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In the producer’s office, part 2: Kevin McCollum on film adaptations, Broadway vs. London and more

The producer behind this season’s “Days of Wine and Roses” and “The Notebook,” as well as such juggernauts as “Rent” and “SIX,” gives his perspective on the industry’s inner workings.

Kevin McCollum (Credit: Nathan Johnson)

Kevin McCollum has three decades of experience creating Broadway shows. With every one of them, he is trying to surprise audiences. But over the past few years, the industry has been the one surprised — a pandemic that shut down Broadway for 18 months, a demanded cultural shift towards diversity, equity and inclusion, sky-high price tags and a sea change among who attends theater. 

In the first part of a two-part conversation with McCollum, the producer discussed mounting two new Broadway musicals in the same season, the competition involved and his specific approach to advertising each.

For this second half, McCollum widens his lens and talks about the possibilities for Broadway and new work in general.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Your repertoire of shows runs the gamut. As you said in the first part of this conversation, you like to produce what you have not seen or heard before. Is that a challenge in the Broadway space?
I remember when I decided we were going to bring “Rent” to Broadway. I heard, “It’s Broadway, you can’t do that.” And they felt the same way about “Drowsy Chaperone.” They felt the same way about “Avenue Q” — I don’t know who “they” is, but just the conventional wisdom. When I did “In the Heights” [they said,] “There hasn’t been a Hispanic musical that’s worked.” Until it does. So “Days of Wine and Roses” is about something you’ve never seen before. Is it a play with music? Is it an opera? Is it a musical? The answer is yes, yes, yes.

I remember when I did “Rent” when [the ad] just said “Rent” and some people got angry. “You didn’t say it’s a musical.” I said, “Is it?” [Jonathan Larson] thought it was an opera. A lot of people who just saw it thought it was a concert. So what is it exactly? I’m not going to tell a person what it is. You have enough. You’re there. Why am I spoon-feeding you?

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