Robyn Goodman is a well-known Broadway and Off Broadway producer most famous for producing the Tony Award Winning Shows Avenue Q and In the Heights. Although Goodman has had much success behind the scenes producing shows, she began on the stage. After graduating from Brandeis University, Goodman made a living for herself by acting for about 9 years. She attributes a lot of her success as a producer to her start as an actress. She states that acting allowed and helped her to fully understand scripts and the industry.
Goodman’s rise in theater and musicals began in 1979 when Carole Rothman approached her with the idea that they should start a theater together. They met weekly for two months to discuss if they should start the theater and what niche it could fill. After much contemplation, they decided that it was venture worth undertaking. They had noticed that around that time, a lot of good plays were falling through the cracks due to problems like bad marketing and a lack of funds. The goal of their theater became to revive contemporary plays by providing them with the better production they deserved. They called their theater Second Stage Theatre.
Second Stage opened in 1980, and the two partners decided they would try to produce three shows that season. Their theater, located on the 16th floor of an apartment building in the Upper West Side, was furnished with about 115 seats. The vast majority of those seats were filled as their first show, Split, quickly became a huge success. Already causing critics to stop and take notice, the spotlight soon would rest on Second Stage, as a conflict between New York City actors and playwrights caused the show to close down abruptly. What would have seemed like a disaster turned out to be a blessing, as Second Stage, its goal, and its producers were featured on the front page of the New York Times.
After 13 years with Second Stage and a barrage of successful plays, Robyn Goodman decided to try something new and a bit more profitable. She joined the ABC Soap Opera “One Life to Live.” While with the show for 4 ½ years, it won six Emmy Awards. In 1996, she left television and returned to her theater roots. She spent two seasons as the head of the literary department at the non-profit Manhattan Theater Club. Most notably though, she founded her own production company titled Aged in Wood and continues to be a consultant for the Roundabout Theatre.
A few of the shows she has helped to produce in the past five years are In the Heights, Avenue Q, Altar Boyz, and the revival of Steel Magnolias. In the Heights is the 2008 Broadway musical about a young Dominican shopkeeper and life in Washington Heights. Avenue Q is the 2003 Broadway Musical featuring puppets and showcasing the troubles that come with being in one’s late twenties and early thirties. Altar Boyz was the 2004 Off Broadway musical about a fictional Christian boy band. Lastly, Steel Magnolias was the 2005 Broadway play about a group of women in Louisiana. Goodman continues to look for new Broadway and Off Broadway projects.
One of Goodman’s main goals today is to produce shows that not only appeal to the consistent theatergoer but to younger and minority audiences as well. Avenue Q and In the Heights are shinning examples that the wherewithal to produce and develop shows that embrace younger and minority audiences is not just progressive but also business savvy.