We’re prompted to “articulate our journey” in this post, and for me that inspires me to look back not just to the beginning of Ragtime, but to the beginning of my Duke experience. This week a lot of people have asked me if I’m nervous about opening night. I find myself surprised to answer that no, I’m not, and I’d like to reflect on some of the reasons why.
The most obvious reason is that I don’t have to be on stage performing. Opening night is the night I get to sit back and relax! In my producing process, opening night is one of many pivotal moments. For me, callbacks were just as exciting. The day we chose Ragtime a year and a half ago was just as exciting. These were moments of active producing, whereas opening night could be labeled a night of passive producing. Opening night is for my team, for the artists. Finally their work is on display. For me, opening night means the journey is 95% over, and that’s not something I’m celebrating. I love producing for the process, for the journey, not for the homestretch.
I think back on where this process truly started for me, not just the process of this production, but the process of me becoming the person I am today, with the goals I have at this moment. It goes back to the fall of my freshman year, when I first googled “Broadway producer” in Perkins. I remember the moment, I’d just left Spanish 76. A parent’s weekend information session had recently planted in me the idea of arts management. Liking what I saw then, I next decided to apply to Duke in New York for the fall of my sophomore year to try it out. The next fall, working as a company management intern on the 2009 revival of Ragtime, I got hooked on Broadway’s high-energy culture and risk-embracing business practices. I spent the next two summers working for David Stone, the producer of Wicked. In his office, I learned the mechanics of maintaining a mega-hit musical running in 8 locations around the world—the daily details of budgeting, brand maintenance, and negotiating contracts. As I completed my second summer there last August, I felt positive that there was no other profession that could fulfill me. To me the alchemy of theater production is the most invigorating energy—the ideas of many must cohesively unite to tell a story in a new and exciting way.
Ragtime has confirmed my suspicion that producing is for me. Producing Ragtime has been difficult, and some days I want to curl up in my bed and delete my email account. But opening night will not be one of those moments. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve done, and grateful for each of my roughly 120 collaborators. Thousands of people will soon see Ragtime, and I have you to thank!