Podcast Episode #43: Tony Award-Winning Director, John Caird.

John Caird told me to break the most important rule of auditioning.

When I was in college, I was always told never look the auditioners in the eye.  “Pick a spot over their head,” was the conventional wisdom.

But when I first met John Caird when he was guest lecturing during my junior year at NYU, he told us to eff that ol’ rule and look him straight in the eye.

Of course he said it in a soft British accent so it sounded so sweet.

John Caird is a guy who defies convention and at the same time has achieved incredible conventional success.  His credits include the epic The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Jane Eyre, a ton of shows at the RSC, operas all over the world and oh yeah, that little show called Les Misérables.  

He’s also a writer as well, and his most recent credit happens to be Daddy Long Legs playing at my very own theater.

While we were in tech for DLL, I pulled John aside to hear what other advice he had for me and for all of you out there, including:

  • What he thought right after the heard the demo of Les Miz (his answer should be printed on a t-shirt and worn by artists everywhere).
  • Why he doesn’t read reviews.
  • Why he wouldn’t let Andrew Lloyd Webber change the title of Song & Dance.
  • Would the 8.5-hour Nicholas Nickleby get produced today?
  • With all these big shows and big operas, why he was so drawn to an intimate two-character musical like Daddy Long Legs (and why you should be too).

One of the reasons I wanted John on this podcast, is that I found myself gobsmacked every time we were in a notes session on Daddy Long Legs and he went on about character and plot and purpose and motivation and so on.  He knows his way around a play like you know your way around your hometown.  He just lives in the theater.

For a moment I thought he was brainwashing me with that soft British accent.

But then I realized, no, he just knows what the eff he’s talking about.

Enjoy John!

Click here to listen.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here.


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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.