Martin Platt tells it as it is – the blood, sweat and tears of being a Broadway producer. Delighted to have him on the Faculty for the DipCP.
What inspires you to be a creative producer (and/or keeps you going)?
I work mostly, now, in the for profit arena – with non-profits its usually writing them a check to enhance an out of town production of a Broadway bound show – we all love the creative part of producing – finding a project one believes in, assembling a team, putting on the show. I guess some people are lucky like Sonia (Friedman) who gets money thrown at her from ATG to develop and get shows on – but that’s rare indeed. Usually it’s you and a few mates having to raise the money. In New York that’s $700,000-2 million off Broadway, $5 million to $30 million plus on Broadway. And that can be soul crunching work. AND then when the show starts performing, the real producing begins – which is how do you sell the show – which press and marketing companies are resources from – but you are kind of on your own – if you have good instincts, the will work off them. If not – you get off the shelf plans that won’t work very well. It’s a real blood sport, at the end of the day! (Eg I’m) working on a revival of a Tony winning musical that is financed, but has been trying to get a theatre for over 5 years.
Is there a style of art/theatre you particularly want to create/produce?
Political/social plays; original musicals not based on cartoons or movies!
Are you someone who works on one or multiple projects – tell us a little about your style of work.
I work on many projects – just before we shut down as I was doing payroll and union work for the huge tour of THE LAST SHIP starring Sting in the US, dealing with about 30 actors, musicians, stage managers, technicians, and wardrobe; at the same time as my company was General Manager (GM) for Aquila Theater company’s US Tour; at the same time as I was co-producing THE WOMAN IN BLACK at the McKittrick Hotel in NYC (a smash hit we had to close) and working as Executive Producer GM on a new Broadway bound musical called COME ON, LET’S GO (about Ritchie Valens). And Executive Producer of a new Broadway noir musical called DANGEROUS; and GM for two upcoming off Broadway shows – ARE YOU THERE? and RAISON D’ETRE; and GMs and EPs of a new immersive burlesque themed show; and as GMS/EPS of a Russian musical with Broadway hopes, about CATHERINE THE GREAT; and trying to get two other Broadway projects off the ground; and co-developing a new small musical with Lesley Nicol – which was supposed to open in Chicago in July. That’s a normal workload in my company (total staff 2.5 including me); and with my NY resident UK partner Tim Smith.
Who inspired you and/or who would you love to collaborate with/produce?
I was inspired by always loving Broadway and wanting to do it. When I won a Tony in 2013 it was like some Fairy Godmother got tired of me bitching about it never happening. I just want to collaborate with passionate artists on great (and commercial) shows!
As an international practitioner, what might we not know about working in your region/country?
In the US our business is almost 100% unionized – on every level. On Broadway, every job, even ushers and ticket takers are unionized. Every Union has page after page of rules and things that cost $ – and of course in the US, as an example, on Broadway, the minimum salary is around $2000 per week. That doesn’t sound bad. But it’s $2000 + $160 pension + $195 health + $80 annuity, + $80 workers comp insurance + $280 in Employer taxes + $80 vacation pay + accrued sick pay — so every employee costs the producer 140-145% of actual salary.
What are you working on now (which you can tell us about) ?
Working to bring back WOMAN IN BLACK after the shut down; THE LAST SHIP tour may resume; HOW THE HELL DID I GET HERE(Lesley Nicol); DANGEROUS (future Broadway musical); COME ON LET’S GO (future Broadway musical); ARE YOU THERE? (Off Broadway); SISTERS IN LAW (Off Broadway); RAISON D’ETRE (Off Broadway)
Within the Diploma programme/idea what are you most looking forward to?
Helping/experiencing Interfacing with students, mentoring.
Are there any inspiring/useful books or texts we should know about ?
For America, Donald Farber’s two books on Producing are pretty essential – it’s all about budgets, contracts, and so forth.
How do you ensure your own personal wellness (especially at this time in the world)?
I love theatre. I go 4-5 nights a week year-round when I can. Now I’m watching a lot of theatre and opera online.
Any superstitions or special phrases you hold close to you?
In bocca al lupo
Any lessons learnt or experiences to look back at which are amusing/lifechanging?
You constantly re-invent yourself in this business. I had gone off to Maryland in 2012 on a 3 year contract to help revive the fortunes of a terrific theater company. It was a nightmare from almost day one. After 6 months, we parted ways. I posted on FB that I was returning to NY. A colleague emailed that he was working on a project I might be interested in joining.
It was the transfer of VANYA and SONIA and MASHA and SPIKE from Lincoln Center to Broadway. I joined. Six months after my 3 year job crashed and burned, I had a Tony Award, as well as all the other New York Theatre awards – every one.
You never know what will be next. “In bocca al lupo” Martin