BWW Exclusive: Counting Down to Jennifer Ashley Tepper's UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY Book - The August Wilson Theatre
To celebrate the publication of The Untold Stories of Broadway on November 12 by Dress Circle Publishing, Jennifer Ashley Tepper will be sharing three short excerpts about each of the Broadway theaters featured in the book-countdown style! Today: The August Wilson Theatre!
THE UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY: Tales from the World's Most Famous Theaters, Volume 1 (Dress Circle Publishing. 350 pages, $19.99) by author and musical theater historian Jennifer Ashley Tepper is the first book to recount the backstage drama of Broadway's greatest shows at eight iconic theaters. To pre-order, click here.
Using firsthand accounts from some of the biggest names in Broadway history, the book provides a look behind the curtains of the Al Hirschfield, August Wilson, Lyceum, Mark Hellinger, Marquis, Neil Simon, Richard Rodgers, and Winter Garden Theaters.
This book is the first in a multi-volume series that will examine 40 legendary Broadway theaters in total. THE UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY also includes an exclusive Broadway theater map designed by Broadway artist, Justin "Squigs" Robertson. A portion of the proceeds from the book will benefit Broadway Impact, an organization of theater artists and fans mobilized in support of marriage equality. It will be available on amazon.com and in select bookstores on November 12, in both hard copy and Kindle.
Did You Know:
A number of Broadway producers started out as Broadway production assistants?
Ken Davenport, Producer
When My Fair Lady started, my main responsibility was lunch. Everybody on that show wanted lunch brought in, so I would take lunch orders from around 20 people every day. I had to start at 10:45 in the morning in order to get food for everybody. I had to take all the orders, get the food from different places, and separate everything correctly-but the worst part was charging everybody. I'd have to go up to Richard Chamberlain or Howard Davies during rehearsal and be like, "I need nine dollars and 33 cents please," and then they'd go, "This is the most expensive sandwich I've ever seen!" That was unbelievably stressful.
Then one day, that changed. It was 1993, and computers were still a relatively new thing. I'm a computer geek, and have been since I was about ten years old. One day, I saw Craig Jacobs hunting and pecking, trying to type out a rehearsal schedule on his Mac. I asked if I could help, and he said, "No, I don't think so. You know, it's a computer." I replied, "I think I can give it a shot." I did, and I added some clip-art or something very simple, and printed it out. It was pretty, and the next day he said, "Why don't you do that again?" That was when I became more valuable to them.
Did You Know:
Gallagher's is where Black Patent Leather Shoes celebrated its opening night in 1982, it's where the Cyrano cast went out with their producers in 1993, and it's where the Jelly's Last Jam team went for an act two drink in 1992. Gallagher's has as long a history on 52nd Street as either of the theaters do.
In fact, Gallagher's and Funny Face, the first attraction at the Alvin Theatre, opened just nights apart from each other in 1927. The restaurant was initially opened by Helen Gallagher, a former Ziegfeld Follies girl. She was married to the famous vaudevillian, Edward Gallagher, when the restaurant opened, but within two years, she divorced Edward and married the infamous gambler Jack Solomon. Gallagher's became a hotspot during Prohibition, as the restaurant was teeming with bootleg hooch and showgirls. After booze was made legal, it became the first real steakhouse on Broadway. Today, it remains a Times Square legend in its own right.
Before the two current Broadway theaters had been built on 52nd Street, Gallagher's had been a different theatre haunt entirely! In 1927, the room had been Chez Evelyn, a nightclub owned by a former showgirl: post-scandal Evelyn Nesbit.
Did You Know:
Sometimes you can go from being a Dresser on one Broadway show, to starring in the Broadway show on the same street?
Jared Bradshaw, Actor
I have a friend, John Michael Dias, who I did Jersey Boys with in Chicago. He had been playing Frankie Valli on the road for a while and decided he needed to come home to New York. Obviously, he was good enough to play the role on Broadway but there wasn't an open spot. So, he had to get another job. He's also an amazing seamstress and designer, and some of his friends who were in Scandalous got him a job there in wardrobe. I think deep down he thought it might suck because he wanted to be performing, but I said, "Man, that's awesome! You got a job dressing Carolee Carmello and George Hearn!" We got to be across the street from each other and would send each other pictures.
Then, Scandalous closed and he was out of work-although that marquee stayed up across the street from us forever! A month later, they called John and asked if he would play Frankie in Jersey Boys for a month of Saturday matinees. He went from dressing George Hearn across the street at the Neil Simon to starring as Frankie Valli at the August Wilson. It was his Broadway debut! Usually, when you see someone make their debut, it's in the ensemble, because most of us start there and then climb the ladder. But we got to watch John make his Broadway debut as Frankie, carrying this huge show and singing 27 songs. And he had done the show hundreds of times all over America so he was as cool as a cucumber! The stagehands were all like, "Who is this kid?! What a voice! Why is he so relaxed?"
After John's Broadway debut, we all went to Sardi's for dinner and then we came back to the theater for the night show. I made him stand on 52nd Street and take a photo midway between the Jersey Boys and Scandalous marquees. In the history of Broadway, who goes from dressing one show to starring in the other one across the street?!
To pre-order, click here. Founded in 2011 by Brisa Trinchero and Roberta Pereira, Dress Circle Publishing is the only publisher dedicated solely to producing books with Broadway themes. Dress Circle Publishing is eager to discover and promote new literary voices among new or established authors who are actively working in show business. For more information on Dress Circle Publishing, click here.