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BWW Turns its Spotlight on Vegas: A Chat with Michael Gill

One of the hottest topics today, in the world of theatre business, is the increasing trend of Broadway shows setting up shop in Las Vegas. While the success rate has ranged from hugely successful to less so, the trend continues to heat up. BroadwayWorld.com now turns it spotlight to the desert...so it seemed like the perfect time to chat with Michael Gill, a former Broadway Company Manager - turned Las Vegas General Manager and Producer. Widely considered to be the leading expert at this crossroads of Broadway and Vegas, Gill reveals what makes a Broadway show desireable for transfer. He also talks about his current and upcoming productions, such as Hairspray and The Phantom of the Opera. Here is an insider's take on the Vegas theatre business and much more.

RD: Let's start, if you don't mind, with some basic questions for the people who might not know who you are...

MG: Sure.

RD: What first got you interested in theatre?

MG: Oh my God...I've never thought about this question, but let me take a second. It was something that I was always attracted to, interestingly enough, never on the performance side, but always on the back stage side. When I was a kid my parents took me up to see the '64-'65 World's Fair and then we saw Golden Boy with Sammy Davis Jr., at the Majestic Theatre. All I remember about it is that I was 6 or 7 at the time and I didn't want to go, because in those days you got very dressed up to go to the theater. When we arrived, the thing that stood out in that show for me was that there was a playground set where everything was on track from the floor and so a swing came from stage left and a sliding board came up from stage right and something else came on from upstage, and they all sort of collided magically. I knew that it wasn't being pushed on by a person because you couldn't see anybody but it all sort of happened, and I pondered that moment for months after that. I would say that if I had to point to any one thing, that would have probably sparked my interest as much as anything.

RD: Were you raised in the New York area?

MG: I was raised in the Amish country of Pennsylvania.

RD: Where did you go to school?

MG: I went to the local public school, local high school and then I went to Syracuse University for my Bachelors Degree.

RD: Me too.

MG: You did?

RD: Yeah.

MG: There you go. I actually graduated from the Newhouse School in Television and Radio. How about you?

RD: I graduated from the Information Management School. So, that was your major there?

MG: Yes, Television and Radio production.

RD: How did you end up getting from there into theatre management?

MG: Well actually, even though I was in TV/Radio, I always intended to go into theatre on the management side. When I was in college in the late 70s there wasn't a producing or management degree back then, like there is now. There was a theatre management class, and I think that was about it, so the television degree gave me a lot more marketing and advertising classes and things I was interested in. While I was in college I got a job working at on the stage crew at Valley Forge Music Fair, quite close to where I grew up.

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Robert Diamond Robert Diamond founded BroadwayWorld.com in 2003, which has now become the largest theatre web site in the world. He also serves as the site's Editor-in-Chief, covering Broadway and beyond, with specific local coverage for 100 cities in the United States, 30 countries worldwide and 15 other related areas of entertainment - including dance, opera, fashion, concerts, comedy, films, television and more.

The 2001 Syracuse University graduate (School of Information Studies) is also the owner of Wisdom Digital Media, an award-winning leading design company for entertainment and technology web sites. In his previous life, he held an executive position for the world's leading publisher of technology magazines, web sites and conferences and, as a result, was named among the "Top thirty magazine industry executives under the age of 30" by FOLIO Magazine.

Diamond got his start in the entertainment field, accidentally, when he created the 'official web site' (while in college) for Michael Crawford, the popular actor and original Tony and Olivier Award-winning star of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (He still blames Crawford - and credits him - for anything that goes particularly right or wrong during an average day.)

As a respected member of the Broadway and theatre community, Diamond also served as Lead Producer for a series of sold-out shows using the BroadwayWorld.com 'brand' for a set of 'Standing Ovations' concerts, which also branched out into titles that included Holiday Shows and even more specific concerts like 'From Stage to Screen and Back Again' in tandem with publishers and movie studios. All proceeds were in turn donated to Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, the industry's leader in aid for performers in need.

Robert lives in Manhattan with his wife and two dogs, growing the business and getting little sleep. In addition, you can usually find him in a theatre many nights a week.

Robert's very popular blog, 'The Broadway Pulse' appears daily on BroadwayWorld.com and he also writes weekly about theatre for the USA Network's Character Approved blog.

In December of last year, Diamond was one of 5 Syracuse University Alumni, all having achieved success in the world of start-ups, business growth and venture capital, participating on a panel addressing young alumni who are currently pursuing their dreams of running their own business and experiencing the day to day challenges of a startup. It is part of the university's new Student Accelerator Program, for which Rob was recommended by Syracuse University's i-School.