Tony Award-Winning Producer Speaks With Theatre Students

Jan 23, 2019

by FSC Staff

As part of a return visit to the Florida Southern campus, Tony Award-winning producer Dr. Jeffrey Grove '86 received a warm welcome from students and faculty from the Department of Theatre and Dance on Jan. 23, 2019. The successful Tampa-area osteopathic physician shared stories of his recent and prospective ventures involving major New York stage productions, a career path that surprised him just as much as anyone else. To much laughter, Dr. Grove told the group, "I understand that I'm more of a doctor than a Broadway producer."

FSC students Rhiannon Bush, Jonah Hager, Christian Mortimer and Skye Marie Sena performed selections from the musical "Kiss Me Kate" to start the morning event in the Eleanor Searle Drawing Room. Dr. Grove then explained how a renewed acquaintance with a fellow medical student, Dr. Michael Jackowitz, led him to join WitzEnd Productions as a partner. Since joining the WitzEnd theatrical company, Dr. Grove has been involved in developing several high-profile stage productions, including both revivals and original projects.

The 2018 revival of the musical Once on This Island was a Tony Award underdog, Dr. Grove said, facing competition from both Carousel and My Fair Lady, which had more nominations. In an exciting turn of events for Dr. Grove and the other producers, Once on This Island was named Best Revival of a Musical. "The award isn't what we do this for," Dr. Grove said of his career turn as a producer. "You're doing it for the experience. If an award comes along, that's great. Luckily, that happened with my second show."

What do producers look for when selecting projects to produce? "It has to be something that really moves us," Dr. Grove said, responding to a student's question. "Every time I've seen Once on This Island, right up until the end of its run, I cried every time. I really did."

What is the hardest part of being a Broadway producer? "The limited number of Broadway theaters," Dr. Grove explained. "When will a theater open up? That's the real challenge now ... the hardest part!"

Dr. Grove brought along one of his Tony Awards during the campus visit, and gladly showed it to interested students, staff and faculty, including FSC President Kerr. He said he greatly enjoyed his return visit, several decades after his graduation. "It's a walk down Memory Lane to see the campus, all the different buildings that bring back so many wonderful memories, and to hear that there's a need for even more. I'm so proud of my alma mater, to see how far it's come."