Production: “The Full Monty” (Working In The Theatre #290)

(APPLAUSE) Welcome to the American Theatre
Wing seminars on “Working in the Theatre.” These are coming to you from the Graduate
Center of the City University of New York. And today’s seminar is on the production. It’s devoted to the new Broadway hit musical,
THE FULL MONTY. With the members of its creative and production
teams, we will follow the show from its inception as a work for the stage, through to the current
production on Broadway. I’m Isabelle Stevenson, Chairman of the
Board of the American Theatre Wing. And I think this seminar will inform and excite
you, as you see the process that makes a production real. And now, with great pleasure, let me introduce
our moderator for the seminar, a veteran producer and President of the American Theatre Wing,
Roy A. Somlyo. Roy? (APPLAUSE) Thank you, Isabelle. I’m surrounded by a very prestigious group. Let me introduce you. On my far right is Tom Hall, one of the producers
of THE FULL MONTY. Next to him is Jack O’Brien, who directed
this big hit. And next to me is Charlotte Wilcox, the general
manager of the production. And immediately next to me on my left is Lindsay
Law, a producer of the show. Next to him is David Yazbek, who wrote the
music and the lyrics. And he’s seated next to Michael Hartman,
who does the public relations for THE FULL MONTY. I think that I’d like to start, I guess
at the beginning. So why don’t I ask Lindsay? Lindsay, why don’t you just tell us, what
are the basic roots of THE FULL MONTY for Broadway? I had been involved [in the film]. I was the President of Fox Searchlight Pictures,
which produced and distributed the film, THE FULL MONTY. And thus, we owned the rights to it. And within about six or seven weeks of it
opening, because it opened almost simultaneously around the world, scores of producers in Australia,
in France, in Germany, in England, and almost every producer I’ve ever heard of or met
in New York City, wrote seeking to option the rights to the movie to make it into a
musical. So I must admit, the idea did not occur to
me. It occurred to all these people who wrote
to me. (LAUGHS) I saw no reason to option it to somebody
else, I must admit! Primarily because I had such affection for
the piece itself, and the idea of letting someone else take this story that we had worked
so hard on and maybe ruin it – I thought maybe I could ruin it myself! (LAUGHTER) So I convinced 20th Century Fox, who is not
in the theatre business at all, theatre production business, that it was in their best interest
and to protect their valuable property, THE FULL MONTY, to have us develop a musical of
it ourselves. They had been involved in licensing a musical
of a hit Tom Hanks movie called BIG, which had not been so successful in New York, and
so they were very shy and wary of perhaps doing this again. My background had been [theatre]. I started in the theatre before going into
movies, so I knew most of the players, and there was one obvious one that I made the
first telephone call to, and that was Jack O’Brien. He and I had done eight or nine productions
of plays for television together, had a long history together. And the one true thing I knew about musicals
was, you can get in a whole lot of trouble on them! (LAUGHTER) And I thought, “If I’m going
to get in a whole lot of trouble, I’d better be with people that I have a great affection
for and trust and respect.” And so, Jack was the first person I called. Terrific. Were you involved in the film directly, as
you are in the play? Yes. The producer of the film is someone I had
made a failed film with, called PALOOKAVILLE, and his next script he developed was called
THE FULL MONTY, and he sent it to me. So let’s follow the story. You decided that Fox had to do this, with
you at the helm, and you called Jack. And I guess you must have said, “Yes,”
you’re here! (LAUGHTER) I said, “Lindsay who?” (LAUGHTER) No, he’s right, we’ve been
friends for twenty-five years, I think, and have let blood over many different projects. And I was sitting in my office, and the office
directly across from mine at that time belonged to Tom Hall, who for almost twenty years had
been my partner, Managing Director, at the Old Globe Theatre, where I’m the Artistic
Director. That’s in San Diego, right. That’s in San Diego. We have, from time to time, developed various
projects, both by ourselves and for other people. INTO THE WOODS started there. Other pieces have come to New York from there. And the minute Lindsay said, “Would you
be interested in this?” I thought, “Boy, would we ever!” I love the movie. I thought it was a perfect idea for a musical. Tom, at that time, was in the act of leaving
his position at the Globe, and his particular knowledge – I mean, he started out actually
as my Production Stage Manager in 1978. Careful! (LAUGHS) I know. And his knowledge of converting practical
things to stagecraft is almost better than anybody I’ve ever known. And they (INDICATES LINDSAY AND TOM) were
friends, we’ve all gone skiing together. So I thought, “Well, this is a wonderful
opportunity for us all to work together.” And we said, “Absolutely.” We committed ourselves immediately. And then, together we went in search of the
writing team. The first, obvious call for me was to Terrence
McNally, who can’t be here today but actually had done a play with us at the Globe about
ten or twelve years ago. Also not a success (TOM LAUGHS), but let that
pass! But we were great friends, and we’d remained
very close friends and always looked to do something again. It seemed like a natural for Terrence, with
his experience, back going as far as THE RITZ and the early things, which were really funny,
I think. And also the fact that he seems to be the
sine qua non of book writers, or librettists, on Broadway right now. It seemed to be the natural choice, so I called
him. He said, “Yes,” immediately. And then we went on a search for David Yazbek. Well, David, I think it’s fair for you to
tell the story of how you came aboard. Yeah. Well, they found me through a somewhat circuitous
route. What I’ve been told is that they were looking
for someone who sort of thinks out of the box, as a composer. And they went to Adam Guettel, who really
does think out of the box and who’s probably as close to a genius as you’ll find these
days, among composers, but who, for one reason or another, didn’t think it was the right
project for him. In fairness – excuse me, David. He was at the Globe at the time, doing FLOYD
COLLINS, which we were producing. Oh, I didn’t know that! So just ‘cause, proximity? He walked by the office. I said, “Do you want to do it?” (LAUGHTER) That was the first composer to
show up. He was in the right place at the right time. Yeah, exactly! Turns out it wasn’t the right time. Well, he generously passed them on to the
less handsome and less well-known David Yazbek. (JACK LAUGHS) That was then! Well, I’m not any more handsome than I was
then, believe me! He and I were in a band together years ago. He played bass and sang, and I played whatever
I play and sang, and there was a drummer. And we’ve always admired each other. And he saw that I could do this project. And I think Jack called me first. I did. And boy, did he – I mean, he didn’t really
have to, but he hard-sold it! I mean, you know! (LAUGHS) He was so enthusiastic about the
idea. In fact, the thing he kept saying was, “It’s
scary, isn’t it?” Meaning, it’s such a great idea, it’s
scary. But I just found it scary, (LAUGHTER) just
the idea of embarking on a Broadway musical for the first time. And my first reaction – it lasted about
three seconds – was “Another musical based on another hit film, you know?” And then, you know, two seconds later, after
I had (LAUGHS) come to my senses, I realized it was a great idea, great story, great characters. And characters that I could write for, musically
and lyrically. And then I started getting very excited about
it. Well, now, we have two other people on our
panel who we haven’t talked about. Tom, were you responsible for bringing about
the general manager? I guess directly, I was. When Lindsay called and asked me to join him
as a producer, I’d had really great experiences here in New York, working on several other
projects, DAMN YANKEES, PLAY ON!, yet another noted non-successful production (LAUGHS),
but one that we had a great time putting together and that we believed in. And so he called, and essentially our discussion
was about how to put the rest of the support team together. And there was just no question in my mind,
there was only one general manager for me in this city, and that was Charlotte Wilcox. So I called Charlotte, who, as I recall, actually
put us on hold for a bit, because she was considering other opportunities. (LAUGHTER) She’s worked with us before, she knew it
was no good. (LAUGHTER FROM THE PANEL) But talk about hard-sell! So we kept talking to her, and finally I called
Lindsay and said, “I think you need to get in here and push this a little bit,” and
we finally were very successful and happy to coerce her into joining us. And hopefully, she’s glad she did. Well, what made you decide? Now, Charlotte, I know, I guess, that you’ve
done probably some of the most important musicals on Broadway. You have a depth of experience. I won’t embarrass you by reciting twenty
of them. (CHARLOTTE LAUGHS) But what made you agree
to come on board on this one? I know you got all kinds of offers. Well, actually, the minute that Tom called
me, I wanted to be aboard, because you hear the title alone and you know that it’s going
to be exciting, thrilling. I, too, loved the movie. And I also had worked with a lot of the team
and loved those. I didn’t really put him on hold. I had agreed to do another project, in the
exact same time period. And a few years before, when I found myself
doing six or seven shows at a time, I promised myself I would not do that any more. And so, the thought of doing two back to back
was not great. But fortunately for me, Tom and Lindsay were
willing to hang in there while my schedule sorted out, and the other project did ultimately
end up cancelling. So I, by then, was already hooked and in love,
and I would have done both if I had to, but I was thrilled to be able to concentrate on
this one. I’m sure it’s just an accident that you
committed the day after we had done the workshop presentation and you were able to see it! (LAUGHS) Is that true? Hmmm. Why Charlotte? Why did you settle in on Charlotte? Well, I had had great experiences working
with Charlotte. And without a doubt, she is the most detailed
general manager I’ve ever worked with. Whenever you call Charlotte, the answer is
always there. If it’s not there, she gets back to you
right away. But probably most importantly, I think working
in the theatre is a struggle in and of itself. And after twenty-five years, and Jack and
I have worked together for, I guess, twenty-two, one of the things we decided early on is that
we wanted to work with people that we cared about. I think Lindsay alluded to this. You get to a situation when things are not
going well, and if there aren’t people you can turn to and depend upon, who frankly have
a great sense of humor, as well as knowledge and skill, it can just be debilitating. So it was just all those things put together. Charlotte was just the one that we were sure
about. There’s also that thing in terms of general
managers, in the same way, like in film, “line producers” is another word, but the people
who are actually managing the day-to-day and the finances sometimes take the attitude of
being a sergeant. I mean, being unpleasant in terms of saying
“No.” I mean, quite often, Charlotte’s in a position
of saying, “We can’t afford to do it this way. You’ve got to look at it again. We don’t have this much money budgeted.” There are ways to do that, in which you convey
to the person you’re saying “No” to an understanding why, and inspiring them to
come up with another solution. And then, there are people who do it and just,
you know, it’s not a very warm way of doing it. In essence, we’re a team, and you don’t
suddenly want your technical crew or your designers suddenly not having fun working
on your show because the general manager is just, “Urrr! Urrr!” There are ways of saying “No.” Charlotte has an unbelievably – Vast range! – warm and understanding way (LAUGHS) of saying
“No.” That’s great. How about Michael Hartman? Who brought Michael in? You know, I don’t know who! Actually, Lindsay and I – Michael, are you sure you’re aboard? Yeah! There were some pictures, actually! At my house. We actually received recommendations for press
agents, several of them. And Lindsay and I had breakfast with Michael
and his partner, John Barlow (PH). And it was very clear, I think to both of
us – Instantly. almost before the coffee was put on the table,
that we were going to get along. Very clearly, that Michael – and John, frankly
– were people that we could work with. And we spent about an hour, an hour and a
half together. And as we left the restaurant, Lindsay and
I were walking down the street, and there was this quiet, awkward moment. And I turned to him, I said, “You know,
I don’t know how you feel about this, but I would have just hired him on the spot!” And Lindsay, “Well, I didn’t want to do
it, because I didn’t want to step on your toes!” (LINDSAY LAUGHS) So we went to a phone, the
first one we could find, and called their office. I think, probably got you just as you walked
back. Yeah, and we were on the other end of the
block, holding each other’s hands, saying, “God, we have got to get this show!” (LAUGHTER) So, I understand here, and you haven’t quite
said it, but we all realize that the theatre is totally a collaborative process. And you’ve selected everybody you all felt
could successfully collaborate. What was the next step? I mean, first of all, we all know you had
to get money! There are some steps that actually precede
some of these steps, in terms of the Globe, which goes back to Jack, Tom, David, Terrence,
and myself, in terms of coming up with, “How are we going to approach this? How are we going to approach writing it? And under what schedule?” The advantage this musical had – you know,
one would wish all producers had this advantage – is we didn’t have to raise money. Fox was backing it. And Terrence, who’s done this a lot, kept
suddenly having to understand was, “So this is like, Rodgers and Hammerstein get together,
and they say, ‘So what are we going to write next season?’ I mean, so we just do it!” Meaning, a lot of producers are working on
a lot of different projects, and they’re all in different stages of trying to find
the money or having backers’ auditions. And meanwhile, then, the composer, let’s
say, says, “Listen, I’ve got a gig in Munich. I’ve got to go there for six months, because
I’ve got to make a living.” So you lose that six months. And then the book writer is doing a new play
at A.C.T. in San Francisco, and you lose him for four months. So, when they say that there are certain musicals
that take four and five years to develop, it’s because there’s no focus to that
team, because they’ve got to do things to stay alive. We kept saying, “The money is here, so you
guys just need to sit down (LAUGHS) and write. And the minute you’re finished writing,
we’ll put it on.” And it was, I think, an enormous freedom for
everyone to know, “Here are the dates. Here’s the first workshop. Then let’s do a dance workshop. Then let’s do a second music, book and lyrics
workshop. And then, here’s the date at the Globe. And here’s the aim for New York City.” And it was extremely clear. It was about an eighteen-month period. And that’s all each of us did during that
eighteen months, as opposed to having to, (SPEAKS UNENTHUSIASTICALLY) “Okay, you have
to do a backers’ audition now. There’s a guy in from General Electric who
likes Broadway musicals, let’s show it to him.” (LAUGHTER) We didn’t have that burden. And it was – Careful, Linds, we may need them next time! (LAUGHTER) The lights are gonna go off! (LAUGHTER) Did you have an open checkbook? I mean, certainly — Well, for a long time, they didn’t have
any checkbook, so I would hardly call it open! No, we created a budget and we watched it
very carefully. And any overages – which there were very
few, I’m happy to say – had to be run by various people. Mostly Lindsay would make the decisions, just
like any show. The fact that the money was there just made
it easier to begin and keep it going, but it didn’t change how we ran the show in
any way. So you had the same constraints, as if you
were doing this like any other commercial production. I ask that because we’ve talked to Disney,
who does not disclose their numbers, and I know that Fox does not as well. And they said that their budgets were as strict
as if they were operating under a limited partnership. And we’ve also spoken with the not-for-profit,
when the CONTACT people came and we asked them their numbers, and they said, “Well,
they’re equivalent to, the same as a commercial producer.” It’s always troublesome, because one thinks,
well, when the money is there, then anybody can create a show, as long as they have enough
money. And I think what you’re saying is that that
wasn’t the case here. You had a specific amount, and you had to
live by that. Absolutely. And in this case, we were very fortunate,
because we knew a lot about the project, so we were able to put line items down with a
dollar figure and know that we were fairly close to reality, and we just had to make
sure then that we stuck to them. But like any show, I enjoy the figures, and
I pride myself on keeping within them. So I don’t need someone to tell me, “You
don’t want to go over budget on this or that.” That’s what my job is, that’s why I’m
there. I think also, the origins of this go back
to the fact that Fox, as Lindsay said, is not in the business of creating theatre. This project, for all of us, came about because
Fox trusted Lindsay and his work with them. I, for one, felt a very strong sense that
we had to earn that trust on all of our behalfs, but certainly Lindsay had made this happen
for everybody. I remember, we had an early conversation where
he asked me, “How much is this going to cost?” And we had a conversation, and I gave him
what I thought was a reasonable number. And at that time, Jack and I (LAUGHS) were
having discussions, and I guess Lindsay was involved, about this rather simple, fairly
small musical. So we came to a number which, in retrospect,
was probably not enough. But ultimately, that’s what we told Fox,
and that’s what we produced the show for. But even to this day, the executives at Fox
are film producers, and they look to Lindsay specifically, but all of us, to help them
understand how this works. And so, we have, I think, an inordinate responsibility
to be responsive to them. So in many respects, I think I felt a little
more pressure on this project to stay within the framework that we had set out originally,
so that we didn’t do any damage to that relationship that he had or to some future
possibilities that might happen along the way. So. (TO LINDSAY) I know many of us in the theatrical
community were very disappointed when you deserted Broadway – what was it? Four or five years ago. Because your PBS, “American Playhouse,”
just was wonderful. You developed many writers, and it was a great
showcase for all of us. And now, you seem to have redeemed yourself
(LAUGHTER) by doing what is really a first Broadway show, is it not? I was actually involved – “American Playhouse,”
which I ran before Fox Searchlight, we financed A WALK IN THE WOODS on Broadway. But that was very different. That was a two-character play, with scenery
that didn’t move. (LAUGHS) This is very different! (LAUGHTER) Did you do WALK IN THE WOODS at the Globe? No, that was in at the La Jolla Playhouse. Des McAnuff did it originally. Oh, right. So now you’ve got your team together and
let’s try – I want to know where the money came from. 20th Century Fox, which owned Fox Searchlight,
which I used to run, paid for it. But as Tom was saying, indeed, we gave them
a number early on. (TOM SNICKERS) And as long as we never touched
that number, meaning as long as we never asked for more money, I knew they’d never get
in our hair. The minute [we asked for more] – there are
lots of accountants at a company as large as 20th Century Fox. The last thing we wanted was suddenly twenty
people flying to New York to provide “oversight,” because suddenly “They must be in trouble,
they need more money.” So we stayed assiduously on budget. And it is, to this day, with dimes and nickels,
but it is absolutely very modest for a Broadway musical, very modest budget. Well, that’s to all your credit, I’m sure. I think the key, we all know, is that waste
is what runs up the production cost. And I presume then, you had little waste. That’s why I want to hear more about how
you developed [it]. You mentioned that you decided on the Globe
and then into New York. How did that come about? Whose decision was that? Or did you have options? Well, just by virtue of Jack being the first
person I called helped set up a variety of fairly obvious options. A, the Globe has done a number of productions
that were eyeing Broadway if they were successful at the Globe. So as a non-profit institution, they had a
history of working with commercial production. We knew it would be no problem, because we’ve
all worked together so frequently. But it seemed to make sense. Again, it’s like learning from history. I mean, musicals are extremely tricky things
to get right. And in these days of the Internet and everything
else, you want to try to get them right, away from the prying eyes of a New York City audience. And I think, actually, one of the things that
Tom and I, I think, are proudest of is the schedule we put this on, which allowed the
group of people to never feel the pressure of “Oh my God, I’ve got to write a song
tonight and tomorrow night Hal Prince is going to be in the audience!” Well, I felt that pressure a couple of times! Yeah, but you didn’t have it in New York. You had it at the Globe. Well, that’s true. And if you didn’t meet the deadline, you
still had two more months after we closed in San Diego. It’s true. And any pressure you feel in San Diego, it’s
more like the pressure of a nice massage. (LAUGHTER) Shiatsu! Exactly. That’s a little more punishing! That’s pretty much why we did put the pressure
on you there, because we knew if we didn’t get it done there – Right, right. And now (LAUGHS), we all know what the pressure
on 49th Street is like! It’s just – We had the goal of the very first preview
in New York, if it had to be, we could have critics at it. That was the goal, which was to have the show
absolutely right in San Diego. I mean, after it previewed in San Diego and
then opened in San Diego, the entire creative team came back to New York, actually, just
to be away from that experience, and locked ourselves up in a room. And Terrence and David and Jack and Jerry
Mitchell, the choreographer, and Tom and myself just went through, “Okay, what’s working? What isn’t? And what shall we do?” And Terrence and David went off and created
new scenes and David replaced several songs. We went back to San Diego, put them in. And there were still things to do, but we
still had time to do them. And again, as Terrence would say, there was
still two months before we were even coming to New York City. What was that timetable? Well, the first workshop, I mean, just going
through the whole schedule. October of 1999, we got together twelve actors. There was a full book, and then about half
the songs in October. Umm-hmm. Two-thirds of the songs. Well, actually August, we started in August,
where the four of us and Terrence and Jerry Mitchell, our choreographer, locked ourselves
in a room in a hotel and read through the book, initially, Terrence’s first draft. That long ago? Yeah. And we were truly brilliant! (LAUGHTER) Which year? (LAUGHS) I’m sorry. ’99. Yeah. But that’s where we started. It was the first time we really looked at
the material. Right. Is that when you did the auditions? No. That was much later. Much later. Yeah. The first workshop was basically cast, working
with Ted Sperling, who by this time had joined us as musical director. Terry and Jerry and Jack basically going through
a variety of people they actually knew, the first workshop. We didn’t really audition for the first
workshop. That was in October, two weeks, with a performance
of it on the last day. So that was basically a year before we opened? That’s right. Yeah, correct. And in October, who came to that workshop? Thirty-seven people. As an audience. (GENERAL AGREEMENT) Actually, yeah, we just basically invited
friends. Friends. To get an input on what’s working, what
isn’t working. And people that we respected. We almost didn’t invite anyone, I remember,
and then we decided to bring a few people, just to see. Yeah. And it was focused only on the book and the
music and the lyrics. It wasn’t about staging. Jack and Jerry weren’t trying to get them
on their feet. It was about listening to the material. What scenes are working, what aren’t? Is this song in the right place? Isn’t that risky, though, inviting friends? Are they going to be that candid with you? It depends on the friends. Yeah, our friends are – (ROLLS HIS EYES;
LAUGHTER) We don’t have any friends now! (LAUGHTER) When one says one’s inviting friends, certainly
you invite people whose opinions you respects, who you know are basically supportive types,
so that they’re not wishing you ill. But on the other hand, they’re people who
are going to give you a straight answer. With knowledge. Absolutely. And there were some pretty tough people in
that crowd! As well as, you know, significant others,
and people who attend who want to like your work. But it was very representative, and it was
very clear from the opening moment that something amazing was going on. I mean, I’ve rarely felt so positive about
anything I’ve ever worked on, even from its inception. But you do wonder, when you’re sitting,
just a few of you in the room. And we all fall in our love with our work. We’re meant to do that! If you don’t make love to the work, you
can’t expect it to live. And so naturally, eventually, you lose objectivity. But insofar as it was possible, we kept sort
of casting a very sort of jaded eye on it and thinking, “No, this really seems right.” The minute those thirty-seven people, who
were disparate, who came from different perspectives on the whole situation, the minute they came
together, we knew that this was alive. And we had work to do, we knew that, but we
knew it was work we could do. Did you actually ask them, one on one, at
one point, what they thought? No, I don’t remember that. Or could you just sense it from the workshop? We each canvassed the people that we had invited
there and put all the opinions together afterwards. We didn’t really have an in-depth sort of
analysis, but we all canvassed the people that we were representing. And we found that almost all of the impressions
were the same. Also, I mean, by virtue of the fact that it’s
a comedy, I mean, half of our own judgment of “How is this going?” – it was easy
to make. Because you know, if they’re laughing, that’s
good. If they’re sitting on their hands, that’s
bad. And they laughed from beginning to end. Sure did. And we went, “Oh, this is funny!” And the treat was also – and that was the
treat of David’s work – was realizing that the humor didn’t stop when you got
to the songs, that the humor continues and builds. That the songs are every bit as funny and
every bit as much an important source of the humor and affection you feel for these guys
as is the book. And the workshop, that was the first indication
to me that I was capable of writing songs that made you laugh. I mean, I know I could write songs that make
me laugh! But in my more marginal career as someone
who performs my own stuff, my own music, I play in a loud club. Occasionally, there’s a funny lyric, and
I never hear laughter, because (LAUGHS) it’s loud and I’m singing! And this was really the first time I heard
an audience of any size laughing at lyrics that were supposed to be funny, of mine. And it was really important for me, because
it made me realize from then on out that I could go a certain route and know that it
would probably work. Tell a bit about your background, because
this is your first Broadway effort, and you mentioned clubs and so forth. But we don’t really know a lot about you. We’re going to hear a lot about you in the
future, we know that! From me, you will, yeah! (LAUGHTER) If our publicist does his job. (LAUGHTER) Well, you’ve got the best, so you don’t
have to worry. (LAUGHTER) But no, you told us that you came
on a recommendation of Adam Guettel and I wonder if he’s sorry! (LAUGHTER FROM THE PANEL) But in any event,
why do you suppose that you were so suited for this? I think I’m suited for this project because
I have a pretty contemporary musical voice. That as a composer of music, I listen to and
enjoy a lot of different types of music and can tap into pretty up-to-the-minute kind
of stuff, ‘cause I listen to it and play it in my band. Your band is called Yazbek? Yeah, yeah, it’s called Yazbek. Well, we didn’t know that was your name
for a long time. Yeah, that was the record label’s idea. It was called – well, I won’t even tell
you what it was called (LAUGHS), ‘cause it’s a little off-color. (LAUGHTER) But – What’s the next step? The next? With all these people and you listened to
all of them, then what happened? How do you get to the theatre, a Broadway
theatre? How do I get to the Broadway theatre? No, all of you. Well, after this October workshop, then Jerry
Mitchell did a workshop with just dancers, so that he could begin to invent – I mean,
he had a very difficult job. He had to invent a vocabulary of dance for
a group of characters who are in no way supposed to be able to dance. So he brought together a group of dancers
for two weeks, and worked with them on indeed inventing a dance vocabulary that would make
sense for these men. Is it true that you used Jerry because of
his background in doing the stripteases every year for BROADWAY BARES? No, that’s an added plus. But actually, I mean, I think earlier that
year, Jack had just seen the revival of FOLLIES out in New Jersey. Which knocked me out! He did a gorgeous, gorgeous job on the Paper
Mill Playhouse version of FOLLIES. I had known Jerry for a long time. Manny Azenberg introduced us when he was doing
JEROME ROBBINS’ BROADWAY, and said to me, “This guy should choreograph for you.” We had lunch, we liked each other. Oddly enough, we’re both Michigan boys. He’s from Pawpaw and I’m from Saginaw,
so we had a complete language all of our own. (LAUGHTER) And I had tried to work with him
before. As a matter of fact, Tom and I did a musical
version of HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS for the Globe three years ago, and Jerry was
meant to choreograph it, was all set to choreograph it, when he got YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE
BROWN, which was a Broadway credit and he couldn’t afford not to take it and I understood
that. So we’d been aiming at each other for quite
some time. And it just seemed perfect for him, as it
did for Terrence. That this was a piece that was energetic,
witty. He’s very good with working with actors,
who are not necessarily dancers, and making them comfortable. And there was this added thing about the fact
that he’s taken clothes off more people than Minsky! (LAUGHTER) I mean, you know, with BROADWAY
BARES, this remarkable thing that he’s done for ten years, which raises money for support
of AIDS. You know, he’s turned something that was
just a cottage industry into something that now is being seriously considered by Las Vegas. And so, it seemed that it was, again, the
perfect collusion of talents. And we know he’s extremely talented. You know, he did choreograph the American
Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards for us. Right. Oh, he’s great. Yeah. He comes in, and in a short time, has a concept
and gets it done. Yeah. And also, this wonderful spirit of “I can
do this! This’ll be fun!” You know, there’s never a disparaging word. There’s never a furrowed brow. He just goes at it, and he’s a delight to
be around. And we found him infectious, and he brought
to the table not only a world of experience but just so much verve and excitement that
it was irresistible. Okay, so let’s keep the thread going. We’ve now had Jerry’s workshop with the
dancers, and then eventually, somehow you got to – Then we did one more workshop in February
of this year, 2000. Where people did come. And we invited back five of the cast members
from the October workshop. We started casting for the other parts. David was writing new songs for this workshop. Terrence had changed the book considerably
for this workshop. And we were doing this workshop also with
the goal in mind of having a performance – again, just actors sitting around, you know, lecterns
– but having a performance of the material, primarily for the three main theatre owners
in New York City. So that this one actually had a dual purpose. It was to continue working on the book, it
was to see if this was the right cast, and hopefully, it was to entice one of these three
theatre owners to give us a theatre. Where was the workshop held? Forty-second street, between 10th and 11th
Avenues, which was definitely a sign, we thought to ourselves, of how we had come a long way. In February on 42nd Street between 10th and
11th, in this terrible, airless rehearsal room! This September, when we were rehearsing for
the Broadway production, we were in the beautiful new 42nd Street Studios that Mrs. Duke helped
finance. So we thought, “This is definitely a step
up.” Economically, how expensive is a workshop? Less than – the two workshops together must
have been – The caterers must have been expensive! (LAUGHTER) It was very expensive! We haven’t evolved (PH) it, because we don’t
give out our figures. Well, is it very expensive? No. (GENERAL AGREEMENT) It’s a very, very inexpensive
process. Compared to others that you’ve done, would
you say this is more modest? I would say, given the fact that there were
really three workshops and a regional theatre production, very modest. Plus the fact that we knew what we wanted
to do with the workshop. I had no doubt that Jerry could do the choreography. I had no doubt that I knew how to block the
scenes. And we weren’t auditioning that material
for somebody to give us money. So it was totally concentrated on how good
the book was sustaining itself and how the musical numbers were fitting together and
pacing themselves. We had a very specific goal in mind, and so
we cut away a lot of things, trimmings that some people have to do when they’re auditioning
material for producers. “Gee, what’s it gonna look like on its
feet?” Well, then you have to get up and do a couple
of scenes. Well, we didn’t do any of that. We concentrated on the acting and the singing,
but basically the creative material. That was our job. The important thing, too, to note, especially
in terms of musicals, all of us had spent a goodly amount of time before anyone sat
down to write, agreeing exactly on what we all wanted to create. I mean, there could be one vision of how we
were telling this story. Yes, there was a movie, there was a plot and
there were some characters. But what we were going to do with it was something
we spent a great deal of time talking about. And you know, when you suddenly could conceivably
get lost or maybe there’s an audience one night that isn’t so much in love with you
as they were the night before, it’s easy to question “What are we doing?” And yet, all we ever had to do for ourselves
was go back to “What did we set out to do? Is this accomplishing it or not? Is this the story we want to tell?” And that was always the guiding principle,
in terms of there was one single vision for this story, as opposed to five or six different
ones. Well, how far afield are you from the film? I think we should go into this. We know it’s the same story, but how much
of the words are the same, and what’s new? There’s a dozen lines of dialogue, maybe,
in the Broadway stage that are in the movie. The rest is all Terrence. But the shape, the intent, the skeletal structure
of how the story moves, how it focuses on six guys and their specific dilemmas, they
all pretty much parallel the film. Even the shape of how the story progresses
parallels the film. It has a lot of richness added, because now
it’s America – as opposed to Sheffield, England, it’s in Buffalo. We add musical numbers, we developed the women
more. Terrence created a character named Jeannette
who’s the rehearsal accompanist, because in the film they rehearse to recorded music. You can’t do that on a Broadway show, and
so, he invented this piano player who comes along, who brings a world of experience with
her, different from what the boys have. So there were wonderful appliques, on top
of the structure, but the structure was basically very faithful, I think, with the screen’s. I think there’s a whole level of delight
that audiences get out of seeing what Terrence has done, with some of the familiar elements
of the movie. Right. It’s almost like these little punch lines,
in that he’s put this here, instead of here, you know? That was one of the first questions we were
asking ourselves at the beginning of the process, was audiences who’ve seen the movie, and
that’s almost everybody, are going to expect this moment. How are we going to do it differently? And Terrence just came up with, I think, the
best way to do it in our structure. Well, as an audience member, I can tell you,
I sat there and watched a delightful, wonderful, funny musical, and it made no difference to
me that I remembered seeing a film way back, because it didn’t parallel it. But it did have the same skeletal feeling,
and I think that’s what was so smart of you people, to know that that’s all you
needed, and then you put it into the genre, which is why it’s so successful to me. I think that’s true. It’s sort of a running gag, too, because
people come out of the theatre and walk up to Lindsay, oftentimes rather apologetic,
to say, “I liked it so much more than the movie!” (LAUGHTER FROM THE PANEL) And we all think,
“It’s fine. That’s where we are now.” But I think it is true. We went through the same experience, actually,
with DAMN YANKEES, not too many years ago, and the idea there was to make it more contemporary. But I think Jack said, early on, “We want
the audiences who saw it in its original form to feel like they’re seeing the same musical,
and yet contemporize it.” And we were successful there, and I think
this has the same impact. If you saw the movie, I think you’re delighted
with the musical, because all the elements are there, not necessarily in the same place
or framework. If you didn’t see the movie, you don’t
need it as a reference point. Audiences come who have never seen the film,
and just have a great time. So it works either way. Well, let’s keep the story going though,
in the making of this great musical. We’ve got you now to the point where you
know what you want to do. And I think you’re up to the point, I guess,
where you’re beginning to cast, are you not? We’ve now completed the third workshop. That was about a hundred people came to the
final performance of that. Right. And that was screamingly funny. I must say, we really did know what we had
at that point, and the three theatre owners were madly trying to figure out, you know,
which of their shows might soon not be around any longer so they could offer us a theatre. So it accomplished all the goals we wanted. And we had six weeks. We had a lovely little party at Sardi’s
to thank our cast and said, “We’ll see you in six weeks!” And we went into rehearsal in San Diego, bringing
everyone from New York out to San Diego. We went into rehearsal for a June 1st opening
at the Old Globe Theatre. So what was the time lapse between performances? You started rehearsals on June 1st, but when
had you completed your workshop? The workshop was completed at the end of February. The cast took off the month of March, and
then April 6th, I believe, the six men went into rehearsal for a week. And then the whole rest of the cast joined
them a week later. And that’s the cast that’s appearing on
Broadway. That’s right. Yep. Jack, why don’t you tell us how you got
to that cast? Well, part of it was the remarkable thing
that happened – you know, sometimes fate is kind to you. The very first reading, as we say, we sort
of combed through our phone books and said, “Well, let’s get these people to read
it.” And a few people we didn’t know, and a couple
people we did. I mean, Ted Sperling added people, I added
people. Terrence had suggested people. And out of those original people, five of
those people are still in the company. Nobody but those five people have ever read
or sung those parts. That was the very first workshop! Then Jerry Mitchell did his dance workshop
and we learned more about the vocabulary that he needed to explore when actually, realistically,
these guys only dance once. They dance at the end of the show. We know that, that’s a given. So how are you going to keep a musical going,
with its energy and creativity, when you can’t use dance steps? And that was what that workshop was for. And then, by the time we got to the February
workshop, we had auditioned extensively and we found a few more people. And I think, with one exception, which was
the role of Jeannette – no, two exceptions, and Pam, because that character kept changing
and changing and changing – all of those people came to San Diego, and there were just
two more to add. So it was an accumulative thing. And the nice thing about it was, we were building
on a kind of style. I was determined that this would not be writ
large, in its performance, that the performers would be natural and real and affecting. Not punched, not larger than life, but true
to life. And so, once we began to put those people
together, the chemistry was quite – you knew when you had the right blend. And we were, again, very lucky. Very, very lucky. Well, how about the rest of the creative team? You mentioned that you got your musical conductor
involved very early. How about your designers? How did you come about selecting them? And who? And did you have any difficulty making the
deals? (LAUGHTER) We agreed on John Arnone to do the sets. He did extensive research, went up to Buffalo,
took hideous pictures (LAUGHTER), that made us laugh. So we agreed with John. John brought us Howell Binkley, a collaborator
that he’s worked with, lighting designer that we hadn’t worked with. But I do believe in the designers supporting
each other, and knowing that there’s a shortcut, there’s language that they know how to speak
with each other, it sort of facilitates things. So we were very happy with that. Bob Morgan is a costume designer that Tom
and I have worked with at the Old Globe Theatre for the better part of maybe twenty years. He’s done a plethora of things for me, including,
in fact, most recently in New York, PRIDE’S CROSSING that I did at Lincoln Center. He did that show as well. And we wanted in the mix, because it was going
to be a Globe production, we wanted some of our own personnel involved in that, just to
keep the familial feeling with it, so that’s how we got all of those people. I think that’s everybody. And Charlotte, as far as making deals with
all these people? This project has been blessed from the first
day. And the basic structures of the deals, when
I got first involved, there were some pieces in place that should have made it very difficult
to make deals. In fact, Lindsay and Tom and I would talk
about, “Oh, this is going to be impossible. They just won’t stand for it! It won’t be done.” But it was blessed, and we made the deals
very simply. How long it took to get those deals executed
was another matter. Once you get lawyers involved, suddenly you
find many points that you didn’t know that were there. But in general, it was very easy. And everybody fell in line? Everybody who heard about this project was
thrilled to want to be on it. And there was a fairness in the thinking behind
why this person gets X, why this person gets Y. I mean, there was intelligence behind why
that decision was made. And eventually, regardless of how many lawyers
want to dive in, eventually everyone suddenly goes, “Yes, that makes sense. We’ll agree to that.” I’d like to go back to the unglamorous. What does a general manager do? What is a general manager? Whatever the producer tells them to do. (LAUGHTER) And a lot more! Starting from that. You’ve been told you’re a general manager. What is a general manager? Well, in this case, I worked very closely
with Lindsay and Tom. They had already told Fox what the show was
going to cost, so I had to make a budget that would come out that way. And fortunately – Is that basically where you start, as a general
manager? That is basically where you start, as a general
manager. You’ve got to start with the figures. Once you’re hired, that’s the first thing
everybody wants to know. So that we did, and it worked out. And then we started approaching people and
making the deals. The creative team had been decided upon. Some of the deals were done. So we started making the other deals. And once you do that and someone’s hired,
they start doing their work, and that then generates my work. And I think the most important thing a general
manager can do is stay in tune with what the creative team is doing. You’re really there to serve them. If they’re going down the wrong road, and
you know that you’re going to end up not having the money for something they want,
you want to let them know that real early, before they’ve invested a lot of time in
something that you know the producers can’t or don’t want to afford. And so, it’s really hearing and talking
to people, and knowing where they’re coming from. Seeing when there’s going to be a problem,
subverting it if you can. And when you see something that they need
that isn’t provided for, figuring out how you can do it. It’s taking your cues from everybody else. But it’s safe to say, I think, the general
manager oversees the day-to-day operation of a Broadway musical, financially, and in
terms of the logistics, from top to bottom. So Charlotte’s job is very much hands-on,
making sure that everything, from the company manager through to the carpentry staff and
the electricians, are getting their job done, on time, on budget. And then, serving the interests of the creative
team at the same time. And I think, letting us know, which she does
brilliantly, when we need to intercede and help people understand where there may be
problems or where we’re looking at an issue that might need for all of us to sit down
and talk about it. So it’s the pivot point, I think, in the
middle of a production that is vital. And did she come in at the very beginning
of this? We hired Charlotte very early on. When we were actually in San Diego, since
I had managed that theatre for twenty years, essentially, I’ve never had a general manager. I functioned there as a producer and a general
manager. And fortunately, (LAUGHS) my guess about the
budget was pretty correct, so we didn’t have that problem. So Charlotte and I have a mutual language,
I think, that works very well. And also, Lindsay’s had a lot of hands-on
work. So I think this ended up being a very good
collaboration. Charlotte, as a general manager, also we’re
in her office constantly (LAUGHS). Actually, her very small office, Lindsay and
I are always in there, taking up space. But we like, I think, to have Charlotte involved
on many questions that become issues of producing as well, because she has such a smart ability
to sort of throw things back at us. Are you now a production team? Well, this certainly is the team that has
produced the show. But I don’t think we have any immediate
plans to pick that up and do it again. (LAUGHTER) That’s what I was wondering about. If that’s what you were wondering about. I keep saying, you know, to get these two,
to whom you are responsible, and be able to have a climate that is intelligent and fair
and reasonable and creative, is a rare thing in the theatre. And it would be wonderful to think that they’re
going to go on and do all my work! (LAUGHTER) But I don’t think they are. I don’t think we’ll ever get him back
into a theatre, right, Linds? This one’s going to keep us busy for a while,
anyway! Let’s hope so! Michael, tell us about at what point the public
relations begins, or began on this show. Well, the public relations for me begins right
after the meeting with the producers. And this show has been an absolute dream for
a press agent. I could not imagine having more fun, both
with the production itself and with the players, which makes a huge difference, as Tom said. But something that I like to do is, when I
first meet with the producers of a show, I like to go in with a list of questions that
I have. And it generally turns out that the list of
questions that I have for the producers about the show and the specifics of the show are
the questions that the press has and that the public has. So I always keep that on hand, from the very
first meeting, because hopefully, after the first meeting with the producers, the answers
to the questions that you have are encouraging. And you think, “Okay, there’s a lot that
I can do here.” And that was certainly the case with Lindsay
and Tom, after the first meeting. But it sort of came in waves. I think we decided, first off, that there
was no need to rush into announcing that the show was happening, announcing the plans to
move to Broadway. I think we agreed from the get-go that we
wanted to keep this quiet. We wanted to do the work quietly and off the
radar, so that people could concentrate on the work and not concentrate on eyes from
the East Coast being on the creative team on the West Coast. And I think we successfully did that. I think also, the timing was really fortuitous
for us, because as the show began previews, rehearsals and end of previews in San Diego
was just about the time that the Tony Awards were exploding, and the Tony race was on here
in New York. So everybody was pretty busy, which was very
lucky. Shortly after the Tony Awards were over, we
opened in San Diego, and we had a few people from New York come out and see the show and
were really wild about it. So that helped a lot, early on. But then, once again, we decided, “Let’s
have those few seeds be planted and let’s leave it alone for a while.” So I think we pretty much left it alone throughout
the summer. And we thought that the best way to approach
the show – there’s a name recognition from the film, obviously. Everybody knows generally what the story is
going to be. So there wasn’t an education process, like
there is on some brand-new shows, where you have to educate them what it’s about, what
the tone of it’s going to be, is it a comedy? You know, is it a serious tone? We didn’t have any of that work to do, because
people generally understood it already. So that was very lucky. And I think that we really held back, until
previews began. And then, once preview began, we opened the
gates. We said, “Now we can do this, because now
people can see it. We’ll be quiet until people can actually
come in and word of mouth can start spreading and supplement whatever publicity we do and
whatever advertising we do, and people can start talking about the show on their own
terms.” And I think that that’s worked really well. And I think one of the things that you said
about people coming in and seeing the show, and it speaking to them so resonantly is the
fact that it’s moved from Sheffield, England, to Buffalo, New York. I think people are wild about seeing a story
about real people, real Americans, working-class Americans, that are flawed, but [that] they
absolutely fall in love with. So when you have people coming to the theatre
and laughing hysterically every night, it makes my job so much easier! But there’s something remarkable, though,
that he pulled off, which is managing the information that the press wants. Just because they want it doesn’t mean you
have to give it to them. And knowing, even if you have nervous producers,
when to hold everything back is an enormous skill, because it’s easy to impress you,
the producers, by just getting tons of press. Michael actually went in quite the opposite
direction, in terms of “Let’s let the audience and the press be part of discovery. Let them discover it. Let us not shove it down their throats.” I mean, you can shove shows down people’s
throats, and indeed, it gets tons of attention and people know about it, and you know, eventually
maybe they go, if it’s any good. But he knew the show was good, so he said,
“Oh, fine. The show’s good, so let them discover it
on their own.” And the pleasure of discovering it, as opposed
to having it shoved down your throat and then seeing it and going, “Oh, it’s good!” If you feel like you’re part of the discovery
process, your enthusiasm is doubled. And so, the press, who were eventually, you
know, let in on this and eventually shown little snippets and this and that, just to
keep it kind of bubbling. I mean, it was a very different process. It made the first week of previews a little
shaky (LAUGHTER FROM THE PANEL), because we indeed hadn’t sold all our tickets the first
week of previews. Because again, we were trying to not come
in waving a huge flag and screaming, “Hey, pay attention to us!” It was definitely a matter of allowing the
press to discover it, begin to then tell the audience about it, with the same air of freshness
that the show reflected. It takes a lot of pressure off of the writers
and director and choreographer, as well. You get to work in a sort of protected space. And for someone like me, who’s never done
it before, that was very valuable. And for someone like Terrence (LAUGHS), who’s
done it a million times before, it was probably even more valuable. And I mean, (TO JACK) I imagine you found
it to be true, too. Oh, absolutely. No question about it. But there was word out. Everybody knew that out in California was
this wonderful show. And they all really knew about it. We didn’t see it, maybe some of us saw reviews,
but we all knew that it was really out there. I think within the industry, there was a definite
knowledge of the show. I mean, there was something brewing out there,
and I think within the industry, that’s definitely true. But you didn’t hear a word that, “Oh,
they just pulled two songs.” I mean, you know, there was no hype, negative
hype. Right, right. But we’re hearing about shows all the time
that are out on the road. Some are struggling, some are not. And we never heard anything about any struggle
with THE FULL MONTY, we just knew it was a big success out there and it was coming to
New York! It was coming like a steamroller! As a matter of fact, for those of us who’ve
been around Broadway musicals for a long time, this again sounds like a fairy tale. It doesn’t sound true. You don’t talk about any problems you had
out there. You decided what you were going to do and
you did it. And there are always some series of professions
around the shows. Here, this group of professionals, somehow
you didn’t fall into any trouble. What happened? Why? It’s a fairy tale, is the word. I mean, Jack, just a day or two ago, had to
return to his theatre in San Diego for some business there, and did call me and say, “This
did happen, right?” (LAUGHTER) “I mean, they did like us? You are selling tickets? Or has this all been a terrible dream?” Because we’re all so accustomed to the opposite. You know, it’s also, I think, part of, certainly,
our working process. I mean, Jack and I have been running a theatre
for twenty years, where we do twelve, thirteen, fourteen productions a year. You don’t have either the luxury or the
stress of one project making or breaking it for you. Lindsay is producing multiple films that way. And I think, from the very beginning, that’s
the way we work, which is to say, I’ve always considered my job to protect the artists as
much as I can. We’ve never invited the national press to
the Old Globe, when we’ve got something that we even think is pre-Broadway. As a matter of fact, we’re very clear not
to. Now, a few snuck in on this one, which the
night that happened, we were furious about it! Yeah, we didn’t know about that. Fortunately, they liked the show! The New York Times bought their own ticket
and came to the show, which none of us knew about, actually. We all fainted when we saw that! So actually, part of it was strategic and
part of it was fortuitous. And I think we also, in our hiring practice,
hired people who understood that and enjoyed that part of it and it all came together. So it wasn’t all just good luck, but there
was a lot of luck involved with it. I mean, we worked hard to sort of stay undercover
and keep the process going. Also, I have to say that, you know, we talk
a lot about this. It is at the heart of what goes on, which
is a sense of communication, open communication between everybody. It was a conscious effort on my part to keep
everybody in the same room, talking all the time. Because I have that relationship with these
men, and it was very easy to do it with my collaborators. That’s how we did it. So every time we got to another wall or another
place that we had to get over, we were very careful to get together. Everybody expressed their opinions. Then we decided together what we were going
to do. So there was never any factionalizing, there
was never any pulling apart. And that was a conscious effort, to keep everybody
on board at the same time, and it really paid off. This seems a good time to take a break, and
let’s return. We’re going to see if we can’t somehow
find out at what point there might have been some controversy. (LAUGHTER FROM THE PANEL) Let’s take a break
now, if we can, and return from later. (APPLAUSE)
MALE VOICE This is CUNY-TV, the City University of New
York. (APPLAUSE) Welcome back to the American Theatre
Wing’s seminar on “Working in the Theatre.” This show is on the production, the wonderful
hit show that’s on Broadway now, THE FULL MONTY. I’d like to tell you a little bit more about
the American Theatre Wing. It’s not only these seminars that we produce
and the Tony Award, that is given for excellence in the theatre, but we are a year-round organization. And although these are the most visible of
our programs, they’re only a small part of the work we do for the community. As a not-for-profit charity, we serve both
theatre and the community with our year-round programs. The Wing works to develop new audiences for
the theatre, and in so doing, a broadening of young minds. We bring these young children to the theatre,
and we bring the artist from the theatre to the schools. We find that the magic of theatre would otherwise
not be given to these people, nor would they be able to broaden the minds of the young
people. Programs for students include “Introduction
to Broadway,” which in its eighth year has enabled more than 80,000 New York City school
children, high school students, to attend a Broadway show, many for the first time. The Wing also introduces young people to theatre,
by bringing these professionals into schools for workshops, as a part of our “Theatre
in School” program. Additionally, the Wing’s hospital program,
which dates back to World War Two, when we created the legendary Stage Door Canteens,
we continue to entertain patients in hospitals, nursing homes, AIDS centers, hospices and
child care facilities in the New York area. With volunteer talent from Broadway, Off-Broadway
and the cabaret world, the Wing continues to bring live entertainment, hope and joy
to those who are not able to go out and attend the magic of theatre. With our grants and scholarship program, we
provide essential funding, where today it is so needed. We take pride in the work we do, and remain
so grateful to our members and everyone who makes the American Theatre Wing’s program
possible. Our work strengthens the ties between theatre
and the community, and we are proud to be a part of this great effort. And so now, I would like to continue with
our seminar on the production of THE FULL MONTY. Thank you, Isabelle. We’ve been hearing this saga of the lovefest
in creating this show. And it seems to me that I’d like to get
a little deeper into, actually, how everybody really worked to get this to the point where
you really have such a great relationship going on. Now, you’ve mentioned your background, but
there’s a lot of work that has to be done, to create this show. And we didn’t get any sense of that yet,
as you describe. It all just seemed to go so nice and gently. (LAUGHTER FROM THE PANEL) Tell about [it]. I mean, people want to know what it really
takes to produce a show, and I think it would help if you gave some better clues [of] what
you went through. Well, let’s start with the fact that David’s
a son-of-a-gun, and I can’t stand to work with him! (LAUGHTER) There! That’s the kind of thing we wanted to hear! But we can talk about Lindsay in the same
way. No, in very different ways! (LAUGHTER) It’s a warm-hearted show, that I think reflects
an amount of love that the characters possess. But I must say, it’s also a reflection of
a group of people who saw eye-to-eye. I mean, it’s not going to make for raging
headlines for you. But it’s a group of people who saw eye-to-eye
from the very beginning of the process, and the producer’s main job on this – you
know, in addition to the obvious things like managing money and getting a theatre and this
and that – was to provide as much space for those people to do the best work they
could. Jack is an amazing inspiration for us, in
terms of getting people to focus on why a scene is not working. I mean, that’s why the performances he gets
from our cast, which have been one of the strengths of the show, everyone has lauded,
is the reality of the performer. The ensemble on that stage and how real they
are and how unusual that is. And in that same way, that ability to communicate
is something Jack does especially well. And so, if Terrence would come in with a new
scene that suddenly was terribly funny, but actually was off the mark in terms of where
our characters are meant to be going, more than likely Jack, but sometimes the producers,
would suddenly say, “Gee, do you think it should be [like that]? Isn’t that too – that’s so mean-spirited
of Jerry to say.” Or, “Is this right?” I mean, if you see eye-to-eye from the beginning,
if there’s a strong vision for the project, and if the people get along well and respect
one another, then everyone’s just free to do good work. As opposed to wasting a lot of energy, you
know, with back-biting, or “How are we going to get David to finally, you know?” You know, I mean, it just wasn’t like that. To finally what? What was it in your mind there? (LAUGHTER) No, I’m saying, that’s what didn’t exist! I did make one serious mistake, though. Oh, yeah! The last two weeks in San Diego, we were waiting
for a song from David. (DAVID LAUGHS) The last song, I foolishly,
thinking as an incentive I would help him along, offered to take him to dinner at a
restaurant of his choice. Unfortunately, he delivered the song late,
and now I have to deliver on the dinner here in New York (LAUGHTER), rather than San Diego,
so it’s going to cost me a lot more. But you know, first of all, I think it would
be unfair to suggest that any of this was easy. I think we all got along well. I think there’s an inordinate amount of
trust that each of us has for one another, in the core group. And I think we made some decisions, in terms
of the other people that we brought to this project, that just helped make that work. But if you trust someone, even at the height
of the most difficult times, you know they’re not making a suggestion for themselves. They’re typically working on behalf of everyone. And I think that’s what worked for us. But it was a long, tough process. I mean, David’ll be the first to tell you
that there are four songs, I think, that are out of the show, from when it started. I think there are five songs, yeah. Been replaced. You’ll hear ‘em again in something else,
I’m sure. (LAUGHTER) Terrence, quite literally, Jack was putting
lines in to the Broadway production the Monday night before the critics came on Tuesday. We were struggling with money every day. I mean, all of that! So to suggest that this was all smooth and
easy I think would be unfair. To suggest that we all worked really well
together, out of, I think, mutual respect and an understanding of what we wanted to
do, I think is true and correct. But it’s always a struggle. A musical – having produced 260-some-odd
plays now, in the last twenty-two years, musicals are always the hardest, because you’re just
layering need on top of need. You’ve got the book writer and then you’ve
got your composer and you’ve got a musical staff, and you’ve got all those different
people. And there’s never enough time. And their assistants. And their assistants. And you just don’t have enough hours in
the day. And I think, ultimately, for us, we became
the arbiters of who gets time, how does it work, a lot of explanation as to what we could
and couldn’t do. So that’s always ongoing. David, I think we dropped a stitch a while
back. You were giving us a nice, interesting background
of yourself and then we lost it. So why don’t you pick up and tell us how
you came to this, Chapter Two. (LAUGHS) I don’t remember exactly where
we dropped it. Had we gotten to actually me getting – oh
yeah, we were at the process! The beginning. Once the producers decided that it was okay
to take a chance on me, and I think that they went out and they listened to my pre-existing
two albums, my pop albums, and that was the first indication that maybe I could do this
project. We all just started talking and sort of seeing
if we had a similar vision. And I went off and did a few songs for the
show. This is before there was anything, really. There was no book. So sort of flying blind, but having the movie
to think about, and having some conversations with these guys and with Terrence, I think
I did four songs, three of which we’re still using in the show. Umm-hmm. And that was enough for them to keep me on
for however much longer. You know, it’s a risk, but it’s not a
complete, hundred percent risk, because you can always bring on someone else at any stage. You don’t want to, I’m sure, if you’re
a producer. It might be costly and not time-efficient. But I don’t think it took that long for
me to feel like this was my gig, I had this job, and you know, we could do it. I met with Terrence in his apartment and the
first question he asked is, “How do you see this show?” And I just said, “GUYS AND DOLLS.” Meaning that that’s the feeling that I would
like to have when I see the show, and that’s the feeling I’d like audiences to have. In other words, something that exists as not
a through-composed, sort of hyper-serious – at least in terms of the process of the
show. Something where there are scenes, where there
are really strong book scenes that have a chance to breathe and get laughs, and then
songs. And most importantly, Terrence himself said,
“Let’s not try to recreate the American musical! You know, let’s just try to do something
very entertaining.” And I think that was all of our vision from
the beginning. I’m not sure where to go from here. Well, here, you wrote both the music and lyrics. Now, some of our best creators on Broadway
don’t undertake trying to do both music and lyrics. And here, your first time out, you do it and
you’re a big success. I mean, where do you go now? (LAUGHS) I have no idea! You know, the reviews came out on Friday. This is Wednesday. And I know that I’m going to finish my album,
the album that I sort of put on hold to finish up THE FULL MONTY. And I’ll put that out. But in the meantime, let’s see what other
people think (LAUGHS), if they feel the same way! You would like to continue on Broadway? I’d like to continue in the theatre. Well, we’d like to have you. That’s why I prefer you say that! Well, thank you! Yeah, Broadway would be nice. (LAUGHTER) I’ll take other venues, too. But you know, there was something about this
process. I think I’m spoiled. I think we all got along so well, and we were
all so – you know, there are egos, but if you’re all working towards the same goal,
you find yourself sort of sharing one big ego, instead of a lot of little egos bouncing
into each other. Umm-hmm. That was, to me, one of the most rewarding
parts of this, sort of learning how to collaborate. Learning how to take direction! In my band, I hire my musicians and I tell
‘em what to do. And we discuss things, but it’s not really
– it’s collaborative, but you know, if I want to make the last decision, I do. In this show, and I guess in any show, the
collaboration is so intense all the time, that you just don’t do that. It’s really foreign to me, and I really
enjoyed it! I think I enjoyed it because these two producers
really, every decision they made and passed down built my confidence in their ability
to produce a show. I’ve worked in advertising and had the client
say things that just make you want to get it over with, slit your wrists and just, you
know, get it done with. I’ve been in the record business and had
people who are supposed to be looking out for you and selling your records just make
bad suggestion after bad suggestion. And I’ve also, you know, worked in TV and
films and had producers who – As a writer? As a writer – who just seemed to not know
what they were doing. In this case, these guys really know what
they’re doing. They’ve got great senses of humor. In fact, when we first all met –- I think
it was at Terrence’s country house, and I went up with Jack and with Lindsay in a
limo. And I was a little nervous, because I had
never really in person met either of them. And I just sat in the front listening to them
for three hours just joke and just laugh hysterically the whole way up, and I knew I was in good
company! (LAUGHTER) Well, let me just switch gears a little bit. We often hear that a lot of the problems in
our industry relate to unions. Now, as the general manager, you have to deal
with what? At least a dozen unions on this show. And how did it fare on this? With the same lovefest that happened in the
creative team? Well, I don’t know that you can call a relationship
with a union a lovefest! (LAUGHTER) But we didn’t have problems with
the unions. Again, I think it goes back to what Lindsay
said, which was from day one, everyone involved knew what they wanted and plotted it out. They didn’t have to worry about raising
the money. They had a time line. So much of what goes wrong with a union is
you’ve told a group of union workers that we’re going to do this on Monday and this
on Tuesday and this on Wednesday. And when you suddenly have to change it, because
you can’t meet the schedule, that’s when you’re in trouble, because you haven’t
given the proper notice, something. We didn’t have any of those experiences. We were able to stay on our schedule perfectly. And therefore, everyone’s expectations were
met. Well, tell us, for example, how many musicians,
how many stagehands, how many dressers, actors, understudies? Oh, God, I don’t think I can tell you that! I can tell you have many musicians! (LAUGHTER) Undressers. Undressers, right, exactly! What is that? Well, we have a conductor and twelve musicians. We have twenty-nine Equity members. We have thirteen stagehands on the Local 1
crew and six stagehands on our pink contract crew. Two wardrobe supervisors, a hair supervisor,
seven dressers. I can’t begin to tell you how many ushers
and ticket takers, but I’d say maybe thirteen to twenty-two. (TO MICHAEL?) You probably can, from writing all those opening
night cards, right? (MICHAEL LAUGHS) Shows like you have close to a hundred people,
then, involved? I would say probably seventy-plus. If you add house staff, that’s clearly over
a hundred. And yet, the audience goes and they remember
a half-a-dozen people, and maybe there are some women in the cast, totalling the same
amount. So they see maybe a dozen people that they
retain, and here it is, a hundred people they don’t see doing this show. And you didn’t have difficulty with them? We really didn’t have difficulty. This show didn’t have difficulty. You know, it’s a cliché to say, but there
weren’t problems. There were challenges, because nothing is
easy and it takes work, but everyone had the common goal. And I do think the material, as it has been
said before, affects your own heart, and you fall in love, and once you’re in love, you
want to do it, you want to make it happen. And right down to the head usher. I mean, she walks in and beams every night. I worked with her on GREASE, she was thrilled
to see me. I said, “You’re gonna love this show,
it’s fantastic!” I’m sure she’s heard that a million times
before. She came up to me after the first performance,
she says, “You’re right, I loved it! It’s fantastic!” It just infiltrates everything. Is it true that the ushers come down to the
front at the very end of the show to see the full monty? (LAUGHTER) Only a couple. What is a full monty? (LAUGHTER) Good question – The full monty –- Why don’t you just demonstrate? (LAUGHTER; APPLAUSE) Oh, thanks! “The full monty” is an expression derived
from a habit that General George Montgomery had in World War Two, which was prior to battle,
he would sit down in the field and have an enormous full breakfast of kippers and rashers
of bacon and toast and eggs. And they would say, “That breakfast was
the full monty,” meaning it was everything. So “the full monty,” in England, is an
expression like ours of “the whole nine yards.” It doesn’t mean taking off your clothes. It’s “going all the way,” or this thing,
you know, “We’re going the whole nine yards.” Now, in the world of strippers, going all
the way is, indeed, taking off all your clothes. So that’s how it applies to our show. But “the full monty,” in and of itself,
does not mean taking off your clothes. It means “going all the way.” In terms of taking off all your clothes, how
are you handling that with the press? Well, I think it’s important to all of us
that people know – once again, coupled with the information that people already have from
seeing the film, that people understand that they’re not going to come and see a two-and-a-half
hour musical that’s all about stripping, because the stripping is the end result of
what the entire show is about. It leads up to this moment. And it’s about liberation. It’s about love and support from people
in your life. It’s about so many things. But as far as the publicity goes, I think
that the press is always wont to have something to identify a two-and-a-half hour show with,
by a single image or a single sentence, a description. And clearly, we knew that we were going to
be faced with the challenge of, “Okay, how do we let people know that it’s about so
much more than stripping?” Well, you know, all of the photos that have
run to date have most of the time been right at the moment of the strip. But I think that what we’ve done is we’ve
allowed ourselves to have – once again, trusting, everybody trusting – and I think
this is a good time also to say that the entire cast has been phenomenal about helping the
publicity effort on the show. Specifically, the six guys that strip in the
show, because what they’ve had to do is they’ve had to function as a unit, publicity-wise. Everybody wants pictures of the six of them. Everybody wants to speak to the six of them. And I think the harmony that you see on stage
is real. And I’ve witnessed it on a day-to-day basis,
working with these guys, because they’re all so agreeable. Once again, as a trust established between
the publicity department and the cast, they certainly wouldn’t walk into a photo shoot
ready to take their clothes off unless they thought they were being protected and that
we were positioning it correctly. But enough of this talk. Are we going to get a chance to see what they’re
doing in the theatre? Well, I sent you tape. I think you have tape, if you’d like to
[show it]. Well, I think maybe we ought to find out what
it is you’re talking about! (LAUGHTER) Well, of course, you will only see up to a
certain point. And I just, at this point, on behalf of all
of us, want to disclaim that you do see “the full monty.” As the cast always likes to say in interviews,
“They don’t call it ‘the half monty.’” But you won’t see that on this tape, but
you will in the theatre. Well, why don’t we take a look at it? Can you go to the videotape? Let’s go to the videotape. (MUSIC. THE SIX GUYS ARE SINGING AND DURING THIS SONG,
“Let it go, let it go. Loosen up, yeah, let it go. Let it go, let it go. It’s all right. Let it go, let it go. Shake it up now, let it go. You just tell me when you think you’re ready! Let it go, let it go. Loosen up, yeah, let it go. Let it go, let it go. It’s all right. Let it go, let it go. Shake it up now, let it go. Let it go!” (APPLAUSE) There’s about a minute and a half more of
that number. Much more revealing! Yeah! (LAUGHTER) And exciting. I guess that’s the difference between free
television and paying your way into the theatre! (LAUGHTER) That’s right! You know what I also have to say about the
moment of nudity at the end of the show that you see, I’ve watched shows before where
nudity is involved. And I think that most of the time, it’s
uncomfortable for an audience to watch it or for an audience to be there, because they
feel innately uncomfortable for the person on stage who’s in the buff. But in this show, as I said, it’s the culmination
of everything that’s happened on stage. It’s the opposite of that! It’s the antithesis of being uncomfortable
for them. You’re pulling for them. And sometimes I like to go and stand on the
side and watch the audience as it’s happening. Oh sure, Michael, we know! (MUCH LAUGHTER) (LAUGHS) But you see the joy of the audience. It’s this anticipation of, “Oh, these
guys,” who they’ve fallen in love with over the last two-and-a-half hours, “are
actually gonna do it!” And you see, there’s no sense of being uncomfortable
for them in the least. It’s really a lovely thing to see. You know, in terms of life reflecting art
and art reflecting life, whichever, but in San Diego, I mean, they knew from reading
the script indeed what was gonna happen at the end. But there did have to be a first time they
would finally do this. And evidently, unbeknownst to Tom and I, the
six actors had sat down and asked to chat to Jack and said, “We will do it, we’re
not going to chicken out. But we’re not doing it at the technical
rehearsals. We’re not doing it at the dress rehearsal. We will do it for the first time in front
of an audience. It’s the only way we’re going to be able
to do this.” And Jack honored that, said, “Fine, okay. There are some lighting things we have to
look at and this and that, but you can do that in your G-strings.” And at that very first performance in San
Diego, and I remember, I mean all of us – and actually, (TO DAVID) I remember specifically
talking to you, saying, “There will never again be a first performance of THE FULL MONTY.” It was actually quite moving. (LAUGHTER) And that night, the guys, our six
actors were the guys in our story. (LAUGHTER) Because as six, you know, Equity
performing artists with, you know, (LAUGHS) distinguished credits, were working their
way towards, you know, a performance at the end of which they were going to take off all
their clothes for the very first time, in front of six hundred and fifty strangers in
the Old Globe Theatre. And it was remarkable for them. It was actually an extremely moving moment,
in terms of, you know, the two things actually blending. Which again, never happened again. It was the first time it was ever gonna happen. But I feel I have to say, for those of you
who have not seen it, and for our audience who had not yet seen it, it’s not embarrassing. I mean, it’s done in terms of lighting in
a very artful way that is not confrontational. So you utterly know that they’ve taken their
clothes off. But it isn’t like us sitting out here with
all this light on us. (LAUGHTER) Thank God! No. We drew the line at that! Was that yours? Was that your doing? Did you devise that clever way? We devised it together, but it was always
my determination, right at the beginning. I knew – I mean, the film ends with a freeze
frame from the back, so that you know what goes on. You can’t really achieve that on the stage,
although it occurred to me to try at one point. I mean, early on, I was wondering how to do
this. And then, I always knew that I was going to
do something so distracting, so surprising, that you would be taken off guard. And then, Jerry Mitchell and I sort of evolved
from that, in terms of the lighting effect that we finally got. We finally figured out how we could do both
things, and not upset anybody, and yet honor our commitment. Because people who saw the movie know that
they have to do it! So we’ve got to do it. And (SMILES) we did. (LAUGHTER) What’s the percentage of those that saw
the movie, do you know? The percentage of those that saw the movie
who are seeing the show, you mean? Yeah. It must be overwhelming! I mean, that was one of the most attended
films. Where did we do it? We did do a “raise your hand” – where
did we do that? It’s, I’m sure, half. But it’s not larger than that, I don’t
think. I mean, the movie was extremely successful
in New York City. We did surveys, back in February and March,
in terms of people who’d seen the movie, “Would you be likely to attend a Broadway
musical version?” or the things like that. Are you planning more FULL MONTYs? We are presently meeting in regard to a national
[tour], a tour of North America. And Tom and I are beginning to – we seem
to go to the show every night and then have dinner with a different nation’s producers. (TOM LAUGHS) There are any number of countries
who want to put on their own FULL MONTYs, so we’ve been exploring that. But we’re still in the state of, you know,
this kind of – Euphoria! – the glow that exists from last week. I mean, for those who are actually watching
this, you know, in terms of the videotaped version, it’s only three days ago this all
happened, so we’re all still – Stunned. Well, I think some of the questions you’re
going to have to ask yourself, and we’re not going to be able to define them now, is
are you going to keep the same language when you tour the show? Or are you going to have to temper it a little
bit when you get outside New York, as well as outside of this country? But I must tell you that we could probably
go on for another hour, and never really learn everything there is to know about how to produce
a show as successful as THE FULL MONTY. Regrettably, our time has run out, so I think
it’s time to thank each of you for being with us today. And we want to wish you great success in the
future on this and other shows, now that you’ve given up your day job (LAUGHTER) and are really
devoting yourself to producing for Broadway! Thank you so much for coming and being part
of this. (APPLAUSE)

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