Lionizing the vitalness of theatre and creativity, a star-studded virtual reading of a new illustrated children’s book, Broadway Baby is underway. Written by legendary UK West End and Broadway theatre operator and producer Russell Miller with Judith A. Proffer, Broadway Baby celebrates art, artist, and audience at the 2021 Official London Theatre Kids Week meetup.
Miller has officiated notable productions including the West End revival of “Guys & Dolls” with Ewan McGregor and Patrick Swayze and “Sunday in the Park with George” at Hudson Theatre starring Academy-Award nominee, Jake Gyllenhaal. The former London 2012 Olympics General Manager sharply scribed a go-to book meant for theatre fans and performers.
“I wanted to give each reader the opportunity to immerse themselves in the theatre world and explore the potential it holds to be whatever they want to be, whoever they are, wherever they are—so much of theatre is about creating something from nothing and the skills it provides you with are so valuable for life and work in general; I really wanted to make this a helpful and fun first introduction to both inspire and entertain,” said Miller.
Encouraging children and theatre lovers of all ages to create and innovate, Catherine Tate—a multiple international Emmy Award and BAFTA nominee—joins a myriad of theatre stars for the experience: three-time Olivier Award-winner Sharon D Clarke (We Will Rock You, Ghost the Musical), Kerry Ellis (My Fair Lady, Miss Saigon) and Olivier Award winner Matthew Henry (Avenue Q, The Voice UK finalist).
Dreaming of becoming a Broadway star, this bold little Broadway character takes readers on a theatrical journey from his crib to the playground to the heart of New York City. The story recognizes a number of elements that make live theatre so unique. Pertaining to creativity and the relevance of theatre as a training tool, Miller reveals the significance of Broadway Baby:
“It felt very clear to me early on, that Broadway Baby had a purpose beyond simple storytelling and entertainment. It was important to me to make the book as accessible as possible and to give the reader (young and old) as much authentic insight into the world of theatre as possible, in a fun and digestible way,” said Miller.
Questing after a gift for his Tony Award-winning producing partner’s newborn daughter Olivia, Miller was energized to write Broadway Baby out of necessity. Beautifully illustrated by the award-winning Yoko Matsuoka with art direction and graphic design by Hugh Syme, Broadway Baby charms audiences with a whimsical love letter to Broadway.
“I felt there was a real need to create something authentically theatrical that would resonate with theatre lovers and children of all ages, something unique and sincere that serves as a special VIP invitation to join our magical world of theater-land,” said Miller.
On dreams of Broadway, Miller recalls a moment of his youthful exuberance, adding:
“I’m sure there are threads of my own theatre experience and aspirations in the book, albeit nothing was added overtly. I obsessed about NYC and America as a child though and so moving here to work on Broadway absolutely made the child in me smile from ear to ear!”
Co-Founder and CEO at Freedom Theatricals, Miller’s oeuvre demonstrates the Midas touch. His productions have broken box office records. In like manner, he orchestrated Cirque De Soleil’s Broadway hit musical, Paramour on opening night and Molière’s Misanthrope starring Kiera Knightly and Damien Lewis.
“I have been blessed to work on projects that have truly inspired me and I think I have always naturally gravitated to work that excites me. I love being able to create things from scratch and now I really get to lean into creativity at so many levels. I enjoy being able to weave creative ideas into tangible commercial business projects and expand and grow them organically, working alongside wonderful people that thrive creating things too, that is most rewarding to me,” expounded Miller.
Alongside cultivating concert and entertainment venues, the impresario is currently producing the anticipated documentary Defying Gravity, which celebrates Stephen Schwartz—the illustrious composer of Broadway hit shows Godspell, Pippin, and Wicked. Miller is also a consulting producer on films and collaborates with the likes of Don McLean, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Kramer, the engineer for The Rolling Stones and the Beatles.
Other TV and stage stars participating in the event include Olivier Award nominee and former Principal of The Royal Ballet, Adam Cooper (Grand Hotel, Singin’ in the Rain), Hamilton star Simon Anthony Rhoden (Kinky Boots, The Color Purple), Jo Servi (The Lion King, Guys & Dolls), stage and screen star Claire Sweeney (Chicago, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Madalena Alberto (Evita, Cats), stage and screen star Suzanne Shaw (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), and Norman Bowman (Les Misérables).
Bolstering creative thinking, motivation, and self-confidence, Broadway Baby not only benefits Theatre Artists Fund but also calls attention to the idea that even the loftiest of dreams can come true.
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.