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In the producer’s office: Gigi Pritzker and Jamie Forshaw on their mission-based philosophy of producing for Broadway

In this Q&A, the Madison Wells Live leaders discusses their unique multi-media strategy, upcoming projects like “Swept Away” and “The Thing About Jellyfish” and more.

(L-R) Gigi Pritzker and Jamie Forshaw (Credit: Courtesy of RRR Creative)

According to its website, Madison Wells is a production company “with a strong bias towards stories for, by and about badass women and people who push boundaries” — individuals not unlike the company’s founder, Gigi Pritzker.

Pritzker began her career producing for the screen. In 2010, Pritzker waded into Broadway territory, lead producing “Million Dollar Quartet” under the banner Relevant Theatricals. The musical earned three Tony nominations, including one for Best Musical. In 2017, she launched her company, Madison Wells. But it wasn’t until April 2019 that Madison Wells officially established its live (i.e., theater) division, led by producer Jamie Forshaw; and not until the COVID-19 shutdown did Madison Wells refocus and declare the aforementioned mission statement. 

For the past five years, Forshaw has been tasked with establishing Madison Wells Live by 1) finding stories to develop into theatrical productions and 2) co-producing Broadway shows that stood for their principles, included artists that the company wants to collaborate with or projects that aesthetically match the style Madison Wells wants to be known for.

That co-producer funding was budgeted with a five-year timeline, and Forshaw chose to invest in “Hadestown,” “The Inheritance,” “Company,” “Pass Over,” “Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man & the Pool” and “Shucked.” The company’s first lead producing credit on the Main Stem was the fall 2023 comedy “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding” with Manhattan Theatre Club. “If anything encompasses the North star of what Madison Wells is, what Gigi stands for and what we all stand for it is ‘Jaja’s,’” Forshaw told Broadway News. “It is raising voices, attention to cultures and people that don’t have that vocal or visual platform.”

On the development side, Madison Wells has been shepherding the Broadway-aimed musical “Swept Away” since its first workshop; the new play “The Thing About Jellyfish” by Keith Bunn, based on the novel by Ali Benjamin; original comedy “Locker Room Talk” by Meghan Kennedy; the musical “Jenkins” directed by Whitney White; “We Live in Cairo” by Daniel and Patrick Lazour; and “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman and Joel Horwood, which the company co-produced for London’s National Theatre and will lead produce for its hoped-for Broadway run.

Here, Pritzker and Forshaw dissect what it means to be a mission-driven commercial producer, their strategy in simultaneously developing a story for the screen and stage and their thoughts on the theatrical ecosystem.

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