Theatrical Producer: In the world of professional theater, the producer generally is in charge of raising or providing and managing the financial resource for a play, and has overall responsibility the financial success of the production.
One of my favorite movies is the 1968 production of The Producers starring Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock, a once great Broadway Producer, and Leo Bloom, his hapless accountant, played by Gene Wilder. The story has Bialystock ensnaring Leo Bloom in his get-rich scheme by overselling interests in what was sure to be a Broadway flop. In this classic farce, the show becomes a success, while “The Producers” end up in jail.
In the community theater world, the producer’s role is less about securing the financing and more about managing the production. At the Village Players, the producer works within the budget set by the Board of Directors to pay expenses such as music, royalties, set construction, costumes props, etc. He or she may also contribute to marketing strategies, promotions, and any other functions that aid in bringing the show to the stage. The producer also collects all of the expense receipts and processes them for payment in accordance with the established budget. Some even coordinate the Long Sunday dinner and closing show cast party, assuring adequate nourishment, variety, and quantity to the starving thespians and stage crew. Overall, the producer’s goal is to ensure the show is brought to life on time, within the established budget.
In general, producers have wide latitude in the steps necessary achieve the overall objectives. Some producers have been known to beg, borrow and, while not steal, work very hard to secure items for the show that meet the technical, aesthetic, and financial requirements of the production. A good producer can work magic in many cases, and when the budget is tight, they have been known to be imaginative in meeting their production requirements.
The amount of work required of the producer is often influenced by the size and scope of the production. For example, VP’s Sunset Boulevard, replete with an extravagant set, fabulous costumes and beautiful and ornate stage props, required greater producer resources than did Rehearsal for Murder, which used a more austere set of folding chairs and a table on a naked stage. The former was a community theatre premier of a blockbuster; the latter, a show with a simple set chosen to accommodate the construction constraints of a major remodeling project of the theater at Village Players.
No matter the show, the producer’s role is vital, sometimes challenging and always interesting. The producer plays a key role in bringing the director’s vision to the stage and ensuring the show is produced, from inception to wrap-up within the artistic, operation and financial framework of the organization.