Remembering the man who gave me my start.

I still have no idea why he recommended me.

He called me during my Christmas break.  I had just completed his History of American Theater class at Tisch.  I got an A-, I think.  So, I did well in the class, but it wasn’t like I was the perfect student.  In fact, I even forgot my homework one day.  Literally forgot it at home.  And I’m sure when I said those words, “I forgot it,” he thought, “This guy is in one of the top acting schools in the country?  Cuz I don’t believe that for a moment.”

But still, Jack Lee, the renowned and highly respected Music Director who had worked with everyone from Kander and Ebb to Jule Styne to Stephen Sondheim to Comden and Green, called me over that Christmas break and said he wanted to recommend me for a Production Assistant position on My Fair Lady starring Richard Chamberlain that he was music directing that spring.  Me!

I said yes, duh . . . and, well, to make a long story short . . . I ended up here, writing this blog.

Obviously a lot of stuff happened in between there, but it all traces back to Jack.  Seriously.  For the first ten years of my career, every job I ever had, every piece of knowledge about this business I ever learned, was all because of Jack.  He got me in the door to this exclusive nightclub of an industry, and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

That was what I hoped for when I decided to transfer to NYU, actually.  I remember thinking when I applied, “Someone, someone so generous with their time, someone who can see the passion in their students and help them find an outlet for it, will help me into the business I love so much.”

And Jack did just that.  Like he heard that prayer.  And all that I can pray now is that I made him proud.

Jack Lee passed away last week at the age of 86.  You can read more about his credits in this article from Variety here.

But there are a long list of credits that aren’t in that article.  And they are the hundreds, if not thousands, of students Jack taught, coached, and inspired over his many years as a teacher.

There are so many of us who can say, #ImHereBecauseOfJack.

I’m proud to be one of them.


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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.