Interview with Cary Ginell

Cary Ginell is a passionate music and theater lover.  He is based in California and has been in the industry for over thirty years.  

The Playbill Collector (TPC): What’s your background in?  

Cary Ginell (CG): My undergrad degree is from Cal State Northridge in Radio TV Film.  Music has been as much part of me as the blood in my veins.  Anything that has to do with music is what drives me.  When I was young we had a recordcollection with many original Broadway cast albums such as OKLAHOMA and SOUTH PACIFIC.
TPC: Have you always worked in the music industry?
CG: Yes, I was in radio broadcasting for 30 years.  I was a DJ on public radio stations and mostly played old jazz, old country and old blues.
Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 6.03.19 PMTPC: What was the process for getting started with books?
CG: Hal Leonard approached me to do some projects.  The first one was a jazz biography series on jazz artists that had not been covered before.  Then I was asked to take over the editing job of “Broadway Musicals: Show By Show”.  It’s a staple reference book for musical theater people.  Stanley Green wrote it first and the book is updated every few years.  In 2011 I took over editing.  My job is to add musicals from the most recent years.  Stanley had parameters for what shows went in the book which were: not every musical ever produced will make it in, only the really important ones.  The show had to have been performed at least 500 times on Broadway and had to be of some significant importance.  Since taking over, I have relaxed one of the parameters which is performance numbers.  Example: The revivals of PROMISES, PROMISES and RAGTIME. 
TPC: Are there any musicals that stand out to you in this edition?
CG: SPIDERMAN: TURN OFF THE DARK, not because of the show itself but for other reasons.  The cost of the show was 75 million dollars and they failed to break even even though it ran for three years.  It was the first time that previews were reviewed which is not standard for Broadway.  The New York Times called it an “ungodly, unsightly mess.”  It opened seven months later which was the longest amount of previews.  The importance of the show has really sent a warning message that you don’t have to spend a whole lot of money to make a lot of money.  These overblown shows are too risky and cost too much money.  The next year, ONCE came about.  The main thing it did was have the actors play instruments.  It was really a remarkable idea which is still running after two years.  It was innovative and new.
TPC: What are you concentrating on now?
CG: My blog which is called VC On Stage.  It’s for the Ventura County theater scene.  There was no central platform for actors although there is a lot of homegrown talent.  I also write theater reviews for Acorn Newspapers, run a small record company and lead a ragtime orchestra.  It’s all about passion.  Go with your passion and you won’t want to go to sleep!
Read Cary’s blog here:
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