On the Job: Broadway Producer- page 3 | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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(Cheryl Carlin)

On the Job: Broadway Producer

Broadway producer Jeffrey Seller tells us what it takes to stage a hit musical

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(Continued from page 2)

I thought, wow, Rent has defined so much of my adult life. It has defined my career. It cracked open my career. I kind of divide my life into pre-Rent and post-Rent. Closing is sad because we come to expect of a show that it will always be there, and then when we realize it is time to close, we're reminded of the cold reality of life, which is that everything comes to an end. But I'll get over it. The great thing about musicals is that they live on after we do them on Broadway in a way that is unique. Remember, most people who experience musicals, like I did as a kid, don't experience them on Broadway. They experience them when they do them in their Purim plays, when they do them in school, when they see them in community theater. And that's what happens to Rent next. So Rent moves on to the next stage of its life, and that will make me very happy.

What is Broadway losing?

It's losing those beloved characters. It's losing that groundbreaking, emotional, brilliant score. But Broadway moves on. Groundbreaking, fresh, surprising musicals are continuing to bang down the doors of Broadway.

What is Broadway gaining with In the Heights?

Broadway is gaining a whole new sound that people have never heard before. Broadway is gaining an extraordinary new artist named Lin-Manuel Miranda, who conceived the show, wrote the music and the lyrics. It's gaining a fabulous new playwright named Quiara Alegría Hudes, who was a Pulitzer Prize finalist last year and penned the book to this. Broadway is gaining a whole new generation of artists and performers that it didn't have before and who are mesmerizing the audience every night with their story of life in Washington Heights. It's appealing to grandmothers and little kids and everyone in between as well.

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a producer?

Forge relationships with the composers, lyricists, book writers and directors that you believe in. As a developing producer, you will rise or fall with the developing artists who you choose to nurture. Harold Prince teamed up with [Richard] Adler and [Jerry] Ross, [John] Kander and [Fred] Ebb, and most significantly, [Stephen] Sondheim. These were all his peers. Cameron Mackintosh teamed up with Andrew Lloyd Webber. Your job is to discover the next great generation of artists.

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