David Rothenberg, a theatrical press agent for decades, will retire June 30, disbanding the David Rothenberg Associates firm currently located, alongside dozens of other theatrical organizations, at 1501 Broadway in Manhattan.
Rothenberg was out of the office June 20, but according to a spokesperson there, Rothenberg will be teaching classes and will continue doing his weekly, Saturday morning radio show on WBAI-FM. David Gersten, the firm's other full-time employee, will be setting up shop with fellow press agent Brett Singer.
Of late, the Rothenberg firm had been divesting itself of clients, with its one big, 13-year-old meal ticket -- Tony n' Tina's Wedding -- to move with Gersten. The Mint Theatre and the Melting Pot Theatre will be Gersten clients as well.
In the early 1990s, Rothenberg's office handled Blue Man Group, which became a big enough success to allow staffer Manny Igrejas to open his own office and essentially serve that single client. "When I first started in this business," Igrejas told Playbill On-Line (June 20), "I was working at another company, and it was hard work, and it wasn't fun, and it was often not pretty behind the scenes. So I went with David, and those were the glory days; we laughed all day long -- and also worked for clients. He's my mentor. Always there were his passion, his haimische heart and political activism. He and I and [former staffer] Terrence Womble felt like family."
Continued Igrejas, "David really made Tony n' Tina's Wedding as a phenomenon. There were a million things to learn and do on that show. It's a cliche, but he really taught me how to `think outside the box,' which I put to use on the first show I really handled there, John Leguizamo's Mambo Mouth. Doing press wasn't so much about being `fabulous,' it was about getting the job done and having relationships with people." Igrejas pointed out that not only did Rothenberg work on shows with "the big ones" (e.g., Bette Davis in Night of the Iguana and several Alexander Cohen productions, including the recent Waiting in the Wings), but he put his energy into causes as well. "While David was doing press for Fortune in Men's Eyes about ex-cons, that prompted him to found the Fortune Society, which is devoted to breaking the cycle of crime, go to jail, come out, no skills, another crime and back in jail. The organization trains people to have jobs and live in this society. It's still functioning to this day."
-- By David Lefkowitz