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BroadwayWorld Book Club Week One Discussion Prompts: The Richard Rodgers Theatre

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BWW Book Club

Below are the discussion questions/prompts for the first chapter of The Untold Stories of Broadway: The Richard Rodgers Theatre! In addition to getting the conversation started with the prompts below, the author of The Untold Stories of Broadway, Jennifer Ashley Tepper, will be hosting a Facebook Live Q & A at 12pm ET today! Please post any questions here that you would like her to answer and be sure to tune in! 

·       Have you ever seen a show at the Richard Rodgers Theatre?

·       Which show that ran at the Richard Rodgers Theatre would you love to have been at the opening night of?

·       A lot of the people who contributed passages to the book spoke about how the orchestra seats have a rake to them, which influences the way you see the stage and hear the music. Have you ever thought about how you physically experience Broadway shows differently based off the theatre you see them in? Will you think about it the next time you’re in the audience of a theatre?

·       What was your favorite passage or quote from this chapter?

·       Lin-Manuel Miranda, Corbin Bleu and Krysta Rodriguez talked about the cast rituals during In the Heights. What other shows’ rituals would you love to know about?

·       What about the history of the Richard Rodgers Theatre surprised you the most?

·       Which show that ran in the Richard Rodgers Theatre would you most like to see a revival of?


Updated On: 3/30/20 at 08:18 AM
Anton Spivack

I saw In the Heights and Side Show at the Rodgers, and would like a revival of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I'm looking forward to your take on Studio 54. Did you hear the song "Le Freak," which contains the line "Come on down/To the 54/Find a spot/Out on the floor"?

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Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend

I thought the postcard idea was interesting to help with word of mouth. I recall the recent Hello Dolly revival from 2-3 years ago had postcards inside the playbills and I always sent it to my friend whose favorite musical was Hello Dolly.

I recall meeting house manager Tim Pettolina and he was amazing! He looks really young but he knows what he's doing and quite approachable. I wish Jenn Tepper would do a FB Live with him at some point!


Hi all! Super excited about this book club, The Untold Stories of Broadway are some of my favorite books!

I've seen three shows at the Richard Rodgers: Porgy & Bess in 2012, If/Then in 2014, and Hamilton in 2018. I loved seeing all three shows from different sections of the house. It made the theater all too familiar each time!

As a huge Lin-Manuel Miranda fan, I would've loved to have been at the Opening Night of In the Heights. I actually saw the show in Puerto Rico (where I was growing up at the time) as part of their tour stop, with Lin himself! Just taking in the energy in the island where many of the cast was from made it truly a special theatrical experience. Imagine being at the Rodgers on Opening Night a few years before! While it wasn't the same opening, I'd like to think the same energy at the Centro de Bellas Artes Santurce (where In the Heights played in Puerto Rico) had a similar vibe to the opening at the Rodgers a few years before. 

After reading this book and the other two in the series, I now enter each Broadway house feeling differently, like I'm walking through someone's home. Whether it be before the show or at intermission, I make myself do a walk-through of the theatre (even if it's just to go to the restroom!) to really take it all in. Even the Marquis, one of the newest houses, has it's own history to it! I love seeing different shows at a same theater, like the Rodgers. It not only brings back memories of what I've seen before, but I tend to look for any structure or lobby/house changes (even if there aren't any). 

I would love to hear more ritual stories about the current hit that's playing the Rodgers, Hamilton. So many cast members have come and gone, with many who also starred in In the Heights at that same theatre. Maybe some of them brought back or recreated those traditions that they cherished on In the Heights!

I think what surprised me the most about the Richard Rodgers was the limited bathroom space! Crazy, but true! When I saw Hamilton in 2018, my sister and I were in the front row, house left (I had won the lottery). Anyway, at intermission, the line for the bathroom was in the house itself! One would think that with such a large theatre, there would be more stalls. However, I totally understand that when the theatre was built in the 1920s, one would've never imagined the amount of people that would come through those doors years later. Waiting this line did allow me time to really take in the house and the lobby, though!

I would love to see a revival of Nine sometime down the road. Before reading this book, I really didn't know much about the show. What really caught my eye was William Ivey Long's story about the costume situation, along with the simple set design. It goes to show that you don't need a big, dazzly set to capture audiences' hearts. 

I think we can all agree that Hamilton will be at the Rodgers for a while. I enjoyed that show very much, and I would love to go back and see it again, especially after rereading this chapter. 

Looking forward to diving into another historical theatre this week, The Winter Garden! 

Rich Duffy
Hamilton was my first show there. Seems I’ve been to others more than the Rodgers but I think that’s because Hamilton has been on Broadway for a few years now and I’ve spent most of my time up there over the last 3 years w/my daughter involved in theater in NYC.
The seating is definitely unique and I thought the view from the seats was great. So, architecturally, really well done for a theater.
I wanted to send a note to the author to say that the book’s Introduction was absolutely fabulous. So well written and her enthusiasm jumped from the pages. I will say that really set the tone and created an excitement for the book. REALLY well done on the Introduction! And so glad to see that the girl from Ft Lauderdale, over one thousand miles away from NYC, would have her broadway dreams fulfilled. That’s awesome!
I’m wondering how long Hamilton will run there and what might be next? But that could be a looong time I assume...
Really cool to hear Hamilton will be released into regular movie theaters in 2021 with the original broadway cast, as filmed at the Rodgers!
That’ll be a first for the Rodgers (again, I assume)!
Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend

The very first show I ever saw at the then 46th St. Theatre was I Do! I Do!.  I actually saw it on opening night.  When tickets went on sale, they were selling rear mezzanine tickets to the public.  I was 15 or 16 and it was one of the most exciting nights in my life.  How times have changed: Mary Martin and Robert Preston did NOT get a standing nation on opening night.  It didn't help that the curtain raised and they were standing there.  No 'entrance'.  When I saw it a second time, they each entered from opposite sides of the stage, and did get a SO.  In the five years before and after that, I only saw two SOs: for Angela Lansbury in Mame and, on the edge of that period, for Ethel Merman in Hello Dolly, which had nothing to do with her performance...just the fact that she was Ethel Merman.

I have seen many shows at the theatre over the years.  The most exciting memories I can conjure up spontaneously include the following:

-- Nine, a gorgeous show, never more beautiful than when they released doves into the rafters, with the entire stage lit in aquamarine.  There were so many show-stopping numbers in that show.

--  Fences from the best seats on Broadway, just after the rise in the orchestra.  The best part was that Angela Lansbury was in the seat right in front of me.  I could not bring myself to approach her, but i did strain to listen to what she was talking about.  Who knew that I would see she and James Earl Jones live in Melbourne, Australia, in Driving Miss Daisy.

-- Private Lives -- 45 years later, my wife still imitates Maggie Smith saying 'how potent cheap music is'.  Even then, I found it amazing how sophisticated the show was, given the year that it was written.

-- Chicago, first with Gwen Verdon and literally weeks later with Liza Minelli, who was probably at the peak of her talent and stardom.  She was like Judy putting on a show in one of those movies.  Very good, but Verdon was better.  Saw Ann Reinking also, who was great.

-- Hamilton...the first time I saw it, I was in the second or third row orchestra, extreme side.  Extreme sides always have their disadvantages, but they were more than made up for by the fact that we were so close to the action, and there really were no obstructions (at least that I remember).  I have seen it since then from much better seats (back when you could get a center orchestra seat in maybe the 18th or 19th row for a non-premium price).

-- Lost in Yonkers...Mercedes Ruehl and Irene Worth were incredible in this show, which is tied with brighten Beach Memoirs as my favorite Neil Simon show.  Such a shame that the movie was so mediocre, because it was incandescent live.

I didn't' love everything at he theater though.  The followings were my biggest disappointments:

-- Raisin -- I just couldn't get into it;I think it won best musical, but it was in a terrible year for musicals.  I guess the fact that I loved the play without music didn't help;I just didx'tthink the music was very good.  Virginia Capers was good in the role, but the indelible mark left from Claudia McNeil's performance (which I never even saw live, only on film) was a tough act to follow.  Sofar, no one has come close.

-- Seussical -- We took my kids, had the best seats on Broadway for this one too, but was just bored.  My kids were too.  I guess I just don't like the composing team...of all their works, the only one I really liked was Ragtime, and I think their score was among the best in the last 50 years.

-- Best Little Whorehouse -- The only show I ever saw at the theatre that I hated.  I loved Tommy Tune's choreography and nothing else.  Hated the score.


If I could choose only one revival, it would be Nine, staged exactly the way it was staged 40 years ago, with the same physical design.  It was such a magical experience.  I thoroughly enjoyed the Antonio Banderas production at the Eugene O'Neill, but the original staging was a masterwork.  I dont remember if Nine won for lighting, but its Tony's for score, book, director, costumes, supporting actress and lighting were extraordinarily well-deserved.

Last point: why do I ALWAYS think it is the most cramped lobby in all of Broadway.  I shudder to think what would happen if the theatre ever had a fire with an audience in attendance.

Updated On: 3/30/20 at 03:27 PM
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I've seen many shows at the Rodgers, but the one that sticks in my memory was the ill-fated Romeo And Juliet starring Orlando Bloom.  It was the first show there after its major renovation, and the house was just beautiful.  The seats were comfy, and sight lines wonderful.  

The problem was that the seats, being brand-new, would make a small 'click-click' noise if you shifted your weight.  Now, the show wasn't very good, and during long scenes the noise that the seats made as everyone squirmed in boredom sounded like rain on a tin roof!

"What- and quit show business?" - the guy shoveling elephant shit at the circus.