The 2009 Power 100: Arts Leader

Eric Schaeffer, Photo by Russ Hirshon

Eric Schaeffer, Photo by Russ Hirshon

Eric Schaeffer In Four Acts. The award-winning director makes headlines with daring productions in a “Signature” space.

WL: Are you glad you stayed in Washington and didn’t go to New York?
SCHAEFFER: I arrived here thinking I’d stay for two years and here I am, 22 years later … still driving my bike.

WL: Having Glory Days close in New York last year after only one night was a rare stumble, although you rebounded nicely with Les Miserables, which won six Helen Hayes awards last month.
SCHAEFFER: You have to take risks and chances. Some shows are failures; others are huge successes. That’s the game I’m in.

WL: How do you feel about being lauded as a modern-day interpreter of classic works by Stephen Sondheim and Kander and Ebb?
SCHAEFFER: I love to reinvent them to see what other stones can be unturned. It’s great for audiences to have an opportunity to see a show they think they know and discove something new. It’s just what I do.

WL: What’s up next?
SCHAEFFER: I have a show called Million Dollar Quartet that has been running in Chicago since September. It will soon take a big leap and go somewhere exciting. I’m also doing Kern and Hammerstein’s Showboat here. It’s a monster of a show with a cast of 48 actors, but in Signature fashion I’m taking it down to 23 people with a new 14-piece orchestration. I’m going to reinvent the sucker!

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