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Sonia Friedman Masterclass

London's Broadway Baby

March 2004 Haymarket Theatre, London

     One of us(Laurie) had the pleasure of attending Sonia Friedman's Masterclass in March of 2004 at the Royal Haymarket Theatre In London. It was a great way to get inside a producer's mind and get a bit of knowledge as to what goes on behind the scenes.
She began by telling us how she came to work in the
theatre, saying she came from a family
of performers and how she saw the toll and angst and pressure it put on them so she
knew she would never want to be a performer, but she knew she was destined for a job in the live arts.
To be breif, she talked about one of her recent productions at the time(Samual Beckett's ENDGAME). She then talked about going into finding the funding and sponsors for each show and to carry out that exact process, and what happens when a show doesn't really work.  She said the hardest things about her job is having to tell a cast that the show has to close(even harder when it has to close earlier than expected!)
Also about the beginning proccess of rehearsals, when the creative teams gets a real first glimpes of what their show is to become, seeing the actors put on the show in the early stages before the set and technical aspects of the show are put in. She mentioned how that is the most exciting part, and usually their reaction is "it looks wonderful, I am really please, (sorry about the set), but it looks brilliant so far!"
It was a talk/discussion segment, she talked about her career and how she got started, and how she became to where she is today. and the audience was allowed to ask questions.  I was brave enough to ask her one.  She mentioned that opening "Ragtime" was a difficult time to do so, because it was right as the Iraqi War started, and it was a musical about life in America.
I was able to ask her what was going through her mind when they had to open "NOISES OFF" in New York right after September 11th.
Sonia replied:
   "Oooh goood question. Well we started rehearsals 2 days before Sept 11.  I was there, I saw it happen, I saw what it was doing to the city and the people. It was a lot of pressure for any
producer and I wasn't sure how to respond.  My first instinct was to cancel. Yes we would loose lots of money, it cost 2 1/2 million dollars to do that show, and we would have lost 1 million of it, but how you can you put a show on after something like that, and a comedy no less. But then we were encouraged by the
city to continue our lives like normal.  If I had done the show here in the west end at the time, I would have cancelled it no question.  But the city wanted to be normal and there was huge push for Broadway. We were one of the first shows to open after 9-11 and it's an incredible acheivement for us. We kept thinking,
how/why are we going to do this?  But then we said, it's our lives,we just have to do what we would normally do, and for God's sake its just a show. That's all we saw it as, at the end of the day it was a show. It made people laugh and it took them away for a while, so inevitibly, we decided we had to and wanted to do it.'

Overall, I am so glad I had the opportunity to attend the Masterclass. I think it was a success, and a great source of information!

                                           -- Laurie


"See my people well heres my theory of what this country is moving towards, every worker a cog in motion well that's the notion of Henry Ford!"- Ragtime