Podcast Episode 116 – Tony, Olivier and Emmy Award winning Director/Choreographer, Rob Ashford

One day, during the tech of Thoroughly Modern Millie, the deluge curtain (which pours water onto the stage when there’s a fire), went off.

Funny thing, though.  There was no fire.

The flood soaked the scenery, costumes and left the stage such a mess that there was no way we could rehearse (I was the Company Manager).

Not a good thing when you’re teching a brand new Broadway show that’s 72 hours from 1st preview (with lots of stagehands being paid by the hour standing by).

When I got to the theater and witnessed the watery carnage, Rob Ashford (our choreographer) was just arriving as well.  There was already discussion as to whether we should cancel rehearsal that day . . . but before we knew it, Rob had ushered the entire ensemble to the empty lobby of the Marquis hotel, to drill his dance numbers.

Any wonder he won the Tony that year for Best Choreography.

Rob’s work-every-minute-you-can attitude is surely what has led him to win a Tony, Emmy, Olivier and just about every other award out there, for work on both sides of the Atlantic, in musicals like Millie and How to Succeed and plays like A Streetcar Named Desire and Macbeth.  His resume is so diverse it reads like the resumes of five different guys, from all over the world.

And I got that one guy to talk to us about . . .

  • How he started dancing when he was 20.  That’s right.  Not 2 . . .20!
  • Why it’s a natural progression for Choreographers to become Directors.
  • The difference with working with stars and how he makes them look great . . . even if they’ve never worked on stage before!
  • How he creates steps for a character . . .and how that has nothing to do with dancing.
  • Why it’s good to be afraid.

Dare I say it?  But this podcast with Rob is a flood of insight into what it takes to make it in the biz, from one of our hardest working masters.


Click here for the link to my podcast with Rob!

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Sorry about the sound issues in this podcast. We found the bug and fixed it in later episodes. It gets better, I promise 🙂


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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.