Musical theatre workshops and productions

Blog 4 – Collaboration



I remember that one of my making of the theatre books had a story about the creation of the Broadway musical FUNNY GIRL. It goes something like this…. Jule Styne had written several of the songs, a libretto was in its first draft and a star was hired….(I wonder who??) A director was brought in and the workshops began.  But the collaboration wasn’t working.  David Merrick – the notorious producer – became impatient and a new director was hired.  (FUNNY GIRL would have several directors before it actually opened, including Jerome Robbins).  This hiring and firing went on and on until the show opened out of town. The reviews were unenthusiastic.  Then Bob Fosse came in and took one look at the show and said – cut all the subplots, cut all the numbers without the star – this show is about Fanny – Fanny all the time…they reworked it and…well, we know how that story ended – A STAR WAS BORN.

It took collaboration, a new set of eyes and the willingness to have an open mind.

I come from a show biz career where our job was to produce the old “war horse” musicals as quickly as possible – the world of commercial theatre.  And we also tried to make good art as well. We had to collaborate – the choreographer had to be able to change a number after the set was constructed, or the costume designer had to quickly make a new costume for the star if the first one was just not right. My worst nightmare was the time the male dancers in the cast were all given brand new boots just before the first preview.  We had not rehearsed or danced in the new shoes – the numbers were a mess –  but we had to make it work.

Creating an original new musical is all about collaboration – more so than remounting a “standard” musical, I am learning.  Collaboration is about “talk less, listen more”, and being respectful of others AND even letting go of previous concepts.

A show is like a child.  You cannot own it, you can only help it grow.

I am looking forward to doing all this  in 2016 – and I hope you will be part of the collaboration.

Larry Little