New York, New York

Frances Ruffelle. Photo: Caroline True
Frances Ruffelle. Photo: Caroline True

I spent this last week in my favourite city in the world, New York. And so here is a week in the life of a London agent in the big apple.

I came principally because my client Frances Ruffelle was to perform in the city for the first time since she won her Tony for performance as Eponine in Les Miserables many moons ago. Her gig, at 54 Below, now the go-to place for cabaret performances of Broadway’s finest, sold out before it was announced, meaning plans are underway for her to return imminently in a larger venue.

New Yorkers flocked to the show, a one-woman piece of theatre developed by producer Danielle Tarento first at Madame Jojo’s, then a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, culminating in London performances at the Menier Chocolate Factory and Garrick Theatre, and ingeniously directed by Olivier Award-winner Paul Baker.

For New Yorkers, and indeed many fans around the world, Frances (or Frankie as she is affectionately known) is the stuff of theatrical legend: having created one of the most iconic roles in the most successful shows of all time… And for the locals who hadn’t seen her live in decades, they found her in fine voice and defying the laws of gravity better than any Elphaba I know- looking pretty damn fabulous. There were queues for returns, and I was as proud as ever to be her agent.

I’m pleased to say it has led to lots of stateside interest and I introduced her to a top US manager to keep that momentum up after we’ve gone home.

Meanwhile, it was a chance to catch up with clients I have in the city: namely Alexandra Silber (a US citizen who spent many years in the West End starting in The Woman in White, Fiddler on the Roof and Carousel, before returning to Broadway for Master Class and to film Law and Order), David Shannon (a West End star, who came to New York on obtaining a green card after a run as Valjean in Les Mis in London) and a new signing Judy Kuhn, a genuine Broadway star who I hope to help return to London in the not to distant future.

I also said hello to the top New York casting directors, agents with whom I share clients, and producers. The other thing I do when I come to New York is see shows that are likely to come to London. I saw Kinky Boots, which I’m told might be London bound, and spied several lead roles that I’m convinced we have serious contenders for, and I also saw the Bette Middler play I’ll Eat You Last about the late super agent Sue Mengers, which, of course, had special resonance for me.

I remember when I first came here, keeping in touch with my office was a nightmare – whereas now it’s like I’m practically in the next room. I can do morning emails over breakfast thanks to hotel wifi and remain in constant contact with the office and my clients. I even held a few meetings by Skype. With trips to the Edinburgh festival and LA for pre-pilot season meetings imminent, the wonders of modern technology mean I can travel working for my clients without losing my finger’s position on the pulse.

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