Working with Kate on our show had made me start to miss the buzz of New York, and the theater scene there. Suddenly, no doubt a part of the plan, my BFF, Molly, called and asked if I wanted to go with her to see an old friend of ours get married in New York on October 20th. I said “yes,” of course. Not only would this be a great opportunity to travel with Molly and attend Sri’s wedding, as well as see some Broadway shows… but I could also meet with people about Part of the Plan. Kate and I both felt we were at the point of introducing ourselves around, as well as getting whatever advice we could. In preparation, we had created a marketing “packet.” It consisted of hard copies of the faux-Playbill (which you can access here on the website), a script with a special cover incorporating the Phoenix design, and a CD with clips of the songs used in the show (also on the website). We later added extra materials, including a synopsis and an executive summary for business purposes. We also had both joined the Dramatists Guild, which was almost as important to me as my Writers Guild membership, and Kate’s in Screen Actors Guild (didn’t know she was an actress, too? The girl’s full of surprises!)
We started calling around to LA friends and associates to see if they knew people I could meet in New York. Our good friend, Laurie, connected me, via e-mail, to one of her besties who has had his musicals produced, both on and off Broadway. My West Coast agent let me know who to call in their New York Office. My years as a writer in Daytime Drama had allowed me the opportunity to become friendly with a number of East Coast writers, some of whom I’d never even met in person, but with whom I’d developed long distance relationships. I let them know I was coming to town and why. One thing I had learned as a television writer was that many of my colleagues were also novelists and playwrights. And few people are more generous to someone in my position than other writers who have been in the same trenches.
Case in point, Sri – who is also a playwright and television writer – agreed to read the book for Part of the Plan, and give us feedback. This despite the chaos of his wedding and honeymoon, and the deadline he was up against to complete a pilot for NBC.
Molly and I saw some really good plays. Forbidden Broadway, The Heiress, with Jessica Chastain and Dan Stevens (from Downton Abbey), and another off-Broadway drama, If There Is, I Haven’t Found It Yet starring Jake Gyllenhaal. I really hoped to see a musical, but it wasn’t to be this trip. Still, I walked down Broadway and saw the signs for Chicago and Book of Mormon, Once, Ghost, and Nice Work if You Can Get It and wondered how long it would be before we’d get to see Part of the Plan in lights.
But what was most exhilarating about this trip was meeting new people and telling them about Part of the Plan. Laurie’s friend, Michael (mentioned above), was a doll. He did his research before we met and had a terrific idea. Michael develops some of his shows at his alma mater, a Midwestern university with a highly respected theatre department. Aware that Chicago is a vibrant theatre town, and with Dan being a native son of Illinois, he suggested we explore the Chicago theatre scene, starting with Northwestern University. I nearly choked – Northwestern is Kate’s alma mater. She got her MBA from Kellogg, the business school there. And they also have a fabulous theatre program. It was a head-slapper, as in “why didn’t we think of that!!??” I called Kate that night, very excited, tucked the Chicago notion into the back of my brain, and then tucked myself into bed.
The next morning, I had a meeting with one of the heads of a boutique television-production company – that also happens to own a theatre in the West End of London. I can’t tell you what a kick it was to walk into their beautiful, Upper East Side brownstone lobby and see one of those signs with removable letters that said “Welcome Karen Harris.” Holy smokes, I felt like the Queen!!! John and I spoke about development in the West End (a dream of mine), and he was very impressed with our packet, which he promised to send to the London Theatre Director. I also met with a NY theatre agent, and with Kate’s Broadway lawyer as well as my own (always a good idea when you’re creating a partnership). I caught up with some of my writer friends who all seemed to know someone I should meet. I can’t keep up with all the kindness that was shown me. But I do know I left each meeting a little wiser. Whenever I brought up Michael’s suggestion about Chicago, the response was always “what a terrific idea!” I talked to Kate every day to bring her up to speed, and we agreed that we were getting valuable information about our journey, and we must stay flexible in the way we get there. I’d also left our packets with certain select people in the hopes that they would give us creative feedback.
We flew home on October 22nd. I can’t believe I was only there for 6 days. I felt as if I’d accomplished a month’s worth of work. And meanwhile, Kate was working just as hard out of LA. Within a week, fired up by my inspiring experience, Kate was going to return to New York and finish what I’d started.
- Karen Harris