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BWW Exclusive: Counting Down to Jennifer Ashley Tepper's UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY Book - The August Wilson Theatre

November 9
5:23 PM 2013

BWW Exclusive: Counting Down to Jennifer Ashley Tepper's UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY Book - The August Wilson TheatreTo 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 and in select bookstores on November 12, in both hard copy and Kindle.

Did You Know:

BWW Exclusive: Counting Down to Jennifer Ashley Tepper's UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY Book - The August Wilson TheatreA 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:

BWW Exclusive: Counting Down to Jennifer Ashley Tepper's UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY Book - The August Wilson TheatreBoth the August Wilson and Neil Simon Theatres have long histories with Gallagher's Steak House?

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:

BWW Exclusive: Counting Down to Jennifer Ashley Tepper's UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY Book - The August Wilson TheatreSometimes 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.

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About the Author

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Jennifer Ashley Tepper Jennifer Ashley Tepper is a musical theater historian, producer, and author of The Untold Stories of Broadway, released by Dress Circle Publishing, a boutique publisher of theater-themed books, in the fall of 2013. The book features interviews with more than 200 actors, producers, company managers, directors, designers, stagehands, ushers, and others to produce a fascinating and often quite humorous collection of previously untold stories about eight legendary Broadway theaters.

Until recently, Jennifer was director of marketing & communications for Davenport Theatrical, with Broadway credits including Macbeth, The Performers, and Godspell. She has also worked on shows including [title of show] on Broadway, the world premiere of the musical Bloodsong of Love at Ars Nova, Tony Kushner's iHo, and Things To Ruin. Jennifer is the co-creator and writer of the Bistro Award-winning concert series, If It Only Even Runs A Minute, which celebrates underappreciated musicals. She has also directed and produced benefit concerts for The Broadway Green Alliance, The Actors Fund, BC/ EFA, and The Red Cross, including the concert series Once Upon A Time In New York City, which has presented world premiere work by more than 30 writers.

Jennifer collaborates frequently with the group known as "Joe Iconis & Family", including shows, concerts, and for the past have years has produced their annual holiday tradition, The Joe Iconis Christmas Spectacular, most recently at 54 Below. Her other credits include projects and shows with NAMT, The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, PBS, The York Theater, NYMF, Second Stage Theater Company, Lincoln Center Theater, the Opening Doors Theater Company, The Producing Office, and The American Theater Wing's Tony Awards. Jennifer is also the Managing Editor of The Best Plays Theater Yearbook. Jennifer is currently the Director of Programming at 54 Below.

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