Susan H. Schulman
In March of 1994, not long after the close of her hit Broadway production of The Secret Garden, Susan H. Schulman sat down with Director Melvin Bernhardt to discuss her life in the theatre. Ms. Schulman walks a captivated audience of early-career Directors and Choreographers through her career to date, spanning neighborhood shows on her family's Brooklyn stoop as a small girl through her most recent Broadway production. We learn that it all began for her in the garage studio of 'Miss Harriet's School of Ballet' in Brooklyn, leading her to matriculate as the (self-labeled) "worst dancer in the class" at New York's prestigious High School of the Performing Arts. Her directing career stemmed from years as a performer at Hofstra University as an undergraduate. After being told that women could not apply to the Yale School of Drama graduate directing program, Susan attended Yale as a playwright for her graduate studies and kept directing none the less. This yearn to direct at any costs won her productions first in Buffalo, then at the Equity Library Theatre in New York, and then a season of musicals at the Civic Light Opera house in Pittsburgh. Susan explains how she came to direct musical theatre so masterfully and on such a grand scale, while not initially being able to read music. Her method understanding the music: taking children's piano lessons. Equally impressive are the unlikely circumstances under which she moved her York Theatre company production of Sweeney Todd from a school gym to a Broadway home at Circle in the Square Theatre. This 90 minute interview continues with insights on the collaborative process, Susan's opinions on the American Musical, and advice to the young theatre makers in attendance. It is a conversation not to be missed by any artist interested in the work ethic necessary to make it to Broadway.