The New York Minute

Interview Series: Meet Your Remarkable New York Neighbors

The Broadway Director

Paul & Vince would like to welcome to the conversation Warren Carlyle, The Broadway Director.
…theater can be a chaotic business sometimes, and I’ve always been the guy that had a plan. I like to be prepared…I prepare 70% and leave the rest to a kind of…divine intervention.

Paul & Vince would like to welcome Warren Carlyle, a Tony and Emmy award winning Broadway director and choreographer. Notable recent works include directing and choreographing the new Broadway musical “HARMONY” and choreographing the Tony-nominated revival of “The Music Man.” His past work also include “After Midnight,” “Chaplin,” and the Tony Award-winning revival of “Hello, Dolly!” featuring Bette Midler.

Carlyle’s influence extends to film and television, where he has directed, choreographed, and staged performances for PBS, CBS, and FOX. In addition to his Broadway success, Carlyle has received three Outer Critics Circle Awards, eight Drama Desk Award nominations, and the Astaire Award for choreography. He lives on the Upper West Side with his partner.


Paul & Vince: How did you come to live in New York and in your current career?

Warren: My first introduction to New York City was in 1999, when I came here as an assistant to Susan Stroman for three months. While I was here, I met Gwen Verdon and Ann Reinking. I got hired to recreate the show, Fosse. So, I learned that show on Broadway, and then I went back to the West End and recreated the production there. While I was there doing that, Stroman came and said, “Hey, I have this project with Mel Brooks, it’s called The Producers. Would you ever think about just coming to New York?” And I said, “Great. I’d love to come for six months.” But I never left. I’m still here. And now it’s 16 Broadway shows later.

Paul & Vince: Wow. So how did you make that leap to directing? How did you know you wanted to do it?

Warren: You know, it’s interesting. I was an English major at school and I’ve always been fascinated by stories. And theater can be a chaotic business sometimes, and I’ve always been the guy that had a plan. I like to be prepared…I prepare 70% and leave the rest to a kind of…divine intervention. And actually, after I was the assistant on The Producers and on Oklahoma, my true Broadway debut was actually as a director on a show called Tale of Two Cities. So, before I’d even choreographed on Broadway, I directed on Broadway.


Paul & Vince: Well, we are glad you stayed! What is a typical day like for you?

Warren: My alarm goes off at 5:40 every morning. And then I walk into Central Park with the dog every morning at 6:30.

Paul & Vince: Wow. Very specific.

Warren: Yes, and during that hour long walk, I practice my day. I practice how it’s going to go. I think about, when I’m getting the Uber, when I’m getting to Times Square. Everything. Because in my job, I have to be ahead of everybody else in the room. So I literally practice my day, how it’s going to go. I try and anticipate the things I’m going to run into. So often, my day feels so practiced it’s like déjà vu, like I’ve done it before. I think over the years, I’ve just developed this philosophy that gets me through the day. And that delivers the kind of results that are now expected from me. Sometimes I’ll rehearse three different versions of something, so then when I’m faced with it, I can make a very quick decision because I’ve already gamed out the three different outcomes.


Paul & Vince: Can you tell us something people would find surprising about your job?

Warren: Well, maybe people think it’s glamorous. But it’s really not. It’s a regular job, and it can be a very high pressure job. It can appear fun, sometimes. And it is fun. But when I take $20 million of someone else’s money, I take that really seriously. And I think about it every single day when I walk in that room. I am responsible for that money. I also have to care for a lot of people. Actors, designers, even producers…They can be very vulnerable. So, I have to lead by example. The last show I did on Broadway was about 280 people. So, I take care of 280 people, and that’s a big responsibility. I’ve got some nice gray hairs from it.


Paul & Vince: We don’t know anything about gray hairs [Laughs]. What are your favorite things to do in New York on your day off?

Warren: Oh, God. I don’t very often take a day off. Not a full day. I love restaurants. Like, take me to a really great restaurant. Give me a really good meal. I’m very happy.

Paul & Vince: Do you have any favorites?

Warren: Well, of course, The Ribbon, because it’s so close. It’s all American food. It’s a little expensive, truthfully, but it’s become a really good kind of neighborhood favorite for me. But honestly, anywhere…Anyone who wants to take me for a great meal, I’m happy. I’m going to Jean Georges’s place Four Twenty Five tomorrow…I can’t wait.

…and one more, Just For Fun

Paul & Vince:  Sounds delicious! But now it’s time for our Just For Fun question. Which three people from history would you like to invite to a private dinner?

Warren: I would pick…Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare, and…George Washington.

Paul & Vince: Wow, that’s quite a power mix: someone from the Italian Renaissance, the Elizabethan Era, and the American Revolution. What on earth are you all going to talk about?

Warren: Well, you can talk about a million different things. Right? You can talk about art and culture, you can talk about the American Revolution and politics. I mean, I just think that’s a really interesting dinner date.

Paul & Vince: Yes, absolutely. So, what would you serve them?

Warren: Oh, God. It would have to be beef of some kind. Nothing vegan. There all old-fashioned men! [Laughs] Meat and potatoes sort of thing.

Paul & Vince: And where would this take place?

Warren: Well, you know all the best restaurants have all kinds of choreography going on? Restaurants can be like stages and the performers – well, no one’s told them they’re performing – can naturally put on quite an intricately-choreographed show if you just watch.

Original artwork by Jolisa Robinson, Gavriani-Falcone Team Marketing

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