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Short Assignment #3 Interview

Interviewer: Adele Oliver

Interviewee: Nils-Petter Ankarblom
Hello Nils-Petter Ankarblom. My name is Adele Oliver. This interview will
be incorporated into a research paper I am currently writing in my English
class. My research topic for my paper is, How is the rise of digital media,
particularly film, effecting the Broadway community and how does
Broadway plan on keeping up with the industry? Based on this
information, I would like you to answer the following questions to the best of
your ability. Thank you so much for allowing me to Interview you. Your time
and your voice is greatly appreciated
1. Can you explain your role in the production of Tuck Everlasting on Broadway and
how you received this position?
I serve as the Associate Music Director which means that I work with the Music Director
for Tuck who is the amazing Mary-Mitchell Campbell. I assist her and prepare to be able
to cover all needs of conducting and leading the show musically so that there is that
stability within the production at all times.
I ended up at this job thanks to being able to jump in last minute at the out-of-town tryout
production of the show in Atlanta a year ago. They needed someone to fill the same
position I have now because someone dropped out and since I am long time friends with
the writers Chris Miller (music) and Nathan Tysen (lyrics) they thought of me and I am
forever grateful they did.
2. I understand that the musical Tuck Everlasting is based off the childrens novel
Tuck Everlasting, which was published in 1975. Is there a reason why the process
of writing this show began when it did?
It is very serendipitous and I am not sure of all the details. I know that Chris and Nathan
had talked about this story as their dream of turning into a musical for a long time. Also,
as some may know, Disney made a movie of this beautiful book years ago and I think it
had something to do with the theatrical rights becoming available again after that. The
producers of the show seized the opportunity and grabbed the rights. Chris and Nathan
happened to meet with these producers and pitched them their idea for Tuck Everlasting
which is an incredible coincidence. The rest is history.
3. Are there a lot of differences between this upcoming musical and the novel? If so,
is there a reason for those differences?

Generally, it is my understand that the musical is very faithful to the book. I know Natalie
Babbit is very happy with the show. As always when you adapt any story, you must look
for the theatrical opportunities and build the show around those. One great example is the
climatic ballet at the end of the show. It is a phenomenal piece of theatrical storytelling in
the theater as it all is told through dance and music.
4. Because of the familiarity audience members might have with the book, there
might be a pattern with ticket sales. Do you believe that ticket sales will be good
simply because of this familiarity?
No. I think the only way to sell tickets on Broadway is to present a fantastic show that
people will want want to see, regardless of origin and name recognitition. When we did
the try-out in Atlanta and people started coming down to the pit and say this is my
second time, my third time a.s.o I knew that the show was becoming that kind of thing a
show really must be to be successful on Broadway.
5. From your background, I understand that you have worked with digital media. I
understand that you have composed music for a Swedish movie. Generally
speaking, how different is the work youve done with digitally media compared to
the theatrical work you are doing on Broadway? (Specifically how the music for
the film was pre-recorded and then how the music for Broadway is not)
There is nothing more electric than the live aspect of theater. Anything can happen! In
this day and age I think the experience of theater is more exclusive than ever. All those
incredible artists on stage, in the pit, backstage have gathered together with an audience
to present a show that will be unique that very night. It wont be on YouTube or on TV
the way it feels in the theater. It will in that moment only exist for those who paid to be
present in that space (and those of us lucky enough to be paid to be there). And when
everything comes together, even though so much could go wrong, it really is an
incredible thing.
If I get to focus on the media of film, it is very different, especially as a composer since
you work alone (mostly) and in the end of the creative process when everybody else is
done and just waiting for the movie to come out. That is stressful but the beauty of
filmmaking is that films remain forever. The beauty of theater is that it comes and then
goes. Of course there is that live electricity of a recording session that is similar to the
feeling of theater but recording the score for a movie is a one time event. The show keeps
playing 8 times a week.
6. Understanding the differences between digital media and theatrical productions do
you believe that one over powers the other? And if so, why?
No, not in general. All art forms have different strengths and focuses. Film can focus on
incredible detail which is amazing, theater is amazing because it is about the direct
communication with the very audience present in the house. The way the audience reacts
to a joke will trigger when, and maybe even how, the actor says the next line.

7. After working with both digital media and on Broadway, do you feel biased
towards one? Do you like one over the other for a specific reason? Please explain.
Personally, if I have to choose I must say I love theater more than movies. There is
something somewhat dead about a movie - it is always there, always looks the same,
always sounds the same - while theater is very much alive, always changing, always
slightly different. But of course I love movies, too. Dont we all?
8. Do you think digital media is effecting Broadway? Do you think that Broadway
shows written and performed today are less traditional in order to compete with
the film industry? For example, the new show Hamilton tells the story of
Alexander Hamilton in a very contemporary style. The shows ticket sales are
tremendous. Is this production written simply for artistic pleasure, or is it written
because Alexander Hamilton is a familiar figure and rap music entices audiences
that might not already be interested in Broadway? If you believe Broadway is not
trying to compete with the film industry, you can explain your reasoning for that
I dont see that art forms necessarily compete with each other. People go to see theater,
and those people also see movies. I absolutely think they influence each other greatly,
subject matter, how we tell stories, pacing, what kind of musical language is used and so
on. Hamilton, to my understanding, is simply a fantastic show. It is that easy. It is an
original idea (historical story told in contemporary musical language) but without having
seen the show I think its success is that is it incredibly theatrical and traditional in many
ways. It seems to respect the theatrical tradition greatly while it introduces exciting new
elements to it. What Hamilton is doing you could only do in the theater and that I think is
the way to go. Respect your artform and make use of the unique opportunities it offers.
Like the ballet in Tuck Everlasting. That would never work in a movie.
From a marketing point of view though I think digital media is incredibly important to
Broadway theater, especially online media which now anyone can produce. A show must
be talked about, that is what sells tickets in the end. So people tweeting, posting links to
videos, songs, interviews, that is what creates an interest and a desire to see the show. I
hope we one day get to see beautiful videos of people singing songs from Tuck and
talking about their relationship with the show.
9. Is the rehearsal process drastically different between a Broadway production and
rehearsal for a film or T.V. show?
You know what, even if I have worked on TV-shows and movies I have never attended a
real set during shooting yet! As a composer you mostly come in last when everything else
is done. I will say though that since that is the case there is not the same sense of family
and community in the process of making a movie the same way that happens in theater.
In theater, everybody is in that rehearsal studio sweating, trying to figure it out, together.
In films it is more divided although I am sure casts in movies also feer a great sense of

community. But they don't get to tackle performing in front of an opening night audience
together. They dont get to be jelled together by going through the process that leads up to
that the same way, I imagine.
10. Can you explain how the future of Broadway is going to look? Kind of
summarizing these questions and answers, do you think ticket sales and audience
appreciation will continue to increase over time or maybe decline?
I have great hopes for theater. Broadway had a record-setting year last year in terms of
ticket sales, I believe. Looking at the grosses for this week, almost all shows are doing
great! I think since everything is available to us all the time: all the movies, all the music,
all TV, we will seek out unique experiences of here and now. Concerts and live theater
offer that and they force us to be present in the now make us feel alive. As we get more
comfortable and passive in our lives I think we will be drawn to things that lures us away
from our screens and theater does that. It says: Come! Experience something amazing
together with us. Come feel alive, come feel touched, come be changed. And then, when
theater actually delivers that promise, it is incredibly powerful - today and for all time
because in the end it is about a human connection.
11. Do you know how Tuck Everlasting is going to compete with the other musicals
on Broadway at the time of its release?
No, and I dont think anyone does. The Broadway world is a brutal place from a business
perspective. Broadway producers are the bravest people on the planet and I respect them
profoundly. Every show that is produced on Broadway is in a sense great; people have
poured their blood, sweat and tears into every production for a very long time. But no one
can predict how a show will connect with people in the ever changing times we all live
in. Everything going on in the world, what kind of winds are blowing around us, affects
the success of a Broadway show. When it takes 4-5 years to conceive and produce a
Broadway show there is no way to predict when you begin where the world will be once
you have an audience in the house for the first time. But that is part of the excitement. All
we try to do is to put on the best show we possibly can and say something of importance
in a beautiful and entertaining way. The rest is not in our hands.