IN THIS EPISODE

John and Erik talk about the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s innovative use of real estate development to help fund and further their mission. They also discuss programming for diverse audiences, structuring an effective board, and the importance of mission alignment.

As we imagine our future as an anchor cultural institution, we’re able to be thoughtful about populating this real estate. We can do things that drive community, revenue, and our mission.

ABOUT JOHN

John Schreiber is an Emmy and Tony Award-winning producer and the President and CEO of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). NJPAC is the state’s largest cultural institution which presents over 600 events each season and reaches over 100,000 students annually.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Erik Gensler: Well, thank you so much for being here.

John Schreiber: Sure, delighted.

Erik Gensler: You produced one of my favorite pieces of theater ever, "Elaine Stritch At Liberty," and on behalf of homosexuals everywhere, I'd like to thank you. (laughs)

John Schreiber: My pleasure. (laughs)

Erik Gensler: What was that like?

John Schreiber: Right. It was a journey. It started when I produced a celebration of the songs of Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall.

Erik Gensler: Okay (laughs). Yeah.

John Schreiber: There you go, right? And I knew that Elaine knew Judy Garland and I called Elaine cold and said, "We're doing this and I'd love you to do it," and Judy Garland had lived in London in the mid-'60s and Elaine was living in London in the mid-'60s and she was doing a sitcom there and so they became friends. And Elaine, at that point, was a drunk and, of course, Judy Garland was a drunk and so they had a lot in common and they had hilarious times together. And I said to Elaine, "I'd like you to participate in this evening, I'd like you to think of some stories about Judy and I'd like you to sing some songs." And I have done- I had done these celebrations of ... of "The Music of ... at Carnegie Hall" for a lot of different artists. It started with Sinatra and I did Nat Cole, and I did Ella Fitzgerald and did a whole bunch of people. And often, when one asked an artist to participate in an evening like that, they will- they'll simply pick a couple of songs, come up with some connective banter, and then, they're done. But Elaine didn't do that. She worked for a couple of months with a pianist named Larry Grossman and she weaved together this amazing ten minutes that actually ended up in the show. (laughs)

Erik Gensler: I think I remember it.

John Schreiber: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: She said it was Judy Garland's last night at the palace and they were sitting. And, it was four o’clock in the morning and Judy turns to Elaine and she says, "Elaine, I never thought I'd say this, but good night."

John Schreiber: (laughs) Right. That's exactly right.

Erik Gensler: That's such a good story.

John Schreiber: Right. That was the punchline of the story.

Erik Gensler: Well, thank you so much for being here.

John Schreiber: Sure, delighted.

Erik Gensler: You produced one of my favorite pieces of theater ever, "Elaine Stritch At Liberty," and on behalf of homosexuals everywhere, I'd like to thank you. (laughs)

John Schreiber: My pleasure. (laughs)

Erik Gensler: What was that like?

John Schreiber: Right. It was a journey. It started when I produced a celebration of the songs of Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall.

Erik Gensler: Okay (laughs). Yeah.

John Schreiber: There you go, right? And I knew that Elaine knew Judy Garland and I called Elaine cold and said, "We're doing this and I'd love you to do it," and Judy Garland had lived in London in the mid-'60s and Elaine was living in London in the mid-'60s and she was doing a sitcom there and so they became friends. And Elaine, at that point, was a drunk and, of course, Judy Garland was a drunk and so they had a lot in common and they had hilarious times together. And I said to Elaine, "I'd like you to participate in this evening, I'd like you to think of some stories about Judy and I'd like you to sing some songs." And I have done- I had done these celebrations of ... of "The Music of ... at Carnegie Hall" for a lot of different artists. It started with Sinatra and I did Nat Cole, and I did Ella Fitzgerald and did a whole bunch of people. And often, when one asked an artist to participate in an evening like that, they will- they'll simply pick a couple of songs, come up with some connective banter, and then, they're done. But Elaine didn't do that. She worked for a couple of months with a pianist named Larry Grossman and she weaved together this amazing ten minutes that actually ended up in the show. (laughs)

Erik Gensler: I think I remember it.

John Schreiber: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: She said it was Judy Garland's last night at the palace and they were sitting. And, it was four o’clock in the morning and Judy turns to Elaine and she says, "Elaine, I never thought I'd say this, but good night."

John Schreiber: (laughs) Right. That's exactly right.

Erik Gensler: That's such a good story.

John Schreiber: Right. That was the punchline of the story.

Erik Gensler: (laughs) Yeah. (theme music) I talked with John a lot more about the development of Elaine Stritch at Liberty and more of that conversation is available at the end of this podcast. (theme music) I want to talk about the real estate development you're doing here in Newark and particularly interested in the idea of using real estate and other funding sources to support some of the financially challenging works, if you could talk about that project and, sort of, the ethos behind it.

John Schreiber: The Arts Center is now 21 years old. And, 30 years ago, when Governor Kean first imagined an Arts Center in New Jersey, we got built here and what he did was he saved about ten acres around the Performing Arts Center for future development and he did that because, as a student at Columbia in the late '50s, he lived on the lower Upper West Side. He lived in the '60s on the West Side and he watched as Lincoln Center got built and he said to himself when he had started to advance the thought of a performing arts center in New Jersey that he would not make the mistake that Lincoln Center did. Lincoln Center didn't hold any land around itself and so, this amazing development that occurred on the Upper West Side, Lincoln Center was not able to participate in. So, that's what he did and the revitalization of Newark, which really started, I think, with the Arts Center's opening in 1997 and then continued with the building and the success of the Prudential Center down the street, has been slow. And about ten years ago, we announced plans for our first development, which is One Theater Square, which, literally, took ten years to build and to open. And One Theater Square is now 245 units of residential—90% market, 10% affordable. It's been leasing for about six months. We're more than half leased. We believe that we'll be fully leased in another six months or so. And it, along with the renovation of the old Hahne's department store across Military Park, which is 160 units—60% market rate, 40% affordable—that also includes a Whole Foods, a Marcus Samuelsson restaurant, and an arts accelerator that is curated by Rutgers Newark … These are, kind of, the anchors of this arts and education district that we are beginning to curate. So, with the early success of these two assets, we are now looking at another seven acres that we get to be the master developer of, right? So, that's a unique opportunity unlike, for example, the arts district around BAM, which has developed over 30 years, that BAM had some control over but not complete control over, we are building on land that ... where there's nothing right now except parking lots. So, what is the best use of that land for now and for the future? So, as we imagine our future as an anchor cultural institution, as a backbone institution that's gonna be here for generations, we are able to be really thoughtful about how we populate this real estate. So, unlike commercial developers, we are not obliged to squeeze every inch out of every dollar. We can do things that drive community. We can do things that drive revenue. We can do things that drive mission. We're looking at another 250 units of residential, some of which will be low-rise, some of which will be high-rise. We're imagining the possibilities of a film center. We're imagining an education center, new arts training center for the work that we do with students. We're even researching now the possibility of a PreK-8 arts-infused public school. The goal is between residential, retail, education assets, restaurants … we wanna activate this neighborhood that starts here. We wanna have a 24/7 live/work/play destination and we want it to be reflective of the needs of our wider Newark community.

Erik Gensler: So, the exciting thing here and, I guess, what makes this project really unique is that it's being driven by the Arts Center, so it truly is an opportunity and a really exciting canvas to explore this idea of the Arts Center as the anchor. I interviewed Karen Brooks Hopkins all about this-

John Schreiber: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm (affirmative)

Erik Gensler: I don't wanna assume everybody listening to this listened to that. So, if you could talk a bit about how you see NJPAC as an anchor, what an anchor is, and how that ecosystem works.

John Schreiber: Anchors have traditionally been “eds and meds,” higher ed institutions, medical centers, those have been understood to be the backbone organizations of cities. We know that arts organizations, substantial arts organizations, community engaged arts organizations are also anchors. So, we in Newark are defining the word "anchor" more broadly than it has traditionally been defined. So, for example, the Arts Center is an anchor cultural institution for Newark and for the state and that is because we have what I call a boundaryless campus. You don't have to come to the Arts Center to have an arts experience. So, while we present hundreds of events a year here on our stages, we also present a couple of hundred events throughout the community, Greater Newark, for free in a variety of venues, venues like church basements, community centers, libraries, city parks. And these are events designed for families. They're literacy events, dance, music, theater, all sorts of experiences, and there's no expectation that the folks who go to these events are going to necessarily, as their next action, buy a ticket to see a concert at the Arts Center. What we want to do is spread cultural literacy to the widest audience possible, paid or unpaid, so we also have over a hundred what I call, engaged partners. Those are organizations—arts organizations, schools, higher ed, community service organizations—who work with us as partners in producing programs and as, sort of advisers of the types of programs that are meaningful to their constituents. So, that's ... As an anchor, everything's up on the table for us in terms of what we might produce and the balance that we have to affect as a nonprofit to be sustainable is how much can we spend on mission-driving, non-revenue-producing events and activities. We must be successful as a commercial presenter and we must be understood to be a useful, creative, collaborative partner in our community. When I get a call from somebody who's interested in producing something with us, I always take that call. If it's something that makes sense for us, we might advance it. We might begin to develop it. It just makes this work so much more useful and fun and creative, versus simply being a presenter.

Erik Gensler: The real estate investments that you've made, are those ... if you build, apartment building-

John Schreiber: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Erik Gensler: … those are owned by the same ... however you’re set up, like, structure as NJPAC … So, the funding from the rent that people are paying, whatever profit is left can be brought back to the Arts Center to help you fulfill your mission, is that right?

John Schreiber: The deal we made for One Theater Square, which is our residential tower that we are the landlord, we leased the land to the developer. The developer pays us rent, we participate in capital events, but we do not manage the building. That's not what we do for a living. So, that's that deal.

Erik Gensler: But you're making money from it?

John Schreiber: But we're making money from it.

Erik Gensler: Great.

John Schreiber: Exactly. So, going forward, there are a variety of ways that we can be involved, but we do not have the skillset to literally build a building. There are lots of people who do that well and our goal is to find the right partners-

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

John Schreiber: … developer partners who think the way that we do.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm (affirmative). But the unique idea is that you have this extra land that you can develop to help push your mission forward, be it financial, be it through programming, be it making the area more vibrant and, ultimately, it's building the ecosystem of the area that you own and the area beyond it.

John Schreiber: Exactly, that's the opportunity. And this real estate gives us a unique chance to be a curator with our partners of what's next in Newark.

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

John Schreiber: Newark, a hundred years ago, was this remarkably vibrant urban center—lots of feet on the street, lots of people in all of the wards—and then, there was a slow decline over a period of years. There was the Newark rebellion in 1967, where people were killed and that accelerated the white flight out of the city and the city's been clawing that from that for 50 years. The Arts Center is part of that revival. We have a really special, kind of, once-in-a-lifetime chance right now to be present at the creation of what a new city is gonna be like.

John Schreiber: How do we keep our residents engaged in that development so that everybody feels a part of what's next? It's fascinating.

Erik Gensler: So, how do you work with your programming and marketing team given the community? How are you planning your seasons? What are you looking for? How are you judging the success of that?

John Schreiber: Well, we say that we're the most diverse Performing Arts Center in terms of our programming and our audiences in the country. Now, that's not a difficult distinction in a lot of cases because the Kravis Center in Palm Beach is (laughs) … They're going to be programming to a pretty specific audience but Newark is a global city and there are a dozen different ethnicities and nationalities that we can program to if we're smart about it. And so, that's what David Rodriguez, who is our executive producer, is great at. If we're going to program to Indian audiences—and there are lots of Indians in New Jersey who deserve to have grade A entertainment available to them—we don't wanna program once a year, we want to program several times a year. We want that audience to feel as if this is a place that is welcoming and respectful of them as a patron. We're the major presenter to African-American audiences in the metropolitan area. We present more African-Americans in a given season than the Apollo does. And so, this is a home for African-American audiences. Similarly, whether it's Asian audiences, Brazilian or Puerto Rican, or Mexican, Dominican, I want every possible patron who wants to have a good time to feel like this is a place where they can do that. And so, David is great at doing that. We announce the season, say, of about 120 shows, and then, over the course of the year, we'll add another 120 shows. We are very nimble as promoters in grabbing stuff that we think is gonna be interesting to our audiences and our marketing team has become quite good at target marketing to specific populations. And, as I said, every marketing campaign is sort of like, glassblowing. You just ... you have to be very specific about who you're talking to and sometimes, if a show really takes off—and sometimes they do—$20,000 I’ve budgeted to market Gabriel Iglesias I can save for something that needs more help. 40% of what we present loses money and we know it going in, so we build that into our budget every year, and that is our jazz programming, our classical music programming, our dance programming, some of our world music programming. But if I do five shows PAW Patrol and I have 10,000 parents and four-year-olds, that covers a lot of ground for us and enables us to do other things. We spend almost eight million dollars a year on education. On a $45 million budget, that's a substantial fraction of the budget, so philanthropy is certainly very important to us, but successful ratio of earned revenue is indispensable.

Erik Gensler: How much of your attention do you spend working with your board and what have you learned in terms of how to cultivate a successful, healthy relationship with your board?

John Schreiber: I think transparency and regular communication is key to the relationship between nonprofit management and board. I would tell you, on a given day, I probably talk to a couple of board members. This morning, I mean, already, today, I've talked to three board members. And sometimes, I will ask a board member to give me advice on a particular business issue. Sometimes, it'll be simply about philanthropy and engagement in different philanthropic programs that we're developing. We have a very robust committee structure. The two areas of our business that we don't involve our board in are programming and marketing and that is because those are the areas that we are expert in.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

John Schreiber: Right?

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

John Schreiber: I don't want board members to book the building. I don't want board members to tell me how to program a season. It's not what they do for a living. That's what we do for a living. But on nominating governance, can we find diverse board members, can we find great people to add to our leadership? On operations and finance, can we get great business people to help us figure out how to balance our budget? On education … we have two different committees around education. These are board members or community members who are involved in this area in a specific way where they can add value, they do add value and I love engaging with them around that. Everybody has to feel a sense of ownership and those are the best ways to advance a functional board relationship and I've been really lucky. The ... my board chair for the past several years have been John Strangfeld, who is the CEO of Prudential and Prudential is a major funder of the Arts Center and has been historically. Prudential is also deeply involved in Newark and in advancing equity. So, the board relationships, the relationships with funders are essential to our success.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

John Schreiber: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: I've never heard that before and I think it's quite smart to create a scope for the board that is mutually beneficial and I think I hear from a lot of people that it's challenging when their board gets too involved in, say, the marketing, but if you set the guide rails appropriately to avoid that, you're setting yourself up for success. I like that.

John Schreiber: Right-

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

John Schreiber: ... but we have to do it well-

Erik Gensler: Yeah, yeah.

John Schreiber: ... (laughs) in order for everyone to feel comfortable. When David Rodriguez, our programming boss, makes a presentation at the board meetings, (laughs) we all kind of gasp in admiration for his expertise.

Erik Gensler: Right. What's a problem that's on your mind right now that you're grappling with?

John Schreiber: Well, I'm in year two of $175 million capital campaign, so I go to sleep thinking about fundraising. I wake up thinking about fundraising. It's always on my mind and one is never done as a fundraiser. Wight now, we're doing research on a school. Should we have a school on our campus, right? That's a big, sort of out-of-the-norm enterprise for a performing arts center, so I'm spending a lot of time on the research for the feasibility of a PreK-to-8 arts-integrated public school, which has never been done before, right?

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

John Schreiber: And if we are to do that, can we find a curriculum that ... Can we adapt an existing curriculum to integrate with the arts? Can we find ... we're not an operator, for example, of a public school. So, this is a really big idea and my board has said to me, "Keep looking at it. It's not something we'd ever have thought of for this place, but, again, as an anchor cultural institution, as a mission-driven arts organization, there's some logic to this-“

Erik Gensler: Mm.

John Schreiber: “But we won't do it unless we believe we really have a chance to succeed,” so that's a thing I'm thinking about.

Erik Gensler: Your role's very entrepreneurial.

John Schreiber: Right, sure. But, that's the fun part.

Erik Gensler: Oh, yeah.

John Schreiber: Right.

Erik Gensler: It seems like you're having a great time.

John Schreiber: I wake up excited every day and I never ... while there's a whole bunch of things that I am obliged to do on a daily basis, I never know what's gonna come up.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

John Schreiber: And that's the fun part. That sort of reminds me of my old days as a producer.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

John Schreiber: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: As someone who leads an organization myself, I'm constantly preoccupied with being a good leader-

John Schreiber: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Erik Gensler: … and take that responsibility so seriously. And I wanna ask you, how do you cultivate your leadership skills? When I ask you about leadership, what are some of the things that you think about?

John Schreiber: I think about talent. I think about the talent that surrounds me and the necessity that that talent feel supported and that those leaders understand that I am available, interested, keen for their success, and happy for them to take credit for their success. The older I get, the more I understand that good leaders—and, we have nine different divisions of our little business—each of these leaders is leading a group of staff. And, based on parameters, they all have different meters and criteria of success. How can I help them achieve that success, how can I direct them in ways that will enable their success without having them feel criticized by me, and how can I engender a sense of collaboration among my leaders so that they understand that their colleagues' success is their success? Right?

Erik Gensler: Mm. Mm-hmm (affirmative)

John Schreiber: How does one build that kind of a culture, right? And, I ... I think it has … to me, it has ... I become a better boss the older I get (laughs) because I remember myself 30 years ago and I was a pain in the ass. I'm still a pain in the ass, but I think I'm a more thoughtful pain in the ass than I used to be because I have the benefit of all the mistakes that I've made over the years. I'm still impatient, but I think properly channeled impatience can ... is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as the folks that work for me understand that I respect ... I respect their effort. I respect their intellect. I respect the culture they're trying to build as leaders of their own efforts, right?

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

John Schreiber: I learned a lot ... a mentor to me, interestingly, is ... has been John Strangfeld, who's the ... my board chair, who's the CEO of Prudential. And, I would sit with him—and now he’s retiring, so I won't have this opportunity going forward—but we'd sit together once every six weeks or so for two hours and he'd say, "What's on your list?" and we’d talk mostly about talent. We’d talk mostly about what's happening, division by division, in our little business. This is the CEO of Prudential. Rhis is a trillion-dollar business, right? Talking about my $45 million business and the fact that maybe I need to switch out this person or that person, and how do we do that in the most humane way and how do we manage our team and changes in personnel in a way that doesn't disrupt the culture of the organization? How do you build a culture in an organization?

Erik Gensler: So, if you could give yourself advice for your first year in your role ... and you've been here how long now?

John Schreiber: Eight years.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. From what you know now, what would you tell yourself going into that first year?

John Schreiber: I'd say, "Shut up!” (laughs)

Erik Gensler: (laughs)

John Schreiber: “Stop talking so much." (laughs) That's what I would say-

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

John Schreiber: ... because I came in just aiming for a bear. I was like (laughs), "This place is great, but I have a lot of ideas," and I don't think I listened well enough in my first year and so that would be the advice that I would give to myself.

Erik Gensler: That's great advice.

John Schreiber: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: So, let's close out with one last piece of advice and this is, uh, a question I ask of every podcast guest, and we call it the “CI to eye moment” and the question is, if you can broadcast to the executive directors, leadership team, staff, and boards of a thousand arts organizations-

John Schreiber: (laughs)

Erik Gensler: … what advice would you give them to help them improve their businesses?

John Schreiber: (laughs) That's a book.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

John Schreiber: That's a good book. Have you thought about that? I think a functional relationship with one's board is essential to success because the leader of the nonprofit, in order to have the best and most peaceful trajectory going forward, has to be aligned with board leadership. If that alignment doesn't exist, the leader of the nonprofit is spending way too much head time trying to figure out why. So, alignment, in terms of vision and execution, with board leadership is essential. And then, focus on the goals and the aspirations of the organization and an agreement among staff and board about the goals and the role of the organization also needs to be clear, because without that the ... the business likely, will not succeed and the intention of the nonprofit won't advance, so we made a decision that we workshop with our board, that we're gonna rewrite our mission statement. We did that three or four years ago, four or five years ago and it took a minute to do it. It took a while to do it, but we understood that diversity and inclusion were needed to be at the heart of our business from a missions perspective and from a business perspective. And it took a while ... it took a while to ... to get there, right? But, we did and we had a unity among board and staff around the mission of our business. It's been a wonderful ride since then as we have workshopped that in a dynamic way. So, it's never the same. It's always changing, but the goal and the alignment among board and staff has remained consistent, which enables us to do the work.

Erik Gensler: Thank you so much.

John Schreiber: You're welcome.

Erik Gensler: (theme music) Here’s the remainder of my conversation with John abourt Elaine Stritch. (theme music)

John Schreiber: … but within that, she sang, "But Not for Me," and she sang, "If Love Were All," which is a Noel Coward song. So, it was just a gorgeous piece of work and I stood in the back of the theater and I got goosebumps. And at the end of the night, I went backstage and I said to her, "If you could do 90 minutes of this, we would have something extraordinary." And, she took me up on it. And then, over the next couple of years, every other week, she would sit with Larry Grossman, same guy, and tell stories and talk about her life and talk about everything that had happened to her. And then ... So, we had this amazing book. We transcribed everything and then I said, "Well, we need somebody to turn this into a piece of theater," because she had all the songs.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

John Schreiber: And then I was a huge fan of John Lahr's and John Lahr's father was Bert Lahr. And Bert Lahr, for those of your listeners who may not know, was ... he was the Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz" and he's a great Vaudeville clown, at the end of his life, a great dramatic actor … was a remarkable character. And John Lahr is a brilliant critic and essayist and historian of the theater and ... but he had also done some writing for the theater as a playwright. So, I ... we had this, again, this hilarious dinner with Elaine and John Lahr and they fell in love with each other and we gave John this book, this transcript, and we said, "Can you turn this into theater?" And he went away and three months later, he came back with the play and then we said, "Well, what are we gonna do with it?” Right? “Now, we have something that we sort of like." And we said, "We can't just imagine this on Broadway because nobody would invest in it because it's just too odd." And then, I called down to the Public and I had not met George Wolfe, but I asked to meet George Wolfe. And I did and it turned out that he was a huge Elaine fan. And so, again, they met, spectacular spontaneous combustion. And so now, we had our director and all these things just sort of fell into place.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

John Schreiber: And I remember, the summer before the first production at the Public, Elaine and John Lahr spent six weeks in a room at the Regency Hotel working on the script together. And they would sit there and they'd yell at each other and Elaine would go, "That doesn't sound like me. I would never say a thing like that," and then went back and forth and back and forth. And literally, the script that came out of that six weeks was the final product. It never changed.

Erik Gensler: The writing is so good.

John Schreiber: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: And the direction-

John Schreiber: Yeah. Erik:... the direction is, like-

John Schreiber: Right.

Erik Gensler: ... next-level for a cabaret. Like, how they weaved the songs and the narratives in. It was just incredible.

John Schreiber: Yeah. One never knows, right, when that sort of process begins what you're gonna end up with but that was as near to what I had in my mind's eye that night at Carnegie Hall as I ever could've imagined. And George has this amazing cadre of people that he works with on all his shows-

Erik Gensler: I-

John Schreiber: … so Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer did the lights and just the George company of geniuses.

Erik Gensler: The quality level-

John Schreiber: Right.

Erik Gensler: ... was just so outstanding.

John Schreiber: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

John Schreiber: So, anyway-

Erik Gensler: Well, I've been to an Elaine Stritch Halloween party where everyone dresses in the black tights and the white-

John Schreiber: Really?

Erik Gensler: Oh, god, yeah. I just ... My husband just directed our friend Jeff Hiller's show-

John Schreiber: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: ... at Joe's Pub last week.

John Schreiber: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: ... and, it's a one-man show.

John Schreiber: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: And for one part, he sort of stole that idea of weaving in narratives to one song and he wore the Elaine Stritch outfit for that part of the show. So, it lives on in many ways.

John Schreiber: It was funny because Elaine did it ... After Broadway, we did it in London, played around the country and it ... she then sort of bastardized it for an act at the Carlisle. I mean, just-

Erik Gensler: Yeah. Oh, I saw that. It was amazing.

John Schreiber: ... she did a zillion different things with it over the years.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

John Schreiber: But one day, she said to me ... she said, "Who could ... I wonder who could play me on the road?"

John Schreiber: (laughs)

John Schreiber: Make a great, you know-

Erik Gensler: That's awesome.

John Schreiber: ... “Lorna Love! Let's get Lorna Love. She'd be perfect,” you know.

Erik Gensler: That's hilarious, that's amazing. Carol Channing. (laughs)

John Schreiber: I actually worked with Carol Channing, I did a ... I used to book Feinstein's at the Regency. And I got Carol to do two weeks of her cabaret act.

Erik Gensler: Oh, cool. Is that what she took to San Francisco like ten years ago or something?

John Schreiber: I ... this was-

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

John Schreiber: ... this was ten years ago-

Erik Gensler: Yeah, I think I saw a version of it.

John Schreiber: No. It was more than ten years, maybe, like, twenty years ago.

Erik Gensler: Maybe fourteen years ago.

John Schreiber: Yeah. She was great, though.

Erik Gensler: Oh, yeah.

John Schreiber: She was so smart.

Erik Gensler: Oh, my god. And so ... it just ... she's made everything important, she was such a good storyteller.

John Schreiber: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

John Schreiber: Yeah.