Theatre Jobs: What Does a Broadway General Manager Do?
Peter Bogyo (Love Letters, Fortune's Fool) answers every question you might have about the nature of a general manager with his new book.
“I largely wrote the book out of self-defense in that I’ve had friends for more than 20 years who still misintroduce me at gatherings as a stage manager,” Perter Bogyo says, laughing. “Or ‘He’s a company manager. He’s a production manager.’”
In fact, Bogyo is a general manager and he’s made things very simple for his friends by titling his book Broadway General Manager: Demystifying the Most Important and Least Understood Role in Show Business. Anyone who still misintroduces him is just not paying attention.
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“I say in show business, I’m the business half,” Bogyo says of his role in mounting Broadway shows. “In a nutshell I would say in the theatre I am the top business and financial adviser to a producer. So anything they want quantified, expense-wise, or they want to make sure we’re not in violation of any union regulations. I deal with everything related to the business and financing of the show. I’m usually the second person hired—the attorney is first, and then they’re desperate to know how much it’s going to cost!”
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Bogyo—who has served as general manager on Broadway outings such as The Trip to Bountiful, Love Letters, and Fortune's Fool—initially intended his book to be a how-to guide to the profession, something that aspiring theatremakers could consult to better understand the business side of the art. It also supplies a glimpse into an area of the theatre to which few are privy. “The book has a strong appeal to a really hardcore theatre lover who just wants to understand how things work, or may be intrigued by behind-the-scenes business and financial aspects,” Bogyo says. “Normally that’s a secretive world you have no exposure to.”
His publishers were quick to note that he needed to inject a bit more personality into the proceedings. Bogyo was just as quick to oblige.
“I was reviewing a chapter about budgets—which is a pretty dry area—and weekly operating expenses,” he says. “So I added an insert that says most people outside the theatre have no idea that in the weekly operating expenses in the sound department it is common practice for the expense receipts to include a listing for condoms.”
No, this is not for randy cast members. As it happens, non-lubricated condoms make ideal protection for the transmitter of a body mic, to protect it from the performers’ sweat and from shorting out onstage. “One condom per wireless microphone for performance,” Bogyo notes, laughingly. Spoken like a true general manager.