“I didn’t know if you’d seen this. I remember your reverence for him.”
My friend Trevin Cooper, himself a talented theater professional, wrote me this note when he sent me the news that Todd Haimes, President / CEO of New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company, where I got my first job in New York after college, passed away. I put my head down and let two big tears roll down my face.
When I first started at the Roundabout, Todd showed me what was possible when you bet on yourself. Fresh out of college and not sure where my life or career was going, his example gave me hope, and a roadmap.
Todd went to the University of Pennsylvania for undergrad, as did I. He got an MBA, which I would get 7 years later following his example. He knew his career was not on stage (he acted in only one play), but on the administrative side. The same was true for me as well. He often described himself as an orchestrator with a talent for getting the right people around the table and removing any roadblocks so they could create something incredible together. I think of myself that way, too.
Todd was the first person who helped me realize not only could I love business and the arts equally, but that the two benefit one another. It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten in all the years since I worked at the Roundabout and it’s been the basis for my entire career and life—to use rock solid business principles to support creative endeavors.
When I found out Todd got cancer in his 40s, I was devastated. Then I was inspired because he kept going in spite of it — for 20 years! — and his star rose higher than ever. I also got cancer in my 40s during the pandemic, and again Todd’s example showed me what’s possible, even in the face of a difficult diagnosis. (I am thankfully now cancer-free.)
Though Todd physically left this world last week after his long battle with cancer, the energy, enthusiasm, and talent he wielded to completely transform Broadway theatre lives on in our beautiful city of New York, artistic communities all over the world, and the many people whom he inspired. Me included, of course.
They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway, wrote Weil and Mann. I say they shine brighter because Todd Haimes dedicated his life to making them so.