Behind the Curtain: Interview With Robert W. Schneider - Artistic Director of The J2 Spotlight Musical Theater Company
Due to the global health emergency, Broadway theaters have found their bright lights dimmed and their houses dark for the first time in history. As the world works together to stop the spread of COVID-19, the theater industry has been put on hold indefinitely - theaters around the world have closed their doors in compliance with social distancing rules, and Broadway has been shut down in full since March 13. The Broadway shutdown has impacted the lives of all who work in theater industry, who are now facing uncertain and unprecedented circumstances.
In our Behind the Curtain interview series, we are speaking with Broadway musicians, stage managers, ushers, bartenders, and more, talking about how they are handling the current circumstances, and discussing the impact that the shutdown has had on the Broadway community.
Today, our Behind the Curtain interview is with the Artistic Director of The J2 Spotlight Musical Theater Company - Robert W. Schneider.
What is your job title? Tell me a little bit about what you do within the theater industry and how long you've been doing it for.
I am the artistic director of The J2 Spotlight Musical Theater Company, which is a company dedicated to introducing emerging artists to New York audiences through reviving forgotten musicals from Broadway's past. This was our first season.
In addition to that I am one of the Original Programming Producers at Feinstein's/54 Below (2015) and host of the podcast Behind The Curtain: Broadway's Living Legends (2015).
What were you working on when the shutdown was put in place?
The opening night of our third production, A Class Act, was supposed to open at 7:30pm and we got the call at 4pm from Theatre Row that we would not be going on due to the Governor's mandate. We were very excited as this was the first New York revival of the piece and it was to be the New York debut of some of our cast and creative team.
What has communication been like with the people you were working with? Have you continued to maintain contact with them?
We have been in contact with our team as we are committed to bringing this beautiful show to audiences once we are safely allowed to begin storytelling.
How do you feel that people in the theater community have come together during this time?
It does not surprise me that in a time of crisis it is the theatrical artists that have embraced the challenges and flooded the city with arts and assistance. It happened during the AIDS crisis, 9/11, and now with COVID-19. Artists coming together to help and create. We came through stronger on each of those moments of tragedy and we will come through stronger again.
What ways have you found to best deal with the current circumstances?
Do one artistic thing each day. Read a play, listen to a cast recording, Zoom about an upcoming production. Do not say "What's the point?" because there will be a cure and we will go back to storytelling and we will need your voice.
How do you think this will change the world of theater going forward?
I think it is too early to say. Until we have a vaccine, I don't think we will know the true magnitude of this virus.
Do you have anything else you would like to share?
Please remember that storytelling has been around since the dawn of time. It will survive and we will come through.