#8 – How Does Theatre Become Part of Culture? with Mike Isaacson

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Mike Isaacson, artistic director and executive producer of the iconic MUNY in St. Louis, shares his producing philosophy. From his beginnings as a theatre critic to the Broadway stage, Mike chats with Hal about his key to success, the importance of giving young artists command of the stage, and what it means to be part of St. Louis’ summer ritual.

Mike Isaacson is in his ninth season, and he is only the third person to hold this position in The Muny’s 101-year history. To date, he has produced 56 Muny shows, 23 of which had never been produced at The Muny before including Dreamgirls, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots and Matilda. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch named him “Theatre Artist of the Year,” noting that by “staging one impressive production after another, he made The Muny simultaneously hip and – believe it – important to our community.” During its record-breaking 100th season, The Muny became the first theatre in the world to produce the legendary Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, doing unprecedented archival work on both the artistic and the business side to make it happen.

With Kristin Caskey, Isaacson has produced more than 23 Broadway musicals and plays, national tours, and off-Broadway and London productions. All told, his productions have received more than 122 Tony Award nominations and 34 Tony Awards. Most recently on Broadway, he and Caskey produced the highly acclaimed David Byrne’s American Utopia; opening this fall at The Hudson Theatre will be their production of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite, starring Mathew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker. Spring of 2019, the duo co-produced the Tony-nominated Lanford Wilson’s Burn This, starring Adam Driver and Kerri Russell. Other career highlights for Isaacson include: Fun Home (2015 Tony Award, Best Musical; 2018 Olivier Award nominee, Best Musical); Legally Blonde the Musical (2011 Olivier Award, Best Musical); Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002 Tony Award, Best Musical); Red (2010 Tony Award, Best Play); The Humans (2016 Tony Award, Best Play); If/Then, starring Idina Menzel; Bring It On: The Musical (2013 Tony nomination for Best Musical); A Doll’s House 2 (2017 Tony nomination for Best Play); You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (1999 Tony nomination for Best Revival of a Musical); The Seagull; Caroline, or Change; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (2001 Tony Award, Best Revival of a Play); and Death of a Salesman (1999 Tony Award, Best Revival of a Play). For the Independent Presenters Network, Isaacson served as producer for the Broadway shows Spamalot (2005 Tony Award, Best Musical), Ragtime (revival), and The Color Purple.

He has received the St. Louis Arts and Education Council’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and in 2018, he was awarded The Broadway League’s and Theatre Development Fund’s Commercial Theater Institute “Robert Whitehead” Award for excellence in producing. He has served on the board of governors and executive committee of The Broadway League and received the Samuel J. L’Hommedieu Award. In 2016 he received the Equality Award from the St. Louis Chapter of Human Rights Campaign.

To see the latest news on the MUNY, visit MUNY.org. Follow America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre on instagram @TheMuny.

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