Richard Cameron is an unsung hero in the theatre community. He is the person behind Theatre Chat, a Facebook group which connects theatre professionals, helping to promote auditions as well as show information. Not only that, he is the founder of Broadway Global.
As a journalist, Cameron’s articles have featured conversations with Tony Award winning Producer Stewart Lane, Emmy Award winning Casting Director Jeff Greenberg, multiple Broadway and TV stars and creative teams bringing arts lovers together around the world for the largest social media arts movement.
What is Theatre Chat and how was it created?
When Facebook was just becoming popular with adults, I realized the needs of arts could be met through social media, sharing arts information to target market audiences of arts supporters. I went to a site where you can purchase website domain names. The name had to say what we did and be available as a domain name, and legally available for me to open a bank account. Those basics are very important every theatre and artists!
Theatre Chat was available and so I went to LegalZoom to secure the business name. Theatrechat.net was registered and created as a website because the name branded what we do and our mission, “keeping artists employed and patrons informed! The website www.TheatreChat.net (I chose dot net for networking & it was cheaper than a dot com). We didn’t want to make monies off artists or patrons, we just wanted to keep arts alive. The Theatre Chat website offers the target area of groups located on Facebook. Now the groups total over 300,000 in over 30 City/State Theatre Chat groups.
How long has Theatre Chat been around and do you monitor the posts?
Theatre Chat just celebrated nine years of amazing support. With over 300,000 sharing arts information the groups have to be monitored 24/7 to bring value with timely post. Many of you know that without keeping the groups private or monitoring them, all Facebook groups can be targeted with spam post. We always approve “Auditions” and “Show Info” that offer creditable info and links. Recently we started allowing some educational post, as long as credentials are shared with website, contact info. Sites that want you to “Register” or “Go Fund Me types” – aka post asking for monies are not welcomed.
Please talk about Broadway Global.
My partner Ron Hutchins is a black international award wining Director/Choreographer. I stress black because opportunities for many ethnicities are not the same. The actors union, Equity shared recent numbers of “Union” contracts, 75% were white artists, so through Theatre Chat and Broadway Global we try to educate for more opportunities for all. Ron being black he was inspired by Sammy Davis Jr. and had written a play/musical around the songs Sammy made popular. Using the iconic songs, Ron highlighted Sammy Davis Jr’s life, its called “Once In A Lifetime from Harlem to Hollywood” and the reading in South Florida sold out in days. Many black artists can thank Sammy for the ability to walk through the front door. Sammy Davis Jr.’s artistry helped overcome racism.
We realized that with all of the contacts we have from being in “Show business” our entire lives, we did not know any investors. I took time educating myself reading every Playbill to see who the producers were and started to notice a common thread. Groups of producers with the same values would join each other on specific plays or musicals, because of their message of Humanity. Researching the producers I found their work was amazing ‘on and off the stage” and that no award recognized these humanitarian efforts. The Tony Awards offer Best Play or Best Musical, but Broadway Global encompasses much more, its more of a “Lifetime Achievement Award” even though the winners are fairly young to be recognized for their lifetime!
The first year we wanted young investors/producers to know anyone could produce a play/musical, so we chose 2012 Broadway Global Producer of the Year, Jordan Scott Gilbert, an associate producer of “Ghost.” Jordan’s youthful face brought hope for the future of producing Broadway. The second year, 2013 Broadway Global Producer of The Year went to Dale Badway (“Pippin”). Dale’s investment in the Stephen Schwartz revival of “Pippin” was important for its message of finding your “Corner of the Sky.” His work on and off the stage secured his win. Dale is President of Theatre World Awards that honors Broadway debuts and has given back to Broadway Cares Equity Flights AIDS, Broadway Barks, and so many more. The third year we honored, 2104 Broadway Global Producer of the Year, Tom Kirdahy who produced “Mother’s and Sons” which gave closure to those who lost friends and family to AIDS and “It’s Only A Play” that was just pure fun. Sometimes the world also needs laughter to heal. The 4th year, the 2015 Broadway Global Producer of The Year went to Michael A. Alden, (“On the Town,” “An American In Paris,” “Porgy and Bess”) an Emmy award winner who was chosen for his amazing Broadway show choices. He again brought a youthful face to producing. Cathy Rigby McCoy and Tom McCoy, the 2016 Broadway Global Producers of the Year, were chosen as our first couple. Cathy and Tom invest in regional theatre at La Mirada Theatre in California. They had “Dreamgirls” in Japan, “Peter Pan” national tour, and they have a conservatory for youth passing on the arts baton. They have a special Gala coming up in November that supports youth with special needs. Because of the horrific fires in California, I hope your readers will reach out to support this program that changes lives through arts. The 2017 Broadway Global Producer of the Year is Catherine Schreiber. Catherine is our first woman to win on accolades alone. She is a producer of “Dreamgirls” in London, “The Life,” and “The Play That Goes Wrong” – a show that was much needed to bring laughter to heal.
We are now excepting nominees for 2018 Broadway Global Producer of the Year. Submit your nomination by emailing me direct at TheatreChat [at] me.com, or even better share your nominee on social media, in any of our Theatre Chat/BroadwayGlobal Facebook groups. You can tweet them @BroadwayGlobal and @TheatreChat on twitter. By sharing the nominees on social media it brings attention to their work “on and off the stage.” Arts, Theatre, Dance, Music… are our “international language” teaching respect for cultures, religions, and diversity. The arts bring nations together!
Why are you so passionate about theatre?
I was raised by a single parent. My mother Janice Cameron played piano and clarinet while my brother Albert Alexander Cameron IV played trumpet. I was cast in shows with both of them, and theatre captured my heart. I could not read until 8th grade. I’m dyslexic and had difficult learning many subjects, but music I could hear and imitate. The arts saved my life. I lived in my $500 car and worked at JC Penny’s to attend The American Academy of Dramatic Arts which was located in Pasadena back then. The training I received landed me jobs performing on cruise ships under the direction of Tony Award winner Wayne Cliento, who younger theatre audiences know for choreographing “Wicked.” We knew Wayne from “A Chorus Line,” the musical that told our stories as struggling artists. More opportunities came from Huis Ten Bosch a theme park in Japan, Virtuality an interactive kids TV show on GTE Main St. As a Cruise Director and working on Cruise Ships working for RCCL, HAL..traveled the world introducing amazing talents to the stage that continued to inspire me. As Box Office Manager of two professional theatres and Public Relations for another, I learned more of the inside of Show “Business.” I learned the need to fund the productions within a season, while choosing the size of cast and shows that your specific audiences will support. It was that knowledge and advertising budget needs that made me destined to create Theatre Chat, “Keeping artists employed and patrons informed” and Broadway Global honoring producers who’s investments are not just about Broadway, because their global message of humanity will make there way to your national tour, regional theatre, community theatre, children’s theatres, educational programs or school productions. What an important destiny artists, productions teams, and producers have to inspire the globe.
What has been one of your most rewarding experiences in the theatre?
It’s not about me, its about art. What i’ve learned is to find humanitarians with the same “values” and we all win. When watching my partner choreograph with his multi award winning shows, Ron is never be afraid of others more talented than himself! If you put the arts first, we all win. The Met Room aka The Metropolitan Room is planning to honor me, or Theatre Chat and Broadway Global November 5th in NYC. They will hold the event at The Triad as they are moving to a new venue soon. I guess being honored for just doing what is right is now my most rewarding experience! When you see your partner teach hearing impaired kids to tap, or a sight impaired artist achieve success in their school play, a singer get that standing ovation – who had no idea his or her talent could bring chills to the audience… those moments are the most rewarding! What an important mission “our God” or “your God” has given us as patrons and artists, to teach humanity through arts! I know people don’t like hashtags but #GlobalPeace must be our destiny when creating arts!