The Ins and Outs of Disney Theatrical Productions

Photo Source: Courtesy Disney

Clifford Schwartz has one job title, but quite a few different jobs. As the production supervisor for Disney Theatrical Group, he works on a musical’s day-to-day leading up to its opening. But when the curtain rises, Schwartz switches roles and looks at putting that show up in different cities across the globe.

How did you get involved with Disney?
I opened the “Chicago” revival and I got a call from [director] Bob Falls to be the production stage manager for “Aida.” That was 1999, and I’ve been there ever since. For a lot of the Disney musicals, I’ve been the original production stage manager, but instead of continuing to do the day-to-day, now I work on rolling out the international companies and the tours [for shows] as recent as “Aladdin.” As soon as the show opens, I step over to the office and I start the rollout in other capacities.

What do you like about your position?
The coolest thing about my job is it keeps changing. I get a little rehearsal, a little running the show, a little bit of travel, a little bit of the office. It doesn’t get boring, but it gets monotonous. I love to be in rehearsal and at performances, but working every night for matinees and weekends, that’s not great. Still, I have the best job in show business. I love what I do and I love being around creatives.

Does it take a certain type of personality to do what you do?
I listen to everyone. I can tell the difference between what someone needs and what they think they need, just from being around creatives and watching them. I know what needs to be said to get clarity. It’s pushing the situation forward in a positive way. It’s omitting “can’t” and “don’t” and “won’t” from the vocabulary.

A lot of people prefer consistency, but you like the change.
It stimulates the brain and the entire mind. Some people think it’s crazy. I enjoy it. It feels like I’m on top of my game. “Tarzan” has flying, “Aladdin” has all this technical scenery, “Aida” has these fans who love it so much. Plus, when you’re working on the next new show, you’re one of the few select people in the world who’s able to be there in the first reading or receiving the first script—that’s super exciting.

Do you have a favorite show?
I love, love, love “Aida”; that was my first Disney foray. It’s being revived in Korea and there’s a Broadway set there, so it lives on. There’s always a discussion of a revival. [I always love] the current thing I’m working on, too. The newest is “Aladdin,” and taking it to different parts of the world.

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