The Chemistry of Respect in Musical Theatre Collaborations

"Anything you can do, I can do better!" joked Hugh Jackman and Neil Patrick Harris at the Tony's.

In this business of musical theater where talent is hard to definitively quantify and people wear a variety of hats, I have no doubt that at some point you’ve looked across the table at some member of your musical’s creative team be it a writer, director or designer and thought of Irving Berlin’s immortal lyric, “Anything you can do, I can do better.”

That may or may not be true if put to the test, but the fact is, if you are thinking “I could do their job better,” your respect for that person’s talents is already diminished and you’re on a slippery slope.

Pretty soon, you’re stepping into their territory to “help” which inevitably will cause conflict. At the same time you’re probably neglecting your own piece of the musical theater project. In short, whether you realize it or not, those thoughts and behaviors will begin to drag everyone down.

On the other hand, I hope that at some point you’ve also been in the room with musical theatre creatives whose talent you respect, appreciate or even idolize. That director who can make your vision a reality beyond your wildest dreams.  The writer whose lyrics make your melodies sing. Perhaps they are brand new with a fresh approach to the musical or perhaps they have an arm’s length list of impressive credits. In these situations it’s likely that you’re bringing your “A” game and doing your best work.

When you’re putting together your creative team of writers, directors, choreographers, producers, designers, et al, it’s vital that you go into a new musical project with massive respect for each and every person around the table. You must believe that they are each the best person to do their job and they must believe you are the best person for your job.

I challenge you to start thinking about your creative “dream team” and cultivate those relationships now. Whether you seek new talent or Broadway all-stars it’s never to early to start gathering these people into your network.

If you get the right people around the table you will enjoy amazing chemistry, born of mutual respect, and there’s no telling what new musical magic will happen.


  1. Very timely post, Brisa! We just had our first pre-pre-production meeting for our February show…and it was great to look around the table of designers, directors, and assistants and think, “Ahh. Now THIS is a good team.” Felt fabulous. Good luck to everyone putting their dream teams together!

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