David Lehrer is one of the producers of the critically acclaimed play, The Lieutenant of Inishmore. The Lieutenant of Inishmore which moved to Broadway and earned five Tony nominations, including Best Play. We asked him a couple questions about being a producer in the city (and Ireland, as it were).
The Lieutenant of Inishmore was just nominated for five Tonys, including Best Play. Your Broadway debut as producer and a nomination! How did you find out? Are you walking on air?
I was listening to a webcast of NY1 for the announcements. I was absolutely thrilled, especially that so many of our actors were recognized.
How did you get involved with the The Lieutenant of Inishmore? Were you a Martin McDonagh fan?
I got involved through Randall Wreghitt who I've known for some time. He asked me if I was interested in helping get the show up at the Atlantic Theatre and he gave me the script to read. I was very moved by The Pillowman last season and was hoping that The Lieutenant of Inishmore would measure up. I guess it is pretty obvious that I loved the script. My wife, Sheila, had seen the premier of Martin's work by the Druid Theatre Company in Galway in the mid-90's and was also a big fan since then.
Your bio says you split your time between County Cork and NYC - and that you're starting a new life as a farmer? Why did you make this move? What were you doing in NYC?
Well I was probably exaggerating a little bit, we'll call it poetic license. I actually am originally from Long Island with a lot of family in NYC and I moved to Ireland in the early 90's. My wife is from Cork and a farmer's daughter. So when we married, her father generously gave us a bit of land on which we are building a house and where I hope to have a go at growing things.
In the meantime, our time is split between Dublin, Cork and NY. I do a lot of my work on the phone and the internet so location is not that important to me. Although I do collect a lot of frequent flyer miles! Check back with me in a year and I'll let you know how my farming is going...
Oh and my wife and I are expecting a new farmhand this September (our first)!
How did you become a producer? You and your wife worked as a team as producers on The Lietenant of Inishmore - how did that come about?
I am an accidental producer. I had known the composer of Poe [a musical I'm now producing on] for some years and we became friends. When he told me about his show, I became very interested and volunteered to lend a hand. That relationship grew over the years until I found myself completely immersed. It was through Poe that I met Randall. And since my wife was a very big proponent of Inishmore, we decided to get involved together.
Your next project is a musical about Edgar Allan Poe. How did you develop it? What stage is it at?
"It was many and many a year ago,..." that I got involved in Poe. As the two writers are also rookies, we are learning as we go along. It is amazing how long it can take to put a musical together. I am big believer in not rushing to market before you are ready. We have had a few readings both private as well as with an audience at the
Cherry Lane Theatre. Each time we learn a lot about what works and what doesn't. We're currently doing a major rewrite of the show under the guidance of director, Casey Hushion. When we finish, we hope to do another reading in the early summer. If all is well then I think you will start to hear a lot more from us. Until then, the website is a good place for information.
What are some plays you admire? What are other things that inspire you?
I am probably more a fan of musicals than plays. I simply find McDonagh's work incredibly lyrical. I like challenging subjects but I also want to be completely engaged and transported.
Passion inspires me. I used to be involved in technology where everyone was so passionate about changing the world. Sometime in the boom of the nineties, things changed and people became more interested in the money than what they were doing. I gravitated toward theatre because the people involved are so passionate about their craft and their art. It is really refreshing.
And some questions about NYC:
Favorite subway line:
6 (I don't know about favorite, but it's the one I take most often)
Favorite Broadway/Off-Broadway play or musical experience:
Lieutenant of Inishmore/Lieutenant of Inishmore...
Favorite place in the city:
I love Bryant Park. It's near all the theatres and always a great place to take a few minutes to unwind.
Favorite NYC past time:
Aside from theatre, I like just walking around and people watching.
Best/worst NYC gentrification trends:
Times Square. Hey, I love that its is cleaned up and tourists aren't afraid of it anymore but I miss that gritty NY feel.