Sam Gold's Broadway debut was at the age of 20 in The Diary of Anne Frank. He was a replacement understudy. "I pushed Anne Frank down the stairs nightly," he says. "People gave me mean looks." That was when he decided he no longer wanted to be an actor.
At the age of 34, Gold recently had a more auspicious, and no less precocious, Broadway debut — as the director of Seminar.
"Sam's youth is a miracle, but an irrelevance," says Seminar's star, Alan Rickman. "What matters is his openness, his rigor, his taste, and his ability to laugh. I don't think of him as a certain age. I just think of him as Sam."
Gold is not the only miracle on Broadway these days. He joins Thomas Kail and Alex Timbers as the latest members of a select new club: rising young Broadway directors. All three became interested in directing in college, created their own opportunities, and scored early successes. All three wound up on Broadway while still in their early thirties, and are now in great demand, juggling many new projects.
"I hope we're part of a larger trend," says Kail. "It's certainly not just us three."
"There's an adage that you need gray hair to direct," says Timbers. "We're anomalies."
They're also friends.
"I've known Tommy and Alex since all of us started directing about a decade ago," Gold says. "We were influenced by the same work and influenced by each other's work."
"We're all also influenced by television and pop culture and comic books and movies," says Kail, who debuted on Broadway in 2008 at age 31 directing In the Heights (which earned him a Tony nomination) and followed that up two years later with Lombardi. "All three of us share an interest in introducing new audiences to the theatre." Kail will next direct Magic/Bird on Broadway, about the long rivalry and friendship between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
There is friendship and competitiveness but no real rivalry among the three young directors. "One of the reasons the three of us are friends is that we're so different; none of us go up for the same jobs," says Timbers, who debuted as a Broadway director in 2010 at age 32 with both Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Pee-wee Herman Show. This season on Broadway he'll direct Peter and the Starcatcher.
None of the three men pictured themselves as directors when they were growing up. "For people of my generation," Timbers says, "the theatre seems out of whack with the culture."
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