Richard Maltby, Jr., Tony Award Winning Writer-Lyricist-Director-Episode #155

Apr 6, 2021 | 2 comments

“Musicals are bigger than the sum of its parts. It’s made up of the music and the words and the orchestration and the scenery and all of that, and the acting and everything else. But something magical also happens. When that happens, I call it the Miracle. You just sit there and watch it.”
~Richard Maltby, Jr.

The legendary writer-lyricist-director, Richard Maltby, Jr., conceived and directed two musical revues that went on to win Tony Awards for Best Musical starting with 1978’s Ain’t Misbehavin’, for which he also won the Tony for Best Director, and 1999’s Fosse.  Richard has been nominated for an additional 10 Tonys, and he’s both won and been nominated for numerous Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and various other Awards.

Among Richard’s work on numerous Broadway productions, with his longtime writing collaborator, composer David Shire, he wrote the lyrics and directed Baby. Richard is the lyricist for Big. With Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, Richard co-wrote lyrics for Miss Saigon and The Pirate Queen. He co-wrote lyrics and directed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Song and Dance.  And he created and directed the Johnny Cash musical, Ring of Fire.

Using his significant experience in the world of Broadway, Richard also contributed to the book Brainteasers for Broadway Geniuses for Broadway musical fans.

Off-Broadway, with David Shire, Richard wrote lyrics and directed the brilliant, popular revues Starting Here, Starting Now, and Closer Than Ever.  Richard has also conceived, written lyrics, and directed numerous shows in regional theaters.

Richard also wrote the screenplay for Miss Potter, which won the Christopher Award for best screenplay.

Of note, Richard contributes cryptic crossword puzzles to Harper’s Magazine.




Read the Podcast Transcript

Steve Cuden: On today’s StoryBeat…

Richard Maltby: Musicals are bigger than the sum of its parts. It’s made up of the music and the words and the orchestration and the scenery and all of that, and the acting and everything else. But something magical also happens. When that happens, I call it the Miracle. You just sit there and watch it.

Narrator: This is StoryBeat with Steve Cuden, a podcast for the creative mind. StoryBeat explores how masters of creativity develop and produce brilliant works that people everywhere love and admire. So join us as we discover how talented creators find success in the worlds of imagination and entertainment. Here now is your host, Steve Cuden.

Steve Cuden: Thanks for joining us on StoryBeat. We’re coming to you from the Steel City, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My guest today, the legendary writer, lyricist, director Richard Maltby Jr. – conceived and directed two musical reviews that went on to win Tony Awards for Best musical, starting with 1978’s Ain’t Misbehavin, for which he also won the Tony for Best Director and 1999’s Fosse. Richard has been nominated for an additional 10 Tony’s, and he’s both won and been nominated for numerous Drama Desk, Outer Critic Circle, and various other awards. Among Richard’s work on numerous Broadway productions with his longtime writing collaborator, composer David Shire. He wrote the lyrics and directed Baby.

Richard is the lyricist for Big, with Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg. Richard co-wrote lyrics for Miss Saigon and The Pirate Queen. He co-wrote lyrics and directed Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Song and Dance, and he created and directed the Johnny Cash musical, Ring of Fire. Off Broadway with David Shire, Richard wrote lyrics and directed the brilliant popular reviews Starting Here, Starting Now and Closer Than Ever. Richard has also conceived written lyrics and directed numerous shows in regional theaters. Richard also wrote the screenplay for Ms. Potter, which won the Christopher Award for best screenplay. Of note, Richard contributes cryptic crossword puzzles to Harper’s Magazine. So for all those reasons and many more, it is a true privilege to chat with one of the theater’s greats, Richard Maltby Jr. Richard, welcome to StoryBeat.

Richard Maltby: Thank you. I’m humbled by my biography.

Steve Cuden: You’re almost as big as you think you are.

Richard Maltby: Gee, did I do all that?

Steve Cuden: I know the problem. So let’s go back to your roots. Where did all this musical theater creativity begin? At what age were you inspired to be a writer in the theater?

Richard Maltby: Well, I didn’t want to be a writer originally. I wanted to be a set designer. I used to love the radio city music hall. I just thought those shows were the best thing in the whole world. Those are the days of four shows a day. They would open the doors at 9:30 in the morning, show a movie, a stage show, a movie, a stage show, a movie, a stage show thing. Four shows during the day and five showings of the movie and they did it every day. My father was an orchestrator, an arranger, right. One year he was hired to write arrangements for the Easter show. The Easter show and the Christmas show were the two big shows.

Steve Cuden: The big spectaculars.

Richard Maltby: So we got up at two o’clock in the morning and drove in. Because in the Radio City Music Hall, it played every day, which means when there was a switchover from one stage show to another, it happened overnight. At 9:30 the curtain came down on the last show of the evening and at 10 o’clock the next morning after the movie, or I guess 11:30, the curtain went up and it was a new show, new sets, new costumes, new everything. They rehearsed it overnight. So I got to go into the Radio City Music Hall and watch them do the rehearsal. I’ve never been so happy in my life.

Steve Cuden: So that was what fascinated you about the theater, was the fact that they did all this stuff.

Richard Maltby: I just couldn’t believe it. Then the sort of defining moment happened, which is. I watched it all go together, they did a dress rehearsal at nine o’clock, and the curtain came down at 9:30, and the audience was already coming into the theater while they were clearing away their tables and everything. They added a couple of short subjects on that show. They showed the movie, and then they did the stage show, and they had rewritten it.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Richard Maltby: The dress rehearsal, the whole opening and the connective material had been rewritten. My little brain went, oh my God, I just didn’t think you could do that. That just seemed the most magical thing in the whole world.

Steve Cuden: Even as the theater itself, which is in Radio City Music Hall, those shows would’ve been magic all by themselves.

Richard Maltby: Well, yeah. I mean, they were gigantic things. They’d have big dance numbers with the court of ballet at the end of which the dancers would pull the skirts up over their head. They’d sit down on the floor and become a bunch of punch bowl cups. The set would be this big punch bowl. That was their idea of fun.

Steve Cuden: Was that your first instance that musicals as a genre were attractive to you?

Richard Maltby: Well, I don’t know. My father was a musician, so there was music in my life all the time. I had a marionette theater because my grandfather gave me a bunch of marionettes when I was too young and so they were put in a closet, and I pulled them out when I was nine or 10. Oh, dear. My father built me a theater, a marionette theater.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Richard Maltby: In those days, he was a staff arranger for radio. In radio, you had your summers off. The season went from September to June, and July and August we’re off. This is my other claim to fame. One year we were packed up to go on a trip for a summer to a dude ranch or something. My father got a telephone call and came out and said, well, we’re not going, because he had just been hired to be the musical director for the only radio show that Ethel Merman ever did.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Richard Maltby: So for the whole summer I would sit in his office and the phone would ring and it would be, Hello Richard, this is Ethel. He’d hold the telephone way away from his head and then he would say something, and then he’d hold the phone away. It was so loud.

Steve Cuden: She did have a big voice, no question.

Richard Maltby: She sure as hell did. He took us in, my sister and me in to watch the radio program one time, you could in fact watch a radio program, and afterwards we went back into the dressing room and Ethel looked at my sister, who was I guess five or six at the time, thought, oh, adorable. She went into her purse. She had a purse about the size of a laundry basket. She dug in there and came out with those pale blue Tiffany boxes.

Steve Cuden: Sure.

Richard Maltby: She opened it up and it was a solid gold yo-yo for a charm bracelet, for a very large charm bracelet. Then she looked at me and she sort of went, oh, I have something for you too. She went back in the bag and pulled out a plastic chicken that laid marbles that she’d gotten at Woolworths.

Steve Cuden: Was she trying to tell you something you think?

Richard Maltby: I don’t think she thought there was any difference. Something from Tiffany and they were kind of cute.

Steve Cuden: Well, and it came from her, so it had that kind of depth to it for whatever reason. You didn’t go to school for scenery, did you?

Richard Maltby: No. I went to prep school. I went to grade school, and then I went to prep school at Exeter in New Hampshire. Then I went to Yale, thinking somehow, I also wanted to write musicals, I guess. I put on some kind of review when I was in eighth grade. The school was so small that they could actually have a complete assembly just to see my review, which was pretty silly.

Steve Cuden: So you started writing or conceiving reviews, musicals, what have you, very young.

Richard Maltby: Oh, yeah. Well, I had a marionette theater, those are shows.

Steve Cuden: Were the marionette shows musicals?

Richard Maltby: They were kind of pageants in which the lights would change, the scenery would change and every now and then a puppet would sort of dangle across the stage, because I had absolutely no interest in puppetry,

Steve Cuden: For many, working on musicals in the world of musicals, people feel it’s their calling. Did you feel early on that it was something that was calling to you?

Richard Maltby: I guess, I mean, when I was at Exeter which is a prep school, the class before me had produced an original musical. I was certain that by the time I was a senior, I was going to do an original musical. And in fact, we did. I got a bunch of people together and we did it. It turned out to be the sensation of the school. You can imagine a very kind of boring prep school. Anything was a sensation. But it was a big deal.

Steve Cuden: Well, it wasn’t like you were without talent to begin.

Richard Maltby: Well, I could write it. I got somebody else to write the music, of course, because that had to happen. I had another writer, and he and I wrote the script. But there was nobody who would write the lyrics. So that’s how I started to write lyrics. I then went to Yale, because Yale had a theater, and Harvard didn’t. In those days, if you went to Exeter, you went to Harvard or Yale. I was determined to write musicals there. In fact, that’s where I met David Shire in our freshman year. We wrote two shows while we were there.

Steve Cuden: Would you say at that time that was unusual for students to be writing musicals at Yale, or was that normal?

Richard Maltby: It was very unusual. Yale offered a drama major but there were no classes in it. It had offered a drama major, but the classes were basically the first year of the drama school. I was the only drama major.

Steve Cuden: You were the only drama major.

Richard Maltby: I was the only drama major.

Steve Cuden: Was David Shire in the musical program?

Richard Maltby: He was an English major. I think in the middle of his senior year, he switched to a music major.

Steve Cuden: That’s very interesting. Then obviously it became both of your lives to do that.

Richard Maltby: Yeah. I mean, wasn’t I lucky to meet a world class composer.

Steve Cuden: No kidding.

Richard Maltby: Wasn’t he lucky to meet somebody who was committed to doing musicals? He went to Yale to write musicals. This is our famous story. But he arrived at Yale with a bunch of songs that he came in and played the Yale Dramat saying, this is the score to your next musical. It had a couple of ballads, a comedy song, a dance, or a tanga, a begine. All of these things. It had no plot, no story, and no characters, but he had these songs. Because that’s how he knew. He knew the cast albums he knew from the albums. He didn’t know that there was anything else going on.

Steve Cuden: Did he have a sense at the time that there was something of a thread of the story between them? Or were they just all disparate songs?

Richard Maltby: They were just like a good song for a musical. A musical would need a ballad, here’s one. A musical would need a comedy song, here’s one. No subject matter, just here’s a comedy song. So I’ve never let him live that down. I mean, we used to laugh at what a hickey was.

Steve Cuden: But you also famously have written reviews that sort of have the various threads, but there’s a thread there of some kind in a review, but it’s not a traditionally story driven music.

Richard Maltby: No, actually, by sort of accident, I guess, I invented what I call the book list book musical. Lynn Meadow, who is the head of the Manhattan Theater Club and has been for 50 years. When she got out of college, she was offered a Manhattan Theater Club, then completely dying organization that would take anybody who wanted it. They owed $60,000, but it had two theaters. I helped her with some benefits as she was in one of the musicals. When she was 12, she was in one of the musicals that David and I wrote at Yale. So we were still superstars to her. So I helped her organize benefits that eventually put the Manhattan Theater Club sort of on the map.

After a while, she said she was trying to figure out what to do with her… there was a cabaret space. A bar that could be a cabaret. They were turning it into a place to do performances. The question was, could they do anything that had any kind of artistic merit? She encouraged me to do a review of the songs that David and I had written. I thought that was fine. By that time, at that particular moment, David had accepted invitations to write in Hollywood and actually had a house in California. So we were separate. I was trying to train myself to be a director. So we had this show with a bunch of sheet music. I got three performers who miraculously said yes. So we were in rehearsal, and I really didn’t know how to put the show together.

I asked them to sing the opening number, which they did, which was a big buildup to the song Starting Here, Starting Now. When they finished, I said sing it again. Then they finished and I said sing it again. I just kept doing that. Finally, one of the guys, just sort of to help me out, went to one of the girls—there were two girls and a guy—and sang to her, and I thought, why didn’t he go to the other one? I realized, oh, I’ve got a triangle. So I built a kind of story out of just a sequence of songs, and that lasted for about three quarters of the first act. Then by that time, we had characters and they kept moving forward. So even though it was just a stringing together of songs, it had the sort of satisfying forward motion of a story.

Richard Maltby: The next year I did the same thing again with an idea that Barry Horowitz and I had been working on about doing a book musical about Fats Waller. Fats Waller didn’t have a second act, so we sort of dropped it. But I had lots of ideas about what Harlem was like and what Fats Waller’s life was like. What a great character he was. So I did the same thing. I did a review of his songs, one after another with no connective material, but organized with all of the information that I would’ve put into a book musical. I rewrote some of the lyrics in order to put biographical material into the songs. So even though he doesn’t ever appear on the stage, the whole show is basically Fats Waller on stage.

Steve Cuden: Is it structured in a way that has a traditional kind of arc to it?

Richard Maltby: Well, in a sense it does. I mean, the first half of the first act is who is Fatz Waller? All the various qualities that he had. Stride piano playing, overindulgent living, living to excess, generosity, joviality, infidelity, divorce – all these things kind of thrown together. The second half was like the world he lived in, which was rent parties, ballrooms, radio remotes, and things like that. Then the second act opened up to the great world, and suddenly it was Harlem expanding out to the great world. It had a kind of a progress. Also I discovered that Fats Waller is famous for these comic asides. In his records, he’s always making these little comic jokes. Two sleepy people with nothing to say, since when? That sort of thing. So there was always that kind of going on, and there seemed to be something in them. I realized that the comedy was really a kind of defense mechanism. These were artists functioning in a hostile world. World didn’t want black artists. They didn’t care, except for the fact that what they were doing was so exciting.

Steve Cuden: Extraordinary.

Richard Maltby: So the only way that you could succeed in Harlem was to be so good they couldn’t ignore you. Since you had to be that good, you were probably better than most of the white performers. So how did you deal with that? Comedy.

Steve Cuden: Comedy.

Richard Maltby: Comedy was the slight put down of white pretensions. The slight put down of people who think too much of themselves. The slight put down of people who think they have importance, and you don’t. It runs through everything. And, of course, became part of the comedy of the show and that’s character. That’s action. That’s dialogue. So suddenly, even though there was no specific story, there was all the semblance of a story. It had the satisfaction of a musical story. Funnily enough, when Andrew Lloyd Weber started writing shows and writing shows in which they were through composed, they all changed. All of his first shows had the structure basically of reviews. Joseph Katz.

Steve Cuden: Jesus Christ Superstar.

Richard Maltby: Jesus Christ Superstar. They basically are one song after another with a sort of a forward motion built into it.

Steve Cuden: Well, he sold superstar by making an album out of superstar and that’s what sold the show. Not the show itself, it was the album.

Richard Maltby: I know. People have been trying to put the album on stage ever since.

Steve Cuden: Right, exactly. I think they did a pretty good job of the movie of that. I think the stage version is a little more difficult for me, but the movie worked for me.

Richard Maltby: I thought the TV version was really excellent.

Steve Cuden: Excellent. I agree with you. Totally.

Richard Maltby: Excellent. I thought that was just wonderful.

Steve Cuden: So I want to talk a little bit about process. How you go and do things. I believe most lyricists, I believe, of some success are word lovers. Clearly, since you also do cryptic crosswords, and your songs are, I think, filled with fantastic rhymes and great words. I assume you’re a word lover.

Richard Maltby: The apocryphal story is that I used to read the dictionary.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Richard Maltby: I think I looked through it because it had pictures of animals, and I could write down the names of animals. I am a real expert on obscure animals.

Steve Cuden: Obscure animals.

Richard Maltby: Marmosets, and things like that. Incagews.

Steve Cuden: So that’s where that started. As a kid, you fell in love with that kind of thing as a kid.

Richard Maltby: Yeah, I mean, I was a weird kid.

Steve Cuden: I think you should take a number and get in line.

Richard Maltby: I know. I mean, who wasn’t? The theater is the home for weird kids.

Steve Cuden: Absolutely.

Richard Maltby: I didn’t have any friends, but I was never unhappy. I was in a very small school on Long Island. At that time, Long Island was a small town. Now it’s a gigantic megalopolis. But it was very small, and my class was never larger than 12 or 13. In that class, there were three or four people who I don’t think went beyond high school. A couple of sorts of middle people. Then there was me.

Steve Cuden: You were preoccupying yourself and remaining happy by, I assume, being in your head.

Richard Maltby: Yeah. I was totally. I would listen to operas on Saturday afternoon while I was building my marionettes.

Steve Cuden: Yeah, sure.

Richard Maltby: I mean, but I was terrible at it. I mean, I must have taken two years to build one marionette, which wasn’t even very good.

Steve Cuden: Well, how many people start off geniuses? I mean, there’s only so many Mozarts in the world.

Richard Maltby: That’s true. I used to subscribe to opera news because of beautiful pictures of the scenery. The Metropolitan had just such beautiful sets. I used to put on shows that I’d forced the neighbors to come in and see them.

Steve Cuden: Then somewhere along the line you started writing lyrics, even as a young man.

Richard Maltby: I had to because nobody else wanted to.

Steve Cuden: But you’re dealing with words at that time. How long do you think you worked at it? You made a decision at some point that you were actually in fact, a lyricist.

Richard Maltby: Yeah. A horrible realization when I graduated from Yale and came to New York, and I’m sitting in my apartment thinking, I’m a lyricist. I don’t want to be a lyricist. Lyricists sit at home trying to figure out how to fix those two bad lines while everybody else is having fun in the theater. I really did feel that I was trapped in it. I’m not a good lyricist for just plain songs. Unless it has a dramatic content. I don’t know what to do with this song.

Steve Cuden: Either dramatic, I assume, or good character to it.

Richard Maltby: A character, yeah. Some character talking in a circumstance.

Steve Cuden: Well, you say that who wants to be a lyricist? But from my experience, it’s the book writer that has the dirty end of the stick.

Richard Maltby: That’s true. He has a worse job, because I will at least steal from him, and he doesn’t steal from me.

Steve Cuden: Well, if you’re lucky, if the music’s any good, the people will come out humming the music, but if the story’s terrible, they blame the book.

Richard Maltby: If the musical is bad, it’s the book’s fault. If the musical is good, it’s the score.

Steve Cuden: Right. Nobody remembers book writers, but everybody remembers composers.

Richard Maltby: That’s totally true. At the same time, everything that underlies the songs is the book.

Steve Cuden: Do you have a time in your mind when you had been writing lyrics long enough where you thought to yourself, I’m actually pretty good at that. Was it early on? Or did it take a while before you felt confident as a lyricist?

Richard Maltby: Gee, I don’t know. I never felt really confident. I guess I felt good about specific songs.

Steve Cuden: You don’t feel unconfident about being lyricists today, do you?

Richard Maltby: No, I feel I can pretty much do it.

Steve Cuden: I would submit that you can.

Richard Maltby: I worked differently than a lot of lyricists. I don’t write lyrics first. I really like to write to music.

Steve Cuden: Well, that’s very interesting because in my 10 years of working with Frank Wildhorn, it was always music first.

Richard Maltby: Yes. I know. I came close to being a collaborator with him once.

Steve Cuden: Oh, is that right?

Richard Maltby: Several times actually.

Steve Cuden: It’s all music first. There’s no lyrics first.

Richard Maltby: Yeah.

Steve Cuden: You might have a hook. You might have a hook.

Richard Maltby: Yeah. I find, like with David, he does things musically that are quirky, that follow the logic of music and go to interesting places, which I would never do. So I find that he would write a melody, and then he and I would work over the melody. Until I was really comfortable that the melody had the lyric in it.

Steve Cuden: Right. Got it.

Richard Maltby: Then I would go off and slog away to put the words on and that was just hard work.

Steve Cuden: Well, sure. Well, it is a slog. It’s always a slog unless something happens, and it just flows naturally for some reason. But most of the time it is a slog. There’s no question. For you, this is a question I ask lots of artists, and it has to do with the work that you do, which is, for you, what makes a good song good? What are the elements that you think to yourself, yeah, this is good. What is that?

Richard Maltby: Surprise.

Steve Cuden: Surprise?

Richard Maltby: Something, it takes you to a place you didn’t think you were going to go. The character comes to a realization in the course of it. And God willing, it’s a realization that hasn’t been described before in musical theater. Something that follows its own life and takes you by surprise, and also reveals something, also uncovers an element of your heart that has never been exposed before.

Steve Cuden: So in a traditional book musical, the song should also, I think, push character or story forward, or preferably both.

Richard Maltby: Always, always. I mean, just on the simplest level, that at the end of the song, the character, the singer should be a in a different place from where they started.

Steve Cuden: Absolutely. Makes it great that way.

Richard Maltby: Yeah. If you do that, the rest is just hard work to make it as good as possible.

Steve Cuden: You are relying on David to give you the material with which you will then form the words.

Richard Maltby: Yeah. It’s funny. David loves to think of himself as sort of a, I don’t know, like right brain and left brain. But he likes to feel himself intellectually in control of what he’s doing. But as a practical matter, the other side of the brain, the instinctive part is the part that really defines what he does. If we talk about a character in a scene in a moment or everything very often, we’ll kind of define a title or a shape and everything, and then it’ll connect with him and out will come this outpouring of music. Then I write to that.

Steve Cuden: Do you know what the story is before you got to that point? Do you have a good idea what the story is?

Richard Maltby: Oh yeah. We know it’s this moment in the story. this character is doing this, this character is thinking that, this character is going through this circumstance and is going to come out the other end.

Steve Cuden: When you’re working, are you thinking about the audience or are you only concerned about that moment in the material you’re working on? Do you think what the audience reaction to it might be?

Richard Maltby: Well, only that I want them to be touched. I want them to connect to some emotional journey that they understand and that they are surprised to hear.

Steve Cuden: Well, we are in a visceral business, and we want them to be, sort of, their guts to be ripped out if you can.

Richard Maltby: Yeah. If we can. Yeah.

Steve Cuden: Absolutely. So of the three legs, because you’ve not written music, but book and lyrics, do you think that one of those three legs book music lyrics is more dominant in a show than another? If you do think that, is there a way that you balance them?

Richard Maltby: It depends on where you are in the stage. Unless there is a solid book, everything else will fall apart.

Steve Cuden: That’s for sure.

Richard Maltby: Unless there being a solid book, then the thrill of the music takes over. If the story is there, the music will decide it’s the only thing that matters, even though it’s built on the success of the book. The last thing, actually, is the lyrics in that, if the other two are in place, if the story is working, and if the score is gorgeous, kind of doesn’t matter. The lyrics should be good. But in many cases, you can survive if they’re not. Again, I turn to some of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s work. The lyrics are not wonderful, but he doesn’t care. He wants his music to have words on it and that’s okay.

Steve Cuden: Well, yeah. I mean, because he writes sweeping music.

Richard Maltby: Yeah.

Steve Cuden: He’s looking to sell the sweep of the music, not necessarily the words. Though, I’m sure he loves it when the words are outstanding too.

Richard Maltby: He’d prefer it, but it’s not going to stop him.

Steve Cuden: So when you’ve got to write 20 or more songs for a show and you know ahead of time, you’re going to have to write 15 to 30 songs, whatever it might be. What is the biggest challenge in terms of keeping the theme of the story going and the character and that storyline? What are those challenges for you? How do you approach that?

Richard Maltby: I think the challenge is to make each song a section of the big arc of the story. So that not only does it fulfill itself as an attractive song, but it also pays off in a way that moves the story somewhere. All of the great musicals do that.

Steve Cuden: How much of what you’ve done, do you think has required a lot of research? Any? A lot?

Richard Maltby: Oh gosh. A lot. I mean, there was a lot of research on Ain’t Misbehavin. A ton of research on Miss Saigon. I mean, huge, because of course, it’s a European take on an American story. Cameron was very smart in thinking that he had to have an American lyricist. It was smart of him because the English and the French have been losing colonies left and right. Who cares? They didn’t have any idea what America had at stake in Vietnam. I mean, it was the end of our World War II vision of ourselves as the heroes of the world.

Steve Cuden: Well, in the case of Miss Saigon, did they have the show already in mind, or did you help them form it from the very beginning of it?

Richard Maltby: They write it in French, Michelle, and Alain. They had written the entire show in French.

Steve Cuden: I see.

Richard Maltby: Then I came in. However, as much as they had laid it out, and they really laid it out brilliantly, the details of playwriting were pretty minimal. The scenes were kind of perfunctory. So what Alain and I did was, given the shape of the music as the sort of defining shape of the show, could we write a play that had all of those obligations fulfilled? That’s what we did. We sat down in a room. We’d go away for two or three weeks and come back with half the first act or something like that. But we turned what was a really, really good story into, I think, a really, really good play. I mean, I’m really proud of the playwriting in Miss Saigon.

Steve Cuden: That’s on you? Yes. You and Alain?

Richard Maltby: Well, yeah. I mean, I didn’t do it on my own. I did it with Alain. I took his impulses and added other things. There’s also a good deal of playwriting from the score. Claude Michelle in sort of feeling that the show should have this kind of shape. The scene should have this kind of shape to it, would put these things in, and then these little moments in, and then I would try with Alain to find language equivalence of that, scene equivalence of that.

Steve Cuden: When you say you came back after weeks, and you might have the first half of the first act, were you beating it out beat by beat, moment by moment?

Richard Maltby: Yes.

Steve Cuden: Are you an outliner? Do you like to prepare your shows through an outline? Or how do you work?

Richard Maltby: All the time. When I teach classes, which I do from time to time, I keep asking whether they’ve written an outline. Many of the classes, like songwriters, don’t do it. I keep wondering, how can you possibly write if you don’t have an outline?

Steve Cuden: I have no idea. Because I can’t do it without an outline.

Richard Maltby: I mean, it’s your foundation. It’s what determines every choice you’re going to make.

Steve Cuden: I think some people think that once they have an outline, they’re stuck and you’re not. It’s just, it is the basis upon which you then are able to continue to expandor change or whatever it is you need to do. But the outline gives you the impetus to move forward.

Richard Maltby: Yeah. You’ve done a lot of work in television, and I mean, that has obligations. It has to stop here for a commercial break. It has to do this here.

Steve Cuden: Absolutely.

Richard Maltby: It has to have its climax here. It has to end here. It has to be just that long. Within that, it’s astonishing how much richness you can pour into it.

Steve Cuden: It is astonishing how much you can pour in there and it is very well planned. It’s meticulously planned. Without that meticulous plan, you just go off the rail sometimes. You don’t know where you’re going. So song spotting – you have done lots of reviews. So there you were saying, I’ve got these 12, 15, 20 songs, and this is going to go before that one, and that one’s going before this one, and then that one’s going to close the show, and this one’s going to open the show. You have similar problems when you’re writing a book musical, though it is quite a bit different because you’ve got on a storyline. Do you have a technique or a method toward spotting where songs belong? How does that work for you?

Richard Maltby: Well, musicals are these extraordinary things, and their roots, the American musical theater has its roots in European operetta, minstrel shows, which are reviews, other kinds of reviews like the Ziegfeld Follies, then external songs from like concerts. All of those things have to be fulfilled. In a good musical like My Fair Lady. Yes, it’s a book all the way through. Yes, it’s a story all the way through, but it always also has the satisfaction, if you just did song after song after song of a very good review. You have the comedy song, and then you have the ballad, and then you have the energized song, then you have the dance number. A good show kind of fulfills that inner clock that a review would have. So essentially, you’re thinking in terms of programmatic choices all the way through. This seems like this is a finale. This seems like this is something you sing after you’ve gotten to know the characters. This seems introductory.

Steve Cuden: Well, I think you said a magic word, which is programmatic, which means you’re programming the work in a way that leaves the audience feeling fulfilled and satisfied.

Richard Maltby: Yeah.

Steve Cuden: That’s why when Goddard Leberson discovered and invented the cast album it was really satisfying, because what a cast album does is basically present the show in its review form. One song after another, and he made sure that it told a story. In some cases he played around with the placement of songs. In the South Pacific, the whole second part of the album of South Pacific isn’t in the show.

Steve Cuden: Oh, is that right?

Richard Maltby: Yeah. Listen to it sometimes. It’s born on the opposite sides of the sea where as different as people could be. That’s somewhere else in the show, and he put it in the end so that the album would have a kind of successful ending.

Steve Cuden: Well, it’s interesting that you say it that way, that you can listen to a cast album before you’ve gone to see a show. So you may not know anything about the show, but you will have listened to the cast album, and it has a meaning for you, and you then understand the show somewhat.

Richard Maltby: One of the definitions or one of the defining qualities of a cast album, if the score is good, you listen to the cast album and you feel you have the entirety of the show.

Steve Cuden: For sure.

Richard Maltby: You know the basic tensions, the basic plot stories, the basic characters, and you get the feeling that you have gone on the same journey.

Steve Cuden: Then if you’ve seen the show and you listen to the cast album after that, then the cast album then just reminds you entirely of what you’ve seen.

Richard Maltby: Yes, exactly.

Steve Cuden: So you start to fill in all of the blanks that aren’t on the cast album, so it serves two purposes going in and coming out, depending upon which time you listen to it.

Richard Maltby: But there are some cast albums that aren’t terribly interesting because the score isn’t terribly interesting as a dramatic event. Then of course, the brilliant ones, which you can listen to over and over and over again. You can listen to West Side Story forever and all the other ones. Guys and Dolls.

Steve Cuden: As we said earlier, good music is good music, and people will come out humming a score that they didn’t like of a particular story. But the great shows are all three combined. Book, music, lyrics.

I want to talk a bit about your work as a director, which is a slightly different thing. Now you’ve created, conceived, and you’ve written a show, and now you are going to direct the show. How do you treat yourself as a director differently than you treated yourself as the writer? How do you look at things?

Richard Maltby: Well, I sort of became a director because I wanted to direct my own material. I thought I would do a better job than any of the directors I had worked with. Sorry but that’s how I felt. On our early shows, very often, the stuff when I give it to professional directors, they made these sort of very strange and stupid mistakes, I thought. They’d take a song that was intended to do this and sort of not fulfill that obligation and do something else. I couldn’t figure out what that was. I thought it was maybe a shortcoming of the writing. But when I started to direct those songs, I realized they’re tricky. David and I have a style, which basically is, you’re not really talking about what you’re talking about.

Steve Cuden: It requires context to give you subtext.

Richard Maltby: Yeah. A bouncy melody may be the subtext of someone being really unhappy or conversely, a sad sounding song can be subtext to something happy happening.

Steve Cuden: So when you’re directing your own work, as opposed to somebody else’s, obviously, but when you’re directing your own work, you already have at that point in mind what those subtextual differences would be from the text itself.

Richard Maltby: Yeah. I guess so. But I always feel that I’m sort of schizophrenic about that because when I’m directing, I will look at a song that I wrote, and I will say well, now that’s an interesting line. Why is that there, do you think? I say to the actor, why does he say that at this moment?

Steve Cuden: The actor’s thinking to him or herself, well, don’t you know? You wrote it.

Richard Maltby: Yeah. But at the same time, what seemed logical when you were writing it has a completely different logic for an actor.

Steve Cuden: Sure. Of course.

Richard Maltby: An actor has to feel, oh, I said this and now I’m saying this. Why do I do that? It’s not quite the same logic.

Steve Cuden: How does that work typically with an actor? That sort of approach work fairly well where you’re giving them a question to consider versus giving them a specific thing to do?

Richard Maltby: I feel that directing isn’t almost entirely what happens before they open their mouth.

Steve Cuden: Interesting.

Richard Maltby: It’s all about understanding where you are up to the moment that the song begins, and then if they’re in the right place, then you just sit back and watch it happen. Going over and saying, oh, I don’t know, I think perhaps if you could laugh in this line, that would be good. If they don’t feel like laughing, they won’t. Maybe if they try to, maybe they’ll discover something. But mostly, if you’re dealing with really first great actors that’s what they bring. They bring their inner truth to it, which is always surprising. You always sit back and watch it.

Steve Cuden: That’s the importance of casting. No? Getting that cast.

Richard Maltby: Yes. I mean, I have over time pretty much decided that you go with talent, not accuracy.

Steve Cuden: Interesting.

Richard Maltby: Particularly in musicals, you don’t try to find exactly the right girl who has just this quality of wit and this quality of this or that. You have someone who’s that, and then over on this side, you have someone who’s just really talented, who maybe is too tall or maybe is too something else, or too any number of qualities that you didn’t expect to have. Go with the talent and make the part the talent, rather than the other way around.

Steve Cuden: Typically, how long does it take you to prepare to go into rehearsal? Whatever you’re preparing with the material? What is your prep like?

Richard Maltby: Oh, I don’t know. I mean, if it’s something I’ve written, there’s no difference.

Steve Cuden: No difference.

Richard Maltby: It’s just a translation.

Steve Cuden: How about if it’s something you didn’t write?

Richard Maltby: I haven’t done too many things that I didn’t write. No, I’m just trying to think of how many shows I’ve come into where somebody else wrote it. When that is the case, all I do is ask questions.

Steve Cuden: About the text. About the story. About the characters.

Richard Maltby: Well, why do you say that? He has just said this about this, why would he say that? Doesn’t that seem like an odd thing to say? What’s that connected to? Because two scenes later, you’re going to say this. Let them put it together. Now, put it together in the context of their truth as opposed to your truth. Each person is going to bring a different kind of truth, a comparable truth, but not the same one. They’re going to find their truth somewhere else. They’re going to find their truth in their version of it.

Steve Cuden: So aside from you get the satisfaction of seeing your work stage, the way you hopefully envisioned it what is the most fulfilling thing about rehearsal and then getting to a finished performance? What is the most fulfilling thing for you? Seeing it come alive, or what else?

Richard Maltby: Yeah. When all the pieces come together. Again, this is one of the tricks about musicals. Musicals are bigger than the sum of its parts. It’s made up of the music and the words and the orchestration and the scenery and the acting and everything else. But something magical also happens. When that happens, I call it the Miracle. You just sit there and watch it. When I did Ain’t Misbehavin, I had no idea it was ever going to be anything more than a little nightclub act.

Steve Cuden: Well, that certainly became bigger than that. No doubt.

Richard Maltby: It certainly did. But I mean, the shape of the cast came because of who came in. These five incredibly talented people, I would not have conceived any of the parts for any of them until they were there. Who could imagine Nell Carter? Who could imagine Armelia McQueen? Who could imagine Ken Page and for God’s sake, André De Shields. I mean, you just couldn’t imagine these people. Who could imagine Charlayne Woodard, who joined us when we went to Broadway. The show built off of those people and that became the parts. Then an interesting thing happened. The show was such a success that within the first two years, we had five different companies of Ain’t Misbehavin, traveling around.

Steve Cuden: In the US or around the world?

Richard Maltby: Four in the United States, and one in England.

Steve Cuden: Interesting.

Richard Maltby: With an understudy that meant that we had to get 10 Nell Carters and 10 André De Shields and 10 Pages. At first thought, gosh, I’ve done this show off of the unique talents of people. I’ll have to give each person who’s cast the same kind of flexibility. They can sort of do things according to their own instincts. That was a disaster. While they’re doing things according to their instincts, everyone else on the stage is saying, what are you doing?! So basically you had to learn it by the choreographer. Arthur Ferreira said, clone the show. You clone the show. I thought that was stupid. But you clone the show. You give the people exact, I mean, to the pinky move. You move here. You move there. You do every single thing exactly the way it was set. Funnily enough, that was the way to let the personalities shine. Then their personality, the individual personalities came out. If you followed their personality, the show just fell apart, and it didn’t have any shape. But if they learned it completely, technically, then their personalities are shown. I don’t know what that says, but it…

Steve Cuden: People who’ve seen it on Broadway, if they see it a second time somewhere else, then they’re saying, well, they’ve really recreated the show that was on Broadway.

Richard Maltby: That’s true. Yet the performers don’t feel that they are just some kind of robots going in and fulfilling a technical achievement.

Steve Cuden: You directed all five companies and Broadway. Yes?

Richard Maltby: Oh. Yeah.

Steve Cuden: You didn’t leave it to a stage manager or something like that to restage it. You did it.

Richard Maltby: Well, it’s an interesting kind of show because it’s so highly staged that once it’s been created, I actually can’t put the show into rehearsal by myself because I need to have the choreographer, someone who knows the show, who can give everybody their movements all the way through it. I don’t know it. I can tell them what’s going on. I can tell them what the playing values are. I can tell them why this is there and what it’s doing, but I can’t do it by myself.

Steve Cuden: Very briefly talk about collaboration, which I find fascinating. It’s a whole thing unto itself. You’ve been a collaborator virtually your entire career. If you’re directing, you’re collaborating with lots of different people. But in the writing, you’ve also been a major collaborator for a long time. What is it that makes a good collaboration work?

Richard Maltby: I mean, someone has asked, David and I have now been together for years. I don’t even want to say the number that’s attached to that.

Steve Cuden: It’s higher than five.

Richard Maltby: It’s higher than five. Someone said, well, how have you managed to do that? I thought for a long time, and I thought, I think the secret is that we never say it has to be my way. We never say, this is how. It’s always what’s the best solution? If you think it should be that, and I should think it should be this. You convince me or I convince you. If we can’t convince each other, we probably haven’t defined it correctly. So go back to the beginning and try to figure out what’s actually going on and solve that. Collaboration is essentially a nonstop repetition of a restatement of the task at hand. Wait, she is a this and she wants that. She’s going to do that and get that. So therefore, this has to be. It should be this.

I had one experience with a British director who had a wonderful locution that I just thought and used forever, which is, I think the play wants to be this. I think the scene wants to be this. It’s not my opinion or your opinion. You don’t say, I don’t agree with you on what you just said about that scene. I think the scene wants to be a scene in which this happens. Then you all get together on that. It isn’t about my opinion or your opinion. I have very, very rarely had any circumstance of a major fight with someone of the sort that you hear about in the theater all the time.

Steve Cuden: Creative differences, as they say.

Richard Maltby: Yeah. I mean, Kazan and Tennessee Williams screaming at each other.

Steve Cuden: You don’t need to name any names. Have you worked with anyone who you didn’t care for, didn’t get along with, and were you able to overcome that in some way? Or have you just liked everybody you’ve ever worked with?

Richard Maltby: I’ve pretty much gotten along with people. I must say my problem is that I think too highly of the people that I work with. I have a real problem saying, I don’t think we’ve solved this here. I don’t know what you’re doing to a director. I rarely have the nerve to go over and say, wait a minute, let’s stop for a minute. I’m not sure what’s going on here is clear. Let’s think about this again. Because I always assume he’s got some kind of uber idea that’s really good. Later on, when it’s all over, I look back and say, he didn’t know what he was doing. You had no idea here.

Steve Cuden: So over time, have you then learned somewhat to then insert yourself a little bit more?

Richard Maltby: Nope. I’m still hopeless at it.

Steve Cuden: Just curious. One of your sort of sidelines here is that you write cryptic crosswords. How did that happen?

Richard Maltby: Well, Steve Sondheim. All roads lead to Steve Sondheim. Steve Sondheim used to do cryptic puzzles with Bernstein. The British cryptic puzzles. They’re very esoteric. He did the, I guess they used to be in the London Times. Anyway, he and Lenny used to do them. When the New York magazine was founded in the mid-sixties, he either was asked or offered to do a cryptic puzzle to introduce the cryptic puzzles to America, which he did. Big long article about it. Then he did his first puzzle. For the first year, he did one every week.

Steve Cuden: That’s got to be challenging.

Richard Maltby: That was way too many. Then after a year of that, he did one every three weeks, and they invented the competition that sort of filled up the thing. That lasted until the company was going to go into rehearsal. Then he was going to give up the puzzles. By then, I was addicted to the puzzles, and I said, I wonder if I could take over doing them. Because I’d done a couple of guest puzzles for him. He says, sure. So I went in and met Clay Felker, and Clay Felker said, sure. I did them for about, I don’t know, 10 years or something.

Steve Cuden: Is the way to write a cryptic crossword puzzle to do a lot of puzzles prior to that? Is that the smart way to do it? How do you train for it?

Richard Maltby: Yeah, you just do it. The thing about cryptic puzzles that I love, I guess, because I love the complexity of the English language. I just really do. Here’s the thing, the English language doesn’t exist. There is no such thing as the English language. It is an entirely borrowed language.

Steve Cuden: Sure. Of course.

Richard Maltby: It’s Anglo-Saxon covered with Scandinavian, covered with French, covered with Latin, covered with Roman, covered with Indian, covered with Arabic rather. It’s just always one layer on top of the other of borrowings here and there. That’s what’s interesting about the language and what makes it so incredibly rich. Hard consonance and all sorts of things. As a result, it’s a language that exists in communication largely on an agreed assumption.

We understand each other because we assume because of the context that we know what we’re talking about. But in fact, we know that that word was context and not contacts, because we just assume that’s what it is. What these puzzles do is that they use those assumptions against you. Take the word that has this definition and put it in a context that means its opposite definition, and you won’t think that it defines that word. Then you do everything possible to make people think only of that definition. We use the language against you to trick you into thinking stuff. I can go on and on about this.

Steve Cuden: I bet you could. So I’m curious. Does the lyric writing and the cryptic crossword puzzles compliment?

Richard Maltby: They probably do. Sheldon Harnick used to do these puzzles. Stephen Schwartz used to do, I think he still does. Steve, of course. I mean, I guess because lyric writing is a technical use of elaborate language. It’s not quite the same as saying what you want to say. You have to say what you want to say, and you have to have a rising fig on the third syllable and a falling figure on the seventh syllable so that it goes da-da-dee-da-da-da. It’s like you’ve been given what you want to say, and also, you’ve been given the rhythm to say it. I have to say, you have also been given the rhythm to say it, but what if the melody that I was given was da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-dee-da-da-da.

The words wouldn’t really fit? So I have to find something else to do. So it’s the technical twisting of language to do. Miss Saigon was a perfect example of that, because it’s a European operetta with American vernacular and not only American vernacular, but also not an educated vernacular. So the trick was, how do you take these rhythms, da-da-da-da-da-dum Da-da-da-da-da Dee-dee-da-da-dum-da-da-da. That’s European, that’s not American. Find an American language that makes that the essential, the given rhythm of that line.

Steve Cuden: And it’s singable and it’s in character, and it carries story and all those things.

Richard Maltby: All of those things, all to music that has already been given. So you feel that it’s natural. I must say, the lyrics have often been criticized in Miss Saigon because they’re not poetry. They’re not particularly erudite of the sort that Steve does that I write. Basically, I write witty songs. I realized after the first several weeks of working on Miss Saigon, that everything I thought was my strong suit was not wanted. These were people who didn’t have a large vocabulary. They didn’t think in elaborate terms. So you had to find their poetry in other ways.

Steve Cuden: Well lyric writing on that level, really all of it is very much like figuring out its own puzzle. It is a puzzle.

Richard Maltby: It is. To that extent, lyric writing is puzzle solving. So it’s not at all surprising that we would sort of move over towards a verbal game of sort.

Steve Cuden: Well, I’ve been chatting for a little more than an hour with the extraordinary Richard Maltby Jr. Which is just so much fun. I’m just curious, in all of your experiences, do you have a story you can share with us that’s either quirky, offbeat, weird, or maybe just plain funny?

Richard Maltby: Well, I don’t know if it’s funny or anything. But one of my favorite stories was when we were working on Miss Saigon. Claude Michel had written the whole fall of Saigon. The big sequence in the second act. That helicopter sequence, they had laid it out. It had six or seven locations there in the office. They’re in the house. They’re back in the embassy. They’re outside the embassy. They’re inside the embassy. They’re on the roof of the embassy. All these things are there. You had to dramatize the action, tell everybody where you were, and locate everything. I was very busy trying to figure out how it would happen on stage that you’d know you were in this place and this place.

Alain looked, he said, what are you doing? I said, well, you’ve got to figure out how to do this. He said, no, you don’t. He said, what do you mean? Of course you’ve got to figure out how to. He said, no, that’s a director’s problem. I thought, oh, Alain, you French shit. You have no idea how musicals are written. You’re just such a theatrical incompetent. About a half an hour later, I thought, well, you know what? I don’t have to solve this. So I sat down and I typed in things like, they go into the main floor of the embassy, they go to the second floor, they barricade it, they barricade, they go to the next floor. It can’t happen on the stage. I don’t care. It’s a director’s problem. I just sort of wrote all that stuff. Lo and behold, it was totally true. In one weekend Nick Heine came over and spent the weekend with Bob Avian, and they found this really simple device. These walls with the gates that move in and out. Suddenly you’re outside of the gate, then you’re inside of the gate. People are out this side, they’re in this side, they’re outside. They just worked. It was the simplest solution. The walls of the two gates. That’s what their job is. My job was to tell them the story they were telling, and then they figured out how to do it. So I’ve used this ever since. I’ve just said, oh, it’s a director’s problem. These days people are writing musicals. I mean, look at Hamilton. Where does that show take place?

Steve Cuden: Good question. Everywhere.

Richard Maltby: It’s a tavern someplace.

Steve Cuden: Everywhere.

Richard Maltby: Where in location? Yet you have the feeling that you’re in this place and that place and that place. In the middle of lines, you change location.

Steve Cuden: It’s all in one set with very little prop changes and it tells you everything.

Richard Maltby: Yeah. What are those dancers doing? Who are they? What are they doing? I mean, it’s just a magical piece of storytelling.

Steve Cuden: I think that that’s what makes theater magic. We’re having this conversation in the time of Covid, and there is no theater right now. I miss it and can’t wait for it to come back. By the way, interestingly that you say that that’s how it worked. It’s the director’s problem. Which play of Shakespeare’s tells you where you are all the time and gives you all those stage directions? Shakespeare doesn’t give you any of the details. You figure it out as a director and a cast.

Richard Maltby: Yeah. It’s one of those exits, pursued by bear.

Steve Cuden: Exactly.

Richard Maltby: It becomes one of the mysteries of Shakespeare. What on earth did he mean by that?

Steve Cuden: All right. Last question today, Richard. You’ve already given us tons of things to think about throughout this whole show, but do you have a solid piece of advice or a tip for those who are trying to get into the industry now and become in the theater world, or maybe they’re in a little bit and trying to get to the next level?

Richard Maltby: Two things I would say. One is, I know everybody says write about what you know. But it’s so much truer than you ever think the answer. The answer is not to imitate somebody else’s truth. If you follow whatever was actually true for you in a comparable circumstance, you will say something you didn’t think you were going to say. You will discover something you didn’t think you were going to discover. Musicals are these great, sort of, lumbering works of art over here, and they seem like so separate from an individual. But they are not. The work comes from the perceptions inside of you. It’s really hard to imagine that you are enough. That you following your perceptions and your sense of humor and your response to the world, that that’s enough to give insight into something. That’s the first thing.

The other is, if you’re a songwriter, if you are a team who writes songs, if you’re a book writer, whatever it is, learn playwriting. The main thing that I discover with young writers who want to write a musical, they don’t know how to follow a story. It’s the trickiest thing. As we said right at the beginning, if the book is right, everything else is right. If the book is wrong, doesn’t matter how everything else is. I keep saying when I do some of these classes, where is the song of Perry in the story? Do you outline this all? Because what you’ve done is very interesting, but it doesn’t seem like it’s doing enough. When David and I are working on things, we very often get to something which we think is sort of finished. We’ll play it over and one of us will say to the other, it doesn’t feel like it has the goods.

Steve Cuden: Interesting.

Richard Maltby: It’s good, it’s interesting, it’s professional, but somehow it doesn’t go the extra place where it sort of explodes in the actual truth that’s going on. We haven’t done it. Where is that? That involves knowing what a play is. There are certain rules of playwriting that always exist even though every show breaks them. It’s the breaking of the rules that makes them interesting, and it’s the rules that make them thrilling. Hamilton breaks every rule you could possibly break, and yet, if you structure it, absolutely. The rules of storytelling. Bingo. Right off.

Steve Cuden: Well, the form of storytelling is all there. It’s not a formula, it’s a form. That form is well followed in Hamilton, even though Lin Manuel Miranda breaks lots of rules along the way.

Richard Maltby: Yeah. I mean, he breaks the form. He talks to the audience. He gives presentational lines. We play a scene and then we talk straight to the audience in sheer exposition, basically stage directions. Song. But all because that’s the way to make this moment clear to the audience.

Steve Cuden: Yeah. Well, that is just phenomenal advice. You’ve got to be very well versed on how story works in order to write a musical. They’re all about story.

Richard Maltby: If you don’t understand that, the show will never work.

Steve Cuden: I could not agree with you more. Richard Maltby, this has been just a tremendous hour plus on StoryBeat, and I’m so grateful to you for coming on the show today and sharing all this great stuff with us.

Richard Maltby: Great. I’m so happy. Send me a copy.

Steve Cuden: I will indeed. Thank you so much.

Richard Maltby: Okay, bye.

Steve Cuden: So we’ve come to the end of today’s StoryBeat. If you like this podcast, please take a moment to give us a rating or review on whatever app or platform you’re listening to. Your support helps us bring more great StoryBeat episodes to you. Until next time, I’m Steve Cuden and may all your stories be unforgettable.

Executive Producer: Steve Cuden, Producer: Casey Georgi, Announcer: Javier Grajeda
Social Media: Mina Hoffman, Design & Marketing: Holly Reed, Reed Creative Group


  1. Myla Lichtman-Fields

    This is a 5 STAR MASTERCLASS in musical theater writing and directing. What a great record of a great artist’s approach to his work. Steve, the records you are creating are invaluable.

    • Steve Cuden

      Thanks so much, Myla! You have made my day!


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