In the final week of Women’s Month, let’s take a look at the producers.
In an earlier post, I took a look at the representation of women in the production teams of filmed live musicals. After costume design, the area where women had the highest representation was producing. In the current database, a total of 53 women have produced 34 filmed live musicals. Many musicals credit companies rather than people as producers, so these numbers may actually be higher.
Four of these women, Ellen M. Krass, Iris Merlis, Dione Orrom, and Bonnie Comley have been instrumental to bringing filmed live musicals to the world. Between them, these women have produced 19 filmed live musicals, which is 55% of all the musicals produced by women, and 15% of all the musicals currently in the database. Many of the musicals were Broadway or West End productions, and, in a fun tidbit related to last week’s post on Sondheim, nearly one-third of female produced musicals were written by Sondheim.
Ellen M. Krass
In a career spanning over 30 years, Ellen M. Krass has been instrumental in bringing theatre to film and television. Krass worked as an executive producer for RKO/Nederlander before forming her own company, EMK Productions. She has won 2 Emmy Awards, including the Outstanding Classical Music-Dance Program for Sweeney Todd in Concert in 2002 (shared with Iris Merlis and several others). Her filmed live musical credits include Sweeney Todd (1982 and 2001), Candide, Company, Gypsy, and She Loves Me. Krass also produced the 1985 concert production of Follies.
Dione Orrom has worked as a producer for film, opera, and live music concerts, with The English National Opera, Cirque du Soleil, The Three Tenors, Tina Turner, Elton John, and Cher among her many credits. Orrom has worked extensively in bringing live theatre to cinema and television. Her filmed live musical credits include the 25th anniversary productions of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, Billy Elliot, Miss Saigon, and The War of the Worlds.
Since graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1961, New York native Iris Merlis has worked as a stage manager, production consultant, and producer for film, television, and theatre. With credits spanning the ABC, HBO, and PBS, Merlis has been instrumental in producing theatre for television and film. Her filmed live musical credits include Candide, Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd. Along with Ellen M. Krass, and several other producers, Merlis won an Emmy for Sweeney Todd in Concert.
Bonnie Comley has worked as an actor, and producer for film, television, and Broadway. Over the past 14 years, Bonnie Comley, along with her husband Stewart F. Lane, has produced over 20 Broadway shows, including A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, and Legally Blonde the Musical. In 2015, Comley and Lane launched BroadwayHD, a subscription-based streaming service for live theatre productions. The site features musicals such as Billy Elliot, Daddy Long Legs, Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, and most recently The Wind in the Willows.
I hope women and girls see the work of these tremendous women and are inspired to become producers themselves.
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