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An Interview With...
Mark Kohn
STARTING OUT

How did you get started in theatre?
In the 8th grade I volunteered to run lights for my Junior High School show.

What hooked you? School play, Broadway show, etc.
When I was young my Grandparents would take me to the Airport Playhouse to see many of the shows.  How many of you remember Walter Baden?  I think that is what really got me hooked.

What was the first show you ever worked on?
Bye Bye Birdie.

What was first show you ever saw?
I am pretty sure it was Carousel at Jones Beach with the Guy Lombardo Orchestra.  My first Broadway show was Grease.


WHAT I DO

What is your position on a production?
Although I have an extensive background in lighting and sound, I now prefer Producing.

Please describe what your job entails.
In my opinion, the job of the Producer is to ensure the success of a production both financially and artistically.  We have to convey to the artistic staff the importance of staying within a budget, even though that may infringe on some of their visions.  We are the employer, we are the friend, we are the baby-sitter, we are the maid.  We are ultimately responsible for the audience's complete theatre experience.  This starts well before the downbeat.  From their first contact with the box office, to the cleanliness of the theatre, to the doors opening on time, to the show starting on time all in the end comes back to the producer.  Of course, there are Stage Managers, and House Managers that will handle most of these issues, but ultimately, the complaints and the accolades come back to the producers (usually on Monday mornings).  I think everyone who is affiliated with a production, regardless of the venue, needs to remember that it is a business.  It may be a community center, a church or temple basement, or a regional theatre.  All of them have budgets and at the very least need to cover the expenses.  If we cannot do that, there will not be a place for the actors to act, the techies to tech, and the producers to produce.  Just know that although you may not always agree with the decisions of the producer, know
that they have the best interest of the production mind, and that their decisions might be made with information that you do not know about.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, to everyone for all that you do.

Did you go to school to learn what you do?
No


MY THEATER EXPERIENCE

What has been your favorite show to work on?
There have been many, but Godspell was pretty special.

What motivates you to keep doing what your doing?
Sometimes I wonder...  But for the most part it is the wonderful people that make up the theatre community.

How do you feel about pre-casting?
Overall I do not think shows should be pre-cast.  I think that by pre-casting we decrease or chances of finding new talent.  However, if it is done it, absolutely, positively should be announced.

What was your worst theater experience?
I do not think that I have one.  Every show is a learning experience.

What was your best theater experience?
I don't think I have one of those either.  They are all special in their own way.

If you could give one message to ALL of the actors out there, what would it be?
To please know that for the most part the Producers do the best that they can within the constraints that we have.  Everyone should try and produce a show at some point.  There is so much effort that goes into a show way before it
is even cast. Our greatest reward is to see the actors shine.

If you could give one message to ALL the producers out there, what would it be?
We need to work together.  We are not in competition with each other.  And to maintain the highest production values possible.  As a wise friend of mine has said many times.  "We are 20 miles from Broadway...We better look it"

If you could give one message to ALL the directors out there, what would it be?
Be on time for rehearsals, and be prepared...You are the leader, and the cast and crew will only rise to the expectations that you set.

If you could give one message to ALL the other techies out there, what would it be?
I guess it would just be a thank you for all the hours of work, and for all of the dedication.  You should know that the applause that you hear each night from backstage is for you as well.  For without you there could not be the magic of musical theatre.

Why do you work at the theatres that you do?
The production values, the people, the staff.


FUN

Do you think Long Island theater will continue to grow?
I am not sure that it will grow further than it has.  I do think though that the organizations out there will continue to produce quality theatre.

What brings you greatest joy?
My family and friends.

What irks you?
Non-dedication.  I remember years ago when there were fewer theatre groups the actors were more dedicated.  They rarely missed a rehearsal and never missed performances.  Now, because there are so many places to perform, so many actors do not make the dedication that is really needed.  The conflicts that are given are enormous.  I cannot remember the last time I did a production that had every cast member for the run of the show.  I also think that everyone needs to remember that if you are doing theatre on Long Island you are doing it as a hobby.  And because of that, regardless of how good you
are, and many of you are beyond excellent, that you remember that this is supposed to be fun.  Treat everyone the way you would want to be treated.

If you won lotto tomorrow you would...
Build a state of the art Performing Arts Center where all of the profits would be donated to organizations that help children.

Is it true you would rather be rich than good looking?
I am already rich because I have a great family and great friends...so where
can I get some good looks.

What's your favorite word?
Done  (thank you Joel Sunshine)

Assuming that there is a heaven, what do you want to hear when you get there?
Stand by light cue 129 or We don't need you for this production...come back in a few years.


THE FUTURE

Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like the readers to know about?
Nothing specific.  But everyone should take the time to visit all of the theaters that are out there.  It is with all of our support that will keep
Broadway alive on Long Island.  Supporting the arts means more than just performing or working on a production.

What is your dream theatrical project?
I would love to start a professional Performing Arts Center.
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THE END
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