Water For Elephants

Water For Elephants: A Journey to the Big Top

Walking down 45th Street toward the Imperial Theatre for my first New York experience of Water For Elephants (W4E), I couldn’t help but feel a rush of emotions – excitement, nervousness, and a profound sense of optimism. This marked my return to co-producing a theatrical venture since my involvement with “The Exorcist” several years ago, and the anticipation was palpable.

The journey began months ago when I attended a pre-Broadway performance at The Alliance Theater in Atlanta. As someone with deep ties to Atlanta through my years at Turner and Time Warner, I may be biased, but The Alliance Theater is undeniably one of the best regional theaters in the country. The production I witnessed in Atlanta immediately captivated me. Set in a circus during the 1930s, it struck a chord with me personally, having once had the privilege of being part of the circus world during my tenure as the President and COO of Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros.

Water For Elephants is a remarkable adaptation of the bestselling novel, which also inspired a feature film starring Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, and Christoph Walz. Though the film didn’t achieve huge commercial success, it heightened awareness of the show. Knowing the lead producer from my Feld days, as well as having met and respected the other producers, solidified my interest in being part of this project.

Admittedly, the show needed some refinement during its early days in Atlanta, as is often the case with productions finding their footing. However, based on feedback from Atlanta audiences, significant improvements were made, and the show was primed for its Broadway debut. Securing talented actors like Grant Gustin (of “The Flash” fame) making his Broadway debut, and Isabella McCalla (known for “The Prom” and “Shucked”), further bolstered our confidence.

Now, here we are – previews underway, with real paying audiences providing invaluable feedback, allowing us to fine-tune the production to perfection. The reception from audiences has been nothing short of incredible, with standing ovations at every performance. With the official opening of the show slated for March 21, the anticipation is beyond words. I eagerly await the curtain rising on this extraordinary journey.