though, to this day, I still haven’t seen The Lion King, which was a client back then). Other production companies were generous with their invites, as well. I saw a lot of shows.
So when I had the opportunity to choose a topic for my papers, I usually chose theatre. And the two new additions on the work samples page are products of that. The first, written for my musical theatre history class, looked at how September 11th affected the Broadway community. It was the first time I’d ever done an interview for a paper. A friend had introduced me to Larry O’Keefe, who had a show off-Broadway at the time of the attacks, and he was willing to answer a few questions. The final product is nearly ten years old, but I think it still holds up. I can definitely see how my writing abilities have grown since then, but it’s still a decent paper.
The other addition is about what it takes to survive on Broadway. That paper, for my interview class, was the first real journalism article and all my quotes were from interviews I conducted. I went out with my brick-sized tape recorder and stalked outside theatre stage doors for a chance to chat with the shows’ stars. And I ended up getting quotes from a number of big names in the Broadway community, like Idina Menzel and Daphne Rubin-Vega, and at least one bona fide move star, Hugh Jackman. Jackman was starring in The Boy from Oz at the time and I waited outside in the cold for over an hour for the chance to ask him for a quote. He is an incredibly charming and kind man. He had apparently studied journalism at university and after I asked my question (and a follow up!), he wished me luck with my studies. Rereading the paper, I realized I also spoke with Matthew Morrison, who was in Hairspray at the time, but is now known for his work on “Glee.” Reading over that paper I realized, with amusement, that only two shows whose stars I spoke to are still running. Everything else is closed. Few things survive that long on Broadway.
Theatre definitely filled a significant role for me in college. I made friends through the shows I saw, many of whom I’m still friends with today. When I was having a difficult time in school, I could escape to the theatre and lose myself in a show. And even as I think back to how much money I spent on those shows, I have zero regrets. I met some of my oldest friends at the theatre and I cherish the memories we shared there. I don’t go to the theatre as much any more. I don’t follow the shows and actors. I barely know what’s even on Broadway these days. But I still love it. Because there are few things quite like a live show.