How These Two Young Out Female Producers Championed Two Hit Broadway Shows This Season

Playbill Pride   How These Two Young Out Female Producers Championed Two Hit Broadway Shows This Season
 
Part of the Hadestown and What the Constitution Means to Me teams, respectively, Sally Cade Holmes and Rachel Sussman want to open more doors.
Sally Cade Holmes and Rachel Sussman
Sally Cade Holmes and Rachel Sussman Marc J. Franklin

Space and access are the watchwords for a lot of people looking to the future, and producers (and friends) Sally Cade Holmes and Rachel Sussman are no exception. Younger, out women working in a traditionally older, male-dominated field, Holmes and Sussman are as dedicated to offering a hand to those coming up behind them as they are to claim their own seats at the table.

“I didn’t, until recently, have female mentors,” Sussman says. “There were certainly incredible male mentors for me, but even today, when you think of female lead producers on Broadway, there’s maybe a handful or so. And I’m excited that that is continuing to expand and more women are claiming their power in that field.”

READ: What the Constitution Means to Me to Launch National Tour

Heidi Schreck in WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME (2018). Photo by Joan Marcus.jpg
Heidi Schrek in What the Constitution Means to Me (2018) Joan Marcus

Sussman and Holmes are currently represented on Broadway as co-producers this season; Sussman joined the lead producers of What the Constitution Means to Me when it made the transfer to the Helen Hayes Theatre from New York Theatre Workshop, and Holmes is part of the Hadestown team. But both have also found success as producers in the Off-Broadway sphere: Sussman with The Woodsman and Holmes with Puffs.

“When I jump into projects, it is through relationships to artists and relationships with mentors,” Holmes says. “With Puffs, I believed in the director’s work; we went to college together. I thought they were doing something really exciting—so of course I am going to put my name on it. Absolutely.”

Likewise, Sussman joined The Woodsman creative team in part because of existing relationships but also because she loved the work. She and Holmes are quick to point out that their producing interests are rooted in the here and now.

2019 Tony Awards_Radio City Music Hall_Production Photos_2019_Hadestown_HR.jpg
Hadestown CBS

“I tend to gravitate toward dynamic, human stories that feel deeply relevant to the moment we’re in. I’m interested in work that takes risks and sparks conversation,” Sussman says. Holmes agrees, adding, “In certain circles, we’re taught to fear the word ‘entertaining.’ It took me years to say, ‘I want to produce work that is overtly entertaining.’”

They are also cognizant of their duty to those who want to follow in their footsteps as creative forces. “I think it’s our responsibility to mentor the next generation,” Sussman says. “We need to actively create a pipeline for rising artistic leaders, specifically female producers, LGBTQ and non-binary producers, and producers of color. They are going to be doing the job with us and after us.”

“I think that allowing space is, full stop, what you do as a mentor,” Holmes says. “Creating space and allowing people to discover their own paths.”

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