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Broadway General Manager: New book promises to demystify ‘least understood role in showbiz’

Peter Bogyo (centre) with actors Angela Lansbury (left) and Madeline Kahn

Peter Bogyo is the general manager of award-winning Broadway shows, including Fortune’s Fool (with Alan Bates and Frank Langella) and The Trip to Bountiful (with Cicely Tyson). Yet this was not the original path he set out on in the theatre.

“After graduating from Yale, I came to New York and studied acting with Stella Adler and William Esper,” Bogyo says. “I pursued a career in performing for about seven years before I stumbled upon an original script that had a fascinating and terrifying role that I was determined to challenge myself with.

“Eventually, I decided the best way to ensure the play got on, and that I was cast in the role, was to produce it myself! This I did, and quite respectably. But afterwards, it was clear to me that I was better suited to being a producer than a performer. So, at the age of 30, I switched horses.”

With the decision made, Bogyo had to find out how to take the next steps. He realised that the two things every producer had to do – choose a project and raise the money for it – weren’t things anyone could teach him. As he researched, he became aware of another key role that existed – that of a general manager who worked closely with a producer and possessed a vast knowledge of how Broadway worked.

But what exactly did a GM do?

More than 30 years later, and now a seasoned GM himself, Bogyo has written a seminal work, Broadway General Manager: Demystifying the Most Important and Least Understood Role in Show Business, to answer this very question.

So, in a sentence or two, what does a general manager do? “You know, it took me 240 pages to answer this question, and you want it in a nutshell? Okay, the bottom line is: in showbusiness, I’m the business half. A general manager oversees all the financial and business concerns of a show: budgets, contracts, payroll, bill paying, royalties, profit distributions, financial overview, advertising and marketing review, hiring/firing, to name just a few. The GM interacts with people at every level of the production and must be available to the producer 24/7.”

On how he got started, Bogyo says: “I’d heard that a well-known GM had two new shows opening at almost the same time, and was looking to hire a second assistant. I contacted this office and scheduled an interview, which seemed to go well. I was told I’d hear within a week.

Alan Bates and Eileen Atkins (from The Unexpected Man)

“When I hadn’t, I called to enquire. The assistant who answered sounded extremely harried, told me the GM was on another call, and asked me to call back. I hung up, and immediately recalled a quote of Katharine Hepburn’s — ‘Never call or write when you can go in person.’

“Heeding her sage advice, I got up and headed straight over to the GM’s office. As I stood in his doorway, I could hear the phones ringing off the hook. The GM glanced up, saw me and exclaimed ‘Thank goodness! When can you start?’ ‘Right now,’ I replied. And I sat down at an empty desk, and answered a phone. Thus, I began an exciting journey towards achieving my new goal.”

Broadway General Manager: Demystifying the Most Important and Least Understood Role in Show Business is the first book published to offer an in-depth study of a GM’s crucial role.

It has received advance praise such as “An absolutely indispensable theater lover’s guide to how Broadway works” by Peter Marks, chief theater critic, Washington Post, and “A must-read for aspiring Broadway managers and producers” – Charlotte St Martin, president, the Broadway League.

It is available on amazon.co.uk and at your local bookstore. For further information, please visit broadwaygeneralmanager.com

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