We also kept getting messages from the Universe (call them what you will). A friend of Kate's set us up with a woman who had helped get backing for a current Broadway hit. The woman loved our book, and in turn, introduced us to her backer, and we hit it off like gangbusters. We also met with an old friend of my husband’s, and now a freind of ours, who produces on both Broadway and in the West End of London. He hadn’t read our book, but he loved our story (he also has an adopted son). After listening to Karen and I yammer away about our project and goals of Broadway, he let us know he’d be happy to read the book and was certain he would want to take it to his money people. It seemed that everywhere we turned, we were meeting people who were involved with Broadway musicals and they wanted to help us. But we knew, from all our travels and research, that we were to just invite everyone who wanted to help to our Staged Reading and Workshops. The right collaborator(s), after seeing "Part of the Plan" on its feet, would emerge. Kate and I would know who to partner with at THAT point. And so we treated every new person we met as a potential future collaborator on this project.
Also around that time, Kate and I had joined the Dramatists Guild and we began attending seminars and other DG events. Not only were they informative, but we were able to meet and network with other theatre people. Meeting Theresa Rebeck, the famous playwright and fascinating creator of the hit television show SMASH, was particularly inspiring to us. And the lovely actress/writer/director Charlayne Woodard, was very generous and shared a lot of information about which theatre companies welcomed new playwrights. She recommended we investigate entering our book into play festivals. We are currently preparing to submit our work this fall, when 99% of the competitions are held, and we’ve connected by phone with many of these program directors encouraging us to submit "Part of the Plan.” Kate and I immersed ourselves in the theatre world – going to staged readings and all the musical theatre we could absorb. As much as we both love musicals, it was fun to watch as "research" for our own Broadway adventure.
Regarding our Chicago trip, the feedback about the script was extremely positive. Several of our contacts felt that their theatre companies simply weren't set up to accommodate a show as ambitious as ours, so we realized that when we play in Chicago, it will simply have to be at the Goodman (just putting it out there ;-). It wasn't news to us that "Part of the Plan" contained substantial production values -- a big cast as well as the company of singer/dancers is a daunting prospect. Following three decades in the lives of two families requires changes in sets, costumes, make up, etc., unlike the relative simplicity of a show like "Memphis" or “Once.” But we did take to heart the suggestion that we simplify our script, double up actors so they'd play more than one part, and keep the sets representational rather than literal. For example, Grand Central Station was always meant to be the iconic clock being lowered from the fly space and the sounds of haste and bustle. Central Park could simply be a tree and a bench. The beauty of theatre is allowing the audience's imagination to join up with your own. But ultimately, many of those reading our script recognized the power and emotion of the story shining through, and maybe the greatest compliment we received was how seamlessly Dan's music wove through, almost as though he'd written it especially for this show.
Then we got a call. My brother, who has a successful career as a producer, studio executive, and entertainment entrepreneur, had taken the book for "Part of the Plan" with him on the plane trip home to Connecticut. He called me when he landed, raving about it. "It's a 12 hanky show," he said. By the way, he also has an adopted son! Then he asked for permission to pass it along to his partner, and another Broadway professional. It turns out that my brother had met someone who was creatively involved with "Motown The Musical," which was getting ready to open on Broadway. This delightful man read our script and immediately reached out to us. He loved the story, the music, and the potential he saw in "Part of the Plan." He made many of the same positive suggestions we'd heard from others. Then he went one step further. He thought it was time to talk to some New York directors who might guide us through the Staged Reading and Workshop phases. He would introduce us to some trusted associates, but Kate and I would have to return to New York City.
He didn't have to ask us twice...
- Karen Harris