Interview with Joseph Smith
What does Stage One mean to you?
First and foremost it's about community. Secondly it's about good practice. Producing can be a stressful and sometimes lonely business so knowing that there is an organisation that trains, supports and nurtures people through the initial stages of their careers inspires me. I love the energy and ideas that new producers bring to the table through Stage One. You never hear the phrase `Because that's how it's always been done...`. Commercial producing is a hugely challenging and ambitious career choice that's not for everyone. The real work of Stage One will reach fruition in 10 or 20 years when participants will be running our industry. It's this that inspires me.
Last show you saw and loved?
I just saw one of the final performances of Sweeney Todd in Harrington’s Pie and Mash Shop, Tooting. It was a cold, rainy night and I was on my own and initially wasn't feeling up for theatre but was so intrigued about what the show was and where it was set that I made the trip to deepest, darkest south London. I didn't regret it as it was one of the most intensive, visceral and alive theatre experiences of the last few years for me. Everything from the setting; to the performances; to Sweeney Todd being perhaps the best musical written just jumped out at you and hit you between the eyes. Huge congratulations to Tooting Arts Club for knocking me sideways. Brilliant.
What’s your favourite producing experience?
I would have to say there are two. Firstly the London production of Spring Awakening that I produced in 2008. Ground-breaking stuff, so ground-breaking that despite cleaning up at the Olivier Awards I still have the scars from an all too brief 12 weeks in the West End. It was only the young people who came.... brilliant but not enough.
Secondly I’m currently producing Memphis. I just love the show and could watch it night after night which is always a good sign. The audience adore it and spontaneously jump to their feet at every performance when we do the finale. It's a gorgeous company and our leads (Beverley and Killian) are a dream. No ego, hardworking and lead the company brilliantly.
What's the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Never make a decision in the moment. Always think it through if you're not sure and spend, if you can, a few minutes to work out what the impact and consequences of that decision will be. I'm always one for living with a decision for a few minutes before you make it!
Where are you right now?
I'm in New York working on a new Elton John musical project.... and planning to do some Christmas shopping. I have a love/hate relationship with New York having worked there for four years but it's nice to be back here for a short time swimming in the bizarre pool which is Broadway!
What is your new year’s resolution?
To spend more time switching off from the all-consuming career I’m caught up in! More time with my partner and kids.