I hope you all work with someone like Richard Matheson.
I met Richard Matheson in 2001.
I was 28 years old. And I hadn’t produced a dang thing.
But I had a lot of ideas, and one of them was turning his novel and screenplay, Somewhere in Time, into a musical.
And somehow I managed to weasel my way into the house of Mr. Matheson, one of the most celebrated fantasy writers on the planet, responsible for a ton of original Twilight Zone episodes (including “The Nightmare from 20,000 Feet”), The Incredible Shrinking Man, I Am Legend, What Dreams May Come, Stir of Echoes, Duel, and so many more, to make my pitch.
I showed Richard (he insisted I call him Richard, despite my desire to call him “Grandmaster Author”) a treatment of the musical, and even a scene or two I sketched out to give him an idea of what I was thinking for a stage adaptation. He told me stories of the filming and about Christopher Reeve, about how he always thought it could be a musical . . . and then he told me he liked the scenes.
And to this day it is still one of the greatest compliments I ever received.
But he didn’t give me the rights.
Which was fine . . . because I wasn’t ready. But I kept after them, sending him a note or two every year, keeping him up-to-date as I produced Awesome 80s Prom, and Altar Boyz, and so-forth. We talked a couple times a year, and then . . . one day, five years after we met, his agent called and said, “Richard wants you to make Somewhere in Time into a musical.”
I don’t know why he finally decided to let me have them. I was too excited to ask. And too honored that he was giving me the chance; a chance which still to this day I feel so blessed to have received, which I think about every day I work on the show.
As most of you know if you saw my tweet yesterday, Richard passed away Sunday, after 87 years of entertaining millions and millions of readers and viewers, and being so loved by his friends and family, including me.
I spoke to him a few weeks ago when we were making plans for him to see Somewhere in Time in Portland, a trip he unfortunately didn’t get a chance to make. But in our brief conversation, he was still offering ideas, and doing what he also loved to do . . . crack a joke and show me that spectacular wit of his . . . still as sharp as ever.
Richard was a genius. Period. And he so loved what he did.
But I’ll never forget him for inviting me into his home, even though I had nothing on my resume except my passion for his story, and giving me a chance . . . when so many others wouldn’t have (and didn’t).
And someday, I’ll do the same for someone on their way up as well, as a thank you for what he did and continues to do for me.
I’ll miss you, Richard. But I know you’re somewhere in time right now, making sure your musical goes well.
I promise I won’t let you down.
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.