The next time you're watching a smash Broadway show, keep in mind that some of the biggest New York stars are the ones you never see.
Photograph by Chad Windham.
Who's in charge here?
Walk outside onto one of Broadway's side streets, look up at the theater marquee, and, suddenly and loudly, a question ricochets: Who's calling the shots? One theater is playing Mamma Mia!, a musical based on 30-year-old disco songs by the Swedish group ABBA, while, nearby, another is showing Butley, a 35-year-old play about an English professor's oh-so-British midlife crisis. (It's starring box-office fave Nathan Lane and is enjoying a Broadway revival.) A few doors down is The Coast of Utopia, a Tom Stoppard play about the lead-up to the Russian revolution. And then there is The Faith Healer, a gossamer Brian Friel play about a murder in an Irish pub.
Do these productions have anything in common - anything at all?
In fact, they do. Broadway comprises 39 stages, and the reality is that only a handful of people decide what gets staged, what closes, and what will never open. You don't know their names; they aren't actors or actresses, and they don't appear on magazine covers. They are directors, producers, and writers, and when they shine a green light on a play, it happens - on Broadway and in the leading Off-Broadway houses. Read on to meet five of the most powerful people on Broadway (plus several others who are part of the exclusive club).