About a million years ago, back when Squeez-Its were considered a nutritious fortified-fruit-juice-like beverages and scrunchies were an acceptable form of headwear, I met a girl who would go on to be one of my biggest sources of inspiration throughout my adult life.
Jennifer Tepper and I met when we were 8 years old and cast as orphans in our summer camp production of Annie. (We would go on to build the Stanislavskian backstory in which we were not only orphans but also sisters.)
Even at 8, Jen knew what she wanted to be when she grew up: she was going to know everything there was to know about Broadway, and she was going to turn that knowledge into a career. Over the years, she dedicated herself to listening to every obscure cast recording she could get her hands on, convincing her mother to take her to see nearly every musical in a 50 mile vicinity, and reaching out to the directors, performers, and theatre-makers not just as an adoring fan but also as an open-minded and willing mentee.
I asked her to come onto the podcast today to talk about her evolution from fan to producer and now Director of Programming at 54 Below in New York City–and to celebrate the release of her very first book, The Untold Stories of Broadway, Volume 1. As of yesterday, my once-orphan-sister officially attained her goal of becoming a theatre historian. And the best part is, she’s not stopping there.
So many of us create impossible goals and the multitask our way out of achieving them, or hit our goals and throw in the towel. Jen’s managed to hone in on and then scale her goals–while finding fresh ways to keep them alive, even as she ticks them off of her list, one by one singular sensation.*
If you’re feeling uncertain of how to take the next steps or even keep your soon-to-be-made New Year’s resolutions alive past January, you’ll definitely want to hear what Jen has to say.
*10 points and a shiny gold vest if you get the reference.